Built in 1612, this Portuguese-era fort was constructed to protect the coast from the Dutch and the Marathas. Interestingly, the fort got its name from the freshwater spring within its walls (aguada is Portuguese for water.) The fort is characterised by a four-storey lighthouse erected in 1864, which is also the oldest of its kind in Asia. The land around the fort is now owned by the Taj hotel group—on the ramparts behind the fort you’ll find the Vivanta by Taj – Fort Aguada resort. This is one of the famous forts in Goa. The fort was a reference point for the vessels coming from Europe at that time. This old Portuguese fort stands on the beach south of Candolim, at the shore of the Mandovi River. It was initially tasked with defense of shipping and the nearby Bardez sub district.
A freshwater spring within the fort provided water supply to the ships that used to stop by. This is how the fort got its name: Crews of passing ships would often visit to replenish their fresh water stores. On the fort stands a four-storey Portuguese lighthouse, erected in 1864 and the oldest of its kind in Asia. Built in 1612, it was once the grandstand of 79 cannons. It has the capacity of storing 2,376,000 gallons of water, one of the biggest freshwater storages of the time in whole of Asia. This fort is divided in two segments: the upper part acted as fort and watering station, while the lower part served as a safe berth for Portuguese ships. Whereas the upper part has a moat, underground water storage chamber, gunpowder room, light house and bastions, it also has a secret escape passage to use during time of war and emergency. The lighthouse at initial stage is used to emit light once in 7 minutes. In 1834 it was changed to emit light creating eclipse every 30 seconds, however it was abandoned in 1976.
Fort Aguada was the most prized and crucial fort of Portuguese. The fort is so large that it envelops the entire peninsula at the south western tip of Bardez. Built on the mouth of river Mandovi, it was strategically located and was the chief defence of Portuguese against the Dutch and Marathas. This is the largest and the best-preserved Portuguese bastion in Goa and was built in 1609-12, to control the entry into the river Mandovi and to protect Old Goa from potential enemy attacks.
The walls of this fort are 5 metres high and 1.3 metres wide. Little surprise then that this remains to be the only fort that was not conquered by any invaders during the 450 yearlong rule of the Portuguese empire. An interesting feature in the precinct of the fort is a 13 metre high lighthouse. This lighthouse, built in 1864, initially used an oil lamp. It was later renovated and modernised in 1976.
This lighthouse was home to a gigantic bell that was retrieved from amongst the ruins of the St. Augustus monastery at Old Goa. However, the bell has now been moved to the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception church at Panaji. Though the entire fort is no longer intact, some buildings that are still in good shape have been converted into a prison. Interestingly, it happens to be the largest prison in Goa.
En-oute to the fort, one comes across the church of St. Lawrence, the saint of the sailors. The Portuguese used to build churches on the outskirts of the forts to prevent the enemy from firing at a close range. The fort was meant to deter possible attacks on Old Goa from the Dutch and Marathas and to keep a watch over River Mandovi. As many as 200 cannons were installed for the defence of locals. To reach the fort, one needs to cross a deep dry moat. Furthermore, with 1.3 metre wide walls stretching to a height of 5 metres, this remains the only fort, which never fell to invaders. The views from the fort are simply spectacular. A lighthouse on the premises further enhances the structure’s magnificence.