Goa - Mallikarjun Temple, Shristhal

The ancient temple of Shri Mallikarjun is located near the small village of Sristhal, in the southernmost taluka of Canacona. Sristhal is about 5 km drive away from the taluka headquarters of Chaudi which is about 75 kms from Panaji.alt

The temple lies in an enchanting location in a valley, completely surrounded by blue mountains and greenery. The temple itself is at least 200 years old, as per the writing on a plaque near the temple dome.

The temple is believed to have been constructed during the Middle of the 16th century by ancestors of the Kshatriya Samaj. It was renovated in the year 1778.

There are some extremely beautiful carved wooden pillars inside the temple building the likes of which are not found in any other temple in Goa. The carving has been done by skilled craftsmen who were brought here from the southern Indian states.

The six pillars in the mandap (hall) have scenes from the Puranas and Mahabharat carved on them. There are beautifully carved profiles of dwarpal (doorkeeper) on either side of the door leading to the inner sanctum.

The temple is dedicated to Shri Mallikarjun who is yet another incarnation of Lord Shiva and he is also known as Adavat Sinhasanadhishwar Mahapati Canacona among the locals. According to legend, the location of the temple is supposed to be the place where Lord Shiva met his consort Parvati after a long separation.

The annual festival or Jatra held at the temple is quite unique among the temple festivals of Goa. Early morning on the day of the festival, the idol of the deity is taken out in a procession which travels for almost 2-3 hours to reach the nearby Kindlebag beach. A number of rituals including a special bath for the deity are held at the beach, after which the deity returns to the temple. Hundreds of devotees have a holy bath at the same time on the seashore.

Besides the annual Jatra, the temple is also famous for some unique occasions on which some special rituals are held.

Avatar Purush: These are actually smaller deities called Avatar Purush located at three nearby places: Asali, Khalvade and Bhatpal where they are worshipped. But once a year, they are taken in a magnificent procession at night to the main temple at Sristhal.

Veeramel: This celebration is held once every two years at the time of the traditional Shigmo festival. This is alternated with the Shisharanni ritual described below. During this celebration which occurs close to midnight, selected local youth who are called Gade, rush from house to house with swords in their hands followed by people with drums and other musical instruments.

Shisharanni:This ritual alternates every year with the Veeramel celebration held at the time of the traditional Shigmo festival. The word Shisharanni is supposed to mean a cooking place on top of a human head. This is an absolutely amazing ritual involving three persons who sleep on the ground with their heads touching each other. A vessel of rice is kept on their heads and fire is lit between the heads to cook the rice.

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