Big Foot, Ancestral Goa, Theme Park, Open 9.00 AM to 5.00 PM
For anyone, Goans and visitors alike, who want to soak up some Goan heritage instead, Ancestral Goa, popularly referred to as Big Foot in Loutolim is the logical destination. Proudly described by its visionaries as “Goa’s First Theme Park”, Ancestral Goa promises a comprehensive safari into Goa’s heritage and culture, beginning even before the period of Portuguese colonization.
For Rs 50 (per adult), and Rs 20 (per child), you can go back in time and stay all day. A labour of love and pride, it took Maendra Alvares over ten long years to execute the dream that began with a collection of rock carving tools displayed at the venue.
Record breaking sculpture of Sant Mirabai
In 1994, Maendra took a chisel to the giant laterite rock on the piece of land that is now Ancestral Goa, and pounded, carved and scraped for 30 days until he had fashioned what occupies in the Limca Book of Records the distinction of being the largest man-made sculpture in India. This sculpture of Sant Mirabai, India’s singing saint was later christened “Natural Harmony” in tribute to the surroundings.
A journey inside Ancestral Goa
Upon arrival, guests are ushered into another world with the façade of an ancient fort, which incorporates both Portuguese and local architectural elements. Once welcomed at the entrance, you are offered a choice of languages for the guided tour. Each group or guest is guided from spot to spot with a wealth of information provided at each stop through unobtrusive speakers that relay the information in the language best understood by the visitor.
Beginning with the story of Parshuram, the legendary creator of Goa, the tour weaves its way on to a fisherman’s hamlet of yore, and then into ever-more intriguing aspects of life in the days gone by.
From ancient traditions of feni brewing to basket weaving, a potter’s hut, a land-owner’s (bhatkar) perspective, trades, crafts, the conduction of trade and the fascinating religious rituals of a time when Goans were strongly connected with their religions and their faith played an intricate role in carrying out their tasks.
Ancestral Goa displays with meticulous detail, the architecture, costumes, tools, accessories, rituals, habits, and ways of life among Goans from various communities, and how all these come together to exude the harmony among its people that Goa still boasts. Guests have come away with new ideas from the wisdom of old and have applied them to present day occupations.
From carpenters to book-keepers, weavers to bangle sellers, the tour is a colourful explosion of culture, lifestyle and history, and proceeds on to a bevy of educational displays on nature, environment and conservation.
Gardens of exotic plants and birds
Ancestral Goa has a huge variety of medicinal plants, with their medicinal values prominently displayed. Tens of species of birds flock here every day, and Alvares also has each species documented and on display for visitors. Big Foot is dotted with interesting surprises to please the avid collector. Besides the flora and fauna, the handicrafts that are prominently displayed and also offered on sale.
The Cross Museum
The Cross Museum is well worth a visit. Ancestral Goa has an extraordinary collection of over 1400 crosses that began with Maendra’s search around Europe. Each is unique and represents a glimpse into materials, artwork, artistry, craftsmanship and faith across the Christian world. To this European collection, Maendra has added a whole gallery of crosses from remote corners of Goa, by traveling the length and breadth of the state in pursuit of unique crosses to add to the collection.
You must put Ancestral Goa on your To-Do List
At the end of the tour, guests are free to explore. Ancestral Goa provides shady spots for picnics enjoyed by busloads of people at a time. A quieter afternoon can be also had, by heading to one of several cozy little niches on the grounds.
Maendra’s dream of preserving that fast-disappearing legacy of Goan heritage for posterity has grown beyond the artist’s initial ambition, to now serve as all that and more. From school students to architectural study groups, tourists and bureaucrats, Ancestral Goa welcomes and enthralls hundreds of visitors each week. Maendra’s chef d’ouvre has been acknowledged by the Government of Goa as the "Most innovative and unique project in India's tourism industry".
And yet, for all its vital educational value, Big Foot also incorporates a fun side which shows the visitor the entire spectrum of Goan lifestyle.
The Big Foot Sanskriti Kendra
The Sanskriti Kendra holds annual workshops during the summer vacations for children from schools all over Goa. Bal Mela is a children’s camp held here annually wherein children from slums, villages, institutions for disadvantaged children, mostly from South Goa, participate in various events that include games, art and craft, music etc. Most of these programs are held in collaboration with other trusts. Others are also welcome to hold any charitable functions for the well-being of the disadvantaged at Big Foot.
Goa Chitra the museum for Goan ethnography is a unique 4000-artifact collection and display of traditional farming implements and other ancient tools of trade. What makes it unique is that it is set against the backdrop of Goa Chitra’s traditional organic farm which is open for live, hands-on experience to students, professionals and anyone else. You can look at the artifacts, observe the fishpond, the farm, do a bit of threshing if you visit at harvest time, feed the animals, attend a concert, a lecture, oh, and have an authentic, mouth-watering Goan meal. For testimonials click here: Goa Chitra is a tribute by its founder Victor Hugo Gomes to our ancestors and to their way of life using age-old wisdom passed down through generations.
Each artifact is supplemented by information that was collected in situ by interviewing the elder members of the community and through the study of its application in daily life. A mega project of documenting oral testimonies of indigenous peoples, our last fragile links to the past, is underway.
Goa Chitra is on a mission to build an oral history database, collecting and cataloging oral histories from community elders and funding is requested through the One Dollar Campaign. The goal of collecting oral histories involves more than just gathering information about the past. The research will compose a historical and ethnographic profile describing the cultural and historical features of the community and their life style. We are seeking support to celebrate and preserve the history of the Gaunkar and Goan identity.
The Dona Angela Memorial Trust looks to forming a corpus fund, the interest of which will maintain the place for posterity. The hope is that every Goan across the world sees this project as an extension of their ancestry. The one dollar campaign is the minimum that we request for from every individual who wishes to support this mission and call it their own.
The interest of the corpus fund will be used for the following purposes:
Maintenance, restoration and conservation
Research and documentation.
Marketing, publicity and public relations.
Equipment - camera systems, audio visual systems etc
Free family day programmes
Funding a skilled intern during summer vacations
Donations can be made to the following account:
A/c Name- Dona Angela Memorial Trust
A/c No- 12211450000021
Bank Name- HDFC Bank Ltd, Margao, Goa, India
Branch Code- 1221
Swift Code- HDFCINBB
IFSC CODE- HDFC 0001221
MICR CODE- 403240020
Donations to Dona Angela Memorial Trust are tax deductible u/s 80G of the Income Tax Act 1961. All donations are deeply appreciated!
Preserving the past to enrich the future
We have students from all over the world living the Goa Chitra experience. This we hope will create awareness about nature, its influences, and benefits on human life. Goa Chitra’s outreach programmes promote awareness and appreciation of the traditional agrarian lifestyle, of the eco-friendly techniques that were practiced. The mission is to create sensitivity and concern for the environment in our youth.
The Goa Chitra Museum accepts partnerships with other educational entities and scholars, as well as with institutions who share our mission to illuminate cultural diversity and linkages from ancient times to the present, providing a place and context for intellectual exchanges among multi-ethnic communities.
This has been a one-man effort so far, but the magnitude of this project requires support. Goa Chitra is a full fledged museum project which is currently self-financed and owned by Victor Hugo Gomes and managed by the Dona Angela Memorial Trust.
There is a great urgency to develop an ethnographic / ethno historical profile of the Goan indigenous society that plays such a large part in the formation of this fascinating culture that holds visitors from all over the world, in thrall. Here are some details
How YOU can help
There are a variety of ways you can get involved or help Goa Chitra maintain its collections and provide new exhibits and programs.
Membership Categories & Benefits:
Individual: $50 (annual fee); Senior Citizens $25 (annual fee): Free admission for one other. Invitations to members for exhibition openings and other special events. Reading room - access to Library.
Family Membership: $100 (annual fee): All benefits above, plus workshops for two persons (adults or children). 10% Discounts at the museum shop. Invitation for two to annual museum event (inclusive of dinner).
Privilege Membership: $200 (annual fee): All Family benefits above, plus two one-day guest passes. Invitation to Annual Farm Day (inclusive of dinner)
Patron: $1000 and above (one time donation): All supporting benefits of privilege membership, plus eligibility to rent Museum spaces for private gatherings at special discounted rates. Permanent mention on Donor’s Plaque at the museum and all museum publications.
The Houses of Goa Museum, at Torda should be a must in everyone's itinerary. It celebrates the fascinating architecture of the houses of Goa, through the ages. The building of the museum itself is worth visiting, an impossible structure in a traffic island and yet it holds slices of the history of architecture in Goa. Designed and built by Gerard da Cunha. While you are there you can wander around the area and explore da Cunha's tribute to Mario de Miranda and an amphitheatre that has walls made entirely of glass bottles.
Museum open from 10.00 AM to 07.30 PM
No lunch break.
Closed on Monday
Worth a visit or three. Museum of Christian Art contains statuary, metalwork, paintings and sculptures transferred here from the Rachol Seminary. Many of the works of Goan Christian art during the Portuguese era were produced by local artists.
Timings: 9.30 am to 5:00 pm. All days of the week (Monday -Sunday)
The Naval Aviation Museum is a military museum located in Bogmalo, 6 km from Vasco da Gama, Goa, India. This museum contains exhibits that showcase the evolution of the Indian Naval Air Arm over decades.
The outdoor exhibit is a huge park that visitors can walk through and see decommissioned aircraft that saw service with the Navy. Some of them date back to before the 1940s. A small shed also displays various aircraft engines.
A total of 13 aircraft are on display.
The Museum remains open from 10.00 am. to 5.00 p.m. on all days except Mondays.