Big Foot, Lutolim

Ancestral Goa

More commonly known as Big Foot, ‘Ancestral Goa’ is a ‘Center for preservation of Art, Culture and Environment’ created by Maendra Jocelino Araujo Alvares and situated in the small village of Loutolim in South Goa. 

At the entrance, you see a bronze statue of a guard and an elaborate door and wall decoration. Once inside, you see that the uniqueness of Big Foot Lutolim lies in the fact that it is an open-air museum that recreates Goan rural life as it was hundreds of years ago.  You can choose to visit the art gallery, that showcases work done by local children and artisans, a handicraft centre with locally produced Goan artifacts, a restaurant, a cross, a spring, a bird habitat, a spice yard and much more. The model village also includes a variety of miniature houses showcasign the traditional occupation and social classes that existed a century ago – from fishermen, Goan artisans, farmers, liquors shops to village markets and even a feni distillery.

From the dream of Maendra Alvares to the major tourist attraction that it is today, Big Foot Lutolim has certainly come a long way since it opened in 1995. Today, not just tourists – both Indian and European – but artists, students, teachers, nature lovers, environmentalists and others are among the visitors. 

Maendra began Big Foot Lutolim with a barren hill covered with shrubbery and thorny bushes and it is quite amazing to see the metamorphosis into a world famous terraced and landscaped parkland. Although Maendra could have sold off the 9 acres of land to land developers and lived a life of luxury like many other Goans, he chose instead to invest precious time and money to create Big Foot Lutolim. His aim was to create a treasure-house of artifacts as well as recreate the traditions and culture of Goa for future generations to see and learn. In recognition, the Goan Government deemed Big Foot as the “Most Innovative and Unique Project in India’s Tourism Industry” while the Goan State Department of Education called it a “Very Educative Centre” for students.

Have you been to Big Foot Lutolim ? What was your favourite part of the open air museum ? Let me know in the comments…

Photo Credit: http://photos.igougo.com/images/p222622-Ancestral_Goa.jpg

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IFFI International Film Festival Goa Hotel Package

Photo Credit: http://movies.ndtv.com/images/showbiz/iffi.jpgThe International Film Festival of India, Goa ( more commonly known as IFFI Goa) was first held in 1952 and is one of the most important and significant film festivals in Asia. Held each year in Goa, the IFFI International Film Festival Goa provides a stage for world cinema to be showcased to the local public. In addition to Goan film critics, tourists and film buffs from all across India, Europe, UK and the rest of Asia come to Goa to attend the Film Festival. 

The Mitaroy, Goa – my mother’s ancestral heritage home and now a Heritage Homestay – in Fontainhas, Panjim is a mere 5 minute drive to the IFFI Goa Venues and is hence a popular choice for film buffs to base themselves. During the IFFI Film Festival, it is not uncommon to find guests sitting together on the balcao and discussing the merits of the latest film over a glass of hand pressed Goan wine. 

In our special IFFI Goa Hotel Package, we offer you a 4 day 3 night package that includes complimentary transfers to and from the IFFI Goa Venues, in addition to a complimentary Full Goa Buffet Breakfast as well as complimentary Goan Beer and Wine throughout your stay with us. I do suggest, however, that you book well in advance since we are a small Heritage Homestay. 

IFFI Goa Hotel Package

  • Complimentary Transfer to and from the IFFI Goa Venues
  • Complimentary Full Goan Buffet Breakfast 
  • Complimentary Beer and Wine throughout your stay
  • Complimentary Late Check Out till 5 pm, subject to availability
  • Complimentary selection of daily Goan Newspapers
  • Complimentary Bottled Mineral Water throughout your stay
  • Complimentary Hand made Sustainable Bath Amenities
  • Complimentary Welcome Cocktail on Arrival

4 days 3 nights in a Heritage Suite : £ 219 / € 266 / Rs. 18,999

Please make your reservations well in advance since we are a small Homestay and are often booked out quite early during the International Film Festival Goa.
Call
+91 94480 87708 (India) 
+43 680 2303682 (Europe)
or use the Reservation Form below:

Guzaarish and the Goan Scenery

Guzaarish Bollywood Film Goa

Today I watched Guzaarish, a Bollywood film by Sanjay Leela Bhansali starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachhan and set in Goa. Although the film was released in 2010, it took a while for the DVD to find its way to my Austrian library. 

Guzaarish is a movie about a famous magician named Ethan Mascarenhas who has an accident during one of his magic shows and is left a cripple. After living for 14 years as a cripple, only able to move his head and neck, he now wants to end his life and appeals to the court for permission to kill himself i.e. euthanasia or “Ethanasia” as he calls it. 

What follows is some wonderful acting by Hrithik as the cripple looking for freedom, Aiswarya Rai Bachhan as the nurse who is in love with her patient and the rest of the star cast that Sanjay Leela Bhansali has put together. 

But what I really enjoyed the most were Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s amazing visuals and sets. 

Set in an old house in Goa (called Villa Mascarenhas in the film) that resembles a church, Bhansali goes to great lengths to depict Ethan Mascarenhas as one of the old guard, the old landed gentry with their Portuguese lifestyle, old Portugese styled mansions, servants and spacious grounds. 

Each of the characters, especially Sofia, also wear period type dresses with Sofia’s typical headscarf and flowing gowns, and the servants typical Goan/ Portuguese dresses. 

The old Portuguese bungalow itself forms the backdrop of the film. Large, with high ceilings, winding staircases and a leaking roof, it could be anywhere in Goa. During the film, we learn that Ethan has many debts and is unable to financially maintain the old house. We also get glimpses of the fierce Goan monsoon when the roof leaks down onto his bed and it is mentioned that the roof can collapse any time. Unfortunately, most old Goan bungalows across Goa find themselves in this state and it is important that the Government and the NGOs come together to act before it is too late. Tourism presents a great opportunity for these old houses to be converted into Heritage Guest Houses or Heritage Homestays (as is the case with Fontainhas, the neighbourhood where my own Heritage Homestay is located – The Mitaroy, Goa). Here the tourism department and Mr Manohar Parrikar, CM of Goa must make it easier for home owners to convert their old houses into Heritage Homestays without having to run around or pay bribes to the corrupt Government officials. 

When Ethan Mascarenhas does leave the house, we are treated to some beautiful shots of Goa’s natural beauty with its green verdant fields, swaying palm trees and of course the famous Goan beaches when Hrithik is placed on a wheelchair and the waves sweep over his crippled feet. 

If you can get your hands on a DVD of Guzaarish (or Die Magie des Lebens as it is known in German), do watch it. 

Watch it for its wonderful acting and its thought provoking theme. But also watch it for its depiction of a Goa that many of us rarely get to see. 

O’ Coqueiro Restaurant Goa

O Coqueiro Restaurant Goa

No Couple’s Holiday to Goa is complete without a visit to O’ Coqueiro Bar and Restaurant.

While you have famous Goan restaurants like Brittos on Anjuna beach, Infantaria and Souza Lobos on Calangute beach, O’ Coqueiro is by far one of the most romantic restaurants in the whole of Goa.

O’ Coqueiro (pronounced as o-co-ke-roo) means Coconut tree in Portuguese. The O’ Coqueiro restaurant is housed in a sprawling, old Portuguese-style ancestral bungalow right on the Mapusa – Panaji highway in the small village of Porvorim. Rather plain by day, in the evening the lighting and greenery give it a romantic atmosphere that is hard to describe.

While you can sit in the A/C section called the sala de jhantar (dining hall in Portuguese), we chose a table in the garden under a starlit sky.

When the waiter came to take our order, we immediately chose the house special – Chicken Cafreal (pronounced as kaf-ri-el). A greenish coloured chicken curry, the Chicken Cafreal was first created here at O ‘ Coqueiro, many moons ago. I pick a Goan feni to wash down my meal.

And then the highlight of the evening begins.

We chose Friday to go to O ‘ Coqueiro since that is the day when the legendary Goan mandolin player, Emiliano and his band play at O ‘ Coqueiro. And Emiliano (who is an old family friend of ours) doesn’t disappoint. He belts out a few Goan songs that get the couples around us tapping their feet.

As the food arrives, I cannot wait to tuck in. I first go with Chicken Cafreal and Goan Paav bread. The Chicken Cafreal is a delight, lightly spiced and flavoured with mint and spinach, if I am not mistaken. For my second course, I chose Chicken Cafreal with rice. I am not quite sure which combination is better so I suggest that you try both!

For desert, we order the Bebinca, a traditional Goan layered cake that takes hours to bake because it is cooked one layer at a time. The Bebinca is good but I still maintain that the best Bebinca I’ve tasted is made in a small bakery in Fontainhas.

As we finish desert, Emiliano strikes up the music and a few couples venture out onto the dance floor. An old couple catches my eye. They must be married over 40 years yet the glimmer of love in their eyes is unmistakeable.

I only hope that I am that lucky in love…

Stay Romantic!

Mihir

Emiliano plays every Friday at O’ Coqueiro Bar and Restaurant in Alto Porvorim, Bardez, Goa. Please check local listings before going to avoid disappointment.