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Goa - History

Down the corridors of time Goa has been different things to different people. To the Portuguese conquerors it was ‘Golden Goa’, the El Dorado, the ‘Rome of the East’. Such was its beauty and grandeur, that a traveller was moved to remark: ‘Whoever has seen Goa, need not visit Lisboa’-Lisbon, which was then the grand epicenter of the Portuguese dominions.

Goa, known in the bygone days as Gomanchala, Gopakapattam, Gopakapuri, Govapuri, Gomantak, etc., abounds in a rich historical heritage. Early history of Goa is obscure. In the first century of the Christian era, Goa was a part of the Satavahana empire, followed by the Kadamba, the Rashtrakutas of Malkhed, the Chalukyas and the Silharas. The empire of the Yadavas by the end of the 14th century was displaced by the Khiljis of Delhi and thus Muslim rule came to Goa.

After the discovery of the sea route to India by Vasco-da-Gama in 1498, many Portuguese expeditions came to India. In 1510, Alfonso de Albuquerque with the help of the emperor of Vijayanagar attacked and captured Goa. With the arrival of the Jesuit priest Francis Xavier in 1542 proselytisation began in Goa. However, the Portuguese continued to rule over the territory except for an interlude during the latter half of the 17th century when Shivaji conquered a few areas in and around Goa.

By the end of the 16th century, Goa had already reached its peak and was referred to as “Golden Goa” or “Lisbon of the East”. With the Portuguese, came their religion. Albuquerque’s interests initially was only commerce as a result, the Portuguese were quite tolerant of the Hindus though the same was not with the Muslims. From 1540 onwards, with the arrival of the dreaded “Inquisition” in Goa, Portugal’s liberal policy towards the Hindus was reversed. 1542 saw the arrival of St. Francis Xavier and the Jesuits to Goa. The saint left a lasting impression on Goa and is regarded today as Goencho Saib or the Patron Saint of Goa.

By the mid 17th century, Goa’s decline as a commercial port began to mirror the decline of Portuguese power in the East as a result of several military losses to the Dutch and the British. The Dutch had taken control over the spice trade – the original reason for Portugal’s eastern expansion. Brazil had now supplanted Goa as the economic center of Portugal’s overseas empire.

Even after India's independence, Goa continued to be in the hands of the Portuguese. However, they could not fulfil the aspirations of the Goan people and ultimately on 19 December 1961, Goa was liberated and made a composite union territory with Daman and Diu. On 30 May 1987 Goa was conferred statehood and Daman and Diu was made a separate union territory.

The union territory status was an economically highly subsidized status given to Goa, Daman and Diu after liberation. Central government was also liberal enough to permit continuation of many Portuguese legislations like the unique civil code. Goans gave up union territorial status and craved and clamored for statehood. Now, 26 years later they have realized that they have created a beautiful mess out of statehood.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Goa was a haven for the hippies. Since then Goa has moved on to fullfledged Statehood, its own Council of Ministers, a magnificent new Assembly complex, its citizens among the most literate in the country with a per capita income the highest in the land.

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Page last modified: 24-10-2021 15:29:49 ZULU