Get a glimpse of its unique grandeur and authentic form ... in "Ancestral Goa".
JOAO, THE GOAN FARMER: A typical farmer's dwelling place. PHOTO: PRAKASH KAMAT
WHAT began as an artistic fulfilment of a dream, the concept of horizontal sculpture of Sant Mirabai, by young sculptor and artist Maendra Alvares of Loutolim village in South Goa in 1995, has since evolved and culminated into a large entertainment project "Ancestral Goa". It takes tourists visiting Goa on a virtual tour of the past village life.
A novel concept in hinterland tourism, the "Big Foot", as it was popularly referred to, maintained a radical profile on the national and international tourist map of the State, so much so, that any VIP on a visit to Goa would rarely skip a trip to "Ancestral Goa". It is an open air museum depicting a collage of different norms and values , predominant in rural Goa as it existed up until the 20th-Century. The project became popular because of the discovery of the footprint , the "Legend of the Big Foot".
The entire entertainment concept is a singular effort of Alvares, an advertising professional who says, "A mere sculpture was insufficient to attract tourists to this property. I wanted to do something which would add value in terms of entertainment and knowledge for tourists. It is my way of showing to the tourist how man lived with nature. `Ancestral Goa', an open air museum is a detailed evolution of the trade, architecture and general life of `Rural Goa'. It highlights the co-relation of nature and human interdependence in pictorial form".
Spread out over an area of nine acres, the project encompasses a complete version of an entire village as it were, replete with daily and special moments of the Goan life as it existed in the times of occupation. Besides the village, the other highlights of this project are "The Legend of the Bigfoot", India's longest laterite sculpture, "Sant Mira" and a lush parkland which includes a vegetable, spice, fruit and herb garden. The other attractions are the livestock and a rustic bird sanctuary.
Alvares and his family are constantly on the lookout to improvise the concept and "give something more" to visitors every season. On an average, 200 tourists, domestic as well as foreigners visit "Ancestral Goa". Promising to be a refreshing change in the presentation of the environment at its best, he recently unveiled, "Naturally Yours", an event with a difference at "Ancestral Goa", to mark the beginning of yet another tourism season.
The highlights of this event, which was inaugurated recently by Goa Minister for Education, Luizinho Faleiro are, the "Village Alive" programme where artisans from all over Goa portray and demonstrate their art and craft. Traditional food stuff (Goa's famous traditional bread Undo) and drinks (Goa's famous cashew feni with its medicinal value apart from its attribute as country liquor) are sold at the premises with a tavern-like ambience and a live presentation of some of the methods of preparation. A lively folk dance and music programme fills the terraced levels of the landscaped area of the "Big Foot". Both the exhibitions were on display till October 16, 2005.
What to see at "Ancestral Goa": "Ancestral Goa" is a recreated, miniature village, typifying the customs, and lives of the rural populace, around a century ago. Here is also a depiction of the architectural evolution of the houses, the materials and the styles used. The different trades are also closely adhered to, as are the customs that enshroud their progress.
"Natural Harmony" is one of the longest laterite sculptures that was carved in a space of 30 days , single-handedly. "It is a statue of the singing saint Mirabai. This sculpture is the culmination of a psalm to nature that could only be sung by those who love all things pure and natural, and the artistic dream, that with every strike of the chisel came the life," says Maendra recalling how he sweated out on the sculpture.
The Big Foot legend
"The legend of Big Foot" is a footprint that was discovered on a rock and has been the source of a lot of speculation, as it has actually proved fortunate for some who stood upon it.
"The spice and the vegetable garden" is a pleasantly shaded path approached from the main village and abounds in the local and exotic flora and fauna. Here is also seen the wonderful ancient system of irrigation called lathe.
"The Herb Corner" is a square plot of land on which are found the local herbal bounties that ensure good health, the natural way. A mural detailing the uses and the properties of many local herbs flank this.
"The rustic bird sanctuary" is a corner haven for a huge variety of local birds. This area has become an amateur bird watchers' paradise. The fowl path, which is a colourful mixture of local, brilliantly plumaged birds is an attractive spot for children. The hutch is a small corner filled with white mice, guinea pigs and rabbits.
Shopping here is a delight for those wishing to carry home a memory of Goa that they experienced at the "Big Foot". From traditional artefacts, crafts and ornaments to the rustic and exotic quality, all items are available at the private and government outlets. Of notable worth is the exclusive "Big Foot Magic lamp". The place is looked after well with public restrooms, rustic eateries and a good transport network.
Dedicated to the preservation of art, culture and environment and in order to preserve Goa's past and its rich traditions, "Ancestral Goa" opened to the public in April 1995. It is a miniature Goan Village as it would have existed 100 years ago, and is located on a nine-acre hillock at Loutulim in South Goa, about 10 kilometres from Margao.
The Government of Goa has acknowledged the project as the "Most Innovative and Unique Project in India's Tourism Industry, while the Education Department has also recommended it as a "Very Educative Centre" for students. Ancestral Goa, Loutolim, Goa.
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