The shrine of Mallikarjun, a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, is said to be one of the oldest temple in Goa and is located in the middle of lovely natural environs in a valley. It is situated near the small village of Sristhal, in the southernmost taluka of Canacona. Sristhal is about 5 km drive away from the taluka headquarters of Chaudi which is about 75 kms from Panaji. The temple is believed to be built during the middle of the 16th century, as per the inscriptions near the temple dome, by lineages of the Kshatriya samaj. It was renovated in the year 1778. There are around 14 Mallikarjuna shrines across Goa. The striking similarity in these shrines is that all idols are covered with metallic kavachas. The lingas are believed to be Swaymbhu lingas. According to the archives two olden shrines of Mallikarjun were in Bardez at Assgao and Pomburpa which were destroyed by the Portuguese.
About the temple
The temple lies in an enchanting location in a valley, completely surrounded by mountains and lush greenery. The temple is said to be over 200 years old, as per the inscription near the temple dome.
The temple is believed to have been built around mid16th century by descendants of the Kshatriya Samaj. It was restored in the year 1778. There are some exceedingly lovely carved wooden columns within the temple building which are very unique to this temple and not found in any other shrine in Goa. The carving has been done by accomplished craftsmen who were fetched here from the southern Indian states.
The six pillars in the mandap (hall) have engravings of the Puranas and Mahabharat. The dwarpal (doorkeeper) on either side of the door leading to the inner sanctum are exquisitely carved . The temple has altars of about 60 Hindu deities. Number of festivals is celebrated with the annual Jatra being the most special amongst them in Goa. Festivals like Rathasaptami and Shigmotsav are also celebrated that draw a number of devotees. The exquisite wood and silver carvings found in the temple, which is quite famous, is said to have been set up by Habu Brahmins of the Dravidian dynasty. One can see some of the finest surviving art on the six pillars in the mantapa or the assembly hall. The mantapa or the assembly hall houses one of the wooden pillars which is said to be the oracle pillar in the temple.
About the Deity
Main deity in the temple is Lord Shiva who blesses the devotees in the name of Lord Mallikarjun. The Linga a Swayabhu linga, was discovered by a member of the Kunbi community while clearing the forest. This deity is mostly worshipped by Gavades, Kunbis, Velips and the Marathas.
Legend and stories
According to a legend the place where the temple is located was the place where Lord Shiva is said to have been united with his consort Parvati after a long period of separation. According to another source, the demon Malla was fighting with one of the Pandava brothers, Arjuna. Shiva assumed the form of a hunter and slew Malla thereby saving Arjuna and hence the name ‘Mallikarjun'. The temple is also called as Adavat Sinhasanadhishwar Mahapati Canacona by the locals. The Linga is believed to be Swayambhu lingam, discovered by a member of the Kunbi community while clearing the forest. It was a phallic shaped uncut stone covered with a metallic mask.
This ritual alternates every year with the Veeramel celebration that is held at the time of the customary Shigmo festival. The word Shisharani is said to mean a cooking place on top of a human head. During this ritual rice is cooked in a earthenware on top of 3 heads of three men. These three sleep on the ground with their heads in touch with each other. The fire is lit in the middle of the heads to cook the rice. The heads are covered with wet cloth and layers of plantain trunk.
The yearly festival (Jatra) held at the temple is one of its kind amongst the temple festivals of Goa. On the day of the festival, in the early hours, the idol of the deity is taken out in a procession for almost 2–3 hours and reaches the Rajbag beach, nearby. Number of rituals that includes a special bath for the deity is held at the beach, after which the deity is brought back to the temple. Hundreds of devotees have a holy bath at the same time on the seashore.
This festival is celebrated once in two years that coincides with the traditional Shigmo festival. This celebration takes place close to midnight. Selected local youth who are called Gade, rush from door to door with swords in their hands trailed by people with drums and other musical instruments.
Avatar Purush (: Asali, Khalvade and Bhatpal) are essentially smaller deities found at three nearby places where they are venerated. Once a year, they are taken in a grand procession at night to the main temple at Sristhal.Apart from these festivals, the temple also celebrates a number of common Goan festivals like the Rathasaptami and Shigmo.
The daily worship is performed by Brahmin priest only for a certain chosen period and during the rest of the period, the Kunbi priests namely Velip and Zalmi do the daily worship. The ritual of hunting is related with some of the Mallikarjuna shrines.
The Mallikarjun Temple is located 5 km from Chaudi, the headquarters of Canacona taluka. You can hire taxis or autos to reach the temple.
South Goa district.
Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-
- Relief from diseases
- Purchase of vehicles
- Gain Knowledge
Kailaasarana Shiva Chandramouli Phaneendra Maathaa Mukutee Zalaalee Kaarunya Sindhu Bhava Dukha Haaree Thujaveena Shambho Maja Kona Taaree
Meaning -Oh Lord Shiva who is seated on Mount Kailash, where the moon decorates his forehead and the king of serpents crown his head, who is merciful and removes delusion, You alone can protect me. I surrender to thee.
Aum Trayambakam Yajaamahey Sugandhim Pusti Vardhanam Urvaarukamiva Bandhanaath Mrutyor Muksheeya Maamritaat
Meaning -We worship the fragrant Lord Shiva, who has 3 eyes and who cultivates all beings. May He free me from death, for immortality, as even a cucumber is separated from its bond with the vine.