District : North Goa District
Location : North Goa
Known As : Antruz Mahal
Best Time to Visit : November to February
Mahalasa Temple , Ponda
|To See :||Kamaxi Temple, South of Ponda, Mount Carmel Chapel, Molem Wildlife.|
|Most Famous For :||There are more than 50 temples within the radius of 10 km in Ponda.|
|Don't Miss :||The Miraculous Cross Goddar where on the 3rd of May, the Feast of Holy Cross is celebrated.|
|Must Visit :||The Safa Shahouri Masjid, which is considered to be miraculous.|
|Getting Around :||Mangueshi Temple, Mahalaxmi Temple, Shivaji Fort.|
|Getting There :||Air -Located at
45 km from Dabolim Airport.
Rail - The Karmali Station is 17 kms away from Ponda.
Road - NH 4A that connects Panjim to Belgaum in Karnataka via Old Goa and Ponda.
|Inside Tip :||There are four Spice gardens around Ponda and where one can enjoy satisfying rural retreat.|
|Must Try :||Try Fernando Da Costa's tart Goan Prawn Curry-rice.|
|Shopping Options :||Handicrafts Emporium (Tourist Hostel), Afroza's Boutique, Local Bazaar, Colva Beach.|
|Important Distances :||Mumbai 639 kms, Pune 226 kms, Panaji 29 kms,|
|Where to Eat :||Udupi Restaurant, Atithi, Avhiksha Palace, Atish, Ganesh Residency.|
|Staying Options :||Hotel Menino, Atish Hotel, Ganesh Residency, Venkatesh Leela.|
India is a land of discreet devotion and every city has its own way of portraying secularity. And so does Ponda. Where can you find a business district bustling under the shadows of religion? Resting on the pillars of credibility, the tiny patch of Ponda city nestling at 29 km from Panjim, offers quick access to more than 50 sacred temples nestling in the vicinity. It is here that you can feel faith flowing in the air like a pollen grain just out of its habitat. And so, the increasing influx of supplicants to the revered personage sparked off trade in offerings of oil, diyas, fruit, flowers and the ubiquitous coconut, gradually leading to a personified market.
Start your itinerary in Ponda from the famous mosque of Safa Shahouri, nestling in the old but greener quarter of the city. Touch the laterite walls blackened with the pastel of time, and you can feel an imaginable peace existing around the mosque, in the shimmering waters of its tank and in the whisper of the holy spirits that dwell in the trees. This grand piece of sanctity is believed to be among one of the 27 mosques that were built by Adil Shah in 1560. The first impression rests on a tilted roof standing majestic on a flight of stairs. It's name can easily be replaced with the word obelisk, more because of the eight-sided coloumns adorned by finials on the outer platform of the mosque periphery. Don't forget to visit the holy stone water tank, nestling nearby. You will be surprised to know that taking a holy dip is prohibited in this sacred aqua cradle! The secret lies in the positioning the underwater arches that can only be felt after you dive into the sacred pool!
There are more than fifty Hindu temples within a 10 km radius of Ponda, try to visit as many temples as you can during your holiday trip to this holy city. Start your pilgrimage itinerary by visiting the famous temple of 'Mahalasa Narayani' situated at a distance of 2 km from the city centre at Mardol. The eloquent Vishnu temple is dominated by a six-storeyed 'deepstambha' - said to be the largest in India - which tells its visitors about the 10 incarnations of the Lord. You can also see the magnificent 'Garuda' pillar - the half-man half-eagle vehicle of Lord Vishnu, which stands on the back of a turtle with Garuda perched on top of it. Remember to visit the Nagesh Temple also spelt as Naguesh Temple, whose deity is an incarnation of Lord Shiva (God of serpents) worshipped only in Goa. The whole of the periphery fringed with palm trees together with the seven-storeyed painted coloumn in the courtyard is a nice place to roam around in the evening. Step in the spacious 'Mandapa' (an assembly hall, generally pillared, preceding the sanctum sanctorum) and listen to the magnificent woodcarvings that narrate stories from the Hindu epics - 'Ramayana' and 'Mahabharata'.
Church of Holy Cross , Ponda
The palm adorned land of Goa is dotted with numerous churches that create an impressive sight with lush green surroundings and white architecture. It is a fun to be present in Ponda during the festive time, when the whole city reverberates with chants of holy names. Remember to touch the Miraculous Cross, known locally as 'Goddar', and plan your travel to Ponda on the 3rd May, when the famous feast of Holy Cross is celebrated here with full gaiety. Ponda may be the Hindu heartland of Goa, but the feast sees people of all creeds making a solemn trek to the forest checkpost on the winding steps that climb up a steep hill. The Miraculous Cross, housed in the ornate Church of Holy Cross, behind an intricate screen, is believed to have had a vision of Christ appear on it when it was located in a Goan village. Interestingly, it is thought to have grown in size over the decades. It is said to be able to heal the sick and is kept in a box with a hole on one side so that it can be touched by the devotees.
There is only one central road in Ponda city, which lies at the heart of Ponda Taluka, offering quick access to more than 50 sacred temples in the vicinity, to numerous spice plantations and wildlife santuaries of east Goa. This Main Road, also known as the Belgaum Road, is actually NH 4A that connects Panjim to Belgaum in Karnataka via Old Goa and Ponda. This one way road is crowded with shops, restaurants and office blocks. There is no shortage of hotels for travellers or pilgrims, but a prior booking is recommended to avoid last minute hassels. The serene city is located at 45 km from Dabolim Airport and 29 km from Panjim, and one can get nomerous ways to reach the downtown from both these places.
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