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Friday, March 18, 2022

Portuguese India | How portuguese captured goa?

  Rajesh Kumar Rana       Friday, March 18, 2022


Portuguese India | How portuguese captured goa?

Portuguese India

The honor of opening the sea route to India belongs to the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama. Thanks to his success, Portugal colonized Indian lands for many centuries. 

Journey of Vasco da Gama

In 1498, Vasco da Gama arrived on the coast of India and landed in the village of Calicut. A long and by no means simple voyage was finally crowned with success. The monopoly of the Arabs in trade with India was under threat - now Portugal could bring fabrics, incense and, most importantly, spices to Europe much easier and cheaper, which in those days were valued almost worth their weight in gold.

Capture of Goa

The Portuguese king, however, did not plan to take Goa. It came about rather by accident. In 1510 he was taken over by the Portuguese admiral Afonso de Albuquerque. At that time, the army of Adil Shah was in the city, but the ruler himself was not. Albuquerque occupied the city without difficulty, but soon the Shah arrived with a force of sixty thousand.

The Portuguese king did not plan to conquer Goa

The Portuguese realized that they could not hold the city, and hid in the bay. There they had to stand for almost three months dangerously close to the Panjim fortress. The Europeans were running low on supplies, and Adil Shah offered to share provisions, stating that he wanted victory through arms, not starvation. But the proud Portuguese refused. Only in mid-August Albuquerque finally left the bay and met the Portuguese ships. He decided to go to Goa again - and on November 25, on the day of St. Catherine, the city fell. In honor of this, the Portuguese built the Cathedral of St. Catherine in Goa.

Cathedral of Saint Catherine in Goa
Cathedral of Saint Catherine in Goa

Catholics in Goa

St. Catherine's Cathedral is the largest Catholic church in India and one of the largest in Asia. In 1776 lightning struck the south tower of the cathedral and it collapsed. The facade of the temple was never repaired - either out of fear of God's punishment, or out of laziness. In the middle of the 19th century, the Miraculous Cross was brought to the cathedral from Mount Boa Vista, on which, according to legend, Christ appeared in the 17th century. The locals tell a legend that the cross is getting bigger every year, and it also grants wishes.

A quarter of the inhabitants of Goa profess Christianity

One of the most famous Catholic cathedrals in Goa is the Temple of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Panaji. Countless steps lead to the snow-white temple. Another legacy of Portuguese rule was built in the Catholic Baroque style: the Church of Our Lady of the Snows.

Temple of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
Temple of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.
Source: Selmer van Alten / Flickr

Catholicism is the second largest religion in Goa, second only to Hinduism. More than a quarter of the inhabitants of the former Portuguese colony are Christians, and the bulk of them are Catholics. Locals celebrate Christmas together with the whole Catholic world - they decorate palm trees, set scenes with mangers near their houses. They speak, however, in the local language, and all the inscriptions in the churches are made either in English or in Latin. In addition, even among Christians, the caste system was preserved.

Ups and downs

Throughout the 16th century, Portugal dreamed of using Goa as a starting point for conquering all of India, but these plans were not destined to come true. In the 17th century, the Dutch and British undermined the Portuguese trade monopoly. The latter even took over Goa during the Napoleonic wars, but then were forced to return.

Goa passed to India only in 1961

At the beginning of the 20th century, committees of local resistance to European rule began to appear in Goa. India tried to resolve the conflict peacefully, but Portugal did not want to give away a tasty morsel: she stated that Goa was not a colony at all. Portuguese rule in Goa came to an end only in 1961. The Indian government organized an armed action. For 36 hours, it bombarded the state from water and air. Goa, after 451 years of Portuguese rule, became part of India.


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