Goa is so much more than just beaches and hippies. Let’s take a look at this fascinating museum that features the heritage and lifestyle of India’s western gem.
The smallest state in India, Goa has a history that goes back more than 20,000 years. Though the culture and heritage of Goa has a more European bent because of its colonisation by the Portuguese in 1510, there are some parts that still hold true to its ancestral roots. Tucked in a serene village in the heart of Loutolim is the Goa Ancestral Museum, a one-stop centre to see the traditional lifestyle of the Goan people.
The museum was developed by Maendra J. Alvares, who embarked on this project out of love for his hometown. Set along the serene walking paths inside this open-air museum shaded by tall trees are various sculptures depicting the ways and traditions of Goan lifestyle, including a typical scene at the market, a Goan-Portuguese wedding, as well as various activities of Goan people. At most stations, there would be a voice recording to guide guests about the particular display.
There are many other attractions across the huge compound, too. A bird habitat was set up to house various types of birds including chickens, peacocks, and lovebirds. For visitors who love gardening, the ‘Fruit and Spice Garden’ will surely delight you. A little further on the path is a bright blue house which is the Art Gallery that hosts special exhibitions and programmes from time to time.
Legend of the Big Foot
Further up the compound was a section dedicated to the legend of the Big Foot (not to be confused with the North American cryptid). Here, visitors will first be entertained by an illustrated guide accompanied by a voice-over that tells the enchanting folklore, before they enter the man-made cave with the Big Foot’s imprint. It is said that any person with a pure heart who lays a hand to make a wish here will have it granted.
As the legend of the Big Foot goes, there was a generous and wealthy man called Mahadar who often helped the needy and the poor. He kept on giving until one day he was left with nothing, and the people who he had helped before turned a blind eye on him. Even after his wife died of sickness, Mahadar never lost faith. One day he was approached by God in a dream and was given a wish. He only asked for a small place to stand on and pray for mankind. His wish was granted, and Mahadar was presented with a rock where he stood in a state of meditation on one leg for many years. Thanks to his utter devotion, Mahadar finally ascended to heaven one fine day.
Sant Mirabai sculpture
At the end of the walking path was a huge laterite sculpture entitled ‘Natural Harmony’, modelled after Sant Mirabai, who was a great saint, mystic Hindu poet, and devotee of Lord Krishna. The sculpture has garnered extensive coverage and recognition, including the ‘Longest Laterite Sculpture in India’ awarded by the Limca Book of Records, India’s own version of the Guinness Book of World Records. It was exquisitely etched by Mr Alvares himself, who dedicated 30 straight days of hard labour to complete the 14 metre-by-5-metre sculpture.
SEE ALSO: Goa: Land of Spiritual Harmony
Right across the street, a charming soft green one-storey structure sits in all its refined glory. Formally known as Casa Araujo Alvares, the 250-year-old mansion portrays the way of living of a normal Goan-Portuguese family. Built around an inner courtyard as commonly found in a typical colonial house, the mansion has an elevated doorway with curved staircase, high ceiling, and huge windows with crystalline glass.
Other interesting parts of the house include a large collection of Lord Ganesha, which amounts to 2500-odd small and medium statues, 150 prints of Jesus Christ neatly framed and positioned inside the ‘Icon Chapel’, as well as some interesting kitchen equipment, including an old kerosene-fired Electrolux refrigerator.
Ancestral Goa Museum
- Opening hours: 9am – 6pm daily
- Admission fee: INR 50 adult, INR 25 child (additional INR 20 for camera)
Casa Araujo Alvares
- Opening hours: 9am – 5.30pm
- Admission fee: INR 100 adult, INR 50 child (additional INR 20 for camera)
Address: Big Foot, Loutolim, 403718 Goa, India
GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Goa from Kuala Lumpur and Bengaluru. For flight info and lowest fares, go to airasia.com.