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The Saligao Studio

 Saligao is a village in North Goa closer to the madness of Calangute and Baga. If you are driving from Panjim after crossing the historic Mandovi river and through the famous CHOGM road from Porvorim, Saligao will be the last village bordering Calngute which has the Goan essence. Not all homes here are converted into stores or restaurants, not all roads here are cluttered and not at every bend will you find someone trying to sell you something. 

We cross this village on a daily basis and have admired it's charm and natural beauty but never did we think or learn more about it until we had the opportunity to conduct a settlement study here. A study of Saligao was recommended by one of its acclaimed residents Ar.Dean Dcruz who has a large and beautiful house just at the foot of a thickly vegetated mount. 

So when an Architectural students group were scouting for villages to document and study we recommended Saligao unaware of the richness in character and history it had to offer. After a lot of back and forth communications with all the stakeholders we finally got the confirmation and the dates were finalised. The turnaround time from getting confirmation to the date of arrival was one of the shortest that we had worked with. 

In our favour, to pull off this settlement study in a short time was our presence close to the village, we live and work very close to Saligao, our knowledge of the ground realities, our good will with Architects, hoteliers and vendors who have seen our work ethic for the past 2 decades. 

We were lucky to get availability at a very cosy coliving space within Saligao, this way the visiting students saved time from travelling to and from the village, they were living in the village and mingling with it's locals. They learnt and absorbed more. 

The students arrived in Saligao after a 5 hour delay, this delay was not good for us as the first session planned for the students was an introduction to Saligao by Ar.Dean Dcruz. We were excited about managing to schedule this session at the very beginning of the studies. Train delays are something that we travel planners dread against, it creates a lot of inconvenience and disruption of the schedule. Ar.Dean was kind enough to reschedule his meetings at the last minute and he spoke to the students despite the delay. The session happened but not without causing stress with last minute correspondence, then again these are situations that we are trained to handle. 

The next 4 days students traversed through the length and breath of the village, speaking to villagers, documenting it and understanding it. 

Some residents were kind enough to let the students into their homes, some denied permission to visit and that is totally understandable. There was little drama too when a particular resident got angry that we were photographing his beautiful house without his permission, we managed to resolve it then and there. Situations like these could spiral out of control in no time. The students studied it's public buildings, Temples, Churches, Chappels, its road network, the springs and understood the ever changing dynamics of it's demography. 

Through the students' work we learnt the way the village grew from a settlement that was predominantly agrarian to the many transitions that it has gone through to be the Saligao that it is today. We learnt a lot about its acclaimed residents and their contributions to the village. The large diaspora that migrated from here for better opportunities and their contributions to the village, this is particularly evident at the Saligao Institute which was started in 1929 by the efforts of two sons of Saligao who had migrated to Africa. This institute is to date a space where village folk meet and socialise, the new management has started the very successful weekly Saligao market  which is a market exclusively of products made in Saligao and by its lovely residents. 

It was only fitting that the last day of this wonderful settlement study coincided with the Saligao Market and the students met here before departing back where they continued their good work and we have been told that it will culminate in a book that we look forward to read some day. 

The high point of this travel experience was to visit Ar.Dean Dcruz’s amazing house, multiple times, we got extremely lucky here, it is not everyday that we get to visit the residents of one of Goa’s most acclaimed Architects. We even had a review of the works in one of the large halls and for this we are forever grateful to the Dcruz family. 

The stay at Acolemia was also very convenient, apart from being within Saligao, it was not a conventional hotel, it was a coliving space and had a great vibe and enough spaces where students could spread out and work as per their convenience. 

In the end we are thankful that we were part of this experience and we learnt so much about Saligao. It will help us in understanding Goa better and curating better travel experiences to our guests.  


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