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A seaside museum full of stories from yesteryear
India time | 5 days ago | 07-08-2022 | 04:28
India time
5 days ago | 07-08-2022 | 04:28

Sprawled on a hill in Sinquerim and boasting magnificent views of the Arabian Sea, the 17th-century Fort Aguada has long attracted hordes of tourists and locals alike to enjoy its architectural splendor. But it’s the fort’s prison museum at the base of the hill that has drawn a steady stream of visitors lately, although planned activities for the historic site have yet to take off. Renovated and restored at a cost of Rs 26 crore, the structure had served as a port in its own right during the Portuguese regime, complete with a jetty and a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Good Voyage where passengers prayed before setting sail. It was later converted to a prison in which several freedom fighters had served their sentences. The prison was also operational after liberation, until mid-2015, after which all of its inmates were transferred to Colvale Central Prison. It was then largely neglected until the government decided to breathe new life into it as a prison museum equipped with a host of modern technologies to help people understand and appreciate its ancient past. “As visitors walk through the passage next to the prison blocks, they will find information on the walls with 3D projection mapping, interactive screens, and audio and digital displays,” said Ravi Shankar, Director of Waterfront Experiences Pvt Ltd, which has been contracted by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation to maintain, manage and operate the historic structure.A senior tourism department official said that all activities conceptualized for the prison museum will likely be initiated by The 1st November this year. Shankar said that once the project kicks off in full, it will generate more than 350 direct job opportunities and about 100 indirect jobs. “The prison bakery, for example, which was preserved in its original form, will be made operational and will supply bread to the cafes and restaurants housed in the complex by hiring a ‘poder’ (p ain) from a nearby village,” he added. Guided walks through the museum will also be offered, but visitors will be free to explore the area on their own. Two sound and light shows will take place in the open area outside the prison cells before and after sunset, telling the story of Goa until liberation. While the theme will revolve around freedom, the curation will be renewed every year. “The cultural center will select one element from a broad theme each year and build around it. This way there will be something new to learn, understand and experience every year,” Shankar said and added that a Christmas market at the premises is planned for this year. Another feature is the fair-weather jetty – operational from October to April. – which will allow visitors to take a ferry from Aguada to Old Goa, thus connecting two major historical sites. A shuttle service from the Aguada heliport at the top of the mound to the prison museum at its base is also expected to begin shortly. The prison museum was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 19, 2021, during his visit to Goa to participate in the celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the Liberation of the State.

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