History of Goa - How Portuguese & Southern Influences Built the State

Say Hola To Goa!

Known for its spritzing beaches and might-boggling nightlife, Goa has long rolls of history wrapped in its time-worn monuments and tropical spices of Southern and Portuguese Cuisines. The prepossessing face which it has today is a result of what it has gone through in its bygone days. With its authentic ancient touch and great pace of modernization, Goa is capable of attracting millions of tourists every year. Being the main trade centre of India, the state has attracted various international dynasties, moThe history of Goa is rich and has resulted in its multi-cultural aesthetics. It has gone through continual transformations which have left an imperishable impact on its socio-economic developments.

Let's find an answer to why Goa is a mix of several cultures, religions, beliefs and practices!

Mythological and Brahmanical Origination


Goa, in the Hindu Scriptures, has been named as Gomanta which means the region of cows. It is believed that Parashurama, the sixth reincarnation of Lord Vishnu was the creator of the Goan region. A legend says that he along with ten sages had performed fire sacrifices in the lands of Goa. The gist of Sanskritisation in Goa's culture is said to be originated with the settlement of Parashurama and the sages from North following whom the people of Goa carry Brahminical hegemony. Walking down the lane of its History we come across another legend according to whom Goa is considered sacred for its spiritually cleansing touch.

A Reflection of Southern Culture


According to the history of Goa, the Harappan immigrants flooded Goa during 1700 and 1400 BC. They brought with them Southern culture and its beliefs which can be witnessed in the state even today. The state has huge varieties of mouth-watering South Indian Delicacies. Also, the Harappans survived on sea-trade and with their shift to Lothal they made an exit from the demesne of Goa.

The Introduction of Konkani Language By Mauryan Dynasty

Goa was a significant part of the Western Mauryan Empire. The scion of imperial Mauryas had ruled Goa for about four centuries. They were given the name of Konkan Maurayas, and the unbeatable Chandragupt Maurya had taken over the western coast of India. The impact of the official language of Mauryas on the local dialects resulted in the formation of traditional Konkani language of Goa. Furthermore, the great Buddhist Mauryan Emperor and grandson of Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka ruled the lotus-eating island during 3rd century BC. Buddhism embarked its way to Goa when Buddhist Monks laid the foundations of the former religion under the rule of Ashoka.

Rule of Dynasties in Medieval Period

The history of Goa shows that the state has undergone several transformations as an outcome of a number of dynasties swaying in its region. Indo-Parthians, Bhojas, Chalukyas, Kadambas, Yadavas, and Bahamanis, all had a hold of Goa from the 1st century BC to 1500 AD. The era included the rule of Muslims who had destroyed the temples built by the former Hindu Rulers. Their rule was breached on the arrival of Vijayanagar Empire in 14-15th century A.D. In the 1470s, the Muslims returned with a powerful stature than before in the form the Muslim Bahamani Kingdom of the Deccan.

The Portuguese Reign

In 1510, with the defeat of ruling Sultan and the return of Albuquerque, came Portuguese in Goa. They entered in the form of huge fleets and made Velha their permanent settlement. The capital was shifted to Panaji afterwards.  The Portuguese had kept Goa under their thumb for a span of 4 and half centuries. This is what Goa looked like under their rule -

Vasco De Gama and other Portuguese adventurers explored the unexplored sea-routes to Goa and created a huge impact on the history of Goa as seen with multiple attractions existing in the state today. To hold a lucrative control over spice trade, Portuguese made Goa their centre. The state was found to be ideal for seafaring. Separate streets were assigned for sale of different things such as spices, corals, pearls, silk, and drugs.

In 1556, the Portuguese rule led to the birth of Printing Press at Saint Paul's College of Goa. This was the first printing press to be established in the continent of Asia. Great achievements were on their way!
With the profits from the spice trade, Goa entered its Golden Age. The Cathedral was constructed in the 16th century. It was not only the largest of all Churches in Asia but was also was bigger than the ones built in Portugal itself. No doubt, the infrastructure in Goa boomed as it did never before. With 300 churches and a population of 40,000 people, it was the vice imperial seat for the Portuguese rulers.

Fort Aguada is another well-preserved icon of the seventeenth century and a still standing structure frozen from the history of Goa. The Fort was a defensive shield against The Dutch and The Marathas. It had a freshwater spring which acted as a source of water for the ships that used to stop by the Fort. The spring with a capacity of storing 2,376,000 gallons of water, became the largest freshwater storage not only in India but the whole Asia. Overlooking the Arabian Sea, it still stands with pride and is flocked by a number of tourists every day.

Goa became the seedling of the establishment of Roman Catholic colleges and education. Christianity took a toll over Goa as Hindus and Muslims were asked to convert themselves into Catholics. This is a reason why Goa has an essence of Christianity and is home to many Christians and Parsis. The state observes the greatest celebrations of festivals like Easter, Carnival, and Christmas every year.

5. Becoming a Part of the Indian Sub-Continent

After 450 years Goa got a chance to free itself from the Portugal Empire. Leaving behind the chains of Portuguese reign, it entered the statehood of India in 1961.

With the history of Goa having Southern flavours and Ostentatious Portuguese influence, the state has become one of the most visited holiday destinations in the whole world. Driving through the lush green roads and diving into the blue waters of Goa is an experience to have at least once in a lifetime. Being a state dominated by several Hindu, Islamic, and Portuguese Dynasties, Goa is a blend of various cultural practices.

This post was published by Nidhi Khurana