Located 28 km from Panaji, Ponda is a major town in the North Goa district. Ponda's claim to fame is its unrivalled status as the cradle of Hindu pilgrimages in Goa. After remaining a part of the dominions of Sultan Adil Shah of Bijapur, Ponda fell to the Portuguese in 1791 who annexed it along with the nearby talukas of Quepem, Canacona and Sanguem.
Among the number of sacred shrines that dot the Ponda landscape, there
are five famous Hindu temples and the Safa masjid, the largest mosque in
Goa. As the Portuguese unleashed a wave of destruction of religious
shrines during the early days of the Inquisition, the idols of Hindu
temples were clandestinely smuggled into Ponda, then a safe haven under
the territory of the Bijapur Sultan.
Today a flourishing tourism industry has grown around these renowned
temples with devotees coming from faraway lands. Ponda has also come up
as an industrial city with many large factories and industrial estates
nearby. Goa's only engineering college, the Goa College of Engineering
is located at nearby Farmagudi. Ponda also serves as a convenient base
to explore two of Goa's wildlife sanctuaries, the Bondla and the Mahavir