A holiday to Goa isn’t all about the beaches. If you scratch beneath the surface like all old places, there are many incredible things to see and do across the state. From historical landmarks to amazing nature—this is India’s tiniest state that packs the biggest punch.
I am always excited about discovering the lesser known side of Goa and once I did, I HAD to share this with people who wish to get away from the hustle and bustle of the beaches and discover its secret gems. So, I did what comes most naturally to me—I planned a yoga retreat there that aimed to give people a glimpse of things they would otherwise not have access to.
Day one of our retreat was spent climbing up to the legendary Chapora fort, which is often recognised as the ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ fort after certain iconic scenes from the movie were shot on its picturesque ruins that overlook the vast azure sea.
The history of the fort is long and interesting as it was occupied by many rulers for varying lengths of time. Why was it such a prized possession? Well, at one point of time, Goa was the largest, richest and most affluent city in the whole of Asia. Traders from around the world would come to trade in pearls, spices and gold. Most came as traders and stayed to rule. They saw the richness of Goa and consequently India and wanted a piece of it.
One of the first invaders to this fort was Adil Shah. He was an Indian native king but because of his Islamic faith was lenient with the tyrant king Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan, was a tyrant who raped, murdered and kidnapped millions. He had such a cold heart that he would cut off the hands and feet of all his artisans after they created incredible pieces of work, just so they would never replicate the artwork ever again.
This partnership and support from the rich and arrogant Shah, helped Adil Shah reign over present day Goa. He knew it was a sea facing state and so he built the fort. The fort was called ‘Shahapura’, or ‘the town of the Shah’, for the longest time.
But in time, the Portuguese who came as traders came with guns and firepower and defeated the Shah and seized the fort. For them it had great military significance and the fort was renamed Chapora Fort because it overlooked the Chapora lake. The Portuguese held reign over the Chapora Fort for over 150 years.
But that victory was short lived. In the north of India a resistance was building towards Adil shah, the Mughals and all the people who stole and looted India. Under Chatrapati Shivaji’s rule, Adil shah was defeated and under his son Sambhaji’s rule, the Chapora Fort was conquered back twice from the Mughals and the Portuguese.
There is a legend about the conquering of the fort by the Marathas. Once Sambhaji wanted to conquer the Fort to weaken the Mughals on the west coast. So he went to Goa to capture the Fort. However, the Fort’s walls are very sloped and difficult to scale. Sambhaji used monitor lizards and quickly breached the fort walls. Then the Portuguese general in charge looked at the miracle and was so impressed with the Maratha that he surrendered before him without shedding a single drop of blood.
Today, although much of the fort is in ruins, people choose to take stunning pictures of the beautiful sunset without understanding the history of the place. What most also don’t know is that the entry points to the fort are the two tunnels built by the Portuguese to escape from when attacked by the Maratha kings.