Rama's Fort At Goa in Distress
By Yogesh A. Nagvenkar
The historical Cabo De Rama is an enchanting fort on the Cape of Canacona taluka. This fort is a witness to ruthless battles fought by the Soonda kings and the Portuguese. The reason why the Cabo De Rama name is denoted was because of a very famous folklore.
It is believed that Lord Rama along with his wife Sita and his brother Laxman on the way to exile for 14 years had resided at this fort. This information comes from the Soonda rulers who built and ruled the fort. The Portuguese have also taken this name from the Soonda rulers to name it Cabo De Rama. Cabo means Cape in Portuguese. As from this it can be proclaimed that the fort name before Portuguese had taken over was ‘Rama Killa’ or Rama’s Fort.
One of the major reasons why the Portuguese had an eye on this fort is because this fort had been gifted by a beautiful cape from which the Portuguese could have a clear view of the whole Arabian sea and Goan coast; so that this point would act as a solid defense from the new rival attackers from the sea. The Soonda rulers had come to Goa from Karnataka as they also had a ruling empire in Karnataka. The Portuguese took over this fort in 1763 which witnessed gruesome battles between Soonda rulers and the Portuguese. These battles saw a lot of bloodshed and in the end the Portuguese took over this fort. Today, what we see is the ramparts of the Soonda built fort taken over by the Portuguese. This fort is 18,000 sq. m. and at a time was defended by 21 canon guns.
The entrance of the fort is in a poor condition today but one can clearly see that this fort is still standing since many decades. On the entrance of this fort, there is a deep trenched valley which depicts that the sea water was flowing for which a bridge had to be built. To my surprise, when I viewed the same trench from Google maps, it looked as if this trench was artificially built by Soonda Rulers as a defense mechanism strategy. While enteringit, there is a heart shaped ancient wooden alter. Laterite stones have been majorly used to build this fort. There are many canons lying on the fort unattended in pathetic state. The canons were made of solid iron and are still strong. If you look closely, the year of manufacture is carved on the canons is 17th century with a Portuguese emblem. These canons are a proof that this fort was very strongly guarded in its time. At the entrance on the left side of the fort is a beautiful St. Antonio Chapel worshipped by the local Catholics of the village. Once in a year feast is organized here with great devotion. Behind the chapel is the unused Portuguese jail that was built in 1955 made of rocks and is lying uncared. The roof of the jail has collapsed and is in a worse condition.
While you take a walk in the fort, you can hear the beautiful peacocks. On the right hand side of the fort is the watch tower that had a strong gun stand that protected the coastline of the fort. Just beneath the watch tower is one of the most important and must visited site. It’s the ancient holy lake and its water has become mossy and filthy. By looking at the pond, it is clear that this place has strong underground streams flowing. Looking at the water tank, it’s obvious that it is a Hindu architecture. The tank has two-sided steps staircase to get down in the pond which are almost buried under mud and leaves. This similar tank architecture can be witnessed in all the temples of Goa. There is a strong evidence that this was the holy pond which was used for religious ceremonies and bathing by the Soonda rulers. From the fort name Cabo De Rama, it is highly probable that there must have been a Rama temple where the Soonda rulers offered prayers.
This is one of the biggest forts of Goa that requires urgent attention by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as the fort has become a veritable jungle. The rich historic glorious canons which once upon a time guarded the fort are lying rusted and unattended. On the left side of the fort, one can walk down to the mouth of the sea, where tourists and visitors have made a ‘garbage throne’ by dumping plastic, alcohol bottles and whatever. One can also witness a small natural spring that too needs restoration for it to be maintained. On most sides of the fort, there are tremendous amount of bushes and trees which have become a risk to the tourists as they have been taken over by reptiles and all kinds of snakes.
An entry ticket counter must be levied for the fort as this revenue will help in its maintenance. It is certain that free entry at such vital historical marvels is never respected, and therefore, every visitor must be charged for it. The horticulture department must act fast to clear the surrounding wild bushes. The canons, ancient altar, historical jail compound and the holy pond require urgent maintenance. These are not just monuments but a part of India’s precious heritage and it is the government’s responsibility to maintain it. The ‘History Lovers Group’ hopes the ASI and the ruling government comes forward to restore and beautify the once glorious fort which can generate good revenue for the government.