The Village Surla

By Rohit R Phalgaonkar

The name Surla would immediately remind any Goan of the Tambdi Surla village in Sanguem. It is a village is home to the famous 13thcentury Kadamb temple. Though there are many evidences of Kadamb art found in Goa these evidences are not in one piece or form.

They are in the form of sculptures or small portions of old temple that form a part of a newer temple today. However, this temple is the only reminiscent of a Kadamb temple surviving in Goa, in one piece.     

However, Surla is also a village in the Bicholim taluka, which, much like the village of Tambdi Surla, also has historic value. It is one of the few villages in Goa in which the worship of Navdurga is found. A sculpture of Mahishaasurmardini, dating to the 14th– 15thcentury, was found in this village and is now in the Goa State Museum at Patto.

This village also boasts of a cave temple dedicated to Shiva, a site declared as ‘Protected Site’ by the Department of Archives and Archaeology, Goa State. It is a single celled cave and almost matches the first cave of Lamgao in plan. The cave is situated behind the Shri Navdurga temple of Surla.

The cave lies at the foot of a hillock. The Shivling is mounted on a pedestal in the sanctum. The cave has two broad pillars at its entrance porch and can be assigned to the 8th-9th century AD.

Apart from this, the village also has a mosque that probably dates to the Adilshah period in Goa. It is believed that in 1560 AD Ismail Adilshah built around 27 mosques in Goa. Out of which only a few survive today. One of the mosques lies in the Surla village. The area in which this mosque lies is called as Surla Taar.

Surla is the name of the village while Taar refers to the village ferry point. The ferry point is across the River Mandovi and joins the Valvai village of Ponda taluka to Surla in Bicholim. The locals on the Ponda side also call this part of the river as the River Valvai.

As one ascends the slope leading to Surla Taar one can find an old paved road running parallel to the tar road. This old road is as broad as our city roads and is paved with rectangular blocks of laterite stones.  This paved road was perhaps used by the traders and commuters during the ancient times and was rebuilt during the 16th century.

If you walk along this road it takes you to an old ferry point. Close to this road one will come across an old mosque that dates to the Adilshahi period. The structure of the mosque does not appear to be that old, but a huge water tank in front of it corroborates its historical period. The rectangular water tank has four flight steps in all four sides. The sides have beautiful mehrab arcs running all along it periphery. Some years back the tank was conserved by the Department of Archives and Archaeology as the site is declared as a ‘Protected Site’

The traditional Shigmo is celebrated here by both the Hindus and the Muslims.