Ancient Name : Goparashtra, Gopakpattanam
Built By : Lord Parashurama
Famous Indian Ruler : Adil Shah of Bijapur
Foreign Influence : Portuguese
Ruins of St. Paul's Church, Goa
Out of the 28 states which form the Republic of India, Goa is amongst the smallest. Yet Goa has a special aura of its own that entices every visitor to this palm decked land. It is a land where the bygone era dances to the tunes of a rich cultural heritage. A heritage that traces its pedigree not only in timeline but also on the graph of geography. The exclusivity of Goa is not of recent origin, nor its existence. This crescent shaped picturesque state is believed to have been well known since time immemorial throughout the Indian subcontinent and the littoral countries dancing on the heart of Indian Ocean, quite evident from the manuscripts attesting pioneering of trade channel routes in the Konkan coast. You can also find its name in the Hindu epic, Mahabharata, where Goa is referred to as Goparashtra or the country of cowherds.
One may not believe in legends, but India is full of them
which merits narration. History is no exception. The formation of Goa or
Gomantaka or Gopakpattanam is credited to Lord Parshurama, the sixth
incarnation of Lord Vishnu (one of the Hindu trinity). As described in the
Skanda Purana, Parshurama shot seven arrows to mark the limit where
Samudra, the Indian Neptune, should withdraw. Wherever the arrows fell
into the sea, the waters receded forming a strip of land where the Lord
ensconced Brahmins. You can visit the village, which exists even today,
where one of the arrows fell came to be known as Banauli or Banaulim (the
village of the arrow), and the land around it as Shurparaka Desh, or the
land of the winnowing fan - an allusion to the reclamation process that
marks Goa's entry into the landed areas of the world.
According to an Indologist, Dr. Pargiter, behind every legend there is an element of truth. Modern day geological evidence also lends credence to the quaint tale of the genesis of Goa. The presence of marine fossils and burned sea shells in the soil provides the experimental backup to scientific theories of the event that happened over 12,000 years ago, of land elevation from the sea along the coast.
Aguada Fort, Goa
Migrations to Goa in large numbers must have commenced
once man started to settle down and cultivate the soil. It might have then
went through a natural evolution with hoi polloi coming in, subjugating
the locals and imposing their imprints. Ironically, the location of Goa,
though strategic, was bordered by imperious dynasties reigning in central
India. Thus, the political history of Goa was subjected to frequent
changes which depended upon the fluctuating fortunes of the principal
kingdoms of Deccani rulers. In between these feudal relationships, local
warriors very often claimed suzerainity over the whole or a part of Goa.
If there is any dynasty which can be primarily identified with Goa, it is the Kadambas. It is Kadambas that the Goans are truly proud of and their rule is one of the most glorious eras of Goa's past. By the 14th century, Islam had already made its presence felt. In the south of India, Islam made its way through Arab traders, who came to the west India shores. In his book, 'Akhbar-i-Muhabbat', an Indian historian states that "the Rajas of the ports of Goa, Dabal and Chand, etc, allowed all the Musulmans who came there from the different parts of Arabia to settle on the sea-shore, and treated them with great honour and respect." Many of them settled down in Goa, married locally and brought up Muslim families. In 1469, Goa was reannexed by the Bahmani Sultans of Gulbarga. When their reign passed into oblivion, the area came under the rule of Adil Shah of Bijapur, who made Goa his second capital. The present secretariat building that stands stately in Panaji is a former Adil Shah palace, later taken over by the Portuguese Viceroys as their official residence.
After a golden period of relatively stable Hindu rule, two centuries of alternating Hindu and Muslim dynasties ended in Goa's conquest by the Portuguese admiral Afonso de Albuquerque in 1510, after being unable to secure a base on the Malabar coast. However, this was not the first time, the Portuguese put their footmarks on the sands of India. Vasco da Gama landed near Calicut on 17th May, 1498 and that marked the entrance of foreign invasions. The most interesting part of Goa's history is probably Afonso de Albuquerque's conquest over the state. Peace dominated the first chapter of blade and blood, when the city surrendered to the Portuguese without the loss of a single soldier. The second chapter witnessed the betrayal by the Muslims who came out in support of Adil Shah. On November 25, 1510, Albuquerque reattacked Goa and the battle was over in a couple of hours. The admiral burnt the city and killed all the Moors. Thus started the beginning of Portuguese rule in Goa and the expansion of their presence in Asia. A string of fortresses were constructed all over the terrain as seats of power and trading emporiums, which you can see while on a holiday trip to Goa. They still stand with their head held high on the courtyards of this palm fringed state.
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