GOA: History, Culture and Liberation from PORTUGAL

Goa…what is the first thing that comes to your mind when I say this word. Well, I know what most of you had imagined, but that’s not what we are going to emphasise. Goa is a place that is very rich in culture and is ‘also’ known for being home to a large number of ancient temples. Also, believe it or not, while the British used to rule India for so many years, Goa was a place that was not under their regime. No…it wasn’t independent, instead, it was under the PORTUGESE rule, yes you heard it right. So, today we are going to trace and relive the whole Goan journey.

Ancient History 

Goa’s history gives the impression of an ancient land with a lot of Hindu temples. The reference of Goa can be found even in Puranas and other ancient scriptures under the names like Gove, Govapuri and Puranas. The geographers have identified it with names like Sindabur, or Sandābūr. The regime has been under several regimes including the Indo-Parthians, Bhoja, Chalukyas and Yadavs. The Kadamba dynasty (2nd century CE to 1312) came under the Muslim invasion (1312-1367). After this, the rule was under the Vijaynagar empire followed by the Bahmani Sultanate. Yusuf Adil Khan the king of Bijapur took it under his control in 1482.

Arrival of the Portugals

Vasco de Gama and others discovered sea routes to Goa and this led to a unique influx of trade and culture into Goa. What made Goa a great trading hub was its peculiar location. It was sandwiched between Gujarat and Malabar and the ports allowed large ships to enter 10-15 miles inside and then deliver the products directly. 1510 was the year when the seafarers from Portugal led by Alfonso de Alburquerque attacks Goa. Surprisingly the Yusuf-led city surrenders without even giving a fight. But, here comes the twist in the tale as Yusuf consolidates a troop of 6000 and forced the passage of the ford, blocking the Portuguese team into the sea by August that year. Now, Alfonso too gathered an even larger army and returned back in November and this time with more power. He killed all the Muslims and appointed a Hindu, Timoja as the governor. In this way, Goa became the first Asian city to come under the Portuguese throughout the globe. Interestingly, none of the local customs or constitutions was altered except the Sati system.

Portuguese conquest of Goa - Wikipedia

Goa’s Turnover with Ups and Downs

Goa was then struck with the cholera epidemics which left the Goan population dwindling from 20,000 to 16,000 as people migrated from Old Goa to Panjim. Also, the Portuguese used Goa as a means to spread Christianity using mass religious conversions. As of result of which, the majority of the population of Goa was now Catholic and associated with churches. By that time, some nationalistic sentiments started developing in Goa, which the most significant one was in 1895, which was crushed by the influx of new Portugal troops. After this, the Portuguese prince Affonso Henriques Duque de Oporto himself came on board and served as the governor in 1896.

Portuguese blossomed their spice trade. Slowly, development reached a level where separate streets came up for the sale of different things such as spices, corals, pearls, and silk. In 1556, Saint Paul’s college of Goa saw the birth of Asia’s first printing press. Goa soon entered its golden age. Around 300 churches were constructed across the city, including the Cathedral Church which was even bigger than the churches back in Portugal as well. With further progress, an educated elite society developed in Goa. The Portugese used to call Goa was VELHA GOA.

And…there comes the Dictator

Interestingly, Portugal adopted a democratic and parliamentary system throughout its country and Goans also got the right to vote in these elections. But, unfortunately only those Goans were allowed to vote who were Catholics, could speak Portuguese and paid substantial taxes to the government. It again showed that the main aim of this regime as well (like the British) was the expansion of religion and the collection of money.  Slowly, as Portugal matured as a democracy, an elite society developed and Goans too started enjoying more rights. Now, Goa became the Portuguese capital in Asia and the standard, privilege and prosperity reached their peak between 1575 to 1600. But, all this stopped right after a coup took place back in Portugal in 1926. Throwing the democratic setup, a dictator named Antonio Oliviera de Salazar, remained the prime minister of Portugal for the next 35 years. It was followed by discrimination and poverty not just in Portugal but also in Goa. Goans were discriminated against on the basis of descendence and skin colour.

Remembering Salazar, the Portuguese dictator 'who refused to die' – or depart from Goa with dignity

Independence Movement in Goa

Inspired by the Indian independence movement, an educated engineer TB CUNHA returned to India from Paris and formed a Goa Congress Committee and affiliated it with the Congress. But, despite all this, the independence movement never actually off in Goa with much momentum. Actually, the Goan elites had shifted to Bombay due to Salazaar. So, the weak and poor left behind couldn’t stand that much for movement. Also, everyone including the Indian National Congress (INC) was of the opinion that once the Britishers leave India, so would the Portuguese, but well, the Portuguese had some other ideas.

India v Portugal: The Bitter Face-Off 

Now, once India achieved its independence finally in 1947 and the Britishers had left every nook and corner of the country. India laid its claim on Goa twice 1948 and 1949. But the Portuguese were reluctant to leave such a prosperous place well-architectured by them only. The 1955 revolution by the TYAGRAHIS also proved very disturbing for the Portuguese and they crushed it violently leading to many casualties. Nehru also tried an economic blockade in Goa to pressurize Portugal. But, the results were surprising and completely unanticipated. There is an ore of international grade which is very common in Goa. So, what happened was that due to the rise in that ore, Goa incurred an economic boom. Now, Goa had one international and elite product after the other in its territory. While the potatoes from the Netherlands, Wine from Portugal itself, rice and vegetables from our neighbours Pakistan, tea from Sri Lanka, steel from Japan and Cement from Belgium.

Here's How Operation Vijay Had Freed Goa In 1961 After Portugal's Refusal To Give Up Control Of The State In 1947

Finally…comes the Liberation

Here, the Nehru- Slazaar face-off was reaching an even bitter situation as Nehru was of the opinion that Goans are Indians by every means and currently are being ruled by a racist, fascist and dictatorial regime. While Salazaar simply said that Goa is an integral part of Portugal and he won’t negotiate. Finally, Nehru understood that he doesn’t have any other option left than using force. Though , now Salazaar lost his steam and got ready to negotiate but it was all very late. Indian Army, with support from Airforce and Navy, attacked the Portugal forces under the OPERATION VIJAY FInally, the 451-year rule of the Portuguese in India was ended on 19th December 1961.

Salazaar was overthrown back in Portugal also. While Goa and Portugal remained and still remain close. Portugal offered every Goan born before 1961 and his previous 3 generations, Portugal citizenship without any complex process. As a result, many elites did migrate there. Currently, the Catholic share in the population remains at 25% only. At that time, Goa was also comprised of Daman and Diu. In 1987, Goa was made into a state while Daman and Diu was made a union territory.

16 Amazing Places To Visit In Goa In May For A Fun Vacay In 2022!

Goa: An Influx of many Cultures

Goa, though it is so small as a state, but it holds just so much into it. Something that Portugal didn’t wanted to let go of once they had hold over it. The state holds the qualities of various cultures and civilizations. Whether it is the Harappan influence or the Mauryan influence during Buddhim entered here. Whether it was the sea port or its location,  which made it an attractive destination, which is one of its prime features even today. Various markets including spices blossomed here and today it has one of the best cuisine collecion in the world. The state went through invasions from different countries as well as religion. But, instead of becoming a by-product of the invasions, it came out as an influx of various cultures that lives here. While, the Portugal rule brought modernity and development, because of which, ven today, Goa is ahead of other states on many parameters.


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