Brief History of Goa (Gomantaka)

There is no place on this earth that doesn’t have even a bit of history behind it. On this basis, when we look at overall features of Goa, we’ll notice one thing for sure. As Goa is famous for her beautiful beaches, pious pilgrims and unique culture, she is also well known for a bit turbulent but remarkable history that gave her a unique identity among the rest of the world.

According to the Hindu Puranas, Lord Parashurama received the vast coastal land that runs from northern part of Goa to the southern part of Kerala as a gift from Samudra (God of sea). The original name of Goa Region was ‘Gomantaka’ which was originated from the people who had had herd of cattle in this region. During the reign of Portuguese people, the name was changed to ‘Goa’. The first written reference to Goa appears in the Sumerian writings, around 2200 B.C. The Sumerian called this region as ‘Gubio’. Strabo the Greek geographer has made the first reference to Konkana (another name for this region) with the name of Konkvi. The historians believe that the some groups of Phoenicians settled here around 1775 B.C. Around 1000 B.C., 96 families of Gauda Saraswat Brahmins settled here with the Kundbis, a race migrated from the southern part of India. This settlement is considered to be one of the milestones in the history of Goa.

Many dynasties conquered and ruled the Goa Region like Mauryans, Shatavahanas, Abhiras, Batpuras, Bhojas, Shilaharas, Chalukyas, Rastrakutas, Yadavas of Devagiri, and Kadambas. Among them, Kadambas had made Chandrapura (Sindabur) as their capital. During the 14-15 centuries, this region was conquered by Vijayanagara Empire and Muslim Bahamani Kingdom respectively. Had not Alfonso De Albuquerque conquered Goa, the fate of this beautiful state would have been doomed forever under Muslim rule. In 1510 A.D., the Portuguese admiral Alfonso De Albuquerque defeated the Muslims to establish the foundation for the further conquests in India. The conquest of Goa region by the Portuguese was the important milestone in the history of Goa which would gave unique identity to her in the future. The territories in Goa Region that the Portuguese conquered at first were called as ‘Velhas Conquistas’ or Old Conquests. Goa was the jewel of Portuguese’s eastern empire. By the end of the 16th century Goa Region was at its peak and was referred to as ‘Golden Goa’. However, the dark chapter of inquisition began during that century. In 1560, an inquisition office was established and it executed the methods of suppression from 1774-78 briefly. But finally, in 1812, it was abolished. The effect of inquisition was so much that innumerable Hindus were forced to flee to neighboring territories.

During the 17th century, the importance of Goa as commercial port began to decline and Brazil succeeded her as the economic centre of Portugal’s overseas empire. In 1603 and 1640, she survived from two naval assaults by the Dutch. But in 1683, Marathas overran almost the entire Goa Region. During the 18th century, Portuguese expanded their territories by conquering Ponda, Sanguem, Quepem, Canacona, Pernem, Bicholim and Satari. In 1787, some prominent priests with the help of some military officers of Goan origin revolted against the Portuguese rule but failed to achieve their goal. This revolt is known as ‘Pinto Revolt’. However, the Ranes of Goa are well known for their several attempts to overthrow the Portuguese rule in Goa. The last revolt of the Ranes took place in 1912 which ended in failure. In 1878, the Marmagoa seaport was opened to traffic with India as well as the establishment of rail links in 1881 with India. These transportation means provided external support to the Goans for their independence movement.

It was when the dictator Dr. Antonio de Salazar took power in Portugal in 1926, the flame of independence began to burn brightly in the hearts of Goans. The people of then British India gave their assistance in Goan independence movement. After the independence of India from the British rule in 1947, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru began the negotiation with Portuguese authority on the issue of Goan independence. But every attempt was met with the adamant attitude of the Portuguese authority. At the end, Mr. Nehru had no option except using the military force to free Goa. On 18-19th December, 1961, Indian Army entered Goa under the code named ‘Operation Vijay’ and she rejoined Mother India after nearly 500 years. Thus the Portuguese became the first European to arrive in India and the last to depart.

In 1963, Goa’s first general elections were held. In 1967, voters decided to not to merge with neighboring state of Maharashtra when a referendum was conducted. On 30th May 1987, Goa was declared as the 25th state of the Indian Union.

Published in: on January 15, 2009 at 1:16 pm  Comments (1)  
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