Ancestral Goa / Big Foot are an integral part of the South Goa Tour operated by Goa Tourism Development Corporation. The names are catchy and give an impression of some important places which are distinct from the 'beach tourism' that Goa is famous for. My personal experience so far tells me that approximately 99% of the visitors to this tourist 'attraction' are coming through conducted tours only and if that were not the case, this place would not even figure so much in the Goa travel literature. The Wikipedia article on Ancestral Goa calls it a theme park and that is what it very much is. The only good part of this whole set up is an old residence called 'Casa Araujo Alvares' but unfortunately even that 'attraction' is being managed in a very immature way. Anyone who has been to Casa Do Mandarim in Macau will understand the problems with Casa Araujo Alvares. Loutolim itself is wonderful as long as one stays away from its touristy corner. There is a village square where one can see an old post office from the Portuguese days (still working) called 'Communidade of Loutolim', a beautiful church, a very old cemetery, a school, and a park. Its like stepping back in time and spending a few quiet moments in the Goa of olden days. But the tour buses do not bring tourists to this square, what a fraud. Keep reading...
|Casa Araujo Alvares Loutolim Goa|
I need to explain what Ancestral Goa and Big Foot are nothing but tourist traps.
The Legend of Big Foot
|Big Foot in Ancestral Goa Loutolim|
Its a sort of a folklore of a wealthy individual (Mahadar) who liked to donate his money to the needy. Some needy and greedy individuals took advantage of his good nature and eventually robbed him of all his wealth. Having lost everything, Mahadar took to God (Lord Shiva perhaps) and started praying standing on one foot. He was eventually blessed and taken to heaven. There is a foot mark too inside an artificial cave and according to the Ancestral Goa website, some very important people have visited Big Foot. Its not easy being important.
Ancestral Goa (Mini Goa)
|An Exhibit At Ancestral Goa Loutolim|
This theme park houses a Heritage Museum depicting 'how people lived with nature', 'India's longest laterite sculpture of Saint Mirabai', 'Spice & Fruit Garden', a 'Bird Habitat', a 'Butterfly Park', and 'more'. I put quotes around everything above because these are the claims of the people who operate Ancestral Goa. I did not see any butterflies there, the fruit & spice garden is too small, and the bird habitat is actually a few cages containing live birds. Any two-bit zoo will be better. The Heritage Museum does contain a few nice scenes recreated from the old Goan village life. The Big Foot is inside too and all of the above requires an entry fee of INR 50 (INR 30 for kids 3-10). Nothing is worth a special visit and I would rather spend my INR 50 some place else.
Ancestral Goa & Big Foot are open daily from 9.00am to 6.00pm.
Casa Araujo Alvares
This 250 year old 'Indo-Portuguese' mansion is the saving grace of the tourist trap. The building is old and still has a lot of furniture and furnishings from the old times. The mansion was owned by an accomplished lawyer and later his family decided to turn it into a museum of sorts. Some of the old stuff is interesting like the kerosene fired Electrolux Refrigerator. The mansion is no doubt worth a visit but the problem lies with the way in which this so called 'Light & Sound' tour is operated.
|Kerosene Fired Electrolux Refrigerator in Ancestral Goa|
Entry fee to the mansion is INR 100 plus an additional INR 20 if one wishes to use a still/video or even a mobile camera. Kids get a 50% discount on the entry fee. The mansion opens from 9.00am to 5.30pm everyday and the tour duration inside the building is just 15 minutes. A group of 10-15 people is taken inside at a time and as they move from one room to the other, a background recorded voice explains the contents and the significance of the room. A 'guide' accompanies the group and he or she just keeps repeating what the recorded voice is saying. Sometimes the recorded and the live voice come at the same time and no one is able to understand what is being said. People are virtually pushed from one room to the other so that the tour can be completed within 15 minutes and there is barely any time to take pictures. I just wished I could spend a few minutes inside all by myself. I would like to suggest to the owners of the mansion to visit Casa Do Mandarim Macau and learn a few things from there.
For the tourists visiting Loutolim on a South Goa conducted tour, it will be better to just see the Casa Araujo Alvares, skip the Ancestral Goa theme park and instead try to spend a few minutes in the Loutolim village square which is just a short walk away. If one wants to see Portuguese houses, a good alternative to Loutolim is Divar island near Old Goa. The only difference being, getting inside a house in Divar will be next to impossible. Some residents there don't even like tourists taking pictures of their buildings. In Panjim, one can stay in a real old Portuguese house which is a home stay called Vivenda Rebelo.
Getting To Loutolim
|Public Bus From Ponda To Loutolim Goa|
From Kadamba Bus Stand in Panjim, one can take a public bus to Ponda. From Ponda Bus Stand, one needs to board another public bus to Vasco that goes via Loutolim. The entire one-way trip should last for one hour if there is not much waiting. When I reached Ponda Bus Stand, the bus to Loutolim was already there.
What Gets Missed In The Conducted Tour
If you are visiting Loutolim on a South Goa Conducted Tour, you will not be able to visit the following:
|The Church in Loutolim Goa|
|The Old Cemetery in Loutolim Goa|
|Communidade of Loutolim Goa - The Old Post Office|
|Posted by Narinder Singh|