The Mahalsa Temple located at Mardol in Ponda is one of the most famous temples in Goa. It is also known as the Shri Mahalasa Narayani Temple and is dedicated to the Goddess Mahalasa.
Lakshmi (Mahalasa), the goddess of wealth and prosperity is the presiding deity in this temple. This deity was originally located at a temple in the Salcete taluka. However, in the 16th century, the troops of Adil Shah attacked the temple and razed it to the ground. The deity though was rescued and moved to its present location. In Goa, the goddess Mahalsa is accepted as Vishnu's consort.
However there is another belief that proclaims that Mahalsa is the female form of Lord Vishnu. Once, Lord Vishnu took the form of Mohini, an extremely beautiful woman and lured the demons away from their evil intentions of destroying the world. 'Mohini' was eventually disrupted and came to be known as 'Mahalsa'.
At the entrance to the Mahalasa Narayani Temple is an artistic, seven storied lamp tower, which is known as a deepstambh. Made entirely from brass, this tower stands 12.5 metres high. It is indeed a sight to see the tower aglow with oil lamps during festivals. The inner hall of the temple has carvings of the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu that have been resplendently painted. An embellished silver frame adorns the doorway to the sanctum.
Behind the Mahalasa Temple is an ancient water tank. The ambience around this tank is serene. The main festival celebrated here is the annual fair of the temple that is held in February. It is also called the Mardol Zatra. The other festivals observed here are Mahashivratri and Kojagiri Purnima.