There are many kuladevata temples in Goa, set up by Saraswats who originally lived on the banks of river Saraswathi. Kuldevatas are family deities or deities belonging to each Gotra, among the same community . During the Portuguese rule many Saraswaths migrated from Goa. They were worshippers of Siva and Sakthi. When they fled they carried their family deities with them and set them up wherever they established their settlements but the main temples remained in Goa itself. Many travelled down South and were confused regarding the worship and rituals. The great Guru Madhwacharya guided them well and they started worshipping Vishnu and later the temples in Goa were forgotten or neglected.
But now they visit these kuldevata temples to seek the blessings of the deities which were worshipped for ages by their ancestors. This is a small introduction about the kuldevata temples.
I do not know the legend surrounding each temple. I enjoyed the beauty and architecture of each temple which was unique and cleanliness in each temple was beyond comparison. A common thing I found was, these temple do a have a huge structure - a deepa sthambha of a different kind compared to the ones we see in South Indian temples. They appear more like minarets which are illuminated in the evenings, a sight to behold. Each temple also has sparkling and dazzling chandeliers which give brilliant glow all round.The well lit temples, cleanliness and purity certainly refreshes and brings peace to mind.
The first temple I visited
Mahahlasa Narayani temple- This temple is in Mardol, Goa and the temple looked grand with beautifully carved wooden pillars with intricate patterns and silver doors. There is another shrine devoted to Lakshmi Narayana here and devotees offer worship to this deity first before entering the main temple of Mahalasanarayani. This goddess is the reincarnation of Vishnu and is feared by the devotees and people used to take oath here under the 'Justice bell'. Justice dispensed by taking oath under this bell was even recognised by Portuguese courts.
How to reach: Nearest railway station is Madagaon and the airport Dabolim which is about 35 kms.
Good hotels are available in Panaji, Vasco, Madgaon and Ponda.
Each temple also has accommodation facilities, however this is generally made available for the people of the Saraswath community.
Here are the pictures