Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Forts of Goa - Fort Aguada

Immediately south of Candolim, a long to laterite peninsula extends in the sea west of Reis Magos, bringing the seven kilometer long Clangute beach an abrupt end. Aguada Fort, which crowns the rocky flattened top of the headland, is the best-preserved Portuguese bastion in Goa.

Strategically located at the estuary of the river Mandovi, fort Aguada was constructed in 1612 to safeguard Portuguese interest against the Dutch and Maratha's and to protect the old capital - Old Goa from potential enemy attacks.. Today Aguada Fort is the largest and the best-preserved Portuguese bastion in Goa.

The Aguada fort derives its name from a freshwater spring within the fort which was used as a watering hole for ships that called there - "Agua" in Portuguese means water. Ringed by thick battlements and 5 metres high and 1.3 metres wide walls , the heart of the fort was protected by two hundred cannons and a deep dry moat, which one still has to cross to get inside.alt

Fort Aguada comprises of a lower fort which is surrounded by bastions all around and an upper fort. The lower port was primarily made for providing a safe cover to Portuguese ships while the upper fort was built to serve as a watering station to the ships.

The other unusual feature of the fort is a four-storey Portuguese lighthouse, erected in 1864 and the oldest of its kind in Asia. This lighthouse, built in 1864, initially used an oil lamp. It was later renovated and modernised in 1976. This lighthouse was 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.

On the north side of the fort, a rampart of red-brown laterite juts into the bay to form a jetty between two small sandy coves. This picturesque spot is known as Sinquerim Beach. Fort Aguada Resorts, among the most expensive hotels in India, lords over the beach from the lower slopes of the steep sided peninsula.

During the Salazar Administration, Fort Aguada was repurposed for use as a prison primarily, some claim, for Salazar's political opponents. Today it continues to be Goas largest prison.

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