The temple is situated at the foot of the Ghat. The beauty of the temple besides its construction, lies in the site on which it stands. The small shallow stream flowing towards its east enhances the beauty of the temple.
The 3-day survey was conducted by the students of the Goa college of Architecture at the instance of its former in-charge Shri R.V. Kolhatkar and the finaldocumentation in the form of 50 sheets of formal architectural drawings and sketches was done bay a teamof students led by Prof. V. R. Ambatkar. This teamincludeed John Marcelo,Samir Nadkarni, Orty Mendonca, Taraka Nayaka, Sharmila Kamat and Lavina Pais. The attempt to scale the rare architectural monument of Goa meticulously is laudable and deserves encouragement.
Of all the ancient temples of Goa, only shrine which has weathered the nature’s fury and politicalstorms steering clear till today leaving behind over 700-year-old architectural structure almost intact is the Mahadeva temple of Tambdi Surla. It is well-known in this reason for its unique blend of Kadamba-Yadava architecture. Its is the oldest existing living monument of the Kadambas who had the sway in this territory from 11th to 13th centuries A.D.
For a long time, the templewas not easily accessible and the anxious tourist had to tread a long rugged path of 8 kms.through the thich woods. Now the situation has changed considerably and one can approach the shrine lying 45 kms away form Panaji,in the north region of the Sanguem town by motorable road within 2 hours.The easy accessibility is drawing now more and more architects, archaeologists and scholars towards it in recent times. Taking cue for its historical importance,the students of Goa College of Architecture launched a special survey programme a few years ago to fathom its architectural depths. The temple had been described before by many scholars durinf last two decades but the present attempt of the students to document it is exclusive in its own way. The students scaled it ambitiously form the plinth to Kalasha covering the intricate details of the roof columns nitches, rosette, ceilings and the pillars, which was never done before.
This small but very beautiful temple is built of basalt stone as was the case with most of the temples of the time.
The possibility that the intricate carving of figural reliefs is easier on basalt stone than the friable ferruginous stone though available in plenty in this area, musthave prompted the Kadambas and their sculptors to resort to the use of the former. Among other basalt stone temples of the time, one still comes across the ruins of the Saptakoteshwar temple at the (Naroa) Diwar, Mahadeva Temple at Curdi which is dismantled now and shifted to a safer place from the turbulent waters of Salaulim, and a broken door lintel of the Siva temple at Chandor.
It is believed that the stone used for this attractive temple was brought form the neighboring areas in Goa and possibly even from over the Ghat region to which the village has an access in the formof an ancient steep stone staircase. The beauty of this shrine lies not only in its construction but also on the site on which it stands, just at the foot of the Ghat, with sanctuary all round. The small serpentine stream flowing towards the east inhances the beauty of the temple.
Dedicated to Lord Siva in the form of Shivalinga which is enshrined there, templefacing towards the east is raised on a plainly moulded plinth and consists of a Garbhagriha (sactum cella ) with Antarala (vestibule) in front,followed by a square open Mukhamandapa (main hall) with four well sculpted standing pillars and pilasters. The Mukhamandapa is accessible from three sides with entries towards the east, north and south with steps in front. On the sides there are ten plain pillars, all monoliths, depicting the Hoysala, Yadava influences on the Kadamba style. On the rear walls are seen four Devakoshthas with kakashasanas in the sides.On the base of one of the pillars is seen an unusual rlief on an elephant trampling a horse. The tops of the pillars are marked with the Nagabandhas. The perforated windows on either side if the entrance reveal the influence of Hoysala style. The Garbhagriha is seen to extend partly over the Antarala. The ceiling in the Garbhagriha consists of stone carving in the formof lotus petals. At the door of the Girbhagriha on either side lie two nitches with images of Nagas (serpents). On the right side of the door to Girbhagriha, ther is a two-hooded Naga image. A very good image of Uma is seen down below Vishnu. In the niche in the extreme east is seen an image of Lord Ganesh in sitting posture. The ceiling of the main hall is carved with Ashtadala Kamalas, each with 8 petalled lotus. The exquisitely carved rosettes show the finest workmanship of the Kadamba craftsmen.The Garbhagriha has Gajanan in Lalatbimb. The deity, Shivalinga which is quite big is flanked by two Banalingas and a mutilated image of Ganesha which might have been the original image subsequently replaced by the one in the niche at the extreme eastern end. The Garbhagraha has plain exterior walls with the exception of the part below the rear side of the Kakshasanas on which are depicted the rosettes with bold relief.
The Sikhara rises on the ceiling of the Garbhagraha. Unlike other Sikhara, it does not taper to a point. It is believed that the topmost platformof the Sikhara,Amalaka must have dislodged itself. The niches of the Sikhara are having the bas-reliefs of fine sculptures. Towards the eastern side on terraces of Vimana, the imiage of Brahma is well depicted. Just above it, is the carving of Saraswati without Vina but Kamala in her hand. On the back side of the outer wall lies the image of Mahesh and above itare seen Uma-Mahesh. On the leftside of the outer wall, Vishnu is seen below the imageof Kumarashakti.
Sockets outside the walls indicate the arrangement for back-seats of railings which were very much in vogue during Chalukyan times. The ceiling is built of large slabs with kapotasover the entrance. One important feature adopted by the sculptors of this shrine is that they have not used mortar at all which was very much in use in the later period in this region specially in the case of laterite temples.
The existence of the stone-henges behind the temple credence to the belief that the temple was built on the megalithic site which might have been 1000 years older than the temple.
The German scholar, Dr. Gritli Mitterwalner finds the resemblance between the walls of the Garbhagraha and Antarala of this temple with those of the Kalleshwara temple at Balambi in Dharwar district of Karnataka, which was constructed during Goa Kadambas period. Both the temples are also having plain walls without niches and a two-tiered Shikhara. Yet there is a significant difference between the two temples. In the case of the Tambdi surla temple, it is seen thatther are upright slabs on each tier, with reliefs.
The north and south elevation of the shrine are similar in all respects.The low walls on three sides in front are decorated with lozenges.
The temple had been declared as a protected national monument by the Archaelogical Survey of India and it has been maintained by it. A few years ago, the ASI had repaired the ceiling and now the beautification plan is under consideration. The panaromic surroundings around the temple is an added attraction to the visitors and lovers of nature. Though the area around the shrine is sparcely populated, it attracts the devotees from all over Goa in large number during Shivaratri,the main festival day which is celebrated with great pomp and devotion.