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.)
It was a very interesting read Rajan Bhai. So much so that it encouraged me to visit this site on 26th December 2021. Since the weather was excellent I and my wife really enjoyed the visit. I also walked down to the water body. It was a dream come true as I imagined existence of such place since long.
Visited the site on 5th of November 2017. The Narayandev image is superb. Did not see the Garuda image. Thank you for the blog.
It is little surprising that the stone images have not yet been looted and taken to some western museum….
Once again, RP….. Thanks for those lovely photographs. Must say that the images have survived the vagaries, inter alia, of time, quite remarkably. And yes, the greenery is truly pleasing to the eye. A pity that big interests will ‘take care’ of it.
The Narayandev image is superb. Pity that it is rotting and as you say if the miners get there… Lot of damage to that whole area due to mining is what I heard. I have not seen it first hand. All I can vouch for is that the mining trucks used to destroy the Shakleshpur Ghat road and it was always in bad shape.
The greenery of these forests during monsoon is amazing. Thanks for the photos.