Ponda is located in North Goa district approximatel
y 29 kilometers from the capital of state, Panaji. The famous city Margao is just 18 kilometers from Ponda. Situated almost at the centre of state it is accessible by Panaji – Belgaum highway. It will not be too much if we call Ponda a paradise for Hindus as it has the maximum number of Hindu temples in the entire state. You may not feel interested to visit Ponda as a tourist but as a Hindu you may feel to explore a place that is a home for so many Hindu gods. There is no beach front in Ponda but exploring the culture and these cultural monuments do make sense. There is a story behind why Ponda has so many Hindu temples in its vicinity. Portuguese had tried their best in destroying the treasures of ancient Goa. They had not left even the religious places of worship from destroying. They were strong and armed and thus to escape from the cruelty of foreign invaders Hindus had to run away with their deities from the places ruled by Portuguese in the seventeenth century. They came to Ponda which was under the rule of Maratha King. This place was safe for Hindus and for their religion that is why Hindus started building beautiful temples here and set up their deities. Shivaji Maharaj conquered Ponda in 1675 and it remained under Maratha ruling till 1764. During this time period many Hindu temples were built and the Hindu religion flourished. Initially Hindus built temporary temples in the dense forests of Ponda as they found these places safer and suitable for worshipping God. In the year 1791 Portuguese captured Ponda and started their ruling but by that time it was ok with invaders to have Hindu temples in their ruling areas and that is why the temples were not destroyed again. Ponda has so many temples that you can call it a pilgrimage of Hindus. Some of them are as under:
- Mahalsa Narayani temple, Mardol
- Shanta Durga temple
- Mangueshi temple
- Ramnath temple
- Mahalaxmi temple
- Laxmi Narsimha temple
- Nageshi temple
- Navdurga temple
- Gram daivat temple
- Shri Kapleshwar temple, Kapleshwari
- Maruti temple
- Vithoba temple
- Vijayadurga temple
- Sai baba temple
These are some of the many temples situated in this city. Though Goa is rich in churches as you find churches in good numbers in every part of Goa but Ponda is the only place that has many temples but few churches and that is why Ponda proudly known as temple town of Goa. Apart from temples there are two Muslim religious places are also here named Safa Shahouri Mosque and Namazgah Mosque that were escaped from Portuguese destruction. Mardangad fort ruins can also be explored while visiting Ponda as this place has a tomb of Muslim saint Hazrat Abdul Khan.
There are some historical monuments like Cobe De Rama and Buddhist Caves at Rivona worth visiting. You may be interested in visiting the spice plantation area near Ponda. Ponda is the new name of this place as it was called Antruz at the time of Portuguese ruling. People here generally speak Konkani and Marathi languages. Bondla and Bhagwan Mahavir wild life centuries are quite close to Ponda and believe me they are worth spending time in nature’s lap. Dudhsagar fall is the most popular spot in Goa. You can also visit the butterfly conservatory if this small colorful creature of God interests you. It is maintained by an NGO known as Butterfly Conservatory of Goa.
If you want to visit Ponda, you can get decent accommodation here. There are many restaurants here to serve a variety of food. Regular bus services are available connecting Panaji, Margao and Ponda. For local transport taxis and auto rickshaws are available in Ponda.