Wednesday, November 5, 2014

On the Road Diary - Day 5 (contd.), Reis Magos Fort, Bardez, Goa

The event at Resi Magos fort was at 5. We st off in my car at 430. I think the ride took a little longer than 30 minutes. Reis Magos fort is apparently older than Fort Aguada and was built in 1551 by the Portuguese (in the 1490s it was an armed outpost of Adil Shah of Bijapur). When the Portuguese took over Goa in 1541 they built the Reis Magos fort and the church (of the same name). This fort was small, but it had 21 cannons and was apparently never conquered. Strategically placed at the mouth of the Mandovi river, with the sea to one side and the Mandovi on another, it offers great views. (Reis Magos in Portuguese stands for the three wise men from the Bible - someone at my table asked me the question but I had no answer. The fort was used as a prison for many years and was finally abandoned in 1993. The fort was restored by funds given by the Helen Hamlyn Trust of UK, INTACH and the Goa government. Today it looks beautiful.
The Reis Magos fort
If you cross the Mandovi from Panjim towards the North and veer left so as to follow the river bank, you will come across the Reis Magos. Acorss the river is Panjim and the boat casinos. The ride up the cobbled stones is steep and I dropped my passengers off at the top. No parking there so I drove back and then climbed all the way up, sweating copiously in the process. The entrance is a fine door, narrow so as to facilitate the pouring of hot oil which was a kind of welcome that the inmates used to greet their enemies. Narrow entries, sharp curves etc make it difficult for elephants and horses and stuff to go in. (Luckily I was walking in so it was okay.) Signs of the prison gates were seen.
The event about to start
Today is off for the fort and hence they gave it out for the event. It was beautifully lit and decorated with flowers and stuff. The young girls at the reception gave me a cover as I walked in. It had a sign of a Natraja. Someone told me that I had to search for six others who also have the Natraja sign - and only then would we be assigned our table at dinner. The place  was filled with about 70 Belgians and an equal number of Indians. How will I find my co-Natrajas? That I kept for later.
Jasmine flowers and a magical sunset in the background
There is a beautiful courtyard inside. All cobble stones etc. A fine room up some stairs from where someone played the flute. The walls were decorated with jasmine flowers. A stairway led up to a small space right up at the back where the vows were to be taken. It was like a scene out of Mama Mia. Hey, the skies cleared out. The sun was peeping out. Almost.
The moment we got drenched in some divine light
In a while we were all asked to head up. We seated ourselves on benches in the open space, the sea behind the dais, the Mandovi flowing gently to our right, God watching from his heavens. Suhita compered. Both mothers spoke, emotionally and well. Kalpak read out Kahlil Gibran's take on marriage from the Prophet and did such a wonderful job of it that time seemed to stand still for a moment. Kareen read out a song from a famous Belgian poet. Malay and Sarah spoke from their heart and vowed eternal love, loyalty and support to one another. Sometime in the evening, the sun shone from behind in the most glorious of pink, a color so divine that we all could only exclaim at the beauty as we were all drenched in it. It will forever remain etched in my mind. Some pics with the couple and then onwards to finding our dinner partners and the five course meal.
Dramatic views of the stage
I met my five partners, all from Belgium. All great fun. We stepped into the dining hall, well decorated, great music. Great food. French chef I hear. We had good conversation - India, Belgium, movies, books, checklist manifesto etc etc. Anjali had her own group!
Post dinner was a dance at a lower level. I chose not to use the steep stairs and instead walked down the path I came up, took the car around and walked up a short flight. Sometime around 12 we headed back home. The party was still on. All in all, many first times in the day. It was beautifully organised, lot of attention to detail (including the ages and types of people at the table).

I bought an expensive paan at Calangute. The bhaiyya charged me 30 bucks.  Horrid chap. 

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