The Shri Mallikarjuna temple dedicated to Lord Mallikarjun, an incarnation of Lord Shiva is situated in the Sristhal village which is 7 km northeast of Chaudi in Canacona taluk in the South Goa district of Goa, India.The shrine is known to be one of the oldest in Goa and is situated amidst beautiful natural surroundings in a valley completely surrounded by mountains. The temple is believed to be constructed during the middle of the 16th century, as per the writing on a plaque near the temple dome, by ancestors of the Kshatriya samaj. It was refurbished in the year 1778.
There are about 14 Mallikarjuna shrines spread over Goa.The striking similarity in these shrines is that all idols are in phallic shape and covered with metallic masks. The lingas are believed to be Swaymbhu lingas. According to the records two ancient shrines of Mallikarjun existed in Bardez at Assgao and Pomburpa which were demolished by the Portuguese.The temple has around 60 Hindu deities and it celebrates a number of festivals with the annual jatra[disambiguation needed] being the most unique amongst most of the festivals in Goa. The temple also celebrates the festivals of Rathasaptami and Shigmotsav which attract a number of devotees.
The temple with its beautiful wood and silver carvings is reputed to have been erected by Habu Brahmins of the Dravidian dynasty.One can see some of the finest surviving art on the six pillars in the mantapa or the assembly hall. One of the wooden pillars in the mandapa is used as the oracle pillar in the temple. These pillars have intricate carvings with scenes from the Puranas and Mahabharat. On either side of the doors leading to the inner sanctum one can see beautifully carved silhouettes of the doorkeepers or dwarpal.
Shisharani: This typical ritual alternates every year with the Veeramel celebration held at the time of the traditional Shigmo festival. The word Shisharani is supposed to mean a cooking place on top of a human head. This ritual involves cooking rice in a earthenware kept on the head of three men who sleep on the ground with their heads touching each other and fire is lit between the heads to cook the rice. The heads are covered with wet cloth and layers of plantain trunk.
The annual festival (Jatra) held at the temple is quite unique among the temple festivals of Goa. Early morning on the day of the festival, the idol of the deity is taken out in a procession which travels for almost 2–3 hours to reach the nearby Kindlebag beach. A number of rituals including a special bath for the deity are held at the beach, after which the deity is taken back to the temple. Hundreds of devotees have a holy bath at the same time on the seashore.
This celebration is held once every two years at the time of the traditional Shigmo festival. During this celebration which occurs close to midnight, selected local youth who are called Gade, rush from house to house with swords in their hands followed by people with drums and other musical instruments.
These are actually smaller deities called Avatar Purush located at three nearby places: Asali, Khalvade and Bhatpal where they are worshipped. But once a year, they are taken in a magnificent procession at night to the main temple at Sristhal.Besides these, the temple celebrates a number of common Goan festivals like the Rathasaptami and Shigmo.