Goa to restore old forts


The state government is restoring three monuments — two forts and a church — in the old quarters of Goa with the help of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach). These are the Reis Magos Fort on the banks of the Mandavi river, the Fort of St Estevam and the St Anne’s (or the Naani’s) Church. The monuments will be restored by the end of 2010 despite.

The Fort of St Estevam, also known as the fort of Jua, is located on a hill in a village 21 km from state capital Panjim. Named after the Saint Francis Xavier, it requires extensive restoration before it can throw open its door next year.
“When we were looking into the hidden elements of the fort, we found an ancient approach road, parapet walls, remains of bastions and a fallen rectangular chamber with provision for magazines and ammunition,” said RC Agarwal, principal director of Intach.

The conservationists also found gateways on the summit of a hill, dilapidated platforms, uprooted floors and crumbling battlements. “We have excavated up to two-and-a-half feet and work should be completed by April 2010.” The estimated cost of the project is Rs 20 million.

According to the master plan, it is supposed to be developed into an recreation-cum-heritage zone for sustainable tourism. St Anne’s Church at Talaulim in Santana village is associated with a saint who wears a hat and carries a staff. According to local legend, the spirit of the saint, who has miraculous powers, is the maternal grandmother of Jesus Christ.

Run by the archdiocese of Goa, it is being restored at an estimated cost of Rs 40 million. “The church needs structural restoration like renovation of the altar, chemical preservation of the walls, landscaping of the entire complex, illumination and amenities. It has been a living shrine for the last 400 years,” said Agarwal.
ML Dicholkar, director of archives and archaeology of Goa, added, “The St Anne’s chapel will be completely restored in one year and the St. Estevam project would take about a year and a half.”

Prajal Sakhardande, a heritage activist, said, “When the government tried to restore the St Estevam fort and the St Anne chapel in the 1980s, they used cement to patch up the structures. Under Intach, a mixture of limestone mortar, which was originally used to build these magnificent buildings hundreds of years ago, is being used to restore it.”

However, there have been some glitches. Local conservation activists allege that the Intach conservation team and the state government had violated conservation norms.
In January, some activists filed a first information report (FIR) against the Britain-based Helen Hamlyn Trust, which is funding the restoration of Reis Magos, a large 16th century battlement.

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