Places to visit in Ponda
Welcome to Ponda- the heart of Hinduism in Goa !
Location : Ponda Taluka, North Goa; 28 km south-east of Panaji.
Best Time To Visit : October to April.
The famous ten temples, constructed in the 17th and 18th century, provide a boost to the tourism industry in Ponda. Several temples look relatively new as these were renovated after being destroyed by the Portuguese. The temple town of Goa, is also the gateway to Goa’s wildlife sanctuaries. Apart from being a holy destination to the pilgrims, Ponda offers two wildlife sanctuaries to all the nature enthusiasts, namely the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary and Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary. Ponda also has the largest mosque in Goa.
The town emerged as an administrative centre when the Portuguese took over the area in 1791 from the king of Sonda. During the formation of the New Conquests, they annexed it along with Quepem, Canacona and Sanguem. Today, Ponda is a major tourist hub and a leading industrial city as well.
Surrounded by tranquil forests and hills, Sri Shantadurga Temple is among the largest temples located in Goa. Built in 1738, the temple is devoted to goddess Durga. You can also find deities of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu here amidst the distinctive six-storeyed deepstambha and ratha (chariot) with some gilt work. The interior has polished marble and several chandeliers that provide light.
During your trip to Ponda, a visit to Shri Mangesh Temple is worth it, as the 7-storied lamp tower characteristic of the Goa temples can be seen at this attractive Hindu temple. This 18th century temple completely belongs to the typical Goan Hindu temple style of architecture. Devoted to Lord Shiva, this temple is characterized by tiny shrines dedicated to several Hindu deities such as Lord Ganesha, Goddess Parvati and the Nandi Bull (the family of Lord Shiva). Situated on Priol hill (north-west of Goa), Shri Mangesh Temple is one of the most important tourist attractions located in Ponda. The locals celebrate the festival of Mangesh Jatra, in which a rath (temple chariot) is pulled by several devotees.
Another temple with a seven-storey high lamp tower, is the Mahalsa Narayani Temple. The huge temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess and Lord Vishnu’s consort Laxmi, the deity of wealth and prosperity. A few local people believe it to be the temple dedicated to Mohini, the female form of Lord Vishnu. The temple is admired for the ten beautiful intricately carved sculptures of Lord Vishnu. Another charm of the temple is the shrine of Garuda, the great bird and the conveyance of Lord Vishnu. It is situated on a pillar on the back of a turtle. It gives you divine peace and tranquility and refreshes your senses.
The Mahalaxmi Temple (with a Marathi inscription of 1413 A.D. on the walls) and the Nagesh Temple (with a five-storeyed lamp tower; dedicated to Lord Shiva) are the other major Hindu religious places that are visited for their unique architecture, designs and divine peace.
Apart from the Hindu religious places, Ponda has a Muslim monument called the Safa Masjid, built by the Muslim ruler Adil Shah in the year 1560. It is believed to be Goa’s best-preserved sixteen-century Muslim monument.
You can also visit the strikingly beautiful Dudhsagar Waterfalls, the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and the Bondla Sanctuary in Ponda. Though these wildlife sanctuaries are spread over a small area, tourists visit them for its distinctive flora and fauna along with a variety of migratory birds.
How to reach
The Dabolim airport is the nearest to Ponda city. You can hire a taxi from the airport which is approximately 45-50 minutes away. The nearest railway station is at Margao, at a distance of 17 km. Ponda is well connected to all major places in Goa by a wide network of roads. If you are a road traveller, you can reach Ponda from the neighboring state of Karnataka by following the National highway 4A.