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2023 - The Year That Was

Places impact you for a variety of reasons. And the same place impacts different people in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual experiences, where every single person’s experience is unique. And personally, every spiritual experience is unique, the same person can have different deeply spiritual experiences at different places, at different times. This thought has emerged because of my own experiences over the years, but especially so this year, with different and unique experiences at various places I have visited recently. I began this year with a visit to Baroda (Vadodara) with friends. It was meant to be a relaxed trip, a touristy trip, with our sons. We enjoyed ourselves to the hilt, but the highlight of that trip was a visit to the Lakulisha temple at Pavagadh. It was the iconography of the temple that I connected with, and I spent a few hours simply lost in the details of the figures carved around the temple. There was an indefinable connect with

Hidden Goa - a Temple in Tambdi Surla

The winding road led us deeper into the forest, and the pouring rain ensured that miles passed before we saw a living soul. It was clear that we were lost. A tiny hamlet was a sight for sore eyes, and its amused residents informed us that we were indeed lost. We had taken the wrong turn , and had no choice but to go back. We drove slower this time, intent on finding our way, and thankfully, we did. As we stepped out of the vehicle and walked down a narrow path, navigating the pools of water left by the heavy rain, I wondered if the temple I had come all this way to visit was worth the long drive, and especially, the detour. A slight curve brought the temple into view – the wet, black stone in stark contrast to the lush green mountains of the Western Ghats, and I knew that it was indeed worth it all!

We were at the Shiva Temple at Tambdi Surla, in Goa, nestled within the protected environs of the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary. When it comes to heritage, Goa is known for its churches, but this temple is one of the few reminders of the time before the Portuguese came to Goa and made it their own.

The temple dates back to the 13th century, and is believed to have been the handiwork of the Goa Kadambas. But even for them, it would have been no easy task to build this impressive structure in the middle of a dense forest, surrounded by nothing but wildlife. On the other hand, this would have been the perfect site for a temple dedicated to Shiva, the Lord who prefers his solitude. They couldn’t have chosen a better place!

At first glance, the temple is a simple structure built with local basalt stone – the main sanctum or garbagriha with a two tiered spire or vimana, a small antarala (ante chamber), and a Nandi mandapa  or hall, with the pillars holding up a sloping roof devoid of embellishments.

It is only as you go closer that you notice the details…. On the pillars…

Elephant on a pillar....hunting? or war? 

Every pillar seems to be different. These rounded ones have some elaborate work on them.

These are again different, and the chain work is intricate and painstakingly done!

On the ceilings…

These ceilings remind me of some Jain Temples...

while this is more typical..

On the outer walls…

The pattern on the walls outside is detailed too, and it appears the work on the layers below is unfinished.. 

And, on the vimana..


Bhairava.. see the dog by his side? 

Dancing Shiva

It is interesting to note that though the temple is one dedicated to Shiva, a number of these decorations depict Lord Vishnu. The temple also bears resemblances to Jain temples of that era, and thus gives us an insight into the blending of Shaivite and Vaishnavite thoughts, as well as the influence of Jainism, during the reign of the Kadambas.

Shiva and Parvati

Vishnu... with Garuda on his left

Lakshmi Narayana

The temple was deserted when we visited, and the only sound we heard was the rippling of water from the stream which flowed nearby. 

Soon, a man came running, saying he had been delayed by the rain. He was the caretaker-cum-priest, and he opened the sanctum so we could take a closer look. As if on cue, the rain started again, stranding us inside, giving us time to appreciate the interiors.

Outside the Garbagriha (the sanctum)

Watching the rain water drip from the sloping roof into the channels built into the mandapa, flowing out to the garden which is surprisingly well maintained, I thanked the Gods for the rain, without which I would have missed these tiny details!

As the rain finally stopped, and we readied ourselves for the long ride back, I turned back for one last look. The caretaker sitting on the porch, reading his newspaper, the fog rising behind the temple, covering the mountains…. it was the perfect picture of serenity and peace. Wish we could always live in such harmony with nature and the divine! 

  • Location: The temple is located near the small village of Tambdi Surla, 13 Km from Bolcornem village, in the north east region of the Bhagwan Mahaveer National Park. It is about 65 Km from Panaji and 22 Km from Valpoi.
  • How to reach: There are a few buses which pass by, but the best way to reach here is to hire a car, preferably a local who actually knows the temple. Though there are boards, it is surprisingly easy to get lost!
  • Where to Stay: There are no options for staying near the temple. The nearest options would be resorts within the Bhagwan Mahaveer National Park, though it is a better option to stay in Goa and hire a car to visit this temple. 

This was originally posted on the Club Mahindra Blog.. you can read it here


  1. Goa has so much to offer one more place added to my next trip Goa.. amazing clicks

    1. Thank you, Shraddha! its a beautiful temple! Do go there and come back to tell us what you thought of it!

  2. The temple looks spectacular against the green background. Its got wonderful architecture too. Nice post.

  3. I visited last year monsoon while trekking to tambdi surla falls. We camped over a small bridge in the night n it was one of my most memorable trek. Indeed the temple looked more beauty in d rain n we enjoyed d monsoon rain almost 3 hours in this premises. We have to really appreciate to the care taker as such a remote place maintained very neatly.

    1. The falls must have been so beautiful, Sagar. Wish I could have gone there too, but unfortunately, that route is tough for me to trek :( And you are so right... the caretaker is certainly to be appreciated. it is no easy matter to maintain this place!

  4. And I thought, I will spend time only on the beach side when I would visit Goa next time. This temple looks extremely beautiful. I'm sure there is much more to Goa than Beaches and Churches.. awesome pictures :)

    1. Thank you, Prasoon! Glad to have given you ideas of more places to visit in Goa!

  5. Everybody knows Goa is famous for beaches but a few people known this kind of tourism places.I visited goa last in Dec-2013. At that time no one to say this kind of tourism places in goa my guide also didn’t tell to me. I saw only beaches.But next when i go to Goa i never miss this awesome place......


    1. Many guides also dont know such places, Praveen! Hope you get to visit next time!

  6. It also rained when we visited Mahadev Temple last year. That was around October I think, but it was a pretty nice experience still.. I just don't really like rain, in general. But it's truly stunning.

    1. Yes, Sofia, it does rain in October too, sometimes. though I visited in August, during the monsoon. I can understand why you don't love the rain, but somehow, I do :D and I think this particular temple should be seen in the rain, so I guess you really were lucky!

  7. beautiful, I have been there in 2007 and 2009. Greetings, Dietmut

    1. Good to hear you have been there, Dietmut! the temple must have been even more secluded then.

  8. Lucky you to get no one at the temple. When I went in December last, the place was full of tourists, picnicking groups and a Russian tourist group who reeked of drugs and walked around waving incense sticks at everyone and everything.

    The temple is really beautiful and I try to imagine what it must have been like all covered by the forest, when 'discovered'. I want to visit the temple in the rains once.

    1. That is so sad, Sudha! I guess I was lucky to find the temple as I did... and maybe we should visit all places in off season! I cant imagine what it would been like when it was discovered... what excitement for the people,and how beautiful and pristine it would have been!

  9. The Temple looks spectacular. It is in my wish list for a very long time.
    Thanks for sharing.

  10. You have put some truly fabulous pictures on this blog. The images of stone carved elephants look incredible. I loved the ornately carved ceilings of the temples. They are truly impressive and artistic. Appreciate you for the marvellous share.

  11. Recently visited with my family.Beautiful nature welcomed us & lord Mahadev blessed us.Every narration of urs was well informative.

  12. this place really a blessed location. you see temple's engineering, you would acknowledge how much agony has been taken by the experts who attempted to make this artful culmination.

  13. I wanted to write so much buy have no words to express, I visited Goa twice but no one guided me to these temples, every one just guided me to the beaches, cafes and night clubs, Thank you so much anuradha ji fo sharing this!!


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