To most visitors, Goa is a land of fun, frolic and feni, an idyll offering solace to city slickers looking to depart it all behind for simply a little while. Another huge draw is Goa’s historical churches, from simple chapels to basilicas and cathedrals that go back to the state’s Portuguese occupation. What most tourists don’t realise is that Goa is additionally domestic to some of the most historic forts in India, which have seen the rise and fall of great powers along India west coast. One such ancient fort is Tiracol Fort, 50 km north of Panaji.
Also recognized as Terekhol Fort, Tiracol Fort is located on the northern tip of Goa, by the side of the River Tiracol. Tourists can reach this fort by a ferry which can be boarded from Querim. It is at a distance of about 42 km from Panaji.
Originally, the fort was built in the 17th century by the Raja of Sawantwadi, Maharaja Khem Sawant Bhonsle. This fort was strategically selected, as it gave an imposing view of the Arabian Sea. There were native vessels at the River Tiracol; along with these, fort also had 12 guns, a barrack and a chapel.
However, after a war between the Maharaja and the Portuguese, this fort came under the control of the later in 1746. Later in 1764, it was renovated and eventually became an inevitable part of their marine defences. And in 1961, this fort came under the Government of India.
This fort has been a symbol of freedom struggle of Goan and has witnessed many demonstrations at various point of time. During the Civil war, in 1825, it was used for an uprising against the Portuguese.
In 1954, Satyagrahis, opposing the Portuguese rule, also used this fort as one of their demonstration places. They had used three different directions to enter Goa, one of which was the Tiracol Fort. Later they had flown the Indian Flat at the fort, before being imprisoned.
After Goa was liberated from the Portuguese in 1961, Tiracol Fort was in a shambles till 1976, when there was an effort to develop it as a weekend resort.
In 1983, the fort was brought under the purview of the Ancient Monuments, Sites and Remains Act 1978, and since then, it has been a major stop for weekenders and tourists’ intent on escaping the hustle and bustle of city life.
Now the fort is converted into a hotel, namely the Fort Tiracol Heritage, offering visitors modern luxury with a historical touch.