Before the Portuguese renamed it Nerul, the idyllic village was known as Nellur. The late Ricardo Micael Teles defines the etymology as nell (rice) and ur (village) in his booklet Freguesia de Nerul (1925). Nuzzling at the mouth of the Mandovi river, Nerul shares borders with the historic village of Verem-Reis Magos in the East. The Sinquerim river separates Nerul from Candolim and adds riverine charm as it curves gently inland to halt at the Verem manos (dyke).
Modern Nerul accommodates a population of over 6000, living along the banks, fringing the Mandovi bay. The villagers grow rice, groundnuts and vegetables but the village is famous for Nirlacheo xevtalleo, tisreo , groundnuts and water-melons. Moved by its charming environs, Konkani novelist Reginald Fernandes set one of his several novels on this dated village, which possesses some timeworn mansions and the Church of Our Lady of Remedies, which is as old as Goa’s Christianity. Founded in 1569, the church with an antique architectural style figures among the last works in Bardez by the Franciscan Order before their expulsion by the Portuguese. It treasures some old paintings on wooden panels and on walls.
According to Telles, Nerul was one of the most thickly populated villages of Bardez once. Around the 16th century, following conversions, the entire population was virtually Catholic. Many Hindus, however, deserted their homes to evade Christianity. They took along the Shantadurga deity and installed it in a shrine at Mandrem in Pernem. With the return of religious tolerance and after a lot of appeals to the Portuguese government, Nerulkars succeeded in bringing Shantadurga home in 1921. They reinstated the idol at a spacious temple situated where Nerul and Verem meet. The original Shantadurga temple was near the church.
According to the hearsay, when Veremkars wanted to lift the idol it mysteriously gained weight and refused to budge. It was only when a Nerulkar lent a hand that they managed to move it. From that day onwards the goddess is being invoked as Shantadurga Nirlikarin. Temples of Santeri, Kshetrapall, Ravalnath and Vetall also existed here once upon a time. Now new temples have been built for Sakleshwar at Moddlovaddo, Owaleshwar at Firngibatt and Dadeshwar at Fortavado. There is a resurgence of the Hindu community whereas Catholic strength has dwindled to merely about 1000 residents.
Education in Nerul was pioneered by a parochial school funded by the Communidade. The early syllabus included music and even Latin was taught in this school for some time in 1850. The school turned out alumni of the brilliant calibre of the late Fr. Caetano do Rosario Vales, founder of the vicarage of LourenÃ§o Marques (now Maputo) and later Canon and Mestre-Escola See of Goa. Latin must have been a pet subject then because even Fr Manoel Salvador de Sousa, from Anjuna, taught it at the Fortavaddo Chapel from 1891-95.
The first official primary school emerged in 1912 at the Communidade hall. Hypolito Vales too was running an English primary school at his residence upto 1932. The present Our Lady of Remedies High School is housed in the parish building and is run by the Mission Sisters of Ajmer since 1963.