Though the state’s reputation as a party destination influences people’s travel plans, Goa has a lot more to offer than beaches and raves. Colonised by the Portuguese from 1510 – 1961, the state reflects a wonderful blend of Indian and Portuguese culture in the form of majestic churches, forts, and ancient buildings. Of them all, Fort Aguada is one of the most visited spots by tourists, and it’s not hard to see why! Playing home to the oldest lighthouse in Asia, this fort played a pivotal role in shaping Goa’s history, making it a spot that you must cross off your itinerary.
Location : Located only 16 km away from Goa’s capital, Panaji, Fort Aguada is easy to access no matter where you are travelling from. It’s located on the Sinquerim Beach, just south of Candolim, a popular tourist hotspot.
Timings : You can visit the fort anytime between 9:30 am 6:00 pm.
Entry fee: N/A (entry is free)
One of the biggest highlights of visiting this fort is undoubtedly the four-story lighthouse built in 1864. It’s textured laterite walls, dark interiors and narrow staircase can help transport you to a different era when man sailed by ship, relying on nothing but paper maps and the stars for navigation. Climbing the lighthouse is worth the effort as you get to experience breath-taking panoramic views of the sea and surrounding flora.
The fort has many nooks and crannies that are perfect for photography, and if you love to capture the essence of a destination through your camera, then you simply must visit this place. Bollywood buffs will love visiting Fort Aguada as it has been featured in movies like Dil Chahta Hai, The Golmaal Series, Khamoshi, Josh, and many others. Go ahead and recreate your favourite movie scenes, zindagi na milegi dobara...see what we did there?
Fort Aguada also plays home to a resident prison, and though this area is prohibited to tourists, it lends an aura of intrigue to the tourist spot.
While in the area, you can spend a night aboard a houseboat on the Mandovi river. You can enjoy a range of activities like listening to live music, fishing, spotting crocodiles, star-gazing, and getting a glimpse into what the backwaters of Goa are like. Most importantly, you get to enjoy mouth-watering Goan food, with crabs, lobsters, prawns, Portuguese sausages, and pork sorpotel making an appearance.
You can also enjoy kayaking in the mangroves off the Aguada river. This is an experience that not many tourists in Goa can boast of, as many travellers are often too enamoured by the beaches to explore the hidden gems of the state. Having said that though, you still have to book your tickets in advance as timings vary with the tide, and the same goes for the availability of kayaks.
If you’re planning to visit Fort Aguada, don’t just chalk it down as an hour-long activity to add to your itinerary! There are a lot of wonderful attractions near the fort that you cannot miss out on seeing.
To begin with, you must visit the nearby Sinquerim Beach and Candolim Beach. You can enjoy a myriad of adventure sports such as jet-skiing, parasailing, hand-gliding and wind-surfing. While you’re in the area, you must visit St. Alex Church, Calangute, which is one of the oldest churches in the state. Its beautiful white domes and pillars make it a favourite amongst both tourists and locals.
The Reis Magos fort, less than 10 km away from Fort Aguada, is another popular tourist destination that you must visit. Apart from being a fantastic example of Portuguese culture and architecture, the Reis Magos fort also houses an art museum that shows the work of artist Mario Miranda.
If you’re willing to take a short drive from Fort Aguada, you must visit Fontinhas, an old Portuguese quarter filled with narrow lanes, European homes, and brightly coloured buildings. It’s a quaint space that not many tourists know about. You must definitely visit Fontinhas if you want to see another side of Goa.
Finally, party lovers and thrill-seekers must certainly make their way to Casino Paradise in Goa. Spanning a total of 5,000 feet, this casino is the oldest one in Goa and has all the games you’d expect to enjoy here like Blackjack, roulette, slot machines, mini baccarat, and more.
As Goa is a coastal state, it sees temperate weather that ranges from pleasantly warm in the winter season and fairly hot in the summer. Naturally, the winter season serves as the peak season and is the best time to visit. However, it is also the most crowded season and you’re likely to come across high tariffs and prices wherever you go. The Monsoon season (June to September) is unarguably the worst time to visit as you cannot enjoy the lovely beaches or head out to tourist spots because of torrential rains. Riding your way through Goan roads on a moped is one of the charms of visiting this state, and you just cannot experience that when it’s raining.
You can visit Goa during the summer months (March – October), if you want to avoid running into crowds. This season generally works out to be the best time to visit for budget travellers who do not mind the heat. If you do happen to be in Goa during the summer season, head to Fort Aguada after 3pm so that the sun doesn’t bother you.
Built in 1612, Fort Aguada was used to guard the Portuguese colony of Goa from invading Maratha and Dutch troops. Apart from its role in defense, the fort also was instrumental in providing fresh water to ships that docked here, thanks to its natural freshwater spring. This is how the fort got its name, as ‘Agua’ is the Portuguese word for water.