While Goa Minister for Archives and Archaeology Subhash Phal Dessai said Tuesday that an expert committee formed by the archaeology department has collected information of over 1,000 temples that were allegedly destroyed during the Portuguese rule in Goa, the panel has recommended the state government to construct a single memorial for all the temples, stating that it is not “feasible” to reconstruct them all.
The committee was appointed in January to assess applications and claims for identification of potential sites for reconstruction and restoration of temples destroyed during Portuguese rule. In 2022, the Goa government earmarked Rs 20 crore for the restoration.
The 10-page preliminary report of the committee, submitted to the government, revealed that most of the sites where temples were destroyed were in Tiswadi, Bardez and Salcete talukas, The Indian Express has learnt.
“The task before the committee is to identify these sites. The committee has received 19 applications so far… Since many temples were demolished, the committee found it may not be feasible or practical to reconstruct so many. Land acquisition would also be a challenge. So, the panel has recommended that the government construct a memorial temple,” a senior official of the department told The Indian Express.
At other sites, the committee suggested further exploration and excavation, while a recommendation has been made to reconstruct the Saptakoteshwar temple at Divar island. The shrine was built on the island during the Kadamba dynasty and demolished in the 16th Century by the Portuguese.
“Land in that area (for reconstruction of the temple) is already under the government. It is a protected site. So, the committee probably saw potential that the temple can be rebuilt there. At other sites, where it was found there are remains of a temple’s foundations or say a pillar, the panel has recommended protecting such sites and carrying out further investigation,” the official said. “Other parts of the state such as Ponda and Quepem were under Maratha rule at that time and many deities and idols were shifted from Tiswadi to Bicholim taluka, and similarly from Salcete to Ponda and so on,” the official said. “The committee has not arrived at a specific number (of temples that were razed)… it is close to say (one thousand),” the official said, referring to the minister’s assertions.