Saptakoteshwar

Saptakoteshwar

The Saptakoteshwar temple at Narve, India is considered to be one of the six great sites of temples of Lord Shiva in the Konkan area. The village of Narve is located about 35 km (22 miles) from Panaji and can be reached via an interesting route which requires a a ferryboat from the island of Divar.

This is also an ancient temple, Saptakoteshwar having been the deity of the Kings of the Kadamba dynasty around the twelfth century. Coins found from this era mention the name of the deity along with that of the King Jayakeshi.

In 1352, when the Kadamba kingdom was conquered by the Bahamani Sultan Allauddin Hasan Gangu and Goa was under the rule of the Sultan for about fourteen years. A number of temples were destroyed during this period and the linga (symbol of Lord Shiva) at the Saptakoteshwar temple was also dug up by the troops.

In 1367, the army of Vijayanagar King Harihararaya defeated the Bahamani Sultan's troops in Goa and managed to restore most of the temples to their former glory including that of Saptakoteshwar.

When the temple was demolished in 1560 by the Portuguese, (and a chapel dedicated to Nossa Senhora De Candelaria was erected in its place) the linga was used as a well shaft until some Hindus managed to rescue it. The idol was then smuggled across the river to Bicholim where it was installed in a brand new temple and revamped in 1668 by the Maratha Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

With its shallow Moghul dome mounted on an octagonal drum sloping tiled roofs, European style mandapa, or assembly hall and tall lamp tower or deepastamba, the temple is situated in an archaeologically important area. The surroundings of the temple are tinged with several Brahminical laterite and stone caves. In the vicinity of it existed a Jain Math, the ruins of which are still visible. It was probably an important Jain temple patronised by the Kadamba rulers prior to their shifting loyalty to Sri Saptakoteshwar. In front of the temple towards the right side of the Deepastamba is a shrine of Kalbhairav and outside it are seen the padukas of Dattatraya carved on the stone. Little ahead of the Deepastamba are seen two huge laterite pillar-like structures buried deep. Probably they may be stone henges. Behind the temple are seen carved stone walls with niches. It may have been an ancient Agrashala. Similarly, close to the temple there is a man-made tunnel like structure which is presently silted. Near the temple site there is a sacred tank known as Panchaganga Tirtha which is used for ablutions by the devotees during the birth day of Lord Shiva.

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