Mumbai Memoir 65- Mumbai to Goa- ‘In search of Fort Terekhol!’
Goa has always been an annual November getaway for me. The beaches, churches, temples and the Goan food beckons all travel freaks like me! This year, besides attending the 47th International film festival of India (IFFI) at Panjim, I was determined to check out few unexplored tourist spots in Goa. It was a delight to watch good quality cinema in the concluding days of the film festival.
Films like ‘Life Animated’ (English), Een Echte Vermeer (A Real Vermeer) (Dutch) & K Sera Sera (Konkani) left a deep impact on my mind. ‘Life Animated’ is a documentary film featuring a young Owen Suskind who had been suffering from Autism as a child and now is almost normal.
The film highlights the fact that how all Disney’s animation films helped the boy to recover! Here’s the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n7fosK9UyY Een Echte Vermeer is a beautifully crafted biopic of the infamous art forger Han van Meegeren. The theme of the film raises questions in our mind, as to ‘Is forgery an art and how justified it is to appreciate forgers’? Here is it’s trailer link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJdRivDn67Y K Sera Sera is a simple Konkani film which discusses a simple philosophy ‘does life rules you or you rule life?’
Here’s its trailer link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjYrn4B-S3A. All in all I had a gala time at the film festival, enjoying the films and also the ambiance that glittered the promenade by the Mandovi river.
My last day in Goa was spent in exploring a fort that I always wanted to visit. Hiring a car I set to find out the whereabouts of Fort Terekhol. As I left Panjim, a local traffic police helped me by verbally providing a couple of alternate routes to reach the fort. One route was from Shivolim from Mapsa and other was from Pernem (Pedne), which is at the northern tip of Goa. I chose the Pernem route which leads to the inner country roads that run adjacent to the back waters of many tiny villages that pass by. The river Terekhol acts as a beautiful backdrop as one passes the backwaters.
It was tempting to stop by and click scenic photos. The one and a half hour drive from Panjim via Pernem leads to a place called Querim (Kheri). A Ro Ro ferry service further transports the traveler across the river where yet another uphill road trip finally leads to Fort Terekhol!
On reaching the gate of the fort one notices a couple of memorial stones installed in memory of the Goan martyrs, named Hirve Guruji & Sheshnath Wadekar who fought against the Portuguese colonial rule under the leadership of Alfred Alfanso. The fort is believed to have been constructed by Khem Sawant, the chieftain of Sawantwadi during the medieval period.
Later during the times of the Maratha warrior King Shivaji Maharaj, the fortress of Terekhol remained under the possession of the Bhonsale’s of Sawantwadi till the Portuguese captured it in 1746. The church and the statue of Jesus Christ were built after the Portuguese took over the fort. After Goa achieved its independence from colonial rule, the Goa State tourism department was managing the fort, until a couple of years back. Now the fort is a beautifully maintained resort managed jointly by Goa tourism and private entrepreneurs. More about the Fort Tiracol resort here: http://www.forttiracol.in/
As I strolled and explored the fort premise, my soul experienced a unique sense of tranquility. The serene surroundings of the fortress was a much needed treat for a Mumbaikar like me, who is surrounded by traffic, noise and chaos all the time.
Having got the best spot at the Fort Tiracol resort’s restaurant named Tavern, I enjoyed my lunch by overlooking the seashore as my heart beats rejoiced along with the sound of the waves hitting the shore. The restaurant staff Michael Rodrigues and Sagar were at their best as they served me a three course meal that was a mix of Indian, Goan and Mediterranean flavors.
As the sun set over the Terekhol river, I started my return journey to Panjim. Hill tops have always fascinated me. It makes me feel as if I am watching the world below from a bird’s eye view. My search for Fort Terekhol was indeed a beautiful experience which made me feel rejuvenated just like a bird would feel after gracefully flying over a hill top and then getting back to its cozy nest!
Photo courtesy: Shraddha C Sankulkar
*Special thanks to Tanvi Tavsalkar for offering her laptop (as mine was temporarily misplaced) to complete my article.