April 02, 2022

#BlogchatterA2Z: B for 'Big Foot' - Goa's open-air heritage museum.

If the Azulejos from yesterday’s post managed to spark your interest in Goan history and heritage  and prompted you to gain better insight into Goa’s cultural evolution over the ages, then today’s post is just what you will want to read (and carry in your mind) before your next trip to Goa. 

Located in Loutolim, South Goa, Big Foot is an open air museum, which for a small fee, takes you on a journey of Goan tradition and heritage, replete with the innocence and simplicity that comes with a folksy village life. 

Being a Goan, I’d say a lot in Goa has changed over time. The current vision most people have of Goa is one of tourist crowded beaches, rave parties, and reckless water sports. Ask a non-Goan to stretch his imagination and paint a picture of Goa beyond this, and he will rack his brains and finally come up with hibiscus dresses, straw hats and a bottle of Feni. Ask him to widen it a little more and he may throw in a jolly folk song like ‘hav sayba paltadi vata’ or a more humorous ‘undir mama aaylo’ that he has picked up from some stereotyped Goan caricature on the silver screen or Goan wedding band.  

But I will not blame him. It is almost impossible for someone to know and understand the cultural ethos and history of a place in a few hours, leave alone days…unless of-course you visit a museum. 

And a trip to Loutolim’s heritage museum promises to do just that. In a fun and lively manner, Big Foot makes you aware that Goa is much more than what is portrayed onscreen and on tourist brochures. Goa is simplicity. Goa is humility. 

With the help of lifesize sculptures, artificial lakes and waterfalls, miniature houses, and an recorded audio guide to walk you through the plethora of aesthetically designed features, this museum becomes a place of reverence to Goa and all things Goan. 

The legend of Big Foot:

There is a story behind how the museum got its name. It is said that there once lived a wealthy landowner named Mahader, who was a kind and generous soul. He always helped the poor and needy, Nobody who approached him for help would go empty handed. His greedy neighbours, however, took advantage of his giving nature and fleeced him of all his money. Even after being subjected to abject poverty and the loss of his wife, he did not complain and maintained a strong faith in God. Seeing this, the Gods were impressed and offered him a boon. However, all Mahader asked for was a small place to stand and pray, whereupon he was granted his wish, given a hot rock. Mahader stood on one foot on that rock and prayed. So pleased were the Gods with his devotion, that they blessed him with a place in heaven. The footprint on the hot rock still remains, and it is believed that anyone standing on the big foot (print) and praying with good faith and a pure heart will have his wish fulfilled. 

The tour at Big Foot is designed in an informative and anecdotal manner that keeps you engaged and interested. The sculptures of working people, old furniture, various artefacts, even sets of tools used for farming in Goa will regale you with facts about its ancient history and lifestyle. They highlight different aspects of the quintessential Goan life, like food habits, dressing style, and local occupations that contribute to the Goan economy even today. 

Two major attractions: 

It is easy to be overwhelmed by all you behold. But one cannot miss out on two major exhibits. 

One is an optical illusion of sorts...a statue of Lord Shiva that appears to have its eyes open when viewed from a distance and eyes closed when seen from near. 

And the second is a huge 46feet 2inches horizontal sculpture of Mirabai, carved out of a single laterite stone. This has been recorded in the Limca book of world records as the longest laterite stone sculptures. And is known to have been carved by MJA Alvares in about a months time. 

Both these wonders are a joy to behold and make for beautiful memories to return home with. 

The Big Foot museum is a great place to learn especially for children who gain more knowledge from show-and-tell expeditions than from the pages of a book. 

A one-stop to witness the confluence of culture, art, and heritage, this is a place every local and tourist should visit at least once.

For the old world charm that today’s generation may not know about, for the humility of a quaint village life and inherent hospitality, simplicity and joi de vivre that Goa inspires,  we bow our heads and in gratitude, say, ‘Obrigado, Goa!’ 

Stick around for yet another delicious aspect of Goan life, coming Monday. 

Until then, like we always say, 

Mog  aasu di. 

(Let there be love!)


I’m participating in #BlogchatterA2Z

My theme for the challenge is ‘Obrigado, Goa!’, under which I’ll be writing 26 posts on Goa (April 1-30th, excluding Sundays), each post corresponding to the letters of the English alphabet. You can read more about it in my theme reveal post


Sandhya Bhattaram said...

A very interesting place. Nice post!

sam said...

Wow this is just wow!!! Mind-blowing definitely visiting this place!

Harjeet Kaur said...

That's a very detailed post on Goa. I went last year for the first time I really liked Big Foot but my friends derided me for taking them there :) Each to his own I guess. Looking forward for more Goa posts.

Pri said...

Thank you, Sandhya. :)

Pri said...

I'm glad it managed to elicit this response from you. You must visit on your next trip here...for the sheer simplicity and effort put in to revive a fading culture. :)

Pri said...

I'm so glad you liked it. Your friends probably didn't like it because they were expecting something fancy. But the museum is a reflection of the sheer simplicity that represents Goa and should be taken as such. Any attempt to commercialise it would spoil its essence. :)

Anagha Yatin said...

You rekindled my memories of the visit to the Big Foot museum Priyanka. It was about 4 to 5 years back when my kids were still young. I remember having clicked a photo where my younger one sat in the palanquin held by two Goan Kolis right at the entrance (If I remember it correctly).
Big Foot is indeed a good museum.

Pri said...

I'm so glad my post could bring back fond memories, Anagha, I think you're talking about the same palanquin that's exhibited in the announcemnt pic (first pic) of my post...part of it is probably getting concealed beneath the lettering. :)