Goa Liberation Day: Peek into the state’s history at Aguad Port & Jail Complex | Travel

Estimated read time 5 min read

In a tiny white-washed cell of the Aguada Jail, freedom fighter Ram Manohar Lohia stands tall in a well-pleated dhoti, the top button of his jacket unbuttoned, his sandals strapped tidily and his face laden with an unwavering resolve to free Goa from Portuguese rule. The iron bars seem unpenetrable and a blue plaque with corner flourish states that “Ram Manohar Lohia inspired a non-violent civil disobedience at the Central Square in Margao, South Goa, on June 18, 1946, for which he was incarcerated at the Aguada Jail. History now refers to this day as the Goa Revolution Day.” (Also read: 10 must-see film locations in Goa)

A panoramic view of The Aguad as seen from the sea off Sinquerim( The Aguad Goa Port & Jail Complex)

But much before Lohia and other nationalists were locked behind bars, The Aguad was not a prison. Built in 1612 and originally known as Praca Da Santa Catharina, it was first a port providing a safe berth for Portuguese ships that docked here for replenishment of freshwater and supplies – it held the largest freshwater storages in Asia with capacity to store 2,376,000 gallons of water, Asia’s oldest lighthouse, a gunpowder room and rainwater harvesting reservoir. It is from these freshwater reservoirs and ancient aquifers comes its name ‘Aguad’ (Agua ‘water’, Da ‘gives’).

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But the fate of The Aguad was to change when António de Oliveira Salazar became the Prime Minister of Portugal in 1932. The quiet aristocrat, an anomaly amidst exuberant and demagogic modern dictators, who was hellbent on scuttling all attempts by Goans to break the shackles of foreign rule, turned The Aguad into a prison where ‘sinners’ were huddled in tiny cells and high-risk prisoners were isolated in the kalkothri (dark room) wherein not a ray of sunshine could walk in through the window. Torture cells boomed with cries of the bruised and beaten inmates and any attempt to escape was near impossible.

A stunning panoramic visage of The Aguad at dusk (The Aguad Goa Port & Jail Complex)
A stunning panoramic visage of The Aguad at dusk (The Aguad Goa Port & Jail Complex)

On the night of December 18, 1961, Major Shivdev Singh Sidhu and Captain Vijay Kumar Sehgal, lead a squadron of the 7th Cavalry Division reached The Aguad aiming to rescue the Goan freedom fighters imprisoned here. On December 19, 1961, Goa officially became part of India and was declared as a Union Territory along with Daman and Diu.

After 1961 Aguad became Goa’s central jail which it remained till 2015. Later, it was repurposed to create awareness among the general public and tourists about the rich history & heritage of Goa, specially the freedom movement.

The Aguad Interactive Museum documents Goa's rich history, legacy and culture through innovation and technology(The Aguad Goa Port & Jail Complex)
The Aguad Interactive Museum documents Goa’s rich history, legacy and culture through innovation and technology(The Aguad Goa Port & Jail Complex)

The Interactive Museum: Divided into three distinct sections: Goa: The Land, The Struggle, and The People, the museum offers a rich narrative of the region. Each area has interactive exhibits with a smart content management system that offer a unique storytelling experience.

Highlights: The Land section has a Story Machine that dispenses short story excerpts, providing tangible snippets of Goa’s history and The Mosaic: an interactive photo booth merging visitors’ photos to create art mosaics, like a Goa map.

The People features various kiosks like Pre-Historic, Goenkars that tell tales of prominent figures in Goan history and The Music of Goa exhibit that immerses visitors in the region’s musical heritage.

The Struggle section has a Time Machine: With each lever-pull, the time machine reveals historical events from a random date; Sacrifice: Unlock an interactive jail cell to learn about the sacrifices made by jailed freedom fighters; The Story Machine: Dispenses freedom struggle-related stories at the click of a button, while the Interactive Freedom Fighters Wall allows visitors to connect with the stories of Goa’s freedom fighters, and the Message In A Bottle exhibit offers a glimpse into their thoughts and experiences.

Fact file

Book online on the Aguad website, or at the counter from 10 am to 8 pm.
Book online on the Aguad website, or at the counter from 10 am to 8 pm.

Aguad Port & Jail Complex, Sinquerim (www.aguad.in/; Instagram: @aguadgoa)

(https://www.instagram.com/aguadgoa/)

Timings: 10 am to 8 pm

Booking: Book online on the Aguad website, or at the counter from 10 am to 8 pm.

Entry fees: General visitors: INR 200; Goan Locals: INR 100; International Visitors: INR 400; Children: Free for those up to 8 years. Service and retired defence/paramilitary staff, their immediate family members, freedom fighters and their descendants, and school-going children in their uniforms are exempt from ticket charges.

Parking fees: INR 100

Audio guides can be accessed through a scan code

Programme (December 16, 2023 to January 2, 2024)
Programme (December 16, 2023 to January 2, 2024)

Guided Heritage walk by MakeItHappen: Duration: 45 minutes. Day walks: INR 500, Night Walks: INR 700 per person (Entry fee to Aguad is included). Book walks at MakeitHappen website.

Programme (December 16, 2023 to January 2, 2024):

• Bhanu Athaiya exhibition: December 6, 2023 – January 2, 2024

• Christmas by the Sea: December 16, 2023 – December 22, 2023

• Aguad Sunday Fete: December 17, 2023

• Tunes on the Tides: December 21, 2023

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