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Rachol Fort And The Story of The Famous Seminary

The Rachol Fort is located in the south-western state of India namely, Goa. More specifically, this fortress is located northeast of Margao in Rachol. Rachol, additionally known as Raitura is a village in Salcete Taluka of the South Goa District. It can additionally be located to the well-known Rachol Seminary, about 7 km from the city of Margao, rising from the crest of a laterite hillock. 

Image Source: inditales.com 

Timings of Rachol Fort 

Since there is little left of the fort itself it is wise to try to combine the viewing of it with a visit to the seminary. 

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Location of Rachol Fort 

The town of Rachol lies in the Salcete taluka of South Goa, 7km Northeast of Margao 

History of Rachol Fort 

This is a fort that predates the Portuguese invasion. It was in fact constructed by the Bahamani Sultanate and fell into the hands of the Vijayanagar kings after an extended and bloodied battle. These kings later bartered with the Portuguese, changing the possession of the fort for assist in opposition to the Sultanate of Bijapur. 

Image Source: treebo.com 

The Portuguese, in the meantime as soon as they won manage of the fortress armed it to the teeth. It is stated that at the top of its strength it held up to one hundred cannons and guns, which would of direction be how they managed to repel the effective Maratha armies under the control of Sambhaji. 

The fort was constructed by the Bahmani Sultanate, most probably during the rule of Mahmud Gawan (1461-1481) who recaptured Goa from the Vijayanagar kings. This was the golden era of the Bahmani dynasty which ended with the death of Mahmud Gawan. Legend has it that he executed his chief advisor because of erroneous court intrigue, thus leading to the machinery of state failing to run smoothly. The story goes that when he realized his mistake, he dwindled into depression and died within a year. 

Following his death, the Vijayanagar king Krishnadevaraya, launched an attack on the Bahmani Empire and in the process (among other things) gained control of the Rachol Fort. When the Portuguese gained dominion over Goa in 1510, the canny Krishnaraya set up cordial relations with them, even going so far as to use their expertise to facilitate a better water supply to his kingdom. 

When the Portuguese helped him to overcome the Sultanate of Bijapur, he gave them the Rachol fort as a gesture of gratitude and friendship. The Portuguese took command of the fort in 1520 and set it up with 100 cannons and many other refurbishments to make it a fierce defensive position. 

It’s location on the banks of the Zuari river made it fort of great strategic importance in defending the newly formed Portuguese colony from both internal and external threats. By 1521, they had built a chapel within its walls dedicated to St. John the Baptist. A church was built in 1565. In 1604, the fort was renovated and rebuilt. 

Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org 

In 1684, the Rachol fort held the armies of the Maratha ruler Sambhaji at bay for months. Even though the Marathas had gained control of the Chapora fort and some Northern territories, the Rachol fort fiercely defended the southern part of the Portuguese empire in India. To commemorate this, there was a plaque sent from Portugal reading “Sendo o conde de Alvor vice-rei da India mandou reformar esta fortaleza depois de se defender do cerco de Sambagy, em 22 de abril de 1684” which means “Sent from the Count of Alvor, Viceroy of India after reform of this fortress on defending the siege of Sambhaji, on 22 April 1684” 

With the expansion of the Portuguese empire which resulted from the success of their ‘New Conquests’ the fort lost its military standing and was abandoned by the Portuguese military and subsequently fell into a state of decay and disrepair. 

Architecture of Rachol Fort 

Nothing much remains to be seen of the original fort save the archway spanning the road which leads to the Rachol seminary. Historical records state that the fort once surrounded the entire hill upon which the seminary now stands. The fort contained within it a chapel and church dedicated to St. John the Baptist as well as a formidable citadel. 

The fort was surrounded by a deep moat, the dried up remains of which can still be seen today. 

Although little physical evidence remains of a once great fort, a visit to Rachol will not leave the visitor unrewarded. The village of Rachol has many historical monuments to delight the eye and stimulate the mind, and with a little imagination, it is not hard to stand atop the hill and imagine the legendary battles fought between the heavily armed fortress and the enemy armies which besieged it. 

Tourism of Rachol Fort 

The Rachol Fort is known more for its surroundings than its contents. The village of Rachol has many historical monuments or heritage structures. So, it can serve as an ideal place for historical buffs to study the history of Salcete. This village is a home to the Church of Our Lady of Snows (Igreja da Nossa Senhora de Neves), which is recognized as the first church of Salcete and is called the Matriz of South Goa. This village also has Ilha de Rachol, also known as the Island of Rachol as it’s part and the Rachol Seminary which is also known as the Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol, Raiturchi Patriarkal Siminar in Konkani, and Seminario de Rachol in Portuguese. Established in 1609, this seminary is recognized as the diocesan major seminary of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Goa and Daman. 

Visiting Information 

Since Margao is the administrative and economic headquarters of Salcete taluka, its transport facilities is of relevance to places within this taluka, including Rachol village. The nearest airport to the city of Margao is Dabolim Airport in Panaji. This airport is located at a distance of about 28 km from the city. As far as railway is concerned, one can stop at the Konkon railway station. This railway station is located at a distance of about 3 km from the center of Margao. It is known to be one of the major railway terminals in the southern region of Goa. It is important for the tourists to know that all the trains such as the Shatabdi Express, the Rajdhani Express and passenger trains stop at Konkon railway station.  
 
This is considered to be a convenient way of reaching Margao from various parts of the country. Roadways and highways connect Margao with the rest of the cities within the state of Goa. Local as well as interstate bus services can be accessed by tourists to reach Margao. Deluxe, luxury as well as economic buses can take one to Margao. Apart from buses, other local means of transport are taxis and hired cars which can be availed from the KTC (Kadamba Transport Corporation Ltd) bus stand. Traveling to Margao on road is considered to be a convenient option. From Margao, Rachol is situated only at a distance of about 10 km (6.00 miles). 

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