Once in a way our family manages to shrug off the built in lethargy and gets out to spend an evening together. Last Wednesday was one such day and the shrugging off of lethargy was aided to a great extent by my wife’s statement/threat that whoever stays back home in the evening will cut the vegetables for curry, mix the dough for chapattis and make other arrangements for preparation of dinner.
We unanimously decided to spend the evening out and were trying to find a place worth visiting when the name Reis Magos Fort sprang up. I had read recently in the news paper that the old fort which was being used as a prison and later was allowed to rot had been restored and spruced up. We did not know if it would be worth going there and since the location map showed it to be on the opposite bank of river Mandovi, close to Panaji, we felt that we could take a chance. A drive along the river Mandovi is always welcome.
We managed to start at half past four and reached the fort at half past five wondering what the timings would be. The new board in front of the fort said that we need not wonder for long and showed the timings 9.30 AM - 5.30 PM, and the lock on the gate indicated very clearly that the timing was being strictly followed.
I felt bad for having missed it and we walked to the ‘Three Kings church’ just next to the fort and spent some time admiring the view of river Mandovi from the church.
The gate to enter the fort was closed but there was nothing to prevent me from walking around the fort and while doing so, at one point I found some stairs going half way up the fort.
I climbed up and sat there enjoying the cool breeze when my sight fell on a half open door next to the landing. I tentatively stepped in to appease my curiosity and found that it opened onto a large terrace from which there was a good view of the fort itself
and another flight of stairs that lead to the top. We had made a back door entry into the fort!
The small museum at the top was closed but we were rewarded by the wonderful view of the Mandovi estuary and the Cabo Raj Nivas - the Goa governor’s residence. The governor stays at the tip of the land mass you see projecting into the river at a distance, in a beautiful bungalow overlooking the Murmugao port and the arabian sea. Lucky governor!
We climbed down, spent some pleasant time on the terrace where one of my sons got himself occupied exploring the prison cells which now contained paintings of old time Goa and the other was happy just roaming around talking on his mobile phone.
My wife's observation and objection always is that we are together just as long as we are in the car and not a minute later. We decided to make an attempt to dispel the thought and managed to sit together a minute for a family photo.
It was getting dark by then and we started back thanking our luck for providing us an entry into the fort and on reaching the door, found it closed and bolted but fortunately not locked.
We offered our thanks to the carpenter who had fitted the padlock in a way that cannot be locked and attempted to open the rusty bolt. It screeched aloud and protested our furious attempts but gave up after five minutes. Even after releasing the bolt it was not easy to push the door open and the use of my children’s might only made it groan and brought down flakes of mud from the roof. We hastily moved back, thought of shouting for help and decided to do so after another attempt. With some gentle but firm persuasion my children managed to open the door keeping the fort intact. We thanked our luck once again for not locking us inside and returned home with a nice feeling and a set of pictures to keep the memory of a pleasant evening alive for a long time.