The Chapora Fort

The Chapora Fort occupies an important position which, in every direction commanded distant approaches. Rising above the wide Chapora River, long before the Portuguese arrived in Goa, was a fort in place of the present one built. Even after the Portuguese acquired Bardez, the fort changed hands several times and was much sought after. Trying to end the Portuguese rule in Goa, Prince Akbar joined his father’s enemies, the Marathas in 1683 and made this place his base camp and it became the northern outpost of the Old conquests. After the Portuguese recovered from a scary experience with the Marathas they learnt that they had to strengthen their northern defences and provide shelter to the people there, but not until 1717 this present fort was built.

The brilliant site has steep slopes on all sides. The fort follows the outline of higher slopes, stands above the whole upland area having an irregular outer plan and uses the natural form to add defensive height to the fullest advantage instead of dry ditches being dug. At the top of the steep approach track, the main gate is small and unpretentious for such a large fort but narrow and deep. Depending on defence requirements, the positions of bastions each having the cylindrical turret that gives a special character are irregularly spaced with their enormous embrasures for cannon.

At a distance of approximately 12 km from Mapusa lies the Fort of Chapora. The fort is easily accessible from Vagator over the hill leading to the fort. This fort was also made famous by the hindi bollywood movie Dil Chahata Hai which was shot here.

The towering fort perched atop a rock hill, was constructed in 1617 by the Portuguese invaders by demolishing an earlier Muslim structure, in the village of Shahpura, which was meant to be a watch post.

Though the fort was lying in ruins due to neglect, recently efforts have been made to restore the lost heritage and recreate the old magic. It is possible to observe the entrances of two long winding tunnels which served the purpose of supply of logistic requirements to besieged fort defenders. The fort offers an amazing bird’s eye view of the surrounding ocean and shoreline.

The church that was dedicated to St. Anthony has disappeared and inside only a few signs of the barracks and housing that once filled this vast area are left. Now in a wide expanse of open space there is only a tumble of stones with a few herds of goats and cashew bushes. A natural valley to the beach protected by rocky promontories provides an excellent natural access to the sea. Across the Chapora river, the Hindu ruler of Pernem, the Maharaja of Sawantwadi who was an old enemy of the Portuguese held the fort for 2 years after it fell to the Marathas in 1739 in its first test. When Goa’s border moved northwards with the acquisition of Pernem as part of the New Conquests, the fort lost its military significance towards the end of the century. It is a pleasant place to wander that offers fantastic views north across the Chapora river to Pernem, south over Vagator and also far out to the Arabian Sea in the West.

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