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Goa Forts Travel

Goa with its marvelous, unspoilt expanses of palm fringed beaches, warmed by the sun and the local hospitality, relaxed lifestyles enlivened by the love of music and dance and tantalizing cuisine, makes a heady mixture too good to resist. More than 450 years of Portuguese rule proceeded by Hindu and Muslim supremacy have made "Sunny Goa" an exciting amalgam of cultures. Imposing churches, forts perched on high promontories, delightful old mansions and villas and picturesque whitewashed villages set amidst velvety paddy fields are all a part of this exciting heritage.

Aguda Fort
Location: 18-km From Panaji, Old Goa
Built By: Portuguese
Built In: 1609-1612
Houses: The Central Jail And A 19th Century Lighthouse

A spring within the fort provided water supply to the ships that called there, giving it the name "Aguada" (meaning 'water' in Portuguese). On the northern side, it provides a harbour for local shipping. The fort, at present, houses the central jail. A 19th century built lighthouse is situated inside the fortress.

Immediately south of Candolim, a long peninsula extends into the sea, bringing the seven-kilometre white sandy beach to an abrupt end. Aguada Fort, which crowns the rocky flattened top of the headland, is the best-preserved Portuguese bastion in Goa. Built in 1612 to protect the northern shores of the Mandovi estuary from Dutch and Maratha raiders, it is home to several natural springs, the first source of drinking water available to ships arriving in Goa after the long sea voyage from Lisbon.

PRIME ATTRACTION
On the north side of the fort, a rampart of red-brown laterite just 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; a lord over the beach from the lower slopes of the steep is deed peninsula.

The ruins of the fort can be reached by road; head through the Taj village, and turn right when one sees the sign. Nowadays, much of the site serves as a prison, and is therefore closed to visitors. It's worth a visit, though, if only for the superb views from the top of the hill where a four-storey Portuguese lighthouse, erected in 1864 and the oldest of its kind in Asia, looks down over the vast expanse of sea, sand and palm trees of Calangute Beach on one side, and across the mouth of the Mandovi to Cabo Raj Bhavan or The Cabo Palace, and the tip of the Marmagoa peninsula, on the other. .

CATIGAO WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Location: 1-km Southeast of Chaudi, Canacona District, and South Goa
Coverage Area: 86-sq-km
Established In: 1969
Main Attractions: Gazelles, Sloth Bears, Porcupines, and Panthers & Hyenas

The Cottage Wildlife Sanctuary, 10-km southeast of Chaudi, was established in 1969 to protect a remote and vulnerable area of forest lining the Goa- Karnataka border. Encompassing 86-sq-kms of mixed deciduous woodland, the reserve is certain to inspire tree lovers, but less likely to yield many wildlife sightings: its Tigers and Leopards were hunted out long ago, while the Gazelles, Sloth Bears, Porcupines, Panthers and Hyenas that allegedly lurk in the woods rarely appear. Visitors however, stand a good chance of spotting at least two species of Monkey, a couple of Wild Boar and the Odd Gaur. The sanctuary is best visited between October and March months. Cottage is a peaceful and scenic park that makes a pleasant day trip from Palolem, 12-km northwest. The wardens at the reserve's small Interpretative Center will show one how to get to a 25m-high treetop watchtower, overlooking a waterhole that attracts a handful of animals around dawn and dusk.

HOW TO GET THERE
Road: Any of the buses running south on NH-14 to Karwar via Chaudi will drop one within 2-km of the gates. However, to explore the inner reaches of the sanctuary, one really needs one's own transport.

CHAPORA FORT
Location: Goa
Built By: Adil Shah of Bijapur
Also known As: Shahpur
Nearby Attractions: Vagator Beach & Anjuna Beach

The Adil Shah of Bijapur built Chapora fort on the southern headland of the Chapora River. It was also known as "Shahpur" and is now mostly ruined. It has a commanding view of the Vagator beach and is near to Anjuna beach. The Portuguese built the red laterite bastion, crowning the rocky bluff, in 1617 on the site of an earlier Muslim structure. Deserted in the 19th century, it lies in ruins today, although the views up and down the coast from the weed-infested ramparts are still superb.

CABO RAJ NIWAS OR THE CABO PALACE
Location: Opposite Fort Aguada
Built In: 1540 AD
Significance: Residence of the Governor of the State.

Built in 1540 AD opposite Fort Aguada on the south headland of the river Mandovi, the Cabo (the Portuguese word for cape) Palace fortress housed the Franciscan monastery, which later (1594 AD) became the official residence of the Governor of Goa.

Holding the most panoramic view one can witness in Goa 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. Remaining unhabitated and isolated for centuries, it is believed some human habitation must have been present over here but because of its enclosure in a dense wilderness, no signs of earlier settlements found. The beauty, solitude and uniqueness and well-planned features are some of the main attractions of the Cabo. A small Chapel was constructed at the very end of the mansion dedicated to our virgin lady of the cape (Nossa Senhora do Cabo). It also served as a landmark for the seafarers.
The Construction Of The Fortress: The exact date about the first construction of the fort is not known but in a recently discovered note dated 30th June 1541, there was a proposal to locate a Franciscan priest at the chapel, which already existed.

In 1540, the eighth Governor, D. Estevao de Gama, proposed the idea of constructing some fortifications at the mansion site to guard the entrance to both the Mandovi and Zuari rivers. The Cabo was converted into one of the best-equipped and important fortresses over the years.

Making Of The Monastery:
In the meantime, the chapel caught the attention of the Viceroy D. Matias d Albuquerque (1591-97) who became one of its committed devotees. He was a protector of the reformed Franciscan friars known as "Recollects". The Viceroy decided to rebuild the chapel and also constructed a monastery beside it. He paid all the expenses involved in its construction. He even imposed a condition that the Franciscans would look after the chapel and if by any chance they have to leave the place, it would be handed over to the archdiocese for proper maintenance. The foundation of the monastery was laid started of on 5th February 1594 by Bishop de Santa Maria and was completed within the period of six months only, exactly on 14th July 1594. The whole construction was done with laterite stones, which is available at the site. The Cabo is on a rock of laterite and it was extracted from the rocky peninsula on the spot. The pits formed from the extractions of stone were then covered to form cisterns to which rainwater was carried via the sloping roofs of the edifices. This provided excellent storage tanks for water. This system was also carried out in various other forts present in Goa.

The Present Raj Niwas: The Cabo Palace is now known as the Raj Bahavan, the official name given to the 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 as no other residence of a Governor of a State in India had its origin to over four hundred years in the past.
The official reception area consists area consists of a large hall called the Darbar Hall, used at the time of receptions and swearing in ceremonies and other official occasions. The Dining room has a seating capacity of over 30 persons. The living quarters of the Governor and his family are on the same floor. A glossy verandah runs along the entire portion overlooking the Mandovi Bay and the Arabian Sea giving one a feeling of being on a ship's deck. There are three suites and seven double rooms for guests. The offices of the Governor, his secretariat and staff are located on the ground floor in a separate annex.

Collectibles Within The Palace: The Raj Bhavan has a fine collection o Bohemian chandeliers, Chinese porcelain, silver and furniture. The most remarkable are the beautiful pieces of antique Chinese porcelain presumably manufactured in Canton. There is also a worn-out set of crockery having a similar design with same coat of arms. All these had been specially ordered for the use of the Portuguese Governor General. There is also an excellent collection of high quality wooden furniture with exquisite workmanship. A set of intricately carved chairs is simply remarkable for the fact that Hindu Gods and Temples have been carved on them. In the later centuries complete harmony between Christians and Hindus was very evident in Goa.

DUDHSAGAR FALLS
Location: On Karanataka - Goa Boderside
Significance: The Highest Falls in India
Best Time To Visit: October To Mid-December

On the border of Karnataka and Goa, the Dudhsagar Falls drop to a spectacular 600m. Believed to be amongst the highest falls in the country, these magnificent falls are located in a blissful tropical jungle with crisscrossing streams. After pouring across the Deccan plateau, the headwaters of the Mandovi River form a foaming torrent that fans into three streams, then cascades down a near-vertical cliff face into a deep green pool.

Jewel Of Konkan:
The Konkani name for the falls, which literally translated means "sea of milk", derives from clouds of foam kicked up at the bottom when the water levels are at their highest. Overlooking a steep, crescent-shaped head of a valley carpeted with pristine tropical forest, Dudhsagar is set amid breath taking scenery that is only accessible on foot or by jeep. The old Vasco Castle Rock Railway actually passes over the falls on an old stone viaduct, but has been closed for the past three years while track conversion work is carried out.

Water Sports:
The falls drop down to form a few pools, which are absolutely delightful for a swim. Take care to ensure that the pool one is going into is relatively calm. The sure-footed adventurers could try and climb up to the head of the falls through bushes, boulders and water. It's a tough climb, which takes at least a couple of hours, but the mind-blowing view from the top is well worth the effort. The best time to visit Dudhsagar is immediately after the monsoons, from October until mid-December, although the falls flow well into April.

HOW TO GET THERE
Rail: Take a train to the quaint Dudhsagar railway station, and then walk on the path that takes one to the viewing point of the falls overlooking the nicest pool made by them.
Road: The only way to get over the waterfall site is by four-wheel drive jeep from the railway junction village of Colem.
NOTE: It can be difficult to arrange transport of any kind from Molem crossroads, where regular taxis are in short supply.

MAYEM LAKE
Location: 35-km From Bicholem, Goa
Main Attraction: Scenic Surroundings & Boating

Just east of Old Goa, the lily-covered Carambolin Lake has an enormous amount of waterfowl, many Egrets and Heron, Bronze-Winged, Pheasant-Tailed Jacana and thousands of exotic species such as Comb Duck and Cotton Pygmy-Goose.

Close to Carambolim is the Ciba-Geigy Chemical-Works, which has created a pleasant nature reserve. Here one may sight Open-billed Storks, Purple and Grey Heron, Little Cormorant and Marsh Harriers.

 
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