Mahalaxmi Temple in Panjim - The first Hindu temple allowed to be built by the Portuguese in Goa after 300 years after bitter opposition

A few years ago, when I told a friend about temples I visited in Goa, he couldn't stop laughing. and that's the broader perception that "Goa" and "Temples" don't go together. These kinds of laughs make me happy that I did something, which is not usual. Why to be at a place to only follow things other tell you to explore or do. That's applicable to my blog as well. One should not simply follow what I write here. This is reference information, which can help you at times in planning or at least knowing what all options you may have. Anyways, coming back to this blogpost - this blogpost will share about another temple from Goa which is located in Panjim. Which means you need not to drive far to explore to see Goan temples although each temple is different so one doesn't compensate for other.

A few years ago, when I told a friend about temples I visited in Goa, he couldn't stop laughing. and that's the broader perception that "Goa" and "Temples" don't go together. These kinds of laughs make me happy that I did something, which is not usual. Why to be at a place to only follow things other tell you to explore or do. That's applicable to my blog as well. One should not simply follow what I write here. This is reference information, which can help you at times in planning or at least knowing what all options you may have. Anyways, coming back to this blogpost - this blogpost will share about another temple from Goa which is located in Panjim. Which means you need not to drive far to explore to see Goan temples although each temple is different so one doesn't compensate for other. 


When we were walking to Fountainhas neighbourhood of Goa from Marriott Resort and Spa, Mahalaxmi temple came on our way and Arun noticed it on our left. We were not sure if there is any entry gate from the street we were on. After walking around it's periphery, we found a small gate from where one lady was entering into the temple. I asked her if this is right gate for the temple and can we use the same. She smiled and took us along. The temple complex is huge with multiple temples with main temple in the middle of this huge campus. Above photograph shows the view after entering from the small gate which takes you to one of the corners of the temple complex.


When we were walking to Fountainhas neighbourhood of Goa from Marriott Resort and Spa, Mahalaxmi temple came on our way and Arun noticed it on our left. We were not sure if there is any entry gate from the street we were on. After walking around it's periphery, we found a small gate from where one lady was entering into the temple. I asked her if this is right gate for the temple and can we use the same. She smiled and took us along. The temple complex is huge with multiple temples with main temple in the middle of this huge campus. Above photograph shows the view after entering from the small gate which takes you to one of the corners of the temple complex. 


The main part of the temple is quite spacious and on the other end of the hall, idol of Mahalaxmi is placed. Mahalaxmi is  the Hindu Goddess of Wealth. I asked the priest if I can click photograph of this space and it's not allowed in some temples. He smiled and said yes, as if he wanted to say that you are in Goa where millions of photographs are clicked every week by people like me who come from different parts of the world. Although after pandemic, lot of tourists are from India and international tourists are far less in comparison what used to be the case before this pandemic.


The main part of the temple is quite spacious and on the other end of the hall, idol of Mahalaxmi is placed. Mahalaxmi is  the Hindu Goddess of Wealth. I asked the priest if I can click photograph of this space and it's not allowed in some temples. He smiled and said yes, as if he wanted to say that you are in Goa where millions of photographs are clicked every week by people like me who come from different parts of the world. Although after pandemic, lot of tourists are from India and international tourists are far less in comparison what used to be the case before this pandemic. 


Mahalaxmi Temple is located in the city of Panaji, off Dada Vaidhya road at the Altinho foothill, the hill we were climbing to reach Fountainhas. It was the first Hindu temple allowed to be built by the Portuguese in Goa after 300 years after bitter opposition. It was approved by the Portuguese authorities in 1818 after a long delay and built subsequently on contributions made by the devotees. It was most recently renovated in 1983. The deity of the temple originally came from the village of Taleigao and was moved to Bicholim in the 16th century to escape Portuguese destruction.


Mahalaxmi Temple is located in the city of Panaji, off Dada Vaidhya road at the Altinho foothill, the hill we were climbing to reach Fountainhas. It was the first Hindu temple allowed to be built by the Portuguese in Goa after 300 years after bitter opposition. It was approved by the Portuguese authorities in 1818 after a long delay and built subsequently on contributions made by the devotees. It was most recently renovated in 1983. The deity of the temple originally came from the village of Taleigao and was moved to Bicholim in the 16th century to escape Portuguese destruction.


The deity is Goddess Mahalakshmi, made of black stone, with four hands and is placed in a silver canopy as you can see in above photograph. This is the peaceful or Satvik form of Devi. According to the Shakti cul, Mahalakshmi is the original Goddess who takes forms according to three aspects or gunas viz. Brahma (peaceful, calm form or satva), Vishnu (creative action or rajas) and Shiva (destruction or tamas). The deity originally from Mayem in Bicholim taluka was transferred to the present site.


In the 16th century the Havig Brahmins from Karwar-Kumtha areas who lived on alms and charity of others worshipped the Mahalaxmi deity and wherever they went in search of alms they carried this deity along. In the 16th century, they moved to Goa along with this diety and reached Taleigo village of which Panjim was then a mere ward, along the river Gomati (Mandovi). The Havig Brahmins whose whole day was spent begging for alms had sought shelter in the Vetal temple of Taleigao. But when they learnt of the conversion policy of the Portuguese, fearing desecration of their revered Mahalakshmi idol made of marble, they moved away from Taleigao and as they were moving on they found a horse stable which actually belonged to the Portuguese government.

In the 16th century the Havig Brahmins from Karwar-Kumtha areas who lived on alms and charity of others worshipped the Mahalaxmi deity and wherever they went in search of alms they carried this deity along. In the 16th century, they moved to Goa along with this diety and reached Taleigo village of which Panjim was then a mere ward, along the river Gomati (Mandovi). The Havig Brahmins whose whole day was spent begging for alms had sought shelter in the Vetal temple of Taleigao. But when they learnt of the conversion policy of the Portuguese, fearing desecration of their revered Mahalakshmi idol made of marble, they moved away from Taleigao and as they were moving on they found a horse stable which actually belonged to the Portuguese government.


A person called Late Shri. Raghavendra Kamat Mhamai who then worked for the Portuguese military found that this place selected by the Havig Brahmins to hide their deity was unsafe and hence moved it to his palatial house opposite the Adilshahi palace (Old Secretariat) in the heart of Panjim city. Still fearing for the safety and security of the deity, he moved it to Mayem village of the Bicholim Taluka where it remained till 1817. And it happened a few more times on the basis of various events. 

Narayan Kamat Mhamai specially got a approval from king of portugal for the construction of temple. The then Governer General of Goa Conde-de-Rio-Pardo approved the order. By 1819, the temple was completed. The original deity today lies in a small box in the rear wall of the temple which faces the present day main idol of Goddess Mahalakshmi. The magnificent sabhamandap of the temple has been added later and today the recently completed new building of the temple stands proudly as a superb addition to the landmarks of Panjim city.


Today it may look like just another temple which you find in different parts of India, but it's strong history makes it more interesting and worth knowing about. Not many temples have such strong history. If you know anything more interesting about Mahalaxmi temple of Panjim, please share with us through comments section below.


Today it may look like just another temple which you find in different parts of India, but it's strong history makes it more interesting and worth knowing about. Not many temples have such strong history. If you know anything more interesting about Mahalaxmi temple of Panjim, please share with us through comments section below. 

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