Reis Magos Fort
While most of the visitors to Goa spend their time at the beautiful and unending beaches, what they often miss out is the rich and interesting history Goa had witnessed. You can virtually live through this history and know more about it by visiting several forts that are built at strategic locations all over Goa. While the forts of Goa are very small compared to the ones that are found in other parts of India, they still have a strong history, and a victorious background. Reis Magos Fort is one such forts that is located on the other side of Panjim, across River Mandovi. The fort is built at the strategic location, close to the place where the river joins Arabian Sea. The location is strategic because the river is the narrowest at this place, and it is easy for the soldiers to spot any intruder who try to invade by the sea.
Way to Reis Magos Fort
History of Reis Magos Fort
The location where the fort stands today started as a small military outpost in 1493. This outpost was built by the then King of Bijapur, Adil Shah. In the year 1510, Afonso de Albuqueque tries to capture the outpost as part of taking over the region. However, the strong armed force of Adil Shah forced Afonso to abandon the plan and he shifted his base to Old Goa (then called Port Town of Ela), which was soon re-conquered by the Sultans of Bijapur. In the latter part of same year, Afonso de Albuqueque took help of Portuguese, attacked the outpost and successfully captures it. To further strengthen the defence, Reis Magos Fort was built in the early 1550s. The fort was built in many phases: each phase further strengthening the defence.
Entrance of Reis Magos Fort
In 1739, Goa was invaded by the Marathas. During this invasion, the dual defence forts of Reis Magos and Aguada together could defend it successfully. The fort then came under the rule of British between 1799 – 1813, when they captured Portuguese ruled Goa. During this period, the fort was used to house their soldiers.
Inside the fort
The fort was also used as a sub-jail where short term prisoners were held. Some part of the fort was also used by the freedom fighters, especially during the liberation movement of Goa in the 1950s. The fort then continued to be used as a jail until 1993, during which period, it underwent numerous changes. The fort was later abandoned.
Exhibit Hall at Reis Magos Fort
For the next few years, the fort was completely abandoned. The condition of the fort started to deteriorate severely. It was in the year 2008 when the Government of Goa decided to restore the fort to its original glory. A large part of the fort was rebuilt/restructured. The erstwhile jail is now converted into a huge museum, which depicts the history with great pride.
Amazing View of River Mandovi from Reis Magos Fort
Tour of Reis Magos Fort
As you enter the fort premises, you will be welcomed by a huge Banyan Tree. As per history, the tree did not exist till the 1900s. This tree grew as a parasite over a coconut tree, eventually strangling it. In 2008, the dead coconut tree caught fire due to which the tree began to collapse slowly. The relevant authorities trimmed the tree, and held it tightly with strong steel ropes. After the tree stabilised in 2010, the ropes were removed. A board at the entrance describes this story to the visitors.
The Banyan Tree
The entry to the fort is a gate, right above which there is a small hole that opens up to the upper floor. This hole designed to pour hot oil from the upper floor at the invaders who were successful in reaching till this point.
Jail room at the end of first hall
As you further enter inside the fort, you can see two huge halls. The first of the halls was earlier used as a prison. You can find various rooms protected with doors with strong steel rods. Few rooms also have an opening on the other side which opens directly into the sea! Who would like to stay in a “beach view jail”? 🙂
The large hall connecting each of these small jail rooms is now converted into a museum. The museum displays the art work of a popular cartoonist of Goa, Mario Miranda. The museum also has lot of information that introduces the history of Goa, and the fort itself. The information and the art work have been framed and displayed on the walls of this hall.
Explore the surroundings of the fort
The narrow paths and stairs built using the laterite rocks can be used to wander through this beautiful fort. A beautiful spiral staircase has been designed to get to the upper side of the fort. Looking at the condition of the stairs, it gives a feeling that this was introduced recently (perhaps as part of the restoration work done by the Government). If you climb up the stairs, you can get an amazing view of Arabian Sea. Being at such a great height, and right next to the Arabian Sea and River Mandovi, Reis Magos Fort gives some of the best views of the river and the sea.
As you walk further the narrow paths, you can see few cannons lying in the corner. Some of the cannons are rusted and gives an impression that it is really old and ruined. However, there are few cannons that are very well maintained. Overall, you can find around 7-8 cannons. The archeological department says that there used to be around 33 cannons when the restoration work began, but most of them were ruined.
Gun Loops at the base of the Fort
After getting through the upper part of the fort, a huge and steep set of stairs take you to the base of the fort. While it is very easy to miss out, the base of the fort has several gun loops. Gun loops are small open cells which had a small opening that faces the sea. It is very easy to guess that these cells were used to monitor the passage of boats on the sea. If there were any invaders, these loops also had cannons which fire at the invaders through the small openings. These gun loops were very strategically designed, and formed the strength of this strong defence fort. The gun loops today are used to display the artwork of Mario Miranda.
Stairs to the base of Reis Magos Fort
A small guest house at the base
A very green exit from the fort
Panoramic View of Arabian Sea and River Mandovi
How to plan a visit?
Overall, if you are in Goa, and are interested in exploring the forts, Reis Magos Fort is a good place to visit. The fort is very less known and hence is very less crowded as well. The fort is open from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM, and has a nominal entry fee.
Reis Magos Fort is located just across the River Mandovi, and is visible from the city of Panjim across the river. To get to the fort, you can hire a taxi, car or two-wheeler (a popular mode of transport) from Panjim. From the city of Panjim, just cross the Mandovi Bridge, and take a left to take the route just along the river. You will be welcomed by a beautiful Reis Magos Church few meters before the fort.
Where to Stay?
- Anywhere in Goa
|Distance (in km)
|Belgaum / Belagavi