Visit To Shri Mangeshi Temple, Ponda, Goa


It is not very well known that Goa is home to many prominent and ancient temples like the Mangeshi Temple. Before the Portuguese came, Goa was home to Saraswat Brahmins and the temples of their deities. As the Portuguese took over and started pushing religious conversions, some percentage of the population converted while the others moved to areas that were yet to come under Portuguese. When they moved they took their deities along with them.

Shri Mangeshi Temple, Ponda, Goa
Shri Mangeshi Temple, Ponda, Goa

This is how most temples today are found in the Ponda district of Goa. That came under Portuguese much later. And by then they had become more accepting of the other religions.

Mangeshi Temple, Goa

The decorated wooden Rath
The decorated wooden Rath

I visited the temple for the first time last year when I was on the Deccan Odyssey trip. I found the architecture of the temple intriguing. First of all, I had never seen a blue temple, a color that we do not associate with Hindu temples. But then it is the color of the presiding deity – Shiva. Second, there was a huge pillar-like structure in front of the temple that was too huge for a Dhwajastambh or Flagstaff. I wondered what it was and was informed it is the deep Stambh or a pillar to light lamps in the evening.

Now I am not sure if it is still used for that purpose. I could see no signs of oil lamps like soot or oil stains, but if it was used, I am sure it would look beautiful.

Since the temple stands on a hill, this can be seen from quite some distance. The Temple structure itself seems to have ample influence from the churches of Goa. Though most elements of Hindu temple can be seen – like a Garbhagriha or the sanctum sanctorum, a mandapa or the hall and the pillars. Peshwas donated the current-day village of Mangeshi to the temple. The present structure is not too old, though a smaller temple existed in the same place.

Mangeshi Temple, Goa
Landscape view of the temple

Non-Saraswats are not allowed inside the Garbhagriha or the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. You can look at the deity from a distance that is all in silver and beautifully carved and maintained absolutely neatly and cleanly.


On my second visit last month though I was lucky to see the actual Linga below the silver top as they were cleaning it. The real linga is a huge black stone that as per the legend came from the base of the Bhagirathi River in the Himalayas via Bihar. And was in the Cortalim area of Goa on the banks of river Zuari before it reached this place. On top of that stone, they place the anthropomorphic figure of Shiva before they deck it up with flowers and silk. It is a typical Shiva temple that is Kuladevata to a section of Saraswat Brahmins.

In February/March, the Jatra or the fair takes place in the temple premises and it is a typical village fair. At this time you can also see the tall temple chariot in wood.

Idol depiction
Idol depiction


Behind the main temple is a small shrine dedicated to Sh Mulkeshwar. If you like me are wondering ‘Who is he?’, hear this contradicting story. Mulki was a villager, a cowherd who used to live in this area. One of his cows suddenly stopped giving milk and the cow also used to disappear every evening. He followed the cow one day and found that the cow was giving milk on top of a stone which when dug was nothing but the Shivalinga that is in the temple today. A temple was built and Mulki was recognized as its founder.

His statue with his cow rests right behind the main shrine. He was a smoker so tobacco rolled in leaves is offered to him even today. It could be something other than tobacco, I am not too sure.

Temple Tank
Temple Tank

The Temple tank lies in front of the temple as it should but is cut off from the temple. Both times I did not see anyone using the tank. Looks like the modern pipelines made it redundant.

Temples can be a documentation of the cultural and anthropological history of the region if we can study them.

Recommend you read the following places to visit in Goa beyond the beaches on my travel blog.

Shantadurga & other Saraswat Temples in Goa

A Walk of Discovery at Arvalem

Secret Monsoon Wonder of Goa – Kuskem Waterfalls

Summer Delights – Pink & Purple fruits

Bondla Zoo & Wildlife Sanctuary


  1. Non-saraswats are not allowed inside the temple. You can look at the deity from the distance that is all in silver and beautifully carved and maintained absolutely neatly and cleanly.Recently I was in Gaya , there in Vishnupad temple Non Hindus are not allowed but here non saraswat Brahmin are not allowed ? what we want to say ? what type of unity it is ? I myself is also saraswat Brahmin but think that Temples and other worshi places should be open for all . Very Nice journey and photographs.

  2. I believe this statement is incorrect and non-factual “Non-Saraswats are not allowed inside the temple.” You might have to correct it to “Non-Saraswats are not allowed inside the Garbhagriha.”

    • yes you are right Non Saraswats are allowed. I have taken my friends iside the temple.inside the garbhagriha no one except the priests are allowed. infact Christians also offer animal sacrifice at the back of this temple. Jitendra Abhisheki the famous classical singer known as Abhisheki buwa’s family was the priest at this temple. They had the MAAN of performing the abhishekh in this temple and hence the surname.Also Pt.Dinanath Mangeshkar father of Lata-Asha was from this village and son of a kalawant who used to sing in this temple during festivals.

  3. Only Saraswat Brahmins are allowed in Mangeshi Temple Garba Griha as that deity is their Kul Devta (Family God). As others are not they are not allowed. It is to preserve unique rituals, customs & culture of Saraswat Community. But inside Temple all Hindus of all Varna & Caste are allowed. Even non Hindus are allowed. Temple Administration expects all to be decently dressed as western clothing is distraction & vulgar for devotee’s. The Temple does not belong to Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar & she is not Saraswat Brahmin. Her family was resident of Village. And all Saraswat Brahmins & Goans have high regard for her. Spiritual Head of Saraswat Brahmin’s is Swami Shivananda Maharaj Peethadish Of Shree Goudpadacharya Math. Main Math HeadQuaters is at Kavale Goa near Shree Shantadurga Temple. Mangeshi Temple & Saraswat Temples about 75 are privately owned temples of Saraswat Brahmins. And Temples in Goa come under rules framed since Portugal rule. Even non saraswat & converted hindus come to take kaul from Shree Mangesh. And converted hindu has first right. There is no discrimination & all this is spread by politicians to take control of temples. By doing that temple money, land & donations made to deity come under control of this greedy politicians. Evening is best time to visit Temples but tourist visit beaches & drink so they do not get view of decorated Deity.

    • Even I am yet to see the temple in the evening. Now that you have pointed out will plan my next visit in the evening. BTW I am married into a GSB family and Mangeshi is our Kuldevta as well.

      • In GSB community if a person marries a non GSB than his wife & children are not considered as part of community. That is known to all Gsb’s who marry & do inter caste or inter religious marriage. So you & your children are not allowed inside garba griha. But you must take dulbhet & nirop. And you can take kaul for rakhni & daya once in year for whole family. As more GSB are doing inter caste & inter religious marriage they feel they must be allowed inside garba griha. Those who don’t feel otherwise. Many Saraswat Temples IN Goa have now stopped its mahajans from going inside garba griha due to this issue. And maybe soon it will happen in Mangeshi Temple too. Final decision rest with Shree Goudpadacharya Sansthan Peethadish Swami Shivananda Saraswati Maharaj if there is dispute between two groups of mahajans in Mangeshi Temple or temples under their authority. You can give your view in writing to Temple Secretary & Swami ji. Personally I feel one should follow traditions & rituals established by our ancestors.


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