Mormugao Fort high above Mormugao Port.
Vasco, the Port town of Goa. It doesn't take a genius to guess that Vasco was named after the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama but did you know he was NOT the first Portuguese explorer in Goa? He stepped into Goa well after it was conquered. It's surprising that most believe that Vasco Da Gama discovered India starting from Goa. On the contrary, he first landed in Kerala around a decade before General Alfonso de Albuquerque finally conquered Goa. Currently part of the Mormugao Taluka, the name Mormugao also has an interesting origin. It is a beautiful example of the influence of Kannada from Karnataka. ‘Mooru’ in Kannada means three. ‘Gaav/Gao’ in Konkani means Village. Back in the day there were just three villages (Chicalim, Dabolim and Vaddem) in close proximity which has led to the name which literally means three villages.
Out of the whole state this little patch of land is the only one in Goa that has all the modes of transport (air, water, road, rail). From the time of the Portuguese, this town has been quite an asset owing to its location and vast expanse of water around. To this day, Vasco is a bustling port that harbors ships for cargo as well as passengers. Just beside the office of Mormugao Port trust is a historic structure that is overlooked by most. Owing to the fact that trade took place primarily by sea, the port was integral to the economy of the area. If i were an enemy I would bomb this trade center first to capture it. This is exactly what the Marathas did and to protect this harbor, this fort was built. The fort wall ran around ten kilometers and also housed the viceroy for a short while. This short while that I am talking about is the time where Vasco was considered as the capital before being shifted to Old Goa.
The Mormugao fort has a Chapel, accommodation for a Garrison and also a great view of the Port. I've visited in the evenings and found teenagers and couples seated at the top enjoying the breeze as they look at ships sailing around. It's just the location that is the best asset of this fort. Several times I've seen people coming to this location for a photo shoot. Not for a wedding or an event but for a new profile picture. Looks like DSLR is the current standard for pictures on social Media. Personally I find it entertaining to watch people pose for pictures. Especially the pretentious candid shots that land on the internet.
There are 2 ways to get to the fort:
The other entrance will be through the premises of Mormugao Port trust. Enter the gate and park your vehicle at the parking outside the admin building gate (security officers are at this gate). To the right of the parking there will be a straight path that has trees on both sides. You'll get to the fort in half a minute.
One requires a climb up laterite stairs in ruins. This entrance lies on the left while you're headed towards Mormugao Harbor. It gets blocked by vegetation during the monsoons but the authorities get it cleared post monsoons. I wouldn't recommend this route unless you want to brag to your mates how you got about conquering a fort by foot.
Things you need to know before you visit:
The fort is open all day. No physical barricades to prevent you from entering.
No entry fee or tickets.
You might spend around 15 minutes to have a look at the place. If you want to sit and enjoy the breeze, visit after 4:30PM until sunset.
Make a stop at Pilot point nearby on the harbor road and watch the coal handling operations in the port.