Big Foot, Lutolim

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…

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View from my Balcao – Liberty Port

View from my Balcao …my Dad blogs from Goa

Visitors, and they will descend in hordes come October, to this island in the sun, make the rulers of this tiny state genuinely believe that commerce & vice go hand-in-hand. Maybe true of the rampant mining over the past decade and more. Not entirely true of tourism.

Goa is certainly not a twilight zone of drugs, booze & sleaze, as is currently being made out – Bombay & Delhi score higher, for sure. Its just a fun-place where richie-rich kids from Bombay & Delhi (and lesser cities) come to have a spot of merriment. Beer, nay any booze, is ridiculously cheaper than other cities, so why not indulge in an extra tipple when on holiday. And why traveel all the way to Pattaya when Goa is round the corner.

The social-service wing of the ruling government has grabbed headlines for their enthuisiastic attempts to curb night-life. This middle-class anxiety about hedonism could change the perception of Goa forever, making it a dull and boring beach-state as against the carefully nurtured halo of being a free-and-easy one. Their puritanism appears naive at best. Bombay & Delhi too have rocking night-life, so why single out Goa ?

Goa serves a singular purpose of allowing young (and old too !) folk, engaged in stressful lives of today’s money-changing world, to chill-out and get a taste of Goa’s famed laid-back (sosegaad) lifestyle.

Goa’s night-time avatar is unknown to many – hot-spots at Baga/Anjuna/Calangute or any of the casinos moored in the inland-waters, that start rocking by 9pm and shut shop around 6am, and why not. Partying is the sole purpose of holiday-makers to Goa. Goa is not just the gateway to India but also a rocking paradise for the foreign, and increasing now, the Indian tourist.

Lest their prudism turn Goa into the least sexy beach-town in Asia and allow a more strident Pattaya to turn the tables & turnstiles, it must beg the question as to what is good, bad or ugly.

Across the icy gulf of time from the swinging 60s to today, Goa has been India’s best-known secrets among all foreigners.

The ruling Government’s collective anxiety about keeping a clean image of Goa’s beaches must perforce go hand-in-hand with the image of a state that has had 11 CMs in the past 12 years, excluding the previous Congressman, and one that allows the mining-casino lobby as much freedom as the beach-bums of yore.

Putting a check on both is certainly advisable, given the burgeoning mining & casinos scams, & increasing number of rape cases, but lets not overload it to cause it to tipple the other way and take away the charm of Goa’s liberty to all its visitors. The present CM, who has a blue-blooded engineering degree to his name, will have to find the correct balance, a middle-path as the wise Buddha said of life.