Deep in Goa‘s hinterland, in the tiny village of Vichundrem in Sanguem taluka, lie the ruins of an ancient temple of Narayandev, dating most likely to the 11th C.
The good news is that this remarkable historical site is still under the jurisdiction of Goans, and not the Delhi babus from the rubbish Archaeological Survey of India. The bad news is that the wretched criminals – aka Goan miners – have now gotten so close to it that there is a likelihood of these ancient treasures ending up tossed into a barge laden with iron ore bound for Shanghai.
I had been to this site twice before in 2007 and 2008. Last month I made another sortie. An excursion into the forest during the monsoons is always a delight, and it was pouring heavily when we got there. The heroics of my driver-assistant Babu Naik, who first cleared the thick foliage and then sheltered my camera equipment, made it possible for me to score a few frames.
There is some disagreement among researchers regarding this site. The accepted view is that it was a Kadamba-era temple of Narayandev. But a few argue that the image is of Padmanabha and that the temple is of Chalukyan vintage – that would peg it back at least 2 centuries, to around 9th C. Although Narayan and Padmanabha are both representations of Vishnu, differences in their iconography obtain.
Update: I just remembered – there is an old Marathi abhanga of Tukaram that invokes both Padmanabha and Narayana together. It was made popular by the Goan maestro Suresh Haldankar (1926-2000) in this 1950s recording. For a newer rendition by Raghunandan Panshikar, go here. (Panshikar’s family is from Goa, too – from the village of Panshi in Pernem.)