Fort Aguada, Goa
While in Goa your eyes can not escape the Portuguese
connection the state holds close to its heart. When you have had
enough of trance music and feni and you wish for some taste of history
or if you are one of those genuine history seekers then Goa has much
to offer. While in Goa you cannot miss out the forts that stand mute
testimony to the state's golden past.
And it's not just history which makes Goan forts a delight. Rather it is also the sheer pleasure of trekking your way up to the fort and catch a golden sunset just in time, and also the vast expanse of Arabian sea, that's the beauty of Goan Forts. Remember the scene of 'Dil Chahta Hai' where the three actors sit on the fort overlooking the sea? Well, that was 'Chapora Fort'. The experience is even more magical then you realize.
The landscape of Goa especially the beachfronts are dotted with such architectures which narrate the strong engineering skills of thePortuguese. Though smaller than typical Indain forts, these were strongly built at strategic location to protect the land, generally on the mouth of rivers.
Most of the forts are in ruins today (except for few), but they are interesting enough for a quick tour of history.
Famous Forts Of Goa
Fort Aguada, the largest and most well preserved fort
in Goa today is the most prized and crucial fort of Portuguese. The
fort is so large that it envelops the entire peninsula at the south
western tip of Bardez. Situated atop the Sinquerim plateau in Bardez
Taluka, overlooking the vast expanses of Arabian Sea, the fort marked
a reference point of ships. Built on the mouth of river Mandovi, it
was strategically located and was the chief defence of Portuguese
against the Dutch and Marathas.
The fort got its name 'Aguada' from the word Aguada (Portuguese for water), because of the three fresh water springs inside it. Built in 1612, it was once the grandstand of 79 cannons, a moat around the fort also protected it.
As you move around and inside this fort, it opens itself to you layer by layer and you can't help getting fascinated about the poweress it had once exulted. Some of the interesting features you will come across in the fort are a lighthouse which once housed a gigantic bell, an enormous vaulted cistern that could store ten million litre fresh water, and a prison in the basement interestingly the largest in Goa.
Built by Adil Shah of Bijapur and reconstructed by the Portuguese, very little remains of what the original structure was. Located on the southern cape of Chapora river, the fort is built of red laterite. It was finally deserted by Portuguese in 1892 and it lies in ruins today. Apart from some ruins you can spot the heads of two tunnels which were used as supply routes in the forts. There are also some Muslim tombstones on the southern slope. However, the reason why it's popular with tourists is different. The real pleasure of climbing up here is the view which offers panoramic views of Vagator.
Reis Magos Fort
Originally built in 1490 by Adil Shah and later taken
over by the Portuguese in 1760, Reis Magos fort was build to protect
the narrowest point on the mouth of an estuary of River Mandovi.
Approximately two miles on north east of Fort Aguada, Reis Magos fort
lies in the district of Bardez. After Portuguese left Goa, the fort
was being used as prison. Of late, it has been proposed for a hotel.
Though the fort is way behind other forts in Goa in respect of its size but because of its eminent positioning, it offers a wide angle view. The fort is in a fairly good state of preservation, Towards its base is the Reis Magos church. For the best views, take a look from the rooms.
Cabo de Rama Fort
Located in Goa's southern most Taluka Canacona, the fort takes its name from the name of Lord Rama of Ramayana, who had stayed in this place with his wife Sita during his period of exile. The fort has been a witness to history since long. It exchanged hands between Hindus and Portuguese and also housed British for a brief period. The fort has little to offer to its tourists except for the view from here to the north and south. You could gather some idea about its size from the ruins but little else. There is a dry moat, the front gate and a church inside. The whitewashed church looks contrasting with the black laterite walls of the ruins of the fort. A visit here will feel like an archeological expedition, there is hardly any sign of life here except for the birds and some monkeys.
On the Northern most tip of Goa's shoreline, on the mouth of river Terekhol is Terekhol fort. It was built by Hindu rulers and later taken over by Portuguese. The fort also has a church inside it which has a beautiful facade, but that is generally closed, opening for occasions like feast. The real magic of the fort is its imposing height, once you climb the fort, the distant view it offers will take your breadth away. The rooms of the fort have been converted into a heritage hotel.
Seven kilometres north east of Margao is Rachol fort, surrounded by the moat of an old Muslim fort. The fort situated on the crest of laterite hillock was crucial for Hindus, Muslims and Portuguese. While the Muslims were the oldest tenants of Rachol hill, Portuguese considered it as their stronghold on the Christian faith. Hindus taking it over from the Sultan of Bijapur ceded it with Portuguese in exchange of military help against Muslims. Though the fort is not in a very commendable state but the church inside the fort has been restored with great efforts. Little is visible of its original structure like the archways on the road to the famous Rachol Seminary.
Cabo Raj Bhavan
An imposing structure, the Cabo Raj bhavan stands on
the mouths of river Mandovi and Zuari atop a cliff in Tiswadi taluka.
Nine lilometres form Panajim, it lies on the peninsular tip of land
near Dona Paula. Built in 1540, it was initially used to guard the Goa
harbour. It took a long time to complete and was huge enough to house
entire citadel in it but what remains today of it are just three large
cisterns. Before the fort was erected a chapel of Blessed Virgin Mary
was build along with a convent for Franciscans. This later housed
Governors of Goa and today also its the official residence of the
Governor of Goa. One of the most elegant Raj Bhavan's in India,
special appointment is required to visit it.
There are many other forts in Goa like the Mormugao fort which guarded the Mormugao port, Corjuem Fort alongside Mapusa river, the fortress of Colvale in Bardej which were once crucial in protecting Goa. However, little remains of these today. Still, if you have a knack for historical sites, then go ahead and explore these.