Forts of Goa
Goa is an ancient city. Goa has several imposing forts, though most of them lie in ruins today. The forts were built mainly by the Bahamani dynasty and the Portuguese. Most of the forts are not in good conditions due to negligence or the weather conditions. But most of them are near the beaches and worth a visit. Compared to Indian standards, Goan forts are very small in size. Nonetheless, these are historic specimen of immense military, political and economic importance in a land crisscrossed by rivers and canals and bordered by sea on the west.
The important forts of Goa are:
The Chapora fort, the Cabo fort, The Aguada fort, Cabo da Rama fort, Reis Magos fort
The Aguada Fort
The largest and the only well preserved fort of Goa is the Aguada. Around 15 km from Panaji, in Old Goa, this fort is strategically located at the estuary of the river Mandovi. Built in 1612, to control the entry into the river Mandovi and to protect Old Goa from potential enemy attacks, this fort is the only fort that was not conquered by any invaders during the 450 yearlong rule of the Portuguese empire. The fort acquires its name from the fresh water springs in the area. Agua in Portuguese means water and thus the name Aguada. An interesting feature in the precinct of the fort is a 13 meter high lighthouse. This lighthouse, built in 1864, earlier used oil lamps and was recently renovated in 1976.
Cabo – da – Rama fort
The Cabo da Rama means cape of Rama fort. Located in the southern part of Goa in Canacona region, this place is believed to be inhabited by Ram, hero of the great epic Ramayana, hence the name Cabo –da Rama. The fortress on this site was held by various rulers for many years, and it was in 1763 that it was gained by the Portuguese from the Raja of Sonda. Until 1955, the bastion housed a prison; now its only habitable building is a lonely government observation post occupied from time to time by a couple of young scientists from the National Institute of Oceanography. Now it just houses old rusty cannons and what else remains on the fort is entirely Portuguese.
The fort base on the River Chapora is located 10km from Mapusa, near the Anjuna and the Vagator beaches. This red-laterite bastion was built by the Portuguese in 1617 on the site of an earlier Muslim structure built by the Adil Shah of Bijapur. Intended as a border watch post, it fell to various Hindu raiders during the 17th century, before finally being deserted by the Portuguese in 1892. Although in complete ruins now, this fort offers a grand view of the two nearby beaches.
The Cabo Palace or The Raj Bhawan
This grand fort on the south headland of river Mandovi and opposite the Aguada fort was built in 1540 A.D. The Palace fortress housed the Franciscan monastery, which later became the official residence of the Governor of Goa. The Cabo Palace is now known as the Raj Bahawan, the official residence of the Governors of the States in India. It is also counted among the finest residences of Indian Governors and is indeed the oldest residence of a Governor of a State in India as its origins date back to over four hundred years. Today it offers a beautiful view with the Indian Ocean towards the west, the Bay of the river Mandovi and Fort Aguada on the north and the busy port of Mormugao in the south.
Reis Magos Fort
In a good state of preservation, this fort was erected in 1551 to protect the narrowest point at the mouth of the Mandovi estuary. Situated on the southeastern extremity of the tableland on the right bank of the Mandovi, in the province of Bardez, about two miles to the northeast of Fort Aguada , it is easily visible form Panaji. The fort formerly accommodated viceroys and other dignitaries newly arrived from, or en route to, Lisbon. Till recently it was used as a prison and is not open to the public.