Not many are aware of the fact that besides being a beach state Goa actually is a storehouse of architectural marvels. These forts and monuments are living testament to Goa's rich legacy. These striking structures are a blend of both medieval European and Indian architecture reflective of the erstwhile Portuguese and Maratha rulers.
Local legend has it that Rama, hero of the Indian Hindu mythology, along with his wife Sita stayed at Fort Cabo da Rama during his 12-year exile. This is how the fort got its name. In 1763, the Portuguese captured the fort from Raja of Sonda and added a chapel within. The chapel is still in use today. But the rest of the fort remains in ruins. The fort is not far from Agonda Beach.
The magnificent Chapora Fort was built by Adil Shah of Bijapur. The fort skirts the coast of Anjuna Beach. Noticing the strategic advantage the fort presents, the Portuguese wrested it to thwart Muslim and Maratha attacks. From atop, the views of Anjuna and Vagator Beaches are mesmerizing.
The Portuguese intended to protect their hold on Goa by constructing Fort Aguada in 1612. The fort lies at the estuary of the river Mandovi 18 kms from Panaji. The red structure stands imposingly on the coast with a tall circular lighthouse in the centre. From atop the lighthouse, once can see the golden stretch of sand running till the borders of Maharashtra.
Tiracol Fort looks like a medieval English castle. Like most forts of Goa, this too was wrested by the Portuguese from Maharaja of Sawanwadi who built it. The Portuguese added their own touch, and today it has been converted into a heritage hotel. At the centre of the fort is a quaint tiny church which is circled by the fort.
The Reis Magos Fort is a massive imposing structure standing on the northern bank of the Mandovi River. It was built by Sultan Adil Shah and annexed by the Portuguese in 1760. The fort is well preserved and the church within it is famous for holding the Feast of the Three Wise Men every year on the 6th of January.
The residence of the governor, Cabo Raj Niwas, built in 1540 just opposite to Fort Aguada is a grand white building near Panjim and a beauty to see. The Ancestral Goa tells the history of Goa though its mock up village dating back to a century. One of the most prominent buildings of Goa is the Gate Of The Palace Of Adil Shah which were used by the Portuguese governors till 1695 as their official residence.
The Viceroy Arch is indeed one of the most amazing monuments built by the Portuguese. The arch was constructed probably to announce their dominion over Goa because it was built soon after they conquered the city.
The Gate Of The College Of St Paul is another key landmark. It was built by the Jesuits for imparting Christianity on the ruins of a former mosque.