Guiding Beacon

Trujetter Team

, Cover Story

A feast to the eyes, these tall and stunning lighthouses were designed to stand the test of time, recite their intriguing timeless tales.

The unknown and unexplored historical structures built across varying time periods of history have many legends associated with them. The monuments provide a magnificent setting for a perfect click and usher the timeless tales of the region they are located in. There are many lighthouses on the coastline of India guiding the vessels to the shores and offering a panoramic view of the beautiful landscapes to the visitors. They have been guiding mariners to safety since 268 BC. While many of them are not functional today, they still brighten the shores and are a tourist hotspot. They offer a stunning view of miles of sea with staggering sea breeze. Plan a lighthouse tour and trace the coastline of India with these beautiful lighthouses.

Aguada Lighthouse, Goa

Witnessing to the confluence of Mandovi River and Arabian Sea stands the crumbling fort of Aguada. The fort has been keeping a watch over the confluence for almost four hundred years and offers a panoramic view of the blue water around.

The Portuguese architecture style is visible in the construction of the fort. It was built over three years from 1609 to 1612 and defended the Portuguese from the Dutch and Maratha invaders. Aguada fort derives its name from ‘agua’, the Portuguese word for water and signifies a place where water is collected. The fort boasts of a four storeyed lighthouse that was built in 1864 and is considered the oldest of its kind in Asia. It emitted a beacon of light once every seven minutes with the help of oil lamps. It was later upgraded to emit light every 30 seconds.

Aguada lighthouse is one of the first to be built in Asia. Before this lighthouse was built, the ships were guided to the harbour with the help of bonfires that were lit on the ‘Hill of Pilots’ which is above the place where the Church of Immaculate Conception now stands in Panaji. The balustrade that encircles the upper storey of the lighthouse makes it a breathtaking structure. A curving staircase winds up to the lamp house and it also has a copper plaque dedicated to the Viceroy Ruy Tavara and the architect and engineer of the fort. It also housed an ancient bell taken from the Augustinian church, which is now in the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, Panaji.

This lighthouse fell into disuse in 1976 and is most often closed for the public. A new lighthouse, called the Aguada Lighthouse and DGPS is built closer to the edge of the cliff. One can enjoy the view of the areas surrounding the fort by climbing the steps of the fort.

Bonfires were lit on the busy port of Mamallapuram, under the Pallavas as early as the 7th century AD to aid the mariners. The temple atop the Mahishasuramardhini cave was used by the Britishers as a light house.

In the ancient times, log fire was used to serve as beacon for the ships approaching to Mahabalipuram port during the night. The first conventional lighthouse was established by the Britishers by placing a wick lamp inside 4th order optic and lantern on the roof of Olakkaneeswar Temple in 1887. This lighthouse was known as Seven Pagoda Lighthouse.

A circular tower, 26m in height, was built on a nearby rock during the 19th century. The exterior surface of the tower was left unpainted so as to blend with surroundings. It was in 1904 that the lighthouse became fully functional. The new lighthouse stands next to India’s oldest lighthouse and was built around 640 AD by Pallava king Mahendra Pallava. The lighthouse uses dischargeable lamps, which rotate in bowls of mercury as source of light.

It rides up to a height of 138 feet. The grey façade of the tower is capped by a smooth domed roof. There are a total of 227 steps to reach the lighthouse’s beacon room which offers commanding views of the city and the coast.

Mamallapuram Lighthouse Tamil Nadu

Bonfires were lit on the busy port of Mamallapuram, under the Pallavas as early as the 7th century AD to aid the mariners. The temple atop the Mahishasuramardhini cave was used by the Britishers as a light house.

In the ancient times, log fire was used to serve as beacon for the ships approaching to Mahabalipuram port during the night. The first conventional lighthouse was established by the Britishers by placing a wick lamp inside 4th order optic and lantern on the roof of Olakkaneeswar Temple in 1887. This lighthouse was known as Seven Pagoda Lighthouse.

A circular tower, 26m in height, was built on a nearby rock during the 19th century. The exterior surface of the tower was left unpainted so as to blend with surroundings. It was in 1904 that the lighthouse became fully functional. The new lighthouse stands next to India’s oldest lighthouse and was built around 640 AD by Pallava king Mahendra Pallava. The lighthouse uses dischargeable lamps, which rotate in bowls of mercury as source of light.

It rides up to a height of 138 feet. The grey façade of the tower is capped by a smooth domed roof. There are a total of 227 steps to reach the lighthouse’s beacon room which offers commanding views of the city and the coast.

Vizhinjam Lighthouse, Kerala

Perched atop the Kurumkal Hill, the 35m red and white Vizhinjam Lighthouse at Kovalam is the highest lighthouse in Kovalam. The spiraling staircase to the top of the tower is perfect example of magnificent architecture. Light house beach in Kovalam is named after the lighthouse situated here. A flight of 142 steps takes you to the top of the observation platform from where the tourists can see Poovar in one direction and the Beemapalli mosque on the other.

The structure started functioning from 1972 and has served as landmark for the Vizhinjam seaport. A water fountain is also built at the foot of the lighthouse. During the 18th and 19th century, Vizhinjam was a busy seaport. But there were no lighthouses at this location. A lighted beacon was constructed in 1925 near Kolachal and subsequently, a day mark beacon was provided at Vizhinjam during 1960. The lighthouse is considered one of the oldest and the most
visited lighthouses of Kerala.

It has been guiding ships to the nearby Vizhinjam port  The light beams from the tower at night give the beach an unearthly charm. Kovalam beach offers a variety of activities from sunbathing, swimming, herbal body toning massages to catamaran cruising and surfing.

Kaup Lighthouse, Karnataka

Almost 12 kilometres away from the city of Udupi lies the picturesque Kapu Beach. The beach is famous for its paradise, the Kaup Lighthouse. Standing at a height of 100 ft, the lighthouse was built in 1901 on a 27.12m high rock. The beach is called ‘Kapu’ because of its protected status during the period of regal armies. It is considered that an army of soldiers was kept at Kapu area when Udyavara was under the rule of Kings.

The ruins of Kap Battery or cannons are found close to the lighthouse. It is one of the many such batteries established by Tipu Sultan in the region. The lighthouse was built to warn the sailors about the rocky coastline and is open for visitors during certain periods of time in a day. The classic British style wooden staircase and furnishing make the lighthouse even more attractive. At night, its white lights flash every 20 seconds helping local fishermen navigate the choppy waters of the Arabian Sea and rocky coastline of the beach.

The lighthouse is open to public during the evening from 4pm to 6pm. If you are looking to spend a serene evening away from the mundane routine then head towards the lighthouse for a perfect setting. The beach doesn’t just let people sit back and relax but also help soak in adventure with various activties like dolphin sighting, water bike ride and more. The best time to visit the beach is in the evening around sunset.

Manora Lighthouse Tamil Nadu

Situated 65 km away from Thanjavur, the Manora fort was built by Maratha ruler Serfoji II during 1814 to commemorate the successful advance of the British over Napoleon Bonaparte in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The fort derives its name Manora, from the word Minaret. The fort, that served as a lighthouse is an 8-storied, hexagonal tower, which is 23m high.

It is surrounded by the swaying palms and pristine water of the Bay of Bengal. The place was earlier the summer palace of the Marathas and the moat provided drainage facilities to the fort. Hanging lasers were used to reach the other side of the moat. According to the legend, Serfoji hid a treasure in the secret maze within the fort. It is also supposed that there is an underground passage that goes from Manora to the main temple in Thanjavur.

The beautiful tower that stands within fortified walls and a moat has arched windows and eaves that separate one storey from the next. It looks more like a pagoda. The associated mystery and the Maratha architecture make it more attractive. Visitors can only go up to two storeys within the fort that offers awesome views of the sea and the coconut groves.

Words: KRITIKA DHAWAN

 

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