Think Goa and the first visual that comes to your mind is that of endless stretches of beaches and partying. However Goa has a cornucopia of history and architecture that lies hidden in its hinterland. And is as interesting as the beaches (more in many cases) and its waiting to be discovered. Loutolim is one such village that has a quaint charm that stays with you much after you have left the place.
Also called Ancestral Goa, this is a museum dedicated to rural Goan life in the quaint village of Loutolim. Located about 25 km from Panjim, it is run by artist Maendra Jocelino Araujo Alvares. Spread over a sprawling nine acres, this open air exhibition is the perfect choice for the discerning traveller that takes you back to the life and times of Goa during the bygone era. There are numerous sections, including one that is modelled on a house and it houses several artefacts like clocks, wall hangings, porcelain plates and even a palanquin. There are several life size models that reflect the native culture. In fact, there is a model that depicts the process of extracting Feni or local alcohol. The highlight of the place is “The Big Foot” which is an impression of a big human foot that was found naturally on a rock. Highly revered, it is deemed sacred and believed to bring good luck and prosperity to anyone who steps on it. You can visit the souvenir shop to pick some locally made Goan handicrafts as a memory of your trip.
Visit an old historic home
When the Portuguese colonised Goa in the early 1500s, they bought along with them their culture, tradition and distinctive style of architecture. They ruled for about 450 years and even though their reign ended in 1961, the legacy of the Portuguese is alive and revered even today. There are several Portuguese mansions that have stood the test of time and are still inhabited by the descendants of the immigrants. Visiting these houses is a step back in time to experience life in the colonial era. Casa Araujo Alvares is one of Loutolim’s oldest homes that used to be owned by a judge in the olden days, and his ancestors have now converted it into a museum. There are guided tours and automated shows as well that will give you an insight into the life and times of how the family lived. In fact this is one of the best villages to explore Goan-Portuguese architecture and you can check this out also at the Menezes Braganza House in Chandor and the Miranda House another well-preserved Goan country house. Interestingly, Loutolim is also the home of renowned Goan cartoonist Mario de Miranda. A visit to the 400 years old Figueiredo Mansion is a must do here to admire the furniture, crockery, porcelain, chandeliers and more.
Sights & More
One of the best ways to explore Loutolim is to walk through its lush paddy fields and soak in the tranquility. As the Zuari River flows along one side of Loutolim, you can enjoy the beauty of nature in an unhurried manner here. Exploring the beautiful churches is another great idea and you can start at the 1586 built Saviour of the World Church that has six other chapels affiliated to it. The Sri Ramnath Temple here is another place to visit if you are spiritually inclined. While you are here, you can also enjoy some good local Goan food at House No: 2 named as such as this was the second house ever built in Loutolim! This is where you can enjoy homemade food and soak in the sights of Loutolim. Head to Jila bakery for some patties and cakes and take away some of their legendary chocolate eclairs — they make great food souvenirs. For a more authentic experience, a stop at Casa Susegad that offers a fusion of Goan cuisine and innovative continental fare is a must. Organic food, cooked in a traditional wood fire in a well equipped kitchen, their Goan chicken cafreal and banana leaf wrapped fish are some of the must-try dishes. So the next time you head to Goa, go offbeat and explore the many sights of Loutolim, it is everything you are looking for in a holiday and you will come back both, relaxed and rejuvenated.