Secret Goa: Tribal Life in Ambaulim

Joao Fernandes welcomed us to the tribal village of Ambaulim with some of the most unique things i’ve ever tasted:

  • porpoto cha – a herbal tea that’s supposedly a remedy for gas relief, muscular and knee pain and cold
  • sanna – idli-like flats made with toddy and jaggery
  • ambil – a staple breakfast food made from rice, raagi, water and salt
porpoto & ambil

porpoto (herb used for tea) & ambil


porpoto cha

porpoto cha

When a bunch of us bloggers were invited by Goa Tourism to experience tribal life in Goa, i wasn’t expecting to be so fascinated by it that it would leave me wanting to know more about their simple life that is perhaps more in tune with nature than our lives as ‘modern’ city dwellers.

the mand setup of the tribal village

the mand setup of the tribal village

Perhaps similar to paganism, the Gawda tribe worship the elements and mother earth and don’t particularly relate to mainstream religion. To that effect, their life revolves around nurturing, harvesting and giving back to the land, back to the soil and nature.

We got to see first hand, how they hand craft materials for their daily life including sheds, brooms and vessels.

Fellow blogger Srishti even tried on their beautiful and vibrant local dress which the friendly tribal folk decked her with.

Sristhi from

Srishti from

The highlight of the trip was the traditional dallo dance, usually something that is performed during the time of harvest as a celebration and as an ode to mother Earth.

dallo dance of the Amabulim tribal village

dallo dance of the Amabulim tribal village

As we proceeded to have lunch, i found out that the young girl who helped Srishti with her dress was not only the youngest one in the troupe but she wanted to become an IAS officer eventually, to help serve the nation. Given how dedicated, passionate and truly inclusive she was about her own culture, i’m personally confident that she will get there, but I was also impressed and inspired by her vision and maturity.

traditional meal with the Gawda tribe of Ambaulim village

traditional meal with the Gawda tribe of Ambaulim village

If you’re looking for a very unique, as-authentic-as-it-gets kind of an experience on your next Goa trip, i would highly recommend getting in touch with Joao who is the man behind preserving and promoting the tribal culture of Goa.

You can reach him here: joao_ferns [at]

Further reading about tribal life & culture in Goa:

Keeping Indigenous Culture Alive, One Song at a Time

Back to the cradle of tribal civilization


Exotic Gringo (Kaushal Karkhanis)

Leading an experimental life as a digital nomad, I started traveling in 2007 while choosing to shuttle between Goa and Mumbai as 'home'. An epic life-changing trip to South America an year later gave birth to this blog, Exotic Gringo.

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[…] recently, i found out about the Ambaulim Gowda tribe in South Goa, which retains its traditions, handicrafts and a harmonious way of living with nature – oh, […]