While on the boat ride on river Mandovi and its estuary at Arabian sea, my dad pointed me to a structure in the Aguada fort on the hill and said it is an old lighthouse. It’s a broad and shorter structure and it doesn’t look like a typical lighthouse. I was in doubts. When we visited the Aguada Fort later, I found the structure was indeed an old lighthouse!
Among the most popular forts in the country, Aguada Fort in Goa is also a lighthouse. The 13-metre high Portuguese lighthouse, which stands in the middle of Fort Aguada, was built in 1864. Prior to this, ships were guided into the safe harbour by means of huge bonfires that were lit on the ‘Hill of Pilots’ above the place where the Church of Immaculate Conception now stands in Panaji.
Fort Aguada, constructed in 1612, was the most prized and crucial fort of Portuguese overlooking the Arabian Sea. Built on the mouth of river Mandovi, it was strategically located and was the chief defence of Portuguese against the Dutch and Marathas. The fort is so large that it envelops the entire peninsula at the southwestern tip of Bardez. It was a reference point for the vessels coming from Europe at that time. A freshwater spring within the fort provided water supply to the ships that used to stop by. This is how the fort got its name: Aguada, meaning the watering place.
The rocky headland, with the Aguada fort on top, known as Aguada Point, is 80 metres above the sea level. The lighthouse is the oldest of its sort in Asia. It initially used an oil lamp. I am wondering at the size of the oil lamp! At the initial stage, the lighthouse used to emit light once in 7 minutes. In 1834, it was changed to emit light creating eclipse every 30 seconds, however, it was abandoned in 1976.
This lighthouse also once contained an ancient bell, retrieved from the ruins of the St. Augustus monastery at Old Goa; however this bell was removed later and it is now housed in the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, Panaji. Wherever it was hung it must have deafened the lighthouse keeper.
The old lighthouse dominates the landscape of the fort from a distance. A broad and shorter cylindrical structure that tapers upwards to a narrow point. Situated in the upper part of the fort, the lighthouse wasn’t allowed to be climbed.
The upper portions of the fort, however, can give a good idea of the views that are possible from the lighthouse. The popular historical structure has been featured in many movies too! The view of the Arabian sea from the fort is refreshing!