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.
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.