Absorbing monuments of Rachol, Goa

The state of Goa, a small one on the west coast of India is a beautiful place with the Arabian sea running all along  the west, offering  a vast expanse of  white sandy beaches and  resorts that have typical tropical flavor. It is a tourists' paradise  of endless beauty offered by 'Mother Nature' with innumerable historical monuments around it. It is a place of fine soothing ambience that  will cool your nerves  and help you be at peace with yourself. There are beautiful churches and forts that speak volumes of the legacy of Portuguese rule in the by-gone period.

Rachol,  a village in Salcete, 
8 kilometres (5.0 mi) north-east of Margao, in south-western India is  famous for the Portuguese colonial fort of Rachol which is in ruins  with vestiges of the old structure such as  a main gate and a moat. Once part of the Bijapur Sultanate of  Ismail Adil Shah, in 1520 it came under the control of Vijayanagara rulers after prolonged war. Sri Krishnadeva Raya seized the power with help from the Portuguese. Located on the left bank of the Zuari River, Rachol  is also home to the famous Rachol Seminary and an old church. The numerous heritage structures  in this village reflect on the  history of Salcete.

Rachol Fort:
After 1520 Rachol was ceded to  the Portuguese  in exchange for military help from them during the Vijayanagara war against the Bijapur sultan. When the Portuguese took full control over the fort, they gave priority to fortification and made it stronger with better firing power. They strengthened the fort with tough laterite stone wall and had more than 100 guns mounted on all sides of the fort on the ramparts.  In 1745 and 1756 major renovation was done by the Marquis of Alorna. The well fortified place was a great deterrent to the mighty Maratha army that attacked the fort on a few occasions.  The fort is located atop a small hill in a picturesque place and a vista of greenery on one side and an azure blue sea on the western side lie open as far as you can see.  The open space offered good firing range for the soldiers. The fort encircles atop the hill and saw numerous battles. As Portuguese expanded their territories, this fort lost its significance and fell into disrepair and finally abandoned. Once a glorious fort that saw the hey days of the people from Portugal has now become a dilapidated site - a mound of trash and fallen debris except the arch and other structures.
Goa: Igreja da Nossa Senhora de Neves and the Rachol Fort  en.wikipedia.org
Under the  Viceroy António de Noronha (1564–1568) a decree on December 1565, forbidding the construction of new temples and the repairs of the existing ones, was issued in the wake of some squabbles in the late 1560s between the natives and  Jesuits. Because of Portuguese repressive rule, there was a  mass exodus of Hindus from the Portuguese-held territories, including Rachol  to the territories of the  adjacent Hindu  rulers.

Fort Rachol Fort rachol 
Nossa Senhora de Neves:

Along side the fort of Rachol lies the  parochial church  Nossa Senhora de Neves (Our Lady of Snows). It is of interest to note it is believed to be  the first church of Salcete and is known as  the Matriz of South Goa. Ilha de Rachol (Island of Rachol) is a part of the village.  First built in 1565, on the site of Hindu temples and  in mud with a thatched roof, it is referred to as the mother church (Matriz) of the whole of South Goa and was named Igreja da Nossa Senhora de Neves and the site was chosen by   the first Archbishop of Goa, Dom Gaspar Jorge de Leão Pereira.
Goa: Igreja da Nossa Senhora de Neves and the ruins of the Rachol Fort en.wikipedia.org 

Initially a chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist, with a garrison chaplain (who was probably a Dominican )was built. A church was built in 1565, when the captain of the Fort was Diogo Rodrigues from 1554 to 1577. It was renovated and rebuilt in 1604, and the fort  was widely  used,  defending against Muslim and Hindu attackers, including a siege by the Maratha ruler Sambhaji in 1684.

The graveyard contains the mortal remains  of  the captain of the Fort (Capitão desta Fortaleza) Diogo Rodrigues in 1577; the second in 1583,the martyrs of Cuncolim (the Cuncolim Revolt), etc.

Rachol Seminary
Seminário de Rachol

The Rachol Seminary, also known today as the Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol, Raiturchi Patriarkal Siminar in Konkani, is the diocesan major seminary of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Goa and Daman and is functioning in the building first built by the Jesuits between 1606 and 1610 with donations, including money  from the king of Portugal, Dom Sebastiao.  The seminary came into being in 1580.  The foundation stone  for quadrangular portion was  laid on 1 November 1606 by Fr. Gaspar Soares. Three years later, on 31 October 1609, with the solemn celebration of the Vespers, the “College of All Saints” (Colégio de Todos os Santos) was blessed and inaugurated.
The "College of All Saints"  was changed to "College of St. Ignatius" (Colégio de S. Inácio) between 1622 and 1640

For unknown reasons, in 1759, the Prime Minister of Portugal, Marquis de Pombal expelled the Jesuits from Goa and closed the college. However, it was reopened after 1781 and the seminary has a church dedicated to St. Ignatius Loyola.

The Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol 
There is a statue of Saint Constantine  in full royal regalia (the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity), on the richly carved and gilded main altarpiece.  It is worth mentioning that some  fragments of his bones, brought from Rome in 1782 are enshrined here along with a small glass vial which once contained a little amount of the Saint´s blood. These sacred relics are venerated even today in the church of the seminary. Behind the altar is an artistically  carved statuette of infant Jesus called "Menino Jesus", which was brought from the African colonies by a Jesuit priest for installation in his Colva church.The seminary has renaissance paintings of Portuguese Goan high clergy and some royals. the seminary has 19th century pipe organ that is played during liturgical services. This seminary has the unique distinction having third printing press in Goa in the 17th century, but stopped functioning after the closure of college of saints. Printing press activities resumed after 1821. In 1886, the Archbishop of Goa and Daman received  the honorific title of Patriarch of the East Indies. Since then the seminary  has been  called the "Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol". The seminary possesses renaissance paintings of Portuguese Goan high clergy and some royals.
19th century pipe organ, Rachol seminary chuch, Goa //en.wikipedia.

The IV centenary Jubilee celebrations of this old seminary was held in November 2010. The nearest airport is Dabolim Airport. The neighboring villages are Raia, Loutolim, and Fatorda.

In 1886, the Archbishop of Goa and Daman was bestowed the honorific title of Patriarch of the East Indies. Since then the seminary is known as the "Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol". The seminary has renaissance paintings of Portuguese Goan high clergy and some royals.