Fort Tiracol, mouth of the Tiracol River, Goa

Fort of Tiracol or Terekhol Fort, is a coastal defense fortress located in the village of Tiracol, near the mouth of the Terekhol River, in the Taluka of Pernem, in the far north of the State of Goa. The fort was severely bombed and left in ruins in 1825, but the church of St. Anthony, located on its terrace, was rebuilt. Currently part of the fort has been adapted to hospitality.

The fort was built in the seventeenth century by order of the Maharaja Khem Sawunt Bhonsle, then Raja of Sawantwadi (Sawunt Warree) of the dynasty of Bounsoló (Bhonsle or Bhonsla), to defend the entrance of Terekhol river. Although no documentary or evidence is known, it is possible that there already was a defensive structure in place, given its strategic importance in controlling and taxing the vessels that demanded the river.

The fort was captured by Portuguese forces commanded by the 44th Viceroy of the Portuguese State of India, Pedro Miguel de Almeida Portugal and Vasconcelos, Marquis of Castelo Novo, on November 23, 1746, who built a chapel dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

In that same year D. Pedro Miguel de Almeida, who in 1764 had repaired and expanded the existing structure, making it one of the most important coastal control points of the Portuguese colony of Goa, marking the northern end of Portuguese expansion along the coast, 42 km north of Pangim. The fortress came to control a small enclave, only about 3 km² on the right bank of the river Arondem, important in the definition of the border between the Portuguese possession and the lands ruled by the Hindu dynasty Bhonsle to the north and east.

Although relatively small, set on a coastal hilltop overlooking the Arabian Sea, the Tiracol fort has become an imposing structure with a massive wall paneling, crowned by turrets and watchtowers.

In 17 of February of 1819 a treaty signed by Raja Khaim Sawunt Bhonsle of Sawunt Warree acknowledged British authority in their fields, which extinguished the strategic importance of strong, since it has become an enclave in territory controlled by British allies. In century XIX the chapel existing inside the fort was elevated the church and placed under the invocation of San Antonio.

After the Portuguese Civil War (1828-1834), in 1835, a military uprising prevented the consolidation of the government of the mayor (name given by the regime of vintismo to the viceroy) Bernardo Peres da Silva, the first and only Goan governor in the 451 years of Portuguese presence in Goa, the troops assigned to it took refuge in the Fort, which was surrounded, bombed and destroyed. Its defenders, mostly Goan forces supporting the newly-installed mayor, were massacred on the orders of the military governor Fortunato de Melo.

In the twentieth century, from the independence of India in 1947, but especially in the late 1950s, when relations between Portugal and the Indian Union deteriorated as a result of the Portuguese refusal to negotiate the future of the Indian state, the fort took on some importance due to the frequent incursions of Indian nationalist forces that occupied it for a few hours and hoisted the Indian flag on its walls.

The church of Santo António, located in its interior, was rebuilt, continuing to serve as place of pilgrimage in May of each year. Small in size, the dependencies of the fort have recently been reclaimed and reclassified as a hotel unit, named Hotel Tiracol Fort Heritage, offering ten rooms and a restaurant. The church of Santo António was also subject to re-qualification.

 

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