As much as 23,76,000 gallons of fresh water was the amount of water that could be stored at Fort Aguada’s cistern crossing 35.15 mtrs across. With Portuguese built the fort in 1612 to stop Dutch & Maratha warriors, Fort Aguada catered to all its shipping fleets till it’s annexation by India on 18 December 1961.
‘Agua’ in Portuguese means ‘water’. ‘Aguada’ means to denote a place where water was accumulated. The Portuguese started building a fort on a hilltop extending to the seashores in 1609 and completed it in 1612. The site chosen was an estuary of the Mandovi river at the village Sinquerim 18 kms from present day Panjim – the capital of Goa today. The fort is so large it envelopes the entire peninsula of the southern-western tip of Bardez built on the mouth of the river Mandovi. The area has wells & fresh water springs dotting the place.
The fort walls are 16 feet in height & 4 feet thick. Even to this day the walls stand tall bearing the ravages of nature bearing battlements of salty moisture, heavy winds & long monsoon months. A few parts of the fort wall have collapsed, otherwise the Aguada fort is one of the best surviving Portuguese fort. Aguada fort has two berths – the upper berth is a fort of guard once mounted with 200 canons & stores fresh drinking water. The lower berth docks Portuguese ships. It also has gun powder storage rooms, barracks, prisons and a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Good Vovage. It also has residential buildings for the Commandant, the Chaplin, the Surgeon and other offices. The fort has five divisions with support of 16 huge columns and a staircase to descend. Today a part of the fort houses the largest prison in Goa. The fort on its upper deck has a large courtyard with a raised walk wall which overlooks the moat, the greenery & the beautiful blue Arabian sea. It also houses a four-storyed old Light House of Goa – the oldest in Asia built in 1864. It was operated with oil lamps and emitted light once in 7 mins. Later this was upgraded to emit light every 30 seconds.
This light house was abandoned in 1976. Currently there is a state of art modern Light House operating further away and closer to the edge of the cliff, it is professionally operated by the Ministry of Shipping and is called the ‘Aguada Light House & DGPS’. One can climb about a 100 steps & enjoy the beautiful aerial view of areas surrounding Fort Aguada. There is a small fee one has to pay to do this. Photography & Videography is allowed. The timings are from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm. Fort Aguada visiting hours are 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. There’s no entry fee to the fort. There was an old gigantic bell attached to the old Light House, which was retrieved amongst the ruins of St.Augustus Monastery at Old Goa. Today, this can be seen at Panjim at the church – Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. Enroute to Fort Aguada is Church of St.Lawrence, the saint of sailors built in 1630. The Portuguese used to build churches on the outskirts of forts to prevent the enemy from firing at close range!
Tata’s hotels own two luxury hotels on this beautiful locale sea front property occupying 88 acres. There’s a Helipad near the fort on the hilltop. This area also serves as a venue for big musical nites. There’s a lot of walking to do when one is visiting Fort Aguada. It’s advisable to start early, wear shaded head gear & sun glasses. It’s also advisable to take local transport to both areas – Sinquerim beach side & Fort Aguada on the hilltop. Please carry enough drinking water. Vendors selling soft drinks, water, snacks are only at the entrances of these places.
Aguada at Goa is worth a visit at Goa. Both the beach & the fort. It’s a photographers delight area too.
Jagdeesh Laxman Singh
aka Jugie Singh
Text & Photography