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Indian Subcontinent >> India >> Goa >> History of Goa

History of Goa

According to Hindu scriptures, this enchanting land was created by the sage Parashuram (Lord Vishnu, the Protector, in the sixth of his ten incarnations), and soon became a retreat for the Gods in times of stress. Understandable, Goa is the perfect holiday destination. Lord Shiva, the Destroyer visited Goa twice, after marital spats with Parvati, his divine consort. Unable to bear the loneliness and heartbreak, she followed him each time, made up and returned to live happily ever after in Kailash their heavenly abode or until their next row!

Legends apart, Goa’s history goes back to the third century BC when it was part of the great Mauryan kingdom of the Emperor Ashoka. After his death in 232 BC, the region came under the suzerainty of various Hindu dynasties such as the Satavahanas, Kshatrapas, Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas. An indigenous dynasty, the Kadambas, rose to power in the 10th century. They ruled for over three hundred years and made Goa into a major maritime power using the natural harbours to make Goa a thriving centre of maritime trade. The 14th century was a turbulent phase in Goa’s history when its control passed from the Yadavas of Devagiri to the Delhi Sultanate (1356-1378) and finally to the Vijayanagar kings who ruled it for almost a hundred years. Towards the end of the 15th century, the Bahamani Sultans of Gulbarga and the Adil Shahis of Bijapur held sway. Meanwhile, in their quest for new spice routes and driven by a proselytising zeal to spread Christianity, the Portuguese landed in Calicut, Kerala in 1498. Unable to get a foothold there, they captured Goa from the Adil Shahis in 1510. Before long they had established their maritime might in the Arabian Sea and controlled the most prosperous trade routes. Gradually Goa became the seat of the Portuguese Empire in Asia and the Far East. Its capital, Old Goa, became a centre of immense wealth and opulence, attracting vast numbers of Portuguese immigrants. By the end of the 16th century Old Goa had a population of around 300,000, much larger than that of Lisbon, Paris or London.

Though the Marathas posed a threat in the early 18th century, the Portuguese were able to retain control and continued to enlarge their territory further east. A fledgling independence movement began in the late 19th century, seeking self-rule or even merger with British ruled India. However, the territory remained under Portuguese rule till 1961 when a political movement, launched in the wake of India’s independence in 1947, led to its liberation by India. After 26 years as a centrally administered Union Territory, Goa was granted full statehood on 30 May 1987. More than 15 centuries of Hindu rule, followed by a short span of Muslim control and then 450 years of Roman Catholic domination under Portugal, has left a hybrid of Eastern and Western cultures that makes Goa a unique experience. Happily, the large community has managed to neatly balance its Konkani roots with the dominant Christian influence.

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