In the year 1994 the sculpture of Sant Mirabai, India’s singing saint, which was begun and was finished in the period of one month. Carved on laterite it received National acclaim in the “Limca book of Records”. The sculpture was then christened “The Natural Harmony” in honor of the environs and the open and beautiful landscape. From there on the amazing journey began.
From the dream of an artist to becoming a major tourist attraction, the project has come along way since 1995 when it was opened to the public. Today, hundreds of tourists - national and international visit the place. Besides artists, students, teachers, nature lovers, environmentalists and others, frequent the site often.
Maendra began a project whose sizes and implications truly existed only in his dreams. Whilst he went about the task of carving, painstakingly, the sculpture, he also worked upon the aspects of providing visitors to the site of the sculpture with a “View with a Difference”. So began a journey that actually threw off - balance all those wishing to classify the project. A barren hill covered with hardy shrubbery and thorny bushes began to take shape of a terraced and landscaped parkland under the nimble hands and artistic mind of one individual alone. He toiled laboriously by the side of his workers under the sun and the moon, in the rain and driven wind, because only he knew what he wanted and what shape the finished project was going to take.
Visitors who have visited the project annually right from the outset have exclaimed that each year they have found amazingly remarkable and noteworthy changes. Maendra has to pose for dozens of photographs and being the quiet and unassuming person he finds it hard to deal with the hero-like-worship he is subjected to. The Govt. of Goa has acknowledged the project as the "Most Innovative and Unique Project in India's Tourism Industry". It has also been recommended it as a "Very Educative Centre" for students by the state department of Education.
Why did Maendra resort to creating such an amazing thematic project when he could have sold off 9 acres of prime land to builders and lived off the proceeds in a life of luxury?
His aim was to create a treasure-house of artifacts and precious items for the benefit of posterity. This was to recreate the traditions and culture of our land and to preserve them for that time when they no longer exist. He also wanted to provide an ocean of opportunities for locals who needed to travel to urban areas for their work. This wonderful cycle of commerce in turn funded and financed many of the households but also provided the outlying areas with opportunities to boost trade.
The village that was once upon a time considered ‘Remote, Inaccessible and providentially Backward’ began to grow and is today a huge spot on the International Tourist Map, courtesy of the Big Foot! For Maendra, he has achieved a lot. He has managed to place his village in the hall of fame and garner international acclaim for his land.
The artist Maendra Jocelino Araujo Alvares who is a son of the village of Loutolim has catapulted this idyllic village of rural Goa onto the international tourism map. The entire project is completely owned by him. This private enterprise, is managed by his own trained staff who are natives of the village itself.
Maendra supported by his wife, Maureen Ann Alvares, a language & literature teacher by profession, is helping to diversify the project. They have already started building up a library exclusively for the study and research of Goa's history, culture, art and environment. Together they started Goa's first "Son-et-Lumiere" Show. They are now planning to build an amphi-theatre for the promotion of the arts. Their two children Karishma and Adriel are a big inspiration in this work.
He is also understandably proud of the following salient features:
“Ancestral Goa” is not only considered and declared an “Educational Picnic spot” by the State Department of Education for all schools but a Must-See site on the itineraries of various bureaucrats. The premise is also a part of Nature Club programs of various schools and colleges and a vital part of the syllabus of the “Environmental Study” groups as mandated by the State Board of Education. Various professional groups visit each year as part of their study tours. The project is part of a feature of the development and growth process study of many institutions of the M.B.A.
Many Architectural study groups visit the premises to study the enhanced evolution of architecture in the rural areas of the state of Goa. Students from the Fashion design institute generally visit the premises to study the culturally correct garbs and the confluence thereof the east and west.
The site also a big number of “Nature Study groups”, the “Science Clubs” and so on visiting to study the huge variety of plants and their cures. Many study groups visit the premises for their thesis based on the traditional tools, the implements and the evolutionary trade facts displayed and demonstrated as pertaining to each section of
Maendra is a recipient of many certificates of recognition, from the State and National Tourism Departments. He is also the recipient of many acknowledgements from the national NGOs and is a recipient of awards like:
The Millenium Gold Star Award and The Vicent Xavier Verodiano Award.