This ancient and imposing fort on the river Tiracol is perhaps the best preserved and most visited fort in Goa. This is partly due to the Fort having been converted into an exclusive hotel. However, even with the modernizations made by the hotel, the fort is still steeped in historical lore and has been witness to many a gory battle.
The Fort Tiracol is open to the public every day from 9.00am to 7.00pm.
Located on the Tiracol River (North Goa, Goa 403524) it is about 40km from the capital city of Panaji, and one needs to take a ferry in order to reach the fort.
The Fort Today
The fort stands tall and proud crowning the hilltop at the confluence of the Tiracol River with the Arabian Sea. Topped by turrets, it is an awe-inspiring sight. The fort also commands spectacular views over the confluence of the river and sea waters as well as a bird’s eye view of the Querem and Kalacha beach.
Today the fort has been converted into a luxurious boutique hotel. Visitors to the fort can also treat themselves to a gorgeous luncheon at the hotel restaurant.
This fort is more than just the sum of the walls and ramparts which still stand today. It a symbol of hope for all of Goa; it gives silent testimony to the hard won freedom that Goa enjoys today. If these old walls could talk they would surely be able to tell us many stories of battles fought, of victory and defeat, of pain and sacrifice, strategy and cunning, bravado and daring.
The fort was originally built by the Maharaja of Sawantwadi, Khem Sawant Bhonsle. However, it was wrested from him by the Portuguese invaders in 1746. After being revamped by them in 1764, it became an important military bastion, guardian of the mouth of the Tiracol river and the first line of defense for the Portuguese colony of Goa.
In 1895, during the Portuguese Civil war it was used as a rebel stronghold under the command of Dr. Bernardo Peres da Silva, the first Goan born Viceroy of Goa. However, the rebel forces were overthrown and the fort returned to the empire.
The fort was also the site of many historic Satyagraha marches during the freedom struggle of Goa, and was finally ceded to India by the Portuguese in 1961.
While the fort was under the command of the Maharaja of Sawantwadi it was well equipped with defensive and offensive weaponry. When the Portuguese took it over, the earliest accounts say that the fort was equipped with 12 guns, a barrack and a chapel.
The conquering general, de Almeida also began the construction of a church within the fort premises, as was the Portuguese custom. This church was originally dedicated to the Holy Trinity but later became the church of St. Anthony. The church is still standing, and moreover celebrates mass within its walls till today.
The church is now within the walls of the hotel that has been constructed in the fort. Masses are said most Sundays and especially on the feast of St. Anthony, which is celebrated in the month of May.
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