The Chapora fort was built by the Portugese on the top of a small hill as a watch post commanding an unobstructed view in all the four directions. A legend goes that in 1684, Sambhaji, the mighty Martha ruler, along with his troops climbed chapora with the help of monitor lizards causing the Portugese to surrender without a fight. Conflicts soon arose and the fort fell back in the hands of Portugese. It continued to change hands until the year 1892 when it became redundant and was finally abandoned.
What remains now are just ruins. On the edges one can make out the outlines of the walls that once defended the fort. Within, one can see a few graves scattered about,the remnants of a church and rocks lying all over the place. Beyond the walls one can see the Arabian sea stretching out to infinity on one side (lined by the Morjim and Vagator beaches) and the Chapora river on the other.
The climb to top the fort is a bit treacherous. The slope is steep and littered with pebbles. It’s not uncommon to see tourists slip and hurt themselves. As a precaution it’s always better if you move along the wild grass, for a better grip, or on the top of bigger stones for a better footing.
I consider it to be my duty to warn the tourists that the Chapora fort climb is very hard on your slippers. The mischievous pebbles take a special delight in scarping the soles off of them. It might be prudent to invest in an extra pair as a precaution against their whimsy. You never know when they might turn against you. Quite rebellious these little ones are!
“Is it worth it to brave all the difficulties and make it to the top?”
Once you reach to the top of the fort a little gate opens into the ruins and as you enter a fresh sea breeze rushes to greet you. The fort ground is vast and covered mostly in grass. On the broken walls, facing towards vagator, one can see the tourists standing and taking photographs. And for good reason too,the beach and the lush green hills make for a very scenic background.
Within the fort ruins a few signs of settlement present themselves. The outlines of graves and what looks like a shrine are distinguishable from the the rubble. There must have been people living here at one time but the surrounding view is so breathtaking that one hardly feels any inclination to stand and ponder over the long forgotten past.
On the far end of the fort there’s a small opening that leads on to the edge of the hill. The best time to go there is an hour or so before sunset. If you time it right by the time you reach the edge, the sun would already have started to set.The edge is quite steep and descends directly into the sea, though there are a couple of rocks that offer a “balcony view” to the sunset. The winds here are strongest and up above you can see a circle of eagles bidding farewell to the setting sun before calling it a day and heading off to their homes.
It’s a shame that you can have “the first time” experience only once. Chapora fort is a very special place. One that needs to be absorbed through the pores of your skin repeatedly so that it’s spirit can settle in you and stay there. A single visit can not do justice to this place. A hack, I’ve discovered, works remarkably well. The first time you go,go alone and for later visits go in company. This way you get to experience the fort multiple times through yourself and through others. And after continuous exposure and repeated visits you’ll find that the fort becomes a part of you. Me? I stopped counting after my 10th visit.
People usually disperse after the sunset but I do tend to linger a little longer, because in a few moments of bliss after the sun goes down,the winds get stronger and the waves crash harder. Before you know it the night takes over and as the clouds move past the gleaming moon across the sea the wild spirit howls.
Spirit in the Sky
- On January 22, 2015