Tucked in the extreme north-westerly point of Bardez taluka, on the verdant southern bank of the Chapora River, lies the beautiful village of Siolim, gaining its distinct charm from the beauty of a splendid spread of palm trees, green paddy fields, hills and silvery streams.
Siolim resident Alexander D’Souza says, “Siolim has changed much since I was a kid. Before I would run in the fields near our home, now you have buildings in that same field. A development that is an asset to the village is the petrol pump.” He adds that even after all the development, one can still find some peace in the comfort of the village.
Despite development in and around, the Siolim of today still retains its charm a tourist attraction. Some people may even call it another Calangute or Candolim, given the numerous establishments that have cropped up over the years. But what many won’t know is that it is known to be an agricultural village, precisely because it is blessed with paddy fields and green hills, where farmers still work and sell their locally-grown produce.
If you have returned to Siolim in 2023 after a gap of several years, you are sure to notice the change in landscape and the development that has occurred. But before we go into the village’s landscape and development, we need to understand that there are two comunidades – the Comunidade of Siolim and the Comunidade of Maina – and today we will ride through the Comunidade of Siolim.
Let’s start with the famous landmark -- the Siolim Church dedicated to St Anthony. Back in 1600 when the Franciscan Fathers were facing difficulties in building a new church for the village, a Portuguese merchant ship caught up in a storm washed up on the shore of Chapora and the merchants vowed to build a church at the very spot in honour of the Saint who helped them safely ashore. After the miracle, the merchants were determined to change of name of the church from ‘Mae de Deus’ to St. Anthony.
Opposite the church is the river where annually the feast of Sao Joao is celebrated. People from all over come to be part of this celebration. This small river is called Fonduem (Fond point), its origin being in Gottnincho Vall that comes from the hill of Colvale.
The village, part of the old conquests of Goa by the Portuguese, has a spread of chapels and churches. It was one of the villages that got the message of Christianity through members of the congregation of St Francis of Assisi.
Apart from churches there are Hindu temples and it is said that one of the first temples in Siolim was that of Shri Laxminarayan Prassann, which belonged to the Hindu Brahmins, and came up in the long past.
But back to the present, Siolim has many commercial establishments that have changed the face of the village. One such is the fuel station that started operations in February 2022 in the proximity of the market area. Prior to this the only accessible fuel station was in Cunchelim, which is around 6.2 km from the village.
Likewise, the Siolim bride that you see did not exist until the 1990s. Prior to that people would have to cross the Chopdem River via ferry. However, the Siolim-Chopdem Bridge is not near the old ferry point but a little further towards Guddem, near Manos. Likewise, the village has gone from being a cottage industry hub for coir, thread winding and bottling to transforming into a tourist magnet, where you can find anything and everything from supermarkets to eateries.
Of the latter there are quite a few, with a selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, where you can stop for a quick snack or a full meal, boasting also of several food franchises including KFC, Dominos and Baskin Robins. But not to worry, for there are also some good restaurants and food trucks you can check out.
Siolim has experienced much change and the residents have adapted, so much so that tourists have settled in this beautiful village to experience the peace of a Goan village.
Next time we will take you on a ride to the Comunidade of Maina, via the link road constructed in 1992 that has been a boon for the villagers since it’s reduces the distance from Sodiem to Marna making it just 600 metres.