It’s Dark and There is Nothing to See – Chapora Fort, Goa

The walk up to Chapora Fort takes you past food stalls, water stands, trinket vendors and the rest of the add ons that tourists have come to expect at any modern Indian attraction. Points of interest and archaeological sites that now resemble a Saturday fair ground. Long gone are the walks of awe, wonder and anticipation – modern India appears to demand familiarity.
The slope leading up to the fort is a dusty, rather steep road with rudimentary steps formed in the dry red earth. Good foot ware is advisable; though a group of squealing friends in sandals clutching each other in terror is also an option. Not having access to those, just walking slowly and looking at the ground works as well. There is construction going on, so perhaps in some time there will be a proper walk way which will make the 10 minute ascent more comfortable.

The fort itself is entered through a small, deep doorway, the first reminder that this was built in less gentle times. Perfect for defence, an army would struggle passing through 2 abreast.
Once inside, deep ramparts run along the outer edges of the fort, interspersed with the remains of bastions with cylindrical turrets and wide embrasures of cannons. Drops falling straight down scraggy cliffs impound the feeling of isolation, here on the top of a hill from where there was no getting out. The tantalizing view of the crashing sea, might have swamped a man with feelings of despair.

Chapora Fort is located in Bardez, Goa. Although the current fort, constructed in 1717 was built by the Portugese, it replaced older fortifications and the fort itself was to change hands several times throughout its history, even serving as base of operations for Prince Akbar in 1683 when he united with the Maharatas to fight against the Portugese when they took over Bardez. It’s spectacular location provided any military commander with views north across the Chapora River to Pernem, south over towards Vagator and across the Arabian Sea to the west.
No buildings remain at the fort now. The large, empty field is interspersed with stark laterite formations. All traces of habitation have been erased. The church, dedicated to St. Anthony, the barracks and housing that once filled this vast area have been taken over by bushes and vines, the walls are crumbling back into nature. Bees and butterflies vie with each other for the abundant flowers

while in the air above, kites circle silently on the steady wind, almost still, their wings outstretched. This is the magic of Chapora – the past is forgotten and only silence remains.

What draws visitors to Chapora is the sunset. The magnificent site of the sun as it slowly sinks into the Arabian sea, bathing the fort in the last warm glow of daylight, flaming colours lighting the sky.
Darkness settles quietly on Chapora.The wind whistles through the cracked walls, long shadows with lost voices. Through the desolation of so many centuries gone past, did a young soldier stand on those walls and think of his home beyond the sea? His image now only lingers in the imagination, a tired, sad figure lost in the dusk.
A troop of visitors from our oh so enlightened age click a few last selfies in the growing twilight, declaring in shrill voices to companions bathed in the glare of their mobile phones, “It’s dark and there is nothing to see. Let’s go. This place is boring.” They saunter off to squeal their way down the hill to the food stalls.
The soldier nods in the dark, smiles wistfully and disappears into the Chapora night, all that sees the fort now is sky of glorious, glittering stars.
Practical Information:
Chapora Fort is located 10kms from Mapusa in North Goa. There is no entrance fee and no set opening hours and due to the lack of lighting, it is advisable to carry a flashlight with you. The path, which will probably be completed in the coming year, is easier to climb with good shoes and there there are no hand rails.

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