Fort Aguada – The Portuguese Prison Turned Archaeological Museum

Fort Aguada – The Portuguese Prison Turned Archaeological Museum

The famous Fort Aguada was built in 1612 by the Portuguese to protect the coast from the Dutch and the Marathas. Interestingly, the fort got its name from the freshwater spring within its walls (Aguada is Portuguese for water.) The fort is characterized by a four-story lighthouse erected in 1864, which is also the oldest of its kind in Asia.

The fort was a reference point for the vessels coming from Europe at that time. This old Portuguese fort stands on the beach south of Candolim, at the shore of the Mandovi River. It was initially tasked with the defense of shipping and the nearby Bardez sub-district. A freshwater spring within the fort provided water supply to the ships that used to stop by. This is how the fort got its name: Crews of passing ships would often visit to replenish their fresh water stores. A four-storey Portuguese lighthouse which was erected in 1864 is still standing and the oldest of its kind in Asia. Built in 1612, it was once the grandstand of 79 cannons. It has the capacity of storing 2,376,000 gallons of water, one of the biggest freshwater storages of the time in the whole of Asia. This fort is divided into two segments: the upper part acted as fort and watering station, while the lower part served as a safe berth for Portuguese ships. Whereas the upper part has a moat, underground water storage chamber, gunpowder room, lighthouse and bastions, it also has a secret escape passage to use during the time of war and emergency. The lighthouse at the initial stage is used to emit light once in 7 minutes. In 1834 it was changed to emit light creating eclipse every 30 seconds; however, it was abandoned in 1976. Fort Aguada was the most prized and crucial fort of Portuguese. The fort is so large that it envelops the entire peninsula at the southwestern tip of Bardez. Built on the mouth of river Mandovi, it was strategically located and was the chief defense of Portuguese against the Dutch and Marathas. This is the largest and the best-preserved Portuguese bastion in Goa and Old Goa to protect from potential attacks.

The Aguada Fort Extension at Sinquerim beach

The walls of this fort are 5 meters high and 1.3 meters wide. The best about the fort is that this fort has not been invading by outside forces in the 450 years of the Portuguese rule.  An interesting feature in the precinct of the fort is a 13-meter high lighthouse. This lighthouse, built in 1864, initially used an oil lamp. It was later renovated and modernized 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. Though the entire fort is no longer intact, some buildings that are still in good shape have been converted into a prison. Interestingly, it happens to be the largest prison in Goa.

En-route to the fort, one comes across the church of St. Lawrence, the saint of the sailors. The Portuguese used to build churches on the outskirts of the forts to prevent the enemy from firing at a close range. The fort was meant to deter possible attacks on Old Goa from the Dutch and Marathas and to keep a watch over River Mandovi. As many as 200 cannons were installed for the defense of locals. A lighthouse on the premises further enhances the structure’s magnificence. It is the spectacular location for tourists. A little further behind the fort, the road leads to an off-road location where you will find many locals and tourists go down for some booze time.

Share Your Ideas...