Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is a picturesque location with a beautiful landscape and and lush greenery all around. This place provides a very soothing natural environment to its inhabitants. The sanctuary provides habitat to a large number of wild animals and a variety of bird species. Some of the occupants here are panthers, Asiatic lions, a variety of deer, crocodiles, snakes, wild cats, etc. Birds like Kingfishers, Hornbills, Yellow Bulbul, Woodpeckers, etc., are also sighted here. The Nature Education Centre, exclusively set up here, imparts useful knowledge about the wildlife to its visitors by showcasing a number of exhibits, books and videos. The Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is much popular among school children and animal lovers, and a favorite destination for the schools and families. The impressive collection of a variety of plants also proves beneficial for researchers and the students of Botany. Being an Eco-tourism destination, it is looked upon greatly by the state. One can even choose to stay at the sanctuary, as comfortable accommodation is provided by the forest department. The Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary provides an exquisite experience to its visitors, especially during early mornings and evenings.
Arvalem Caves Or The Pandava Caves
Goa is also one of the most sought after destinations for heritage architectures. Goa is an ancient state and so is the architecture found here. A beautiful example of the historical monuments present in Goa is the Arvalem Caves or the “Pandava Caves”. Located in the Bicholim town of North Goa, these caves are ancient rock cut caves that give us a chance to steep into the mythological tales. The origin of these caves dates back to the 6th century. Popularly known as the Pandava Caves, these caves have derived their name from the five Pandavas of the epic Mahabharata. As the legend has it, the Pandavas sought refuge in these caves during their exile. The presence of five compartments and Shivlingas in the cave complex provides relevance of this fact. However, the caves have also been claimed to be of Buddhist origin due to presence of a huge statue of Buddha near the place. The architectural style of the caves also speaks loud of the Buddhist possession. The opinions regarding the origin of the caves have been ambivalent from years. The architecture of the caves is simple yet appealing. The walls are plain with no paintings on them. The rock structure has been cut into laterite stone. The mysterious look of the caves has been attracting the tourists over long years. The presence of the famous Rudreshwar temple and a waterfall in its vicinity, makes this place a must visit in Goa.
Aguada Fort stands tall as one of the most known representatives of the Goan history. The fort was constructed in 1612 by the Portuguese afearing an attack from the Marathas and the Dutch. The fort had a fresh water spring that provided for the water requirements of all those who used to pass through the place. The giant fort served as crucial point for all the important operations of the Portueguese.
The Dam is located in a picturesque area that extends westward from Sahyadris Mountains, also known as Western Ghats. Chapoli lies deep in the valley between hills, which makes this wonderful nature gift a great place for relaxing rest and very convenient for excursions for tourists from the closest to the Dam resorts like Palolem, Putnam, Agonda, etc..
The area around Chapoli Dam is considered to be ecological and is a tourist zone due to the fact of being endowed with unique natural beauty. Calm and quite wide water surface against the soft silhouettes of the surrounding hills brings a feeling of peace and appeasement.
The Shri Mahalaxmi Temple is situated in the village of Bandode, 4kms from Ponda. The Shri Mahalaxmi Temple is considered the abode of the original Goddess of the Shakti cult. A tour of the temple can be made after offering prostrations to the Goddess Lakshmi – who is the presiding deity of Panaji, the capital of Goa. The Goddess Mahalakshmi was worshipped by the Shilahara rulers (750-1030 A. D.) and the early Kadamba Kings of Goa.
The ‘Sabhamandap’ in the Shri Mahalaxmi temple has a gallery of 18 images, out of 24 images of emanatory aspects of Bhagvata sect, which is considered one of the few galleries of wooden images of Vishnu in India. The image of Mahalakshmi in the Shri Mahalaxmi temple has a close resemblance to that of the image of the Mahalakshmi at Kolhapur – the main centre of worship. Her special feature is that she wears a linga on her head and is considered a ‘Satvik’ (peaceful) form of the Devi. The main temple has been reconstructed recently. The main festivals at this temple are Navaratri and Chaitra Purnima.
Shri Shantadurga Temple
The Zatra of Shantadurga being a major festival in Goa, the temples that house the Goddess are equally renowned. There are three temples of Shri Shantadurga – one at Kavlem, one at Pemem and the third at Fatorpa (Quepem). Shri Shantadurga (Kavlem): Located 33 kms from Panaji, and sumptuously built, this Shri Shantadurga temple is dedicated to Shantadurga. Shantadurga is the Goddess who mediates between Vishnu and Shiva. The Shri Shantadurga temple has a rich and beautiful ‘Garbhakuda’ (the holy of holies) where the deity is kept. The deity was shifted from Kelsi. The ‘Agrashalas’ provide lodging facilities to the devotees.
Shri Shantadurga (Pemem): This Shri Shantadurga Temple is located 14 kms from Mapusa at Dhargal, Pemem. The Goddess of this Shri Shantaduega temple was removed at Sanquelim when all the temples in Barde were destroyed by the Portuguese. Therefore, in 1550 A.D this Goddess was taken to Dhargal in Pemem Taluka which also formed part of Sewantwadi principality. The ‘Zatra’ of this Goddess is held in the month of December. The temple is set in the midst of extremely beautiful natural surroundings.
Shri Shantadurga (Kunkolienkarin): This Shri Shantadurga temple is located 18 kms from Margao, at Fatorpa (Quepem). Originally from Cuncolim village in Salcete Taluka, the Goddess was removed to Fatorpa in 16th Century during religious persecution by the Portuguese – in the era of the Portuguese inquisition. The annual ‘Zatra’ falls in the month of Pausha Shuddha Navami, and attracts thousands of devotees and tourists from all over the world.