Goa Travel Guide
Variously known as "Rome of the East", "Tourist Paradise"
and "Pearl of the Orient", the state of Goa is located on the
western coast of India in the coastal belt known as Konkan.
The magnificent scenic beauty and the architectural splendours of its
temples, churches and old houses have made Goa a firm favourite with travellers
around the world.
But then, Goa is much more than just beaches and sea. It has a soul which
goes deep into unique history, rich culture and some of the prettiest
natural scenery that India has to offer.
Much of the real Goa is in its interiors, both inside its buildings and
in the hinterland away from the coastal area.
Four centuries of Portuguese rule and that of other rulers before them
has given Goa an unique life-style that consists of a blend of Indian
and Western influences as can be seen in its varied culture and architecture
of its towns and villages. Today Goa also boasts of glorious traditions
that have been handed down to it over the ages.
Dedicated to the preservation of art, culture and enviroment and inorder
to preserve Goa's past and its rich traditions this magnificent project
named "Ancestral Goa" is the result of a lot of meticulous research,
planning and hardwork. It opened to the public in April 1995.
Ancestral Goa is miniature Goan Village as it would have existed 100
years ago. It is located on a nine acre verdant hillock at Loutulim ins
South Goa, about ten kilometers from Margao.
Graceful swans charm the entrance to the reception. Elephants carrying
flowered pillars with multi-hued and decorated beams deck the entryway.
A spacious room redolent of the Goan - Portuguese aura replete with a
palanquin, sepia-toned photographs, domed lamps and a designed marble
floor feeds one the anticipation of a moment when a whole treasure in
the book of history will unfold. The traditional 'aarti' is performed
as part of the greeted welcome by a sari-clad goan girl.
An incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Parashuram shot the legendary arrow into
the bosom of the Indian Ocean resulting in the emotive paradise known
as Goa. The visitor is treated to a sight of Parashuram at the entrance
itself, all ready with the proverbial bow & arrow.
One step out of the high- ceilinged entrance, sporting a "punkah"
and one moves into a landscape spread over a gently rolling hill where
laterite steps lead to "Demo" (the caretaker of the landlord's
The Ancestral Goa project, the brainchild of Goan artist, Maendra J.
Alvares who has used his family's ancestral property to keep Goa's culture
alive and is a place worth visiting as any lay visitor can get a glimpse
of Goa in its original grandeur and authentic form.
This place also gives visitors a glance of a sight other than beaches,
churches and temples which Goa is famous for and imparts a culture based
education about the roots and heritage of Goa. Ancestral Goa is included
as one of the sight seeing spots by Goa Tourism Development Corporation's
buses in their cultural tour package.
Local feasts and festivals are celebrated with traditionsl style and
fervour. A visit to Ancestral Goa on any of the feast days, allows for
a pure experience of Goan customs and lifestyles. The Eat-out offers a
menu full of traditional Goan Specialties. Local vegetables, fish and
sweets are treats to be indulged in.
Some of the sights inside Ancestral Goa are :
- Art Gallery & Handicraft Center
- Mirabai Sculpture
- Big Foot Dance Floor
- Casa da Dona Maria
- Anand Lotlikar's Ghor
- Legend of Big Foot
- The Farmer's House
- Cross, Spring & Rakandar
- The Fisherman's House
- Escola da Musica
- Bhati - the feni distillery
- Tinto - the village market
- Taverna - the country liquor shop
- Goan Artisans
- Bird Habitat
- Spice Yard & Rubber Plantation
People & Lifestyle
Goa's isolation from the rest of India for more than four centuries under
the Portuguese rule, its geographical borders in the form of the Sahyadri
ranges and the tidal rivers have managed to give the people of Goa a unique
and separate identity.
The people of Goa prefer to call themselves Goans and not Goanese as
mentioned in guidebooks and brochures. Goans are very much aware of this
unique identity; they are proud of it and guard it fiercely.
The population of Goa is composed of a Hindu majority of around 65% and
a Christian minority of around 30%. Muslims and other religions make up
the rest. The interesting part in all these percentages is that, as is
the case with most statistical figures, they conceal more than they can
The Hindu community is dominant in the talukas (districts) of Ponda,
Bicholim, Pernem, Satari, Sanguem, Quepem and Canacona. These areas actually
form part of the Novas Conquistas, or the New Conquests, made by the Portuguese
in the last stage of the expansion of their Goan empire in the eighteenth
By this time, the Portuguese military might was on the wane and the religious
ardour for forced conversions was at its lowest ebb. Hence the population
in these newly conquered areas were pretty much left to practise their
religion in peace.
The Old Conquests on the other hand, consisting of Salcete, Mormugao,
Tiswadi and Bardez bore the brunt of the Portuguese army and the religious
zealots. Together, the two arms of the Portuguese empire, managed to destroy
temples and converted hundreds of non-Christians in these areas, which
are predominantly Christian today.
Fortunately, these bitter memories of the past have done nothing to change
the warm, friendly and loving nature of the Goan people. By and large,
the Goan considers himself a Goan first and a Hindu, Christian or Muslim
afterwards. The bonds of language and the Goan identity are strong enough
to allow for different religious persuasions.
In contrast to other parts of India, Goans have developed a remarkable
degree of tolerance towards each other's religious beliefs, and hence
religious fundamentalism is completely unknown in the state.
The best evidence of this is seen in quite a few places of worship in
Goa, where both Hindus and Christians go together. The Damodar temple
at Sanguem, the Church of Our Lady of Miracles in Mapusa, the Shantadurga
temple at Fatorpa are excellent examples of this unique religious harmony
that exists in Goa. Besides these, a number of other festivals in Goa
are celebrated by members of both communities with equal fervour.
In proportion to their numbers, a very high percentage of Goans live
abroad than the members of most other regional communities of India. But
no matter where they might be on the surface of the planet, Goans love
to express the adoration of their homeland in some form or the other.
Art & Culture
Goa is a land of crafts and craftsmen, where aesthetic quality finds
a natural expression. Goa has a rich and magnificent tradition of the
classical arts. Over the years, Goans have excelled in poetry, music and
the fine arts.
The exquisitely carved rosewood and teak furniture, the terracotta figurines,
the classic brass items and the unique gold jewellery designs all speak
of an age still valuable in this technology obsessed world.
The folk paintings of Goa have been traced to different places from ancient
temples, churches and palatial manors to humble households. They mostly
depict episodes from the epics - the Mahabharata and the Ramayana and
the Puranas and also scenes from the New Testament.
During the Portuguese colonisation, local craftsmen played a major role
in the development of the exquisite furnishings and decorations used in
residential houses, churches and chapels. This art can still be seen the
Christian Art Museum at Old Goa.
Goans have contributed greatly to the world of music. Many famous names
on the Indian music scene originate from Goa. Famous singers such as Lata
Mangueshkar and Kishori Amonkar in the classical variety and Remo Fernandes
in pop music, are from Goa.
Konkani literature has produced many great names such as Bakibab Borkar
who have contributed to the development of Konkani as a national language
with some superlative writing.
Local craftsmen in Goa produce a wide variety of crafts ranging from
terracotta pottery and figures to superb brass lamps and decorative items.
A large number of Goans have also played a major role in drama and Hindi
film industry in the neighbouring state of Maharashtra.