Exploring the History of Goa

Goa, a tiny landmass overlooking the Arabian Sea, is a popular holiday retreat among tourists. The stunning beaches, colonial-inspired architecture, and colorful culture make this small Indian state a perfect place for a short break. The interesting history of Goa is nothing short of an adventurous novel, which can be an added advantage.

For adventurous travelers, Goa not only has interesting landmarks and exotic beaches but also a mesmerizing history. Let’s unravel the interesting history of this holiday paradise and get to know a lot more about the place.   

Mythological Origins

The history of Goa is fascinating – partly due to facts and a little fiction. The legends, there are a quite few of them, state that Goa or Gomantak (as mentioned in several religious texts) came out of the sea when Parshurama (an incarnation of Vishnu) demanded the sea god Varuna to recede.

The Saraswat Brahmin community believes that they were the earliest settlers of the Konkan coast. According to local lore, this community migrated to the Konkan coastal belt, after the legendary Saraswati River dried up. Although there is no definite proof regarding the authenticity of this lore, the local Goan community believes these legends as a part of their history and heritage.

Ancient India and the Mauryan Empire

The earliest records of human settlements date back to 10,000 years ago. The rock art engravings found in the Shimoga-Goa Greenstone Belt point towards a civilization that known about the stone implements. Indigenous tribes underwent radical changes with the arrival of the Indo-Aryan and Dravidian communities.

The history of Goa witnessed a radical change under the Mauryan Empire in the 3rd century BC. Under the patronage of the then ruler of the empire, Ashoka of Magadha, Buddhism made its presence felt in the region. Before that Hinduism and other pagan religions were practiced in the Konkan belt. Between the 2nd century BC and the 6th century AD, multiple small and big dynasties made their presence felt in the region, but none of the dynasties would continue to last long.

However, this changed with the arrival of the Kadamba who was the feudatories of the popular Chalukyas Empire. These lords laid the path for the Golden Age of Goa.

Islamic Era

In the 14th century, the Delhi Sultanate made its presence in the felt in Goa and completely changed its history. In the subsequent years, the areas surrounding Goa fell under the rule of Bahmani Sultans of Gulbarga. Adil Shahis of Bijapur came in the 15th century and established the old Goa (Velha Goa as referred by the Portuguese). 

Portuguese Annexation

In the early 16th century, the Portuguese under the leadership of Alfonso de Albuquerque annexed the Old Goa and established a permanent post here. The Portuguese continued to rule over Goa for the next four centuries until the Indian army annexed the area in 1961.

The Portuguese established their colonial rule over this tiny region, changing the course of Goa’s history. They took over the spice trade, introduced Christianity to the area, and added several landmarks into the landscape thereby adding a new chapter to the history of Goa.

Some of the popular landmarks of the region were:

• Aguada Fort

• Chapora Fort

• Catholic Church of St. Francis of Assisi

• Basilica of Bom Jesus

• Chapel of St. Catherine of Alexandria  

During the Portuguese rule, the history of Goa witnessed severe persecution of the locals and mass conversions. Overall the early age of Portuguese rule were bloody and gruesome.

Joining the Indian Sub-continent

Goa was part of the Portuguese rule until 1961. After the failed peaceful talks, the Indian government ordered the military invasion to annex the Goan territories. On December 17, 1961 close to 30,000 Indian soldiers, supported by air forces and navy, outnumbered the Portuguese army and took over the state – once again changing the history of Goa. 

Initially, Goa was granted the status of the federally administered territory. However, in 1987 the Goa became an Indian state. 19th December is celebrated as the Liberation Day of Goa.   

Goa has been an important part of the Indian subcontinent due to its proximity to the sea. The numerous cultural influences have shaped the history of Goa and influenced its people. Goa is a magical destination, with an interesting history, lore, and myths.

Further Reading:

Goa Culture – Six Points You Can’t Miss

10 Facts about Goa You Can’t Miss

9 Interesting Facts about Goa Every Travel-holic Should Know

Five Traditional Goa Festivals for Every Traveler to Enjoy

All You Need to Know about Public Holidays in Goa

Why Visit Goa – Ten Reasons to Go at Once

A Detailed Guide for Solo Trip to Goa