A Spiritual Haven: Mahadev Temple in the Heart of Tambdi Surla, Goa

Mahadev Temple

The Mahadev Temple, Tambdi Surla, is a 12th-century Shaivite temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in the Kadamba architectural style. It stands as an active Hindu worship place and is an ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) protected Monument of National Importance in Goa.

This Mahadev temple was meticulously crafted using basalt stone, which was transported from the Deccan plateau and intricately carved by skilled craftsmen. Remarkably, it is the sole surviving example of Kadamba architecture in basalt stone within Goa, and Due to its isolated location at the foot of the Western Ghats, deep within the forest, it has managed to survive.

The Mahadev temple’s primary deity is Lord Shiva, and its architectural resemblance to temples in Aihole, Karnataka, is striking. Within the inner sanctum, a linga (a symbol of Lord Shiva) is enshrined on a pedestal, and local legends suggest the presence of a giant king cobra residing within its dimly lit interior.

The Mahadev temple comprises a garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum), antarala, and a pillared Nandi mandapa, all constructed from basalt. Four intricately carved pillars, adorned with elephants and chains, support a stone ceiling embellished with finely detailed Ashtoken lotus flowers.

The temple’s interior and exterior are adorned with elaborate carvings, showcasing figures of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma, and their consorts on panels along the temple’s sides. Interestingly, the mandap (pillared hall) is covered with a plain grey sloping roof, a distinctive feature. The temple faces eastward, welcoming the first rays of the rising sun onto the deity. The sanctum’s tower, featuring three tiers, is incomplete or has been dismantled in the distant past.

In the center of the mandap stands a headless Nandi, Shiva’s sacred bull, surrounded by four matching columns. The symbol of the Kadamba kingdom, an elephant trampling a horse, is carved on the base of one of these columns. The nearby Ragado River, accessible via stone steps, provides a place for ritual bathing.

The festival of Mahashivratri is celebrated with great enthusiasm by local residents from surrounding villages at this temple. Its remote location, far from the main settlements of its time, adds to its unique charm. While relatively small compared to typical Goan temples, the Mahadeva Temple, Tambdi Surla, is a priceless gem showcasing the rich architectural and spiritual heritage of the region.

History Of Mahadev Temple Tambdi Surla, Goa

Craftsmen carried basalt from the Deccan plateau across the mountains to build the temple in the Kadamba style. It is thought to be the sole surviving example of Kadamba construction made of basalt stone that is accessible in Goa. Because of its isolated location in a clearing deep in the jungle at the base of the Western Ghats, which surround the site, the temple escaped both the Islamic invasions and the Goa Inquisition.

Religious Ornamentation & Importance of Mahadev Temple

This temple honors Lord Shiva and has resemblance to the temples at Aihole in nearby Karnataka. Inside the inner sanctum, a linga (a symbol of Lord Shiva) is set on a pedestal. According to local mythology, a massive king cobra resides there permanently in the dimly illuminated interior.
The temple is made up of a basalt-pillared Nandi mandapa, antarala, and garbhagriha. Finely carved Ashtoken lotus flowers adorn the stone ceiling, which is supported by four pillars adorned with elaborate carvings of elephants and chains.

The inside of the structure as well as its sides are decorated with elaborate carvings made by talented artisans. Panels along the temple’s sides include bas-relief images of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Brahma beside their corresponding consorts. The mandap, or pillared hall, has an unusual roof made of simple grey sloping slabs. The temple faces eastward, allowing the god to be illuminated by the first light of the morning sun. A little mandap is there, and the inner sanctuary is topped with a three-tired tower, the top of which is either missing or was disassembled a long time ago.

In the middle of the mandap is a headless Nandi, or bull—Vishu’s vehicle—surrounded by four corresponding columns. On the base of one of the columns is carved the elephant stomping a horse, which is the emblem of the Kadamba empire. A set of stone stairs leads down to the neighboring river Ragado, which may be accessed for ceremonial bathing via the settlement of Keri, Sattari.

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