Location : Coastal areas of Goa
Major Forts : Aguada Fort, Tiracol Fort, Chapora Fort
Other Ruins of History : Mormugao Fort, Reis Magos Fort, Cabo da Rama
Official Residence of Governor : Cabo Fort
Aguada Fort, Goa
If you believe Goa is only about beach, wine and fun,
check your memory. This thin strip of land was once the seat of power of
the Portuguese, and hence it is not bizarre that one will find remnants of
history sprawled all over the terrain. Erroneously forts have always been
related to history. But these imposing edifices not only speak of yore, at
least not in Goa. They shout for fun too. The pleasure of scaling the
heights os a Goan fort to enjoy the view over the Arabian Sea or watch the
setting sun turn its old ramparts to burnished gold can be an enriching
change from beach lounging. Stretching from Tiracol Fort at the northern
most tip of Goa, to Cabo da Rama Fort in the south, are remnants of
colossal castles that once guarded Portugal's newly annexed territory from
land and sea conquests. Remember, the forts of Goa were strategically
located and strongly garrisoned to protect the entrance to the port or to
the provinces around.
Once parapets of military expertise along with encouraging a leisure purpose, these forts of historical importance have now fallen to ruin with only a few being used either as a prison or a hotel, or as in the case of Cabo Palace, which is the official residence for the Governor of Goa. Even if the laterite walls are covered with lichens, even if these archaic seats of power want to shed their responsibility, they, however, remain integral to Goa's architectural heritage.
If you happen to visit the forts of Goa, you will see how much possessive the Portuguese were about their creations. They used the latest engineering knowledge available to them to build these bastions of power. The parapets of the fort were usually low (which is uncommon when one thinks about the elephantine walls of Rajasthan), but thick and tapering and punctuated by cylindrical turrets. A wide moat enveloped the fort which acted as the first line of defence. The second line was, obviously, the large cannons that were mounted on the ramparts.
Chapora Fort, Goa
Fort Aguada, perched high on a cliff overlooking Aguada
Bay and the mouth of the Mandovi river was perhaps the strongest fort
shielding Portuguese territory. The 8-minute drive from Candolim to the
Sinquerim Plateau is an exciting way to explore the rugged-but-green
terrain of Goa. Ask the locals and they will tell you many interesting
stories about this stately fort, which was built in 1612 as a prime seat
of defence for the golden fort of Old Goa. Get a taxi from Panjim bus
stand to reach Keri, then ferry to reach the famous 18th century Tiracol
Fort. The high battlement walls were its defence towards the sea, while on
the landside was a dry moat. Don't forget to visit the tiny chapel of St.
Anthony, nestling in the laterite paved courtyard with a magnificent
statue of Christ in front of it.
While holidaying in Goa, you just cannot miss the pleasure of walking on the ramparts of the Chapora Fort. Located on the southern headland of the Chapora River, this proud fort was originally built by the Adil Shah of Bijapur. Walk across the laterite walls and cupola-topped turrets, spend some time beside the serene springs or simply sit on the ramparts and gaze at the horizon floating silently over the Arabian Sea. Lying desolate since the 19th century, the relics of the fort tower magnificently over the green hills and beaches around.
Above Panjim, dominating the mouth of the Mandovi and Zuari rivers, is Cabo Fort. Once an imposing structure, it held an entire citadel. Now it is the known as the Raj Bhawan and is the official residence of he Governer. Undoubtedly, it enjoys the status of being the most elegant of India's Raj Bhawan. To visit the Museum housed inside the Bhawan premises, you have to take a prior permission from the ADC Office. The information about your appointment will be then communicated to Goa Police Department at Raj Bhawan, which will give you permission to enter. If you happen to be in Goa in August, remember to attend the Feast of Chapel of Virgin Mary, celebrated on 15th August, which coincides with the Independence Day.
Goa's historic forts make news once in a while but for reasons other than the ones they had been built centuries ago by the Portuguese, Marathas and even Muslim rulers. And though history repeats itself, Goa doesn't need the erstwhile reason to fame itself. Many of the stately forts dwell in the landscape of Old Goa, located 9 km east of Panjim. Caressing many old buildings that have been converted into museums maintained by Archaeological Survey of India, Old Goa has been granted World Heritage Status by UNESCO for its historical significance.
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