Aside from its pristine beaches, Goa has some of the most exciting places that enjoy a deep historical significance, cultural heritage and abundant beauty. There are quaint little towns, lush green villages, historical forts, elegant churches and temples to visit. Nestled among lush woods, on the banks of the winding Chapora River the quaint village of Siolim with a population of about 10,000 captivates you as you wander around the densely forested lanes with its rambling brooks, colonial era houses and colourful fruit and veg stalls that dot the narrow lanes. The name "Siolim" comes from two words: 'Xinv' and ‘Halli’; "Xinv" means "lion" and "Halli" refers to a village or place. This probably means that there once were plenty of lions in the hills of Siolim.
This quintessentially Goan village retains most of its old-world charm and is a hotspot for cultural heritage tourism. It is very famous for its culture, traditions, sea food, historical monuments, handicrafts, traditional food, churches, beaches and feni. It produces some of the world's best feni, a uniquely Goan alcoholic drink brewed from cashews or coconuts, and there are some beautiful walks to be enjoyed by the river and along the shady lanes. The landmark Siolim bridge affords breathtaking panoramic views of the village while watching the sun set on the Chapora River from the bridge is an unforgettable experience. The famous Siolim Church is dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua.
The church possesses two steeples on the frontispiece and a statue of St Anthony holding a serpent on a leash.
This is a depiction of the incident which occurred during the construction of the church wherein a snake that was disrupting construction work was found caught in the cord placed in the statue's hand. The realization of this project was in grave doubt due to lack of sufficient funds. At that time, two Portuguese merchants were caught in a severe storm while sailing from Portugal. They had with them a statue of St. Anthony, and vowed that if they made to port safely, they would build a church where they landed.
The famous Siolim bazaar is a typical rural happening as the rustic folk bring their village produce for sale. You may also find typical Goan sweets including the famed jaw breaking 'khottkhottem'.
Siolim is also known for the Sao Joao Festival associated with the onset of the monsoon celebrated on the feast of St John the Baptist who baptized people by immersing them in the river Jordan.
He is also said to have baptized Jesus. Villagers jump into rivers, ponds and wells on this day to commemorate John’s baptisms. Villagers wearing the traditional copel (a colorful headgear made of flower and fruits) jump into the Siolim River.
After that they share fruits and sannas (a type of steamed rice cake) singing with the traditional gummots (a musical instrument that’s shaped like a clay pot with a piece of lizard’s skin on the mouth to produce various tones). Newly-married couples play a very important role in the celebration. Generally the bride carries all the goodies to be distributed among the youth of the village and the groom carries all the hard drinks like the Goan ‘feni’, beer and others. The Siolim Boat festival with colorfully decorated boats on the Chapora River also draws huge crowds annually.