One of the finest, if not the only example of restoration of historical forts in Goa, the Reis Magos Fort, was thrown open to the public by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on World Environment Day, June 5. The inauguration of the restored fort through a tripartite agreement signed between the Government of Goa, INTACH and The Helen Hamlyn Trust, UK also featured an exhibition of works of noted late illustrator and cartoonist and Padma Bhushan awardee Mario Miranda, who was the then convenor of the Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage, Goa chapter and gave a vital push to the restoration of the fort.
“It is a pity that Mr Miranda couldn’t be here. But the inauguration, will have an exhibition of Mario Miranda’s works,” architect Gerard da Cunha who owns the rights to Miranda’s works and was also involved with the restoration told The Pioneer. The Fort, located on the banks of Mandovi river, across Panaji originated as an armed outpost of the Adil Shah of Bijapur in 1493. When Bardez (now a tehsil in north Goa) was conquered by the Portuguese in 1541, the Fort was built along with the church. From 1900, it lost its defensive role and was used as a jail and was finally abandoned in 1993 after which it was at the mercy of the elements, and had begun to crumble.
Work on the fort had begun way back in 2008 with the money being provided by the UK-based Helen Hamlyn Trust, INTACH a non-governmental organisation dealing with restorations of monuments and the Government of Goa. The fort will now be converted into a Cultural Centre, besides being used a tourist attraction. “This fort should serve as an example for other monuments as well, we have a very terrible record of taking care of our forts,” da Cunha said stressing that other forts too need to be restored and adaptively used.