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Temple on a hillock

ARTI DAS | NT BUZZ

Any village is incomplete without a religious place of worship. In many ways bit brings character to a place. In a place like Goa, our villages are known for their whitewashed churches and colourful temples.

Sometimes these religious places are situated atop a hillock or a plateau and visiting these sites is nothing less than a pilgrimage. Bhagwati temple at Loliem, Canacona is one such place;  situated on a plateau surrounded by natures bounty and is full of wonders.

Visiting this place can be comapred to taking a trek, there are some assigned routes that are best known to the villagers around. After climbing a hillock, you reach a plateau, standing here one can witness a panaromic view of the Karmal ghat. The site can make you forget all the tiredness you encountered while climbing.

The plateau comes alive during the month of September with beautiful wild flowers. These tiny colourful flowers flower on beds of black stones of the plateau making one realise that nature never fails to surprise us. Going further you come across a huge banyan tree which I was told was a crematorium ground of the village as the villagers didn’t have an assigned place in the village itself. Now this practice has been stopped due to availability of new assigned place in the village.

After walking on the plateau for a while you will witness a small temple like structure, this is the Bhagwati temple dedicated to goddess Bhagwati. According to historian Rohit Phalgaonkar this idol of Bhagwati is actually depicting Mahishasurmardini. She is seen with eight hands killing a boar. Phalgaonkar mentions that this is a new idol of the goddess which is itself around 150 years old.

Near this temple is a water tank and a cave which has been closed now due to safety reasons. It was believed that a tiger used to stay in this cave. This is not all, as inside the temple is an idol of tiger locally called ‘vaghro’ and it is worshipped as a secondary deity along with lord Ganesha.

This is yet another example of tiger worship in Goa as in many hinterlands of Goa, the tiger is worshipped as a secondary deity. It shows the history of tigers in Goa.

This temple which is closed most time of the year, comes alive in the month of January when villagers trek up to the plateau to celebrate the festival which is usually celebrated after Diwali. They even cook in the temple during this festival and by evening all villagers come down as it is believed that no one should stay in after the dusk.

This plateau is not only known for its flowers and trees but also for farming. Few villagers are indulged in traditional farming practice on this plateau called ‘kamatsheti.’ They offer the first harvest of this farm to this deity.

The whole area around this temple is quite surreal and you can easily feel one with nature here. The green plateau, wild flowers, legends and stories associated with this place make you believe that you are in a wonderland where time indeed stands still.

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