Reis Magos fort – Defense wasn’t the only purpose


Reis Magos was one of the two (other being Aguada) to stand the siege by the Marathas in 1739. Now converted into a tourist spot, the fort has Mario Miranda’s beautiful sketches on a permanent exhibit. Built using Laterite stone it stands a testimony to the grandeur of the colonial past.

Built in 1551 to protect the narrowest straight of the Mandovi River, it provides a panoramic view of the surrounding area (beautiful horizon) and Panjim city (Capital of Goa). Reis Magos fort was mainly built to protect and debar the enemy from entering the river straight endangering the Portuguese in Goa. It was completely re-built in 1703.

The Marathas descended into Goa in 1739, capturing the whole of Bardez Taluka. Only two positions were left in Portuguese hands in Bardez, Aguada fort and the other was the Reis Magos fort. One of the main reasons for the fort to sustain itself during the siege was abundant water supply from a natural spring inside the fort premises.

As per tradition the new viceroy taking over Goa’s responsibilities on behalf of Portugal would stay at the Adil Shah’s palace across the river (in Panjim). But some viceroy’s would choose to stay at the Reis Magos fort waiting the great moment. Same goes for the outgoing Viceroys awaiting their departure to Portugal.

The British have controlled this fort from 1798- 1813 (under agreement with the Portuguese). The fort was until recently armed with 33 guns (canons) eventually losing its defensive significance during 19th century. It also served as a prison until 1993.

The fort throws open an interesting chapter in history to the tourists visiting Goa as well as the locals. Very well preserved and renovated, it is definitely worth visiting. If not for the history, just go there for the view.