Ruins of Fort Chapora in Goa
Chapora Fort, located in Bardez, Goa, rises high above the Chapora River. The site was the location of a fort built by Muslim ruler Adil Shah called Shahpura, whose name the Portuguese altered to Chapora. The fort changed hands several times after Portuguese acquired Bardez. 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. It became the northern outpost of the Old Conquests. After the Portuguese recovered from an encounter with the Marathas, they strengthened their northern defences and provided shelter to the people there.
The present fort was built in 1717, replacing the older fortifications. 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 two 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.
The fort sits on a prominent position which commands views in all directions. It also has steep slopes on all sides. The fort follows the outline of the higher slopes. This forms an irregular outer wall that uses the natural form to add defensive height to the fortifications. This offers an advantage over dry ditches being dug. At the top of the steep approach track, the main gate is small and unpretentious, but narrow and deep. Depending on defence requirements, the positions of bastions are irregularly spaced with enormous embrasures for cannon. Each bastion has a cylindrical turret offering a special character to the fort.
Inside the fort, the church, once dedicated to St. Anthony, has disappeared and inside only a few signs exist of the barracks and housing that once filled this vast area. The wide expanse of open space is only a tumble of stones, where a few herds of goats graze and cashew bushes grow. A natural valley to the beach protected by rocky promontories provides an excellent natural access to the sea.
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