Surrounded by lush vegetation at the foothills of the village of Kavlem in the Ponda Taluka district of Goa, the Shantadurga Temple is dedicated to Shree Shantadurga, the goddess of peace. A small mud shrine of the goddess once sat at the site, which was then transformed into an elaborate temple in 1738, with further renovations in the 1960s.
According to Hindu mythology, the goddess is famous for playing mediator between Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, taking Shiva by her left hand and Vishnu by her right to pacify the warring gods. This is why the idol of the goddess inside the Shantadurga Temple is flanked by statues of Shiva and Vishnu, and why she holds a serpent in each hand – to represent the gods.
Architecturally, the temple is a fusion of Indo-Portuguese styles. There is a main temple and three smaller temples for other deities built around it. The temple building features a series of pyramidal roofs with a dome.
The Shantadurga Temple is easily reached by road from Panaji, Goa’s state capital. All visitors must dress conservatively.