The Goan temple architecture saw a significant change in the 14th century with the entrance of the Vijayanagara Empire. Numerous exquisite temples were built in Goa under the Vijayanagara Empire, which was recognised for supporting the arts and culture. The temples were constructed at this period with a blend of regional Indian architectural styles and local building methods. The use of basalt rock, which was easily accessible in the area, is the most notable aspect of the Goan temple design. The basalt, laterite, and granite stones used to construct the temples were meticulously cut and carved into elaborate patterns and sculptures. 

Both Muslim and Portuguese monarchs destroyed the majority of Goa’s original temples, and during Portuguese control, the artisan classes in the Velhas Conquistas who built the temples converted to Christianity. Only the Mahadev Temple, an old temple from the 12th century in Goa, remains in its original form. 

A humble moulded plinth supports the temple, which faces east. Its components include the Garbhagriha (sanctum), Antarala (vestibule), and the main pillared hall, or mukhamandapa, which houses a stone statue of Nandi. The main hall has balustrade entrances on the east, north, and south sides, providing entry from all three directions. Due to the nearby red dirt, the village of Surla in the Sanguem taluka, where the Mahadev temple is located, is known locally as Tambdi Surla. Chlorite schist, a soft stone that can accommodate detailed carvings, was the primary building material for the temple. The mukhamandapa is adorned with four carved, lathe-turned pillars, kakshasanas (seating arrangements), and rosettes (flowers) on the exterior. A relief scene of an elephant trampling a horse is carved on a pillar (eastern) which is very prominent. 

Temples of Goa - Sheet1
Tambdi Surla, Image ©,_Tambdi_Surla#/media/File:Shri_Mahadev_Temple,_Tambdi_Surla,_Goa.jpg

17th century (CE) – Initial phase | Temples of Goa

Neo-Roman architectural elements (such as Mannerism and Baroque) were included during this stage. During this time, domes (often hemispherical and distinctive of the Baroque style) began to replace the paraboloid/pyramidal structures typically seen throughout India. This phase’s characteristics include arched doorways, tall spires on domes (but with forms appropriate to Agamist temples), and so on. Additionally, decorations (either with colour, actual buildings, or both) are sometimes used to create a distinguishing triangle above doorways by using light and dark colours for contrast.

Near the Indian province of Goa, near Narve, lies the Shri Saptakoteshwar Temple. Lord Shiva, a Hindu god, is the object of the temple’s dedication. Around the twelfth century, the Shri Saptakoteshwar Temple was constructed as a family temple for the Kadamba dynasty. Numerous invasions and renovations caused the Shri Saptakoteshwar Temple to lose its original grandeur and beauty. The architecture of the Shri Saptakoteswar temple is a fusion of Mughal and European design. It comprises an octagonal platform with slanting roofs and a white dome in the Mughal style. Numerous smaller Brahminical laterite and stone cave temples surround the main temple. The temple’s wall has niches cut into it. Various buildings surround the main temple, including the stone-carved feet of Dattatraya and the shrine of Kalbhairav with padukas. In the temple’s grounds, there are pillars. Another exciting feature is a man-made tunnel as well as the Panchaganga Tirtha, a sacred pool where worshippers can bathe to atone for their sins.

Temples of Goa - Sheet2
Shri Saptakoteshwar Temple, Image ©

18th century CE, the second phase

The Maratha architectural features, such as columns, domed porches, collonaded pavilions within, pointed and cusped arched niches and windows, etc., were incorporated with the pre-existing Neo-Roman (Mannerist, Baroque, Rococo, etc.) forms during this era.

Historical sources state that the temple was once a mud shrine that was changed into a temple at the request of one of the Shahu Maharaj of Satara’s ministers in 1728. Originally, Shantadurga’s temple was housed in a Cavellossim temple. The temple’s architecture is a fusion of Hindu and Portuguese traditions, representing the area’s distinct cultural and historical legacy. The temple’s main building has a recognisable Portuguese front with white-washed walls and red-tiled roofs. The tall deepstambha, or lamp tower, of the Shantadurga Temple, which soars to a height of 42 feet, is one of its most outstanding features. The deepstambha is illuminated at important events and festivals and is decorated with beautiful carvings and sculptures.

Temples of Goa - Sheet3
Shantadurga temple, Image ©

Mid-19th to early 20th century CE – third phase

During the third phase, architects stopped relying on European styles and began developing their standards. Several temples constructed during this period have rectangular (architraved) entrances, while others have paraboloid or pyramidal towers.

The Ramnathi Temple is situated in the Ponda Taluka hamlet of Bandora.  It is a Hindu temple that Lord Rama personally dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is rigidly built and mimics neighbourhood homes. In place of the Shikhara that is present in most Hindu temples in India, the temple’s main shrine features a white dome. At the temple’s entrance is a second, smaller dome identical to the first. The dome’s prominence implies that Muslim or Mughal architecture had an impact. In addition to the main shrine, this temple also has the Panchayasthan system, which consists of four more minor temples. The outside wall of the temple is painted in a whitewash with yellow borders and accents.

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Ramnathi temple, Image ©

ELEMENTS of GOAN TEMPLES – | Temples of Goa

Tali/Tallay: Typically, a water tank is built next to the complex’s entrance. It could have a Tulsi plant growing in the heart of a little square construction. They provide water for ceremonies, cleansing, and watering of the temple gardens, among other temple activities. The water storage tank of the Mangueshi Temple in Ponda is another illustration of a temple. The tank, which is a part of the temple complex, is said to have been constructed in the 18th century. A set of steps surrounds the tank, decorated with elaborate carvings and sculptures showing various gods and goddesses.

Dev Talai, Image ©

An integral feature of the complex is a “Tulasi” Brindavan, often found in the courtyard outside the prakara. A big water tank or stream named “Tirthastan” is accessible from the courtyard and is used for ceremonial cleansing.

Tulsi Vrindavan, Image ©

A lamp tower known as Deepasthambha or Dipmal is converted into a pillar of lights during festive occasions. In hardly any other region of India is this trait found. The tower is an octagonal turret constructed in front of the temple and varies in height from five to seven stories. Dwarf columns link each story at the corners, and between them are lamp niches that pierce the sides of the turret. The idea of a separate tower of light was first proposed by the Marathas (Mahuli, Shiva temple). Still, the Goan architect accepted it while later incorporating their distinctive designs based on Christian Baroque features. 

Deepstambha, Image ©

Praveśadvāra is a Sanskrit term that refers to the main entrance of a temple, which is considered the gateway to the divine realm. The drum house, Naubat Khana, is often erected over and integrated into the main gate. Drums and other musical instruments are stored and used in this building.

Naubat Khana, Image ©


  1. Goan Temple (2023) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: [Accessed 17 March 2023]
  2. Aditya Garg. Temple Architecture Styles part 7: Goan Architecture Style. Medium. Available at: [Accessed 17 March 2023]
  3. Mohan Pai. The Flight of Gods. Available at:
  4. Shri Saptakoteshwar Temple – The Living Religious Heritage. Vastu  Available at:
  5. Mahadev Temple, Tambdi Surla. Archaeological Survey of India, Goa. Available at:
  6. Ramnathi Temple. Om Available at: 

Arushi Bhargava is a literary enthusiast and an architect! Throughout her life and education, she has been on a quest for discovering more artistic, literary, and architectural treasures.