The Royal Port at River Zuari


The remains of the port wall
The remains of the port wall

The usual tourist attractions in Goa have always been mesmerizing, with astounding architecture and a history that is equally amazing. But a few of these historical structures have been degrading over the years. A small piece of history that spans along five kilometers of the River Zuari is the Royal Port or Gopakapattana harbour

The Structure and its History

The Gopakapattana harbour is a five km long structure, which served as a port to the city of Govapuri. Present on the sea shore of Goa-Velha and Agassaim, the port was known to seafarers from the ancient times. It was referred to by various names; the Romans called it Gouba in the first century AD, the Greeks called it Kouba, or Kowa.

 The Ramayana even states that whoever casts a glance at the holy city of Govapuri has his sins cleansed.

The outer wall of the port can still be seen during low tide on the banks of the river. The wall has submerged in certain areas and is also buried in the sand and silt. It gets covered by the water during high tide. The wall had been strengthened by mortar and cement at the beginning of the 20th century by the owners of the coconut groves around the vicinity, in order to avoid the water gushing in at high tide.

Hub for Commerce and Trade

The port was a major hub of activity during the Kadamba era. Ships from Rome, Greece, Persia, Arab countries, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Cambodia, China, and many other countries along with ships from Gujrat, Bengal and other parts of India used to dock at the port. Govapuri was a major centra of trade and commerce as a served as a capital to various dynasties from 765 AD to about 1380 AD. Due to silting and occurrence of mud flats, the capital was transferred to Ela (Old Goa) and eventually to Panaji, which in the year 1843 was declared as the official capital of Portuguese India and has remained the capital city till date.

Conservation is Underway

Along with these, are there many more historically relevant sites that have been in front of us all this while. But what happens to these? Fortunately, the Government of Goa has set up a conservation committee to prepare a report about the historical significance of the areas in Pilar. One of the projects under the plan is by the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), which will explore the remains of the port which will tell us more about the port’s archaeology and anthropology and also reveal information of Goa’s trade relations with other countries in the past.

Member of the conservation committee and assistant superintendent of Archaeology, Varad Sabnis says, “Along with the efforts of the Government, the local governing bodies and citizens should also contribute to maintain the historically relevant structures in their area. The whole process becomes easier with co-operative efforts.” Speaking on the plans and outcome of the report of the conservation committee, Sabnis


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