Notes on Culture & Antique Art, Ethnic Decor & Vintage Fashion | Wovensouls Art Gallery

Inside Tamdi Surla Temple – a Monument that escaped Plunder

I played Chor-Police or Police & Thieves for hours every day during my school holidays in my childhood. One team hides and the other team seeks. Too often, as a member of the team that hides, I came really close to being discovered by the other team…..and within heartbeats of actually being caught, the ‘police’ team member who I was sure could have heard by breathing, turned and walked away … leaving me undiscovered. Those moments were tense and so excruciating that I’d even wish to be ‘discovered’ just to end the agony of suspense.

On a visit to the Tamdi Surla  Mahadev temple as I read the notice at the entrance I was reminded of this childhood game. The notice says “The temple that survived the ravages and remained intact…..”

The probable reason for this 13th temple having escaped the notice and the destruction at the hands of the plunderers, invaders & foreign rulers is that it lay deep within the forested & hilly region of Goa.

Even today it takes an hour’s drive through a luxurious forest from the nearest town Ponda. So in the centuries after it was built, crossing the hills and forests without any great promise of wealth, (or wine or the third ‘w’) it may not have been worth the trouble to undertake the journey.



The temple faces East – to face the morning sun. Maybe on some auspicious days in the solstice cycle, in the century of it creation, the first rays also lit up the inner sanctum sanctorum for a “Surya Namaskar”.

This temple draws me in because of the mystique …. this is the only temple of this style in Goa and around. Why is that? This is the only temple that has large slabs of stone as the roof – how was such engineering managed? Compared to the southern styles of temple architecture or the Western styles, the decorations on this one is plain and too rustic – why?




The Sanctum Sanctorum.


The all-powerful union of the Ling and the Yoni:


And the other Gods in attendance:

Tamdi-Surla-temple-Goa-09 Tamdi-Surla-temple-Goa-10  Tamdi-Surla-temple-Goa-12 Tamdi-Surla-temple-Goa-13

The statue of the Nandi Bull does not have a head … suggesting some attack. But again – why would only the bull face this while the other statues escaped?

Tamdi-Surla-temple-Goa-28  Tamdi-Surla-temple-Goa-30

Tamdi-Surla-temple-Goa-20 Tamdi-Surla-temple-Goa-21   Tamdi-Surla-temple-Goa-24

The pillars all have unique designs ….


Tamdi-Surla-temple-Goa-01 Tamdi-Surla-temple-Goa-02



The temple is located on the banks of a brook that turns red with the iron-rich mud during monsoons. (Similar to the Kamakhya Temple).



It is one of the most peaceful temples I have seen with the cooling stone structure & the remote location! Although I am not religious, I enjoy visits to this monument in spite of the major demands made on one’s time.

The temple is now under the care of the Archaelogical Survey of India yet it is an active temple – and people worship at this temple.


Sept 2014

By Jaina Mishra

By wovensouls

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