When people think of Goa as usual they think of the beaches yet they forget that Goa has a lot of culture and sightseeing to offer as well as a rich history. Goa is located in the South western region of India; it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its western coast. It is India’s smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. So we decided to visit some of these sites to find out more about their enchanting past. There are many forts in Goa such as Tiracol, Chapora, Corjuem, Aguada, Reis Magos, Nanus, Mormugao, Fort Gaspar Dias and Cabo de Rama.
Reis Magos is a picturesque village located on the northern bank of the Mandovi River in Goa, opposite to the capital city of Panjim. You can see the village while driving on the Mandovi Bridge. The village is well-known for two of Goa’s famous structures; the Reis Magos Fort, and the Reis Magos Church – the first church in Bardez, Goa. Reis Magos is the Portuguese name for the Three Wise Men from the Bible.
The Reis Magos Fort was built about half a century before the prominent Fort Aguada. The fort surrounded with thick laterite walls and the typical Portuguese turrets was built in the year 1551. It was enlarged on different occasions and the final re-erection was in the year 1707. The fort was primarily used to accommodate viceroys and other dignitaries newly arrived from, or en route to, Lisbon, and in the early eighteenth century proved a linchpin in the wars against the Hindu Marathas, who were never able to capture the fort. The bastion was used as a prison. The Reis Magos Fort is far inferior in size to the fortress of Mormugao and Fort Aguada, yet it stands on a prominence and it commands a splendid view all around. Towards the east, at a little distance from it, flows a spring with abundance of excellent water, while at its base rises the church of the Reis Magos, ascended by a beautiful flight of stairs. The Fort, originated as an armed outpost of the Adil Shah of Bijapur in 1493. When Bardez was conquered by the Portuguese in 1541, the Fort was built along with the church. From 1900, it lost its defensive role and was used as a jail and was finally abandoned in 1993 after which it was at the mercy of the elements, and had begun to crumble. Restoration work on the fort began in the year 2008 and was opened to the public on the 5th of June 2012.
Aguada fort is located 18 km from Panjim and roughly 52 km away from Margao. Hard to miss, the 17th century Portuguese fort stands on the Sinquerim beach, overlooking the Arabian Sea, manages to envelope the entire peninsula at the south western tip of Bardez. The fort was constructed in 1612 to guard against the Dutch and the Marathas. The fort is divided in two segments: the upper part and the lower.
The upper part has a moat, an underground water storage chamber, gun powder room, lighthouse and bastions, it also has a secret passage to use during the time of war and emergency. The lower part of the fort is the central jail of Goa and is used to imprison criminals connected with narcotic activities and this area is off limits for the people.
The area around the fort housed a large well and a number of springs that provided fresh drinking water to the voyagers that arrived by ship. “Agua” in Portuguese means water, thus the fort derived its name “Aguada” to denote a place where water is accumulated. An interesting feature in the precinct of the fort is a 13-metre-high lighthouse.
This lighthouse, built in 1864. This lighthouse was once the home to a gigantic bell that was retrieved from amongst the ruins of the St. Augustus monastery at Old Goa. However, the bell has now been moved to the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception church at Panaji. Apart from its cultural history, an interesting fact for all the movie buffs out there is that this fort has also played a crucial role in many movie scenes such as Dil Chahta Hai by Farhan Akhtar, Rangeela, Golmaal, Dhoom, Honeymoon Travels, etc.
Located 10km from Mapusa – Bardez, the red-laterite bastion was built by the Portuguese in 1617 on the site of an earlier Muslim structure. Intended initially as a border watch post, it fell to various Hindu raiders during the 17th century, before finally being deserted by the Portuguese in 1892.
Today, the fortress lies in ruins, although you can still see the heads of two tunnels that formerly provided supply routes for besieged defenders, as well as a scattering of Muslim tombstones on the southern slopes of the hill, believed to be relics of pre-colonial days.
The Chapora fort is a very popular tourist attraction of Goa, being situated close to the Vagator beach. Once neglected, the fort got popularized by the Bollywood film ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ (therefore also known as the Dil Chahta Fort), and is now a prime attraction of Goa. Strategically located, the fort offers the best views of the sea, surrounding hills, backwaters and the neighbouring towns. Hiking and trekking proves to be an excellent activity here, but access to the fort can be a bit tough as it the fort has steep slopes on all sides. Whether you are traveling alone or couple or a big group, this place can leave one mesmerized with stunning views to offer, peace and tranquil places to sit and relax, and a variety of angles and backdrops for taking pictures and selfies.
Then a lynchpin of the Portuguese efforts to protect their coastline from invading armies and now a prestigious hotel; the Tiracol fort is located in the northern tip of Goa at the mouth of Tiracol river proving a kaleidoscopic view of the river and the Arabian Sea. Originally built by Maharaja Khem Sawant Bhonsle, the Raja of Sawantwadi, in the 17th century, the Tiracol fort was extensively revamped in 1764 after the Portuguese Viceroy Dom Pedro Miguel de Almeida captured it.
It is surrounded by a natural river flowing east-west on its northern boundary beyond which lies the vast state of Maharashtra which makes this a very scenic and orderly arrangement. Perched atop a on a hillock overlooking the Arabian Sea, an hour and forty minute drive from the Airport. Drive through contains picturesque fields, glimpses of Goan villages, along the beaches of Morjim, Ashvem and Arambol. Once you reach the jetty at Kerim beach, a ferry takes you and the car across the river, and then it’s just a five minute drive to the destination. There is also a very old Church there said to be established in 17th century. The beach is still unexplored with a calm shore and is perfect to unwind yourself in the middle of nature. During your time at the hotel, besides treating your eyes to the view you can also take the fort’s private boats and go coast cruising or dolphin sighting!
REDI FORT (YASHWARNTGAD)
Yashwantgad Fort (also known as Redi Fort) lies neat the Maharashtra-Goa border. Redi is a quaint little coastal village that belongs to the district of Sindhudurg in Maharashtra. Originally known as Rewati, Redi is located very close to the shores of the majestic Arabian Sea and is dotted with plenty of cashew and coconut trees. However this is very easy to reach from Goa.
The Village belongs to the Vengurla Taluka of Konkan region and was a significant sea port during the earlier times. Redi has now evolved into a tourist hub because of its long virgin and unspoiled beaches alongside archaic historic monuments like the Yashwantgad Fort.
The fort is approached via crumbling gateways leading through the surrounding forest, and past a deep trench that surrounds part of the structure. Once at the main entrance you will pass through several small rooms and corridors, where tree roots cascade over the walls of the fort. These lead to the huge, roofless inner chambers of the citadel that have long since yielded to nature. Animals like langur monkeys, or drongo birds can be seen at the fort.
Redi Fort was built by the Marathas in the sixteenth century and was later captured by the Portuguese in 1746. The previous citadel holders, the Sawant clan of Maharashtra, were desperate to regain the fort because of its valuable strategic position on the coast. An attempt to recapture Redi fort was preceded by poisoning the Portuguese garrison’s fish supply, but the attack was unsuccessful.
The fort was eventually returned to the Sawants following a peace treaty, but the success was short lived – in 1765 the fort was captured by the British who later sold the land to local people in 1890 while retaining ownership of the fort walls.