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| Last Updated:: 29/08/2023

Sacred tanks of Goa











The people of Goa, in urban as well as rural areas, are presently struggling for drinking water. It is very difficult today to get clean, pure potable water as the sources of drinking water are polluted.



Once, through religious traditions, people guarded the sacred tanks. These tanks are located in the vicinity of temples and are specially constructed to store holy water which is used for the ritual bath of the temple deity.



The sacred tanks were the source of drinking water for the pilgrims in the past, and that is why these water bodies were well protected by the temple authority.



In the past, springs and tanks played an important role in attracting the nearby human population. In the fort of Aguada, there is one fountain popular as Mae de Agua or the mother of water. Since the fountain served as a watering spot, the area automatically attained the name as Aguada.



In Goa, many Hindu temples are associated with sacred tanks which were protected for sustainable use for generations. In Betki of Ponda, on the hillock, is situated an ancient percolation tank which is named after the village folk deity, Mandodari. The outlet from the tank is kept open during the monsoon and closed at the fag end, which helps water to collect in the tank. The storage recharges the springs below and enables villagers to grow paddy and kulagars (horticulture). The villagers call the tank their mother.



Due to Lord Gopinath, this tank has gained the honour of a holy tank. During the festival of Mahashivratri, the water of the tank is considered as sacred and used for bathing and drinking. This tank provides irrigation water for the large horticulture plantation from the Neturli area.



Near the temple of Hatkeshwar in Narve of Divar island is a well constructed tank. During the pre-Portuguese era, this tank was considered as the most sacred and a large number of devotees not only from Goa but also from other parts came to take a dip in the sacred tank. However, in order to harass the Hindus, the Portuguese killed one cow and poured blood into the tank, which made it narak tole or the tank of hell.



The water of some of the sacred tanks is believed to possess medicinal properties. The sacred grove of Coparde in Sattari has a sacred tank. The water from this tank is put in the kolos (sacred pot) which is used for treating skin diseases.



The religious traditions were responsible for helping the maintenance of sacred tanks, as the whole community was involved in desilting them annually. But now people have forgotten the significance of sacred tanks and they are neglected.



Many sacred tanks are now in a dying stage. In Mulgao, there is a temple complex of Shantadurga ombhurfekarin. Behind this temple, there is one small tank which is well-maintained and quenches one’s thirst with sweet and tasty water.



Today, the entry of fertilizer residues in some of the tanks has led to inorganic eutrophication, as a result of the phenomenal rise in the recycling of biomass of aquatic weeds, like Water hyacinth, Salvinia and Reed grass.



All these have transformed the physical and ecological status of tanks. Also the advent and popularization of irrigation by canal system and the pumping of ground water have accounted for degradation of these water bodies.



The revival of the sacred tanks can help the community to benefit from large quantities of water which are not in use now.




The Gavda community dealt the engineering marvel of the khazans effectively with the problem of saline water ingress, a natural feature of tidal rivers. The Goans respected natural systems in all their aspects and imbued with energy, when they recognised their contribution to life and ecology.