Offbeat Goa: Tambdi Surla Temple and Waterfall
Goa in India is an extremely diverse state with varied landforms including mountains, hills, plateaus and plains. Very few people know that there is much more to Goa than beaches and booze. Several offbeat and picturesque places lie in this magical land. We recently explored ‘Goa beyond beaches’ and found that this state has power to amaze us at every turn with display of superb natural marvels. Dudhsagar Falls was one such offbeat spot that we trekked to. Tambdi Surla temple and waterfall were other such destinations that lie in a secluded spot, unexplored and offbeat. Read on to know more about them.
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Tambdi Surla Temple and Waterfall - This article
Location of Tambdi Surla Temple and Waterfall:
Surla is a place located 65 kilometres to the east of Panaji, the capital city of Goa. It houses the oldest temple of Goa dedicated to Lord Shiva or Mahadev. This ancient temple is surrounded by dense forest of Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary. It is located at the foothills of Anmod Ghat which connects Goa and neighbouring state of Karnataka. A small trek from the temple takes you to the majestic Tambdi Surla waterfall. Both the temple and waterfall are a perfect balance between nature and beauty.
How to Reach/ Directions to Tambdi Surla Temple:
It may take some perseverance to find Tambdi Surla temple. It is 45 kilometres east of Ponda district in Goa and can be easily reached by a car. We hired a two wheeler to visit the temple and waterfall. You will have to drive to Mollem crossroads, turn left northwards and a bare right to Surla after 2 kilometres. Without losing heart follow this road right till the end. The road passes through lush green forest and you will barely see another vehicle or person on the way. The drive, however, is picturesque with trees on both the sides of road making a canopy. At the end of the road lies the Tambdi Surla Mahadev temple in the clearing. It is a bit off the beaten track like a worn out page of an old history book. You will find a couple of food stalls near the parking. The road is in excellent condition throughout. You will have to walk the paved bridge over the Surla River to reach the temple. The trek to Tambdi Surla waterfalls starts just before the bridge towards the left into the forest.
Tambdi Surla Mahadev Temple:
The earth in the village of Surla as well as the land surrounding Tambdi Surla mahadev temple is red in color, but the temple is black; which means that the stone from which it is built is brought from some place else. The actual origin of the temple is still debatable. The temple is supposed to be built in 12th century and is the only significant building to have survived the Kadamba Empire of Karnataka probably because it is on this isolated and certainly very sacred spot. The small yet perfectly proportioned temple building is constructed from black basalt stone which is cut crisp and deep surrounded by beautiful garden.
Tambdi Surla temple is declared as a protected historical monument by the Archaeological Survey of India. The temple is dedicated to Hindu Lord Shiva who is considered as the creator, preserver and destructor of everything that exists in this universe. The Shiv Linga in the inner sanctum is always decorated with local flowers. A headless Nandi (Lord Shiva’s vehicle) adorns the outer sanctum. A trip to Tambdi Surla temple is essential to anyone who is in love with south Indian or Jain temples. The black basalt temple and the green grass garden perfectly complement each other. The surroundings are extremely peaceful and you can sit here in the garden for as long as you want and soak in the beauty of this man-made marvel.
Note: The Tambdi Surla mahadev temple timings are from morning 6 AM to evening 5 PM.
The Tambdi Surla Waterfall:
The Tambdi Surla waterfall can be reached by crossing the jungle route via a 2 hour trek. Our very hospitable hosts, Ashok and his son Alex, from Dudhsagar Plantation accompanied us for the trek. Ashok guided us through the trail within the forest. The trek starts just before the bridge over Surla River towards the left. The trail to waterfall runs parallel to Surla River for most of the part. The forest trek is moderately easy with not too many ascents or descents. We made way through many bamboo thickets, creepers and climbers, and the mushy potholes. Amid the serenity of the deciduous forest we met and greeted the raw nature filled with wildlife. We suddenly lost the track of time amongst the melodious chirping of birds and crickets, croaking of frogs and various sound of other insects. Alex, a 4 year old was brave enough to run after all the reptiles and insects that he saw which made our trek more fun and interesting. After navigating through numerous small river streams and fallen trees, and after experiencing the stings of leeches and thorny branches, we finally reached the majestic Tambdi Surla waterfall.
The very first view of the Tambdi Surla waterfall is a sight to behold and made us forget all the tiredness and difficulties we went through the trek. The waterfall cascades down with full energy and creates a loud roar. We descended down to the base of the waterfall where the water current was too intense. Ashok advised us not to swim, however we have heard that it is safe to swim in summer when the water flow is not intense. We sat there for a while, photographing. On the way back we decided to carry all the plastic that we saw lying on the forest floor throughout our trail. We also stopped by the Surla river stream, resting on the rocks alongside the flowing stream and soaking in the essence of the beautiful scenery. The rain decided to accompany us now and then and we happily embraced the showers. It took us a total of 5 hours to complete the trek and return back to the parking lot.
Note: The trek distance to Tambdi Surla waterfall is approximately 6 kilometres in total. We advise you to hire a guide for the trek to Tambdi Surla waterfall. The trail is slightly tricky especially in the beginning with some turns and you wouldn’t want to get lost in the jungle. We did not come across anybody throughout the trek which can be scary if you do not have a guide. Also we came across few small snakes. Though they are harmless unless you bother them, it is advisable to be careful where you step and have a guide. There are no shops or stalls on the trail – Carry your own water and eatables. You would find stalls at the starting point near the entrance of the temple and also ask around for a guide here. Have a joyful time and carry all the waste back. Do not litter the forest.
Recommended stay near Tambdi Surla Temple and Waterfall:
The most important piece of advice that we can give to you all is stay closer to Mollem. Some travelers prefer to drive from their beachside accommodations to Mollem for a day-trip to Tambdi Surla. This is not advisable as you would be somewhat tired after a trek to travel all the way to the beach-side end of Goa. Staying around Mollem would also make it easier to cover few other nearby attractions like Dudhsagar waterfall. We had a wonderful stay at Dudhsagar Plantation which is very close to Mollem. Dudhsagar Plantation is a spice farmstay owned by Ashok and his family. They can arrange sightseeing transportation as well as guides for waterfalls around this area. You can read more about our experience of staying at Dudhsagar Plantation.
Tambdi Surla temple and waterfall are less visited, less touristy and less heard of; and hence they are so beautiful, secluded and divine. We recommend everyone visiting Goa to ditch a few beaches and try to visit Tambdi Surla. They offer a wonderful not so difficult forest trek and can be covered in 6 hours or so if you are staying at Dudhsagar plantation. We recommend a minimum 3 day trip around this area where you can cover Tamdi Surla on a day and Dudhsagar Falls on 2nd day. You can read our guide to the amazing Dudhsagar falls.
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