Monday, July 15, 2024

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Fort Aguada

Place : North Goa, Goa
Best Season : Throughout the year  
Timings : 10am - 5:30pm
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Aguada Fort is the largest and the best-preserved Portuguese bastion in Goa. This major tourist destination in Goa, is situated 18 Km from Panjim, Goa's capital. When, earlier forts such as Reis Magos, Gaspar Dias and Cabo proved too weak to resist Dutch and the Marathas invasions, the Portuguese build this fort during the period between 1609-12. The fort was temporarily occupied by British in 1798 during their struggles against Tipu Sultan. The fort was also used as a reference point for vessels coming from Europe. Now much of the fort serves as a prison.

The fort stands atop the Sinquerim Plateau, overlooking the south of the Mandovi river and the greenery. Views from the top of the fort are spectacular, where one can get a complete view of the fort, also the views right across to Calangute beach in the North, the Arabian Sea to the west and the Nerul River to the South.

Built of laterite stone, the fort is considered as the finest example of Portuguese Military architecture. Consists of an an irregular quadrangle of 5 metres high and 1.3 metres wide laterite walls, it houses two parts; lower part and an upper part. The lower part of the fort with bastions all around provided a safe resting place for Portuguese ships. It was also used as their water storing point. It has the capacity to store one crore and 6 lakhs liters of natural rain water. The word Aguada in Portuguese means water reservoir. This is how the fort got its name. The upper fort, located about 200 ft above sea level houses lighthouse, an underground water storage chamber (capacity of this is 23,76,000 gallons), bastions, and a gun powder room. The upper fort also houses a secret escape tunnel to use during the time of emergency. 

To enter the fort, one have to pass through the lane running west from the north end of Panaji's bridge over the Mandovi. The main gate is situated in the southeast corner of the fort. Near to this is the Light House (1846). The oldest of its kind in Asia, locals were obliged to contribute wicks to its oil burning light. It is a 13 metre high circular four storey building which was initially used as an oil lamp and later renovated in 1976. It once housed the great bell from the Church of St Augustine in Old Goa and later moved to the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Panaji. From here, one can get the panoramic view of the Miramar beach stretching southward and the Panaji city. Located just to the west of Fort Aguada is the new lighthouse.

The fort's church, dedicated to St. Lawrence, patron saint of sailors is situated 1.5 km east of the fort. Completed in 1634, it altar shows St. Lawrence clasping a boat.
Behind two miles away the fort rises the old Reis Magos Fort (built in 1490's by Adil Shah, then taken by Albuquerque's nephew and rebuilt it in 1707). The lane continue through Verim and Nerul fishing villages.