There’s no doubt that Fort Aguada in Sinquerim is one of Goa’s most popular tourist attractions. The site of numerous movie shoots, (Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Golmaal, and Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd to name a few) this erstwhile Portuguese structure was constructed as a point of recourse for Portuguese ships to stock up on fresh water and supplies – the word Aguada itself meaning ‘watering place’. The fort is rather complex, comprising of the upper fort which served as the aforementioned watering station, while the lower fort was primarily a safe cover for the Portuguese ships. Interestingly, below the fort is Goa’s former state jail which housed inmates before it was officially closed in 2015, with its occupants being moved to the new Colvale jail, leaving the fort open to renovation.
To say that the fort has been neglected is an understatement. Given the number of visitors the fort sees on a regular basis, there is much work that needs to be done to preserve the structure of the premises. Keeping that in mind, the Government has allocated a budget of 22 crores to the complete renovation of Fort Aguada and has revealed plans for how they are looking to transform the fort into more than just a lookout point. As part of the restoration process, the Government will also be building a museum dedicated to the Freedom Fighters movement to end the Portuguese colonial rule that lasted over 400 years.
Work on the fort will commence next month, and will most likely conclude in 2020. The complete overhaul and renovation will be undertaken under the Swadesh Darshan scheme. Apart from the general renovation to the exteriors and the upper and lower fort, it’s the Aguada jail that is going to see the most work. Allan Pereira, executive engineer of GTDC’s special purpose vehicle said in a report filed by Times of India yesterday, that the entrance gate would be redesigned to give an impression of entering a fort. The existing fortification wall will be restored using lime mortar, and canons will be placed in the original slots in order to restore the look.
As part of the plan for the museum that is to be set up, an official working with the project said that jail will be converted into a museum dedicated to showcasing the state’s liberation movement. The superintendent’s office block is being developed into an art gallery. This will include historical artefacts, life-size busts of prominent Goan leaders of the Goa Freedom Movement, and provision for a sound and light show. The well/spring from which the fort derives its name “Aguada” is going to be restored and decorated with Azul tiles, typical of a Portuguese spring, and the jetty area is being redeveloped into a sit-out for recreational purposes. The plan for the museum came up after the fort was handed over to the GTDC who planned to turn it into a tourist attraction. After opposition from the Freedom Fighter’s Body, the Government revealed its plan to create the museum instead.
In addition to the renovation of Fort Aguada, the Government is also looking to renovate and restore Cabo de Rama in South Goa, another extremely popular tourist attraction that is slowly degenerating. What do you think of the plans for the renovation of Fort Aguada? Would you visit it once it’s complete? Let us know in the comments below.