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Tag Archives: Reis Magos Fort

Reis Magos Fort

Reis Magos Fort

REIS MAGOS FORT

All you did in your last couple of visits to Goa was join the rest of the crowd and visit all the commercialized places and this time would like to do some sight seeing of your own? Well, we have the perfect place picked out for you. Two famous structures- Reis Magos fort and Reis Magos church.

There is just so much history to absorb and dwell upon. The fort was erected in 1551, located on the northern bank of the Mandovi river in Goa, gazing the capital city of Panjim. It is a place easy to reach, from the Panjim bus stand, take a cab. You can either cross the bridge and take a left or take a ferry and at the Verem bazaar, a turning past a hindu shrine will take you to your destination.

Reis Magos Fort Goa

This fort stands on the north bank of Mandovi at Reis Magos and is very much visible from the Panjim side of the Mandovi  river. It was used as a residence for viceroys and dignitaries newly arrived from Lisbon. It was then converted into a fortress to be protected against the hindu Marathas, who were never able to take it. Don Luis de Ataide gained fame from all over Portuguese for his spirited defense of the colony of goa, with just a force of 700 men, he managed to keep at bay 10000 muslim attackers supported by 200 elephants for 10 long months. It was subsequently abondened by the military and served as a prison until 1993. Restoration of the fort has begun since 2008 where some of the canons that were used are present. More information is given at the fort.

If all this history isn’t dizzying enough, at the base of the fort, rises the church of Reis Magos, ascended by a beautiful flights of stairs. Reis Magos symbolizes the ‘magi kings’ i.e. the three wise men. History has it that historians have found evidence to0 support the fact that the church was built on ruins of an old hindu temple. Two typical symbols of the hindu vijayanagar temple architecture- bas- relief lion figures can be seen on the flanks, at the start of the steps going up to the church.

This just keeps getting interesting, more history to soak in, not long after its construction, the church and the seminary became a well established site for learning and its prominence can be gauged form the fact that the portuguese royal coat of arms imprinted below the crucifix at the top of the gable. Two of goa’s former viceroys are buried here, their tombstone inscriptions in portuguese and latin. Within the church restored in 1771, a dominant feature is a polychromed wooden panel of 3 gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh offered to infant jesus seated on a kneeling mother mary. It is truly a majestic sight.

The church is on of the three places in goa where the unique feast of the three wise men is held. On 6th of january, reis magos comes alive with the festa dos reis magos, when the story of the three kings is re-enacted by the youth. The locals celebrate the journey of the three kings who went to worship the holy infant child with a procession which starts from the church and goes around the village.

Once you are done with all this history and sight-seeing, you can sit on the other side of the road, on the sand or rocks that are scattered and gaze at the Panjim city across the river with all its rush while you sit calmly in this peaceful place and think about all the history, the battles, the victories, the religion, the traditions. If all this is too much to absorb, towards the far east is a spring where you cand cool off. Later, you can head for lunch or dinner to ‘terry’s’, that is situated at the ferry, an excellent restaurant that caters to your taste buds. And if you are done with the peace and quiet, you can head towards Calangute or Candolim, a part of Goa which is more alive.

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Reis Magos Church

Reis Magos Church
Reis Magos Church

 

The white church façade besides the fort is also prominent. The church is especially important from the point of view that this part of the Village and the fort has got its name “Reis Magos” from it which symbolizes the Magi Kings, i.e the Three Wise Men who went to Bethlehem after the shining star to bestow their gifts towards the Infant Jesus.

The 1st church was built in 1555 here when the Franciscans who were the Missionaries set about converting the people of Bardez with great surge and enthusiasm. A school and a seminary formed a part of the church later. Named after St. Jerome, it competed with the efforts of the Jesuits at Old Goa and Rachol as it was an important center of learning after St. Paul’s at Old Goa. Some viceroys stayed here while some of them were at the Adil Shah palace across the river, the purpose of staying here was served when they had to sail upstream towards the other side to assume office or when they had to depart for Portugal. Three of them could not fulfill their mission, as they died and were buried here itself. The learning center no longer exists, but the church remains as a Goldenlandmark with its façade distinctive from the position of the church atop a flurry of steps with the full width of the church running across the riverbank. The breadth of the church is enhanced by five doorways while slender Corinthian columns which divide the compartments provide the grace to its simplicity with its already strengthened impression through the high scroll decorated gable and an insignia of its crown adds to the royalty and dignity of this wonderful church of Goa.

Since the church having being built on the site of a Hindu temple as per common practice of the Portuguese, it has obvious strategic and historical references with evidences leading to the lower end of the stone balustrades on each side of the church steps wherein figures of lions are engraved which signify the presence of Hindu temple ruins as these decorations were normally used for Hindu temples in South India and in Vijayanagar architecture in the 14th and 15th centuries.

A small shrine near the foot of the steps of the church dedicated to Our Lady of Health is erected on the site where Albuquerque had captured a Muslim outpost in 1510. Within the church restored in 1771, a dominant feature is a polychromed wooden panel of three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh offered to Infant Jesus seated on a kneeling Mother Mary. This wooden panel is placed on a reredos above the large central space containing the tabernackles surrounded by the four evangelists, which makes it all the more interesting and worthwhile watching it.

In the church corridor, an impressive carved slab on the right of the altar along the church side marks the burial place of one of the greatest Portuguese Viceroy, Dom Luis de Ataide. The Portuguese were to be evicted in 1570 when three Muslim states plotted together against the young Portuguese King and besieged Goa on all sides with a formidable army of 1,00,000 troops and 2000 elephants. The Portuguese army strength being only 7000 proved to be of no match against them and the glory of golden Goa was short-lived. The Portuguese Viceroy Dom Luis de Ataide held out administration for another term but not for long as he died soon after assuming office in March in 1581 mostly due to heartbreak over the news of the death of the king at the hands of the Moors in the battle of El Ksar el Kebir in North Africa. The walled cemetery and the prison gates near to it is located above the church of Reis Magos. The feast of the church of Reis Magos is held on 6th January each year celebrating the offering of the gifts by the Magi to Infant Jesus, this place being one of the other three places in Goa where this takes place.

The other three places where the festival of Reis Magos is celebrated are Chandor, Margao Monte and Cansaulim in Mormugao taluka. This festival is highlighted by the presence of a colorful procession and attendant ceremonies. The road from Reis Magos leading from Verem follows the river bank and turns inland encircling the Nerul river crossing wide paddy fields leading to the landmark of the church of Candolim, Our Lady of Hope. The towers for the church were added 100 years later after the construction of the church thereby making them a distinguished feature by the builders of the church.

The village beyond this church, is being rebuilt and the interesting places such as the birth place of Abade Faria and Pluto House which was testimony to the conspiracy of 1787 are disappearing towards the south. The headland of Aguada has risen forthwith thereby also spreading the Fort Aguada complex.

 

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