One of the capital city’s most discerning assets is the Mahalaxmi Temple. Located on the Dada Vaidya road (Rua de Saudade during the Portuguese times), the Mahalaxmi deity is the chief object of veneration for all Panjimites, irrespective of caste, class, sex or creed.
The city, blessed by three historic ecclesiastical monuments – the Jamma Masjid, the Church of Immaculate Conception and the Mahalaxmi temple – surprisingly standing on the same road pose a perfect symmetry of communal harmony and camaraderie.
This 182 year old temple has a fascinating history. In the 16th century the Havig Brahmins from Karwar-Kumtha areas who lived on alms and charity of others worshipped the Mahalaxmi deity and wherever they went in search of alms they carried this deity along. In the 16th century, they moved to Goa along with this diety and reached Taleigo village of which Panjim was then a mere ward, along the river Gomati (Mandovi).
The Havig Brahmins whose whole day was spent begging for alms had sought shelter in the precincts of the Vetal temple of Taleigao. But when they learnt of the conversion policy of the Portuguese, fearing desecration of their revered Mahalaxmi idol made of marble, they moved away from Taleigao and as they were moving on they found a horse stable which actually belonged to the Portuguese government.
A gentleman called Raghavendra Kamat Mhamai who worked for the Portuguese military found that this place selected by the Havig Brahmins to hide their deity was unsafe and hence moved it to his palatial house opposite the Adilshahi palace (Secretariat) in the heart of Panjim city. Still fearing for the safety and security of the deity, he moved it to Mayem village of the Bicholim Taluka where it remained till 1817.
Sometime later in 1817, Narayan Kamat Mhamai of Panaji dreamt of the deity and the next day itself he along with others went to Mayem and brought the deity to Panjim and hid it at a place where stands the People’s High School today. That corner at the People’s High School is still venerated where the deity was kept hidden.
He later moved it to his house and started worshipping it there. He expressed his desire to a friend Mr. Sinari of building a temple to consecrate this deity. They seeked the permission of the liberal Portuguese Governor Conde De Rio Pardo. Permission was granted to them on 2nd July 1818.
On 10 July 1818, the deity was consecrated there and the foundation stone of the Mahalaxmi temple was laid. Refusing to be cowed down by the heavy monsoon downpours of Goa, the pious devotees led by the late Shri Narayan Kumar Mhamai, Mr. Sinari and others consecrated the Mahalaxmi deity in the backyard of Panjim city on 10 July 1818.
By 1819, the temple was completed. The original deity today lies in a small box in the rear wall of the temple which faces the present day main idol of Goddess Mahalaxmi. The magnificent subhamandap of the temple has been added later and today the recently completed new building of the temple stands proudly as a superb addition to the landmarks of Panjim city.