Cover Photo by Vector Aim
Probably the most popular holiday destination in India, the thought of a trip to Goa brings lazy beaches, happening parties and shacks, and nice tropical weather to top it all off. However, this is not all that Goa tour packages have to offer. While the varied landscape of Goa has numerous hills and waterfalls as well, it is the historical aspect of this idyllic retreat that most travellers seem to have forgotten about. With a rich historical heritage, Goa is also home to a number of amazing forts that were built hundreds of years ago, mostly by the Mughals and the Portuguese. Here’s a list of some of the best forts in Goa that you would not want to miss out on:
The Best Forts in North Goa
North Goa is best known for its liveliness, shopping, and nightlife, while its beaches exude a hippie vibe and are perfect for people who want to try their hand at some water activities like kayaking, scuba diving, etc. North Goa is home to the Calangute, Anjuna, and Baga Beaches. Perfectly suited for people looking for a budget-friendly vacation, there are many places to visit in North Goa that will grab your attention from the word ‘go’. From Goa’s Fort Chapora that almost everyone knows as the Dil Chahta Hai fort in Goa to the smaller Corjuem Fort with its spellbinding vistas, here are some of the best forts you can visit:
1. Fort Aguada, North Goa
Built-in 1612 and the most prized structure the Portuguese built in Goa, Fort Aguada is an iconic structure that stands at the mouth of River Mandovi, looking out upon open seas, standing sentry to passing times. The fort is also home to a four-story lighthouse that was built by the Portuguese in 1864 and is a prime attraction for visitors. Aguada Fort is no longer in use as it was abandoned in 1976, but you can visit the fort and explore the many interesting aspects of the fort. Prison cells that were used during the Salazar administration, a secret passageway built for emergencies and wars, and breath-taking sunsets that look unreal are just some of the things Fort Aguada has to offer. Located near Baga Beach in Goa, Fort Aguada is also known as the Sinquerim Fort.
2. Chapora Fort, North Goa
Popularly known as the Dil Chahta Hai Fort in Goa, this fort became quite famous when it was featured in this iconic coming-of-age movie in 2001. Dating back to 1717, the fort is an integral part of history. Standing tall atop a hill Chapora Fort in North Goa offers commanding views in all directions, which made for an excellent defensive advantage for its occupants in its heyday. With time, the fort succumbed to the ravages of time and all that remains today are several tombstones and impressive walls, but you can still get some amazing views of the entire Vagator Beach, which alone is reason enough to visit.
3. Corjuem Fort, near Aldona Village
This fort in North Goa stands testament to the fact that forts don’t always have to be colossal structures that tower above their surroundings. Built by Maratha rulers in the early 18th century, then revamped by its Portuguese rulers to reflect their tastes and strengthen their defence base, Corjuem is quite a famous fort in Goa that attracts visitors from all over the world. Corjuem Fort is a protected monument and offers some of the best views of the Corjuem River and everything that lies beyond.
4. Reis Magos Fort, Bardez
One of the oldest forts in Goa, Reis Magos was built in 1551 and is still almost completely intact. While the Reis Magos Fort is not that huge in size, it has played many roles throughout history. One of the first bastions for the Portuguese against invaders, a residence for important dignitaries, and even a prison (till as recent as 1993), today, the fort is a cultural centre and a popular tourist attraction in places to visit near Goa, and includes the Three Kings Chapel, with a ghostly legend and picturesque view, is definitely worth including in your plan.
5. Tiracol Fort
A famous fort in Goa, Tiracol or Terekhol Fort stands at the mouth of the Tiracol River and used to be a part of the maritime defences of the Portuguese. Today, the fort has been converted into a heritage hotel to help preserve its beauty and is open to visitors who want to catch a glimpse of the mesmerising views it has to offer. So, it won’t be wrong to say that this is also the best fort in Goa if you’re looking for a stay.
The Best Forts of South Goa
With scenic drives, tranquil environs, and unblemished beaches, South Goa is the perfect destination for planning a lavish and serene vacation. Home to several wildlife sanctuaries and waterfalls, South Goa is well-known for its ‘Silent Noise Parties’ that are held every week on Palolem Beach. The Palolem, Colva, Butterfly, and Benaulim are some of the popular beaches in South Goa that offer a pristine and rustic backdrop for a relaxed soirée with nature. Many of the best forts to visit in Goa are located in its southern region:
1. Cabo de Rama Fort, Canacona
Another of the oldest forts in Goa, the Cabo de Rama Fort has a rich history. The fort is home to the Church of Santa Antonia and also served as a prison till 1955, after which it was abandoned. Considered as one of the top attractions in Goa, the Cabo de Rama Fort has many legends associated with its name, where every legend tells a different story about the fort’s cultural past. Cabo de Rama Fort is also a prominent feature in any Goa honeymoon package thanks to the serenity and tranquil environment it has to offer.
2. Mormugao Fort, South Goa
Once upon a time Mormugao Fort was a beautiful structure and had two fountains, believed to have originated from a gold mine and a Sulphur mine, and a chapel gracing its premises. Now, somewhat ruined but still pretty well-preserved, this fort in South Goa is a popular tourist attraction, offering spectacular views of Varca Beach. The fort was built in 1624 to protect the port region from enemies and is one of the largest forts in Goa with a 6-mile circumference. Donning a prevalent design that showcases Portuguese architecture, the fort also shows traces of its Maratha occupancy.
3. Rachol Fort, Salcete
Surrounded by rice fields and shrimp farms and resplendent natural vistas, the Rachol Fort in South Goa is a sight to behold. Though little remains of its old glory, the fort is slowly being reclaimed by nature, which makes for quite an experience for people who can appreciate its scenic beauty. Predating the Portuguese invasion, the fort was built by the Bahamani Sultanate and won by the kings of Vijayanagar in battle. The fort was then bartered to the Portuguese in return for their help against the Sultanate of Bijapur. The Portuguese made it a part of their defences, adding to the bloodied yet fascinating history of the fort.
4. Anjediva Fort, Anjediva Island
A magnificent and grand structure, Anjediva Fort was built in 1505 AD and is located on the border of Karnataka and Goa. The fort stands alone on the stunning Anjediva Island and is home to shrines to Our Lady of Brotas and São Francisco de Assis. While the massive structure of the fort has suffered some losses, it has undergone construction and renovation and has managed to regain some of the lost glory.
5. Betul Fort, South Goa
Replete with historical significance and natural beauty, the Betul Fort was built in 1679. Located at the foot of Betul Hill, the fort overlooks the Salcete coastline where you can see the point where the calm waters of the River Sal meet the wide expanse of the Arabian Sea in a beautiful crescendo. Mostly in ruins, the fort looks like an abandoned archaeological site but offers a refreshing and rejuvenating experience with its calm environs and natural surroundings.
Standing tall with grace, reciting tales of a time long forgotten, the forts in Goa are remnants of a bygone era and are worth a visit whenever you are in Goa.