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Goa is a small state on the western coast of India. Though the smallest Indian state, Goa has played an influential role in Indian history. Goa was one of the major trade centres in India, thus it had always been attracting the influential dynasties, seafarers, merchants, traders, monks and missionaries since its earliest known history. Throughout its history Goa has undergone continual transformation, leaving an indelible impression on various aspects of its cultural and socio-economic development.

Mythological Origins

The first literary reference to Goa is in the Bhishma Parva of Mahabharata as Gomanta which translates as the region of cows. Despite a lack of archaeological and historical evidence, Hindu scriptures mention Parashurama, as its creator (Skanda Purana:Sahyadrikhanda). He is said to have settled ten sages in this land and performed fire sacrifices. Another legend has that after performing the penance, the seven sages named the Saptarshis were blessed by Lord Shiva; thereafter the sages were known as the Saptakoteshwar. Further Lord Shiva is believed to have taken up temporary residence after a dispute with his consort Parvati. Yet another legend states Lord Krishna defeated Jarasandha, the king of Magadha on Gomanchal Mountain in Goa.

In Suta Samhita Govapuri or Goa is associated with spiritually cleansing touch:...The very sight of Govapuri destroys any sin committed in former existence just as sunrise dispels darkness... Certainly there is no other kshetra equal to Govapuri.

A similar hymn praising Govapuri city is found in Sahyadrikhanda of Skanda Purana, which says the extent of Goapuri was about seven Yojanas.

According to the Parshurama legend, Parashurama, the sixth reincarnation of Vishnu faced with an order of banishment from the lands that he had once conquered, sets seven arrows fly from the Sahydris to push back the sea and create a stretch of land which he could claim for himself. The sea-god is believed to have acceded his to wish and created a region Shurparaka, which translates literally to winnowing fan. This region is also known as Parashurama Kshetra. The legend further tells us that having created Goa, Parashurama brought Brahmins from the North and settled them in this land.

Prehistoric period

Paleolithic and Mesolithic era.

Until 1993 the existence of humans in Goa during the Paleolithic and Mesolithic period was highly debated. The discovery of rock art engravings on lateritic platforms and granite boulders from Usgalimal on the banks of west-flowing river Kushavati River, has shed light on the prehistory of Goa. The rock shelter at Usgalimal has enough space for 25 to 30 people. The perennial stream in the vicinity which might have served Stone age man for centuries as a source of water. An anthropomorphic figure of Mother goddess and tectiforms resembling tree-like motifs have been found This site was discovered by Dr. P.P.Shirodkar. Exploration of several Mesolithic sites of the Mandovi-Zuari basin, at other sites such as Keri, Thane, Anjuna, Mauxim, Kazur in Quepem, Virdi, has led to the discovery of several scrapers, points, bores, cones, et cetera. A hand axe has also been found at Usgalimal. Further unifacial choppers were recovered on a flat-based pebble of quartzite from a pebble conglomerate at Shigaon on the Dudhsagar River. Shirodakar made a detailed study of the rock engravings and dated them to Upper paleolithic and Mesolithic phases, or to 20,000-30,000 BC. These discoveries have demonstrated that the region had been supporting a population of hunter-gatherers well before the advent of agriculture. Evidence of Palaeolithic cave existence can be seen at Dabolim, Adkon, Shigaon, Fatorpa, Arli, Maulinguinim, Diwar, Sanguem, Pilerne, Aquem-Margaon et cetera. Difficulty in carbon dating the laterite rock compounds has posed a problem in determining the exact time period.

Rock cut engraving at Usgalimal

Kushavati Shamanic culture

Dr. Nandkumar Kamat from the University of Goa discovered the prehistoric petroglyphs of Goa. More than 125 forms were found scattered on the banks of river Kushavati in south-eastern Goa. According to Kamat, these are evidence of a prehistoric Goan shamanistic practice. For hundreds of years, the Kushavati rock art of Goa was known locally as Goravarakhnyachi Chitram, or pictures made by cowherds. But people did not know how ancient the works were, nor could anyone interpret them. After thorough study of these forms, scholars have concluded that these petroglyphs differ from those found elsewhere in Goa. Deeper studies and analysis over a period of ten years showed these petroglyphs were an exquisitely carved ocular labyrinth, one of the best in India and Asia. Its ocular nature added to the evidence of prehistoric shamanism.

The studies have shown that the Kushavati culture was a hunter-gatherer culture with deep knowledge of local natural resources and processes - water, fish, plants, game, animal breeding cycles, seasons and natural calamities. The Kushavati culture was greatly concerned with water security, so they set up camps near the streams. The Kushavati found food security in the jungle near the steam. Like every culture, its members confronted the mysteries of illness, death and birth. Kamat believes that this culture dated to 6,000 to 8,000 years ago. On basis of recent DNA-based work on human migration, Dr. Nandkumar Kamat has ruled out the possibility of Kushavati shamans belonging to the first wave of humans to arrive in Goa. They were not negritoes or austrics. Most probably they were the earliest Mediterraneans who had descended the Western Ghats, probably in their search for sea salt on Goa’s coast. As the Kushavati transitioned into a Neolithic society, they began the domestication of animals and were in the last phase of using stone tools. The entire realm of shamanism underwent a radical transition. Today evidence of the metamorphosis in masked dance drama Perni jagor can be seen in the same cultural region.

Neolithic Period.

Archaeological evidence in the form of polished stone axes, suggest the first settlements of Neolithic man in Goa. These axes have been found in Goa Velha. During this period tribes of Austric origin such as the Kols, Mundaris and Kharvis may have settled Goa, living on hunting, fishing and a primitive form of agriculture since 3500 BC. According to Goan historian Anant Ramakrishna Dhume, the Gauda and Kunbi and other such castes are modern descendants of ancient Mundari tribes. Dhume notes several words of Mundari origin in the Konkani language. He describes the deities worshipped by the ancient tribes, their customs, methods of farming, and its overall effect on modern-day Goan culture. The Negroids were in a Neolithic stage of primitive culture and were food-gatherers. Traces of Negroid physical characteristics can be found in parts of Goa, up to at least the middle of the first millennium.

The Proto-Australoid tribe known as the Konkas, from whom is derived the name of the region, Kongvan or Konkan, with the other mentioned tribes, reportedly made up the earliest settlers in the territory. Agriculture had not fully developed at this stage and was being developed. The Kol and Mundari may have been using stone and wood implements, as iron implements were used by the megalithic tribes as late as 1200 BC. The Kol tribe is believed to have migrated from Gujarat.

During this period, the people began worship of a mother goddess in the form of anthill or Santer. The Anthill is called Roen, which is derived from the Austric word Rono, meaning with holes. The later Indo-Aryan and Dravidian settlers also adopted anthill worship, which was translated into Prakrit Santara. They also worshipped the mother earth by the name of Bhumika in Prakrit. Anthill worship still continues in Goa.

The Iron age.

The advent of Sumerians 2200 BC.

The first written reference to Goa appear in Cuneiform during Sumerian times when the King Gudea of Lagash called Goa Gubio. This was around 2200 BC and Sumerians had established trade contacts with Goa. Many Sumerians settled in Goa and along the Konkan coast. Sumerians are thought to have designed the fields of Goa because as these follow their measure till date.[clarification needed] Unlike 0.46 m unit generally prevalent elsewhere in India, it is pointed out that the positioning in Goa agrees with Sumerian 12 cubits to a pole, and 0.495 of a meter to a cubit.[citation needed] Later the Phoenicians became extensive settlers of Goa around 1775 BC. Several Cuneiform inscriptions have been found in Goa and an Oracle plate dedicated to Inana has been recovered from Savoi Verem. Sumerians are believed to have modified many local customs and introduce their own systems such as their style of temple architecture, the Devadasi system; the Sumerians also influenced the language, caste system, and the kinship practices to some extent. Sumerian influence in Goa can also be seen in the entertainment and games of the region.

The Formations of Gavkaris and the Self-rule.

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The theocratic democracy of Sumer was transformed into the oligarchic democracy of village-administration in Goa known as Gavkari, when it overlapped with the practices of the locals. The agricultural land was jointly owned by the group of villagers, they had right to auction the land, this rent was used for development, and the remainder was distributed amongst the Gavkars. Sumerians view that the village land must belong to the village god or goddess, this was the main feature of the Gavkari system where the village's preeminent deity's temple was the centre of all the activities.[16] It consisted of definite boundaries of land from village to village with its topographic detail, its management and social, religious and cultural interaction. Gavkari thus were in existence long before constitution of the state of Goa itself.

Thus even before any king ruled the territory, oligarchic democracy in the form of Gavkari existed in Goa. This form of village-administration was called as Gaunponn, and despite the periodic change of sovereigns, the Gaunponn always remained, hence the attachment and fidelity of the Goans to their village has always surpassed their loyalty to their rulers. This system for governance became further systematized and fortified, and it has continued to exist ever since. Even today 223 communicates are still functioning in Goa, though not in the true sense.

The later migrations

The second wave of migrants arrived sometime between 1700 to 1400 BC. This second wave migration was accompanied by southern Indians from the Deccan plateau. A wave of Kusha or Harappan people moved to Lothal probably around 1600 BC to escape submergence of their civilisation which thrived on sea-trade. With the admixture of several cultures, customs, religions, dialects and beliefs, led to revolutionary change in early Goan society.

The age of empires

The Mauryas

The history of the Mauryas is almost nonexistent. The existing records disclose the names of only three of the dynasty's kings, namely Suketavarman, who ruled some time in the 4th or 5th centuries BC, Chandravarman in the 6th century BC, and Ajitavarman in the 7th century BC, who ruled from Kumardvipa or modern Kumarjuve, but beyond that the records provide no clue as to their mutual relationship. These dates were determined by comparing the style of the Nagari script in which these records are written with the evolution of this script, which may be dated fairly accurately. It is possible to infer from the places mentioned in these records and their discovery locations that at its zenith, the Western Maurya Kingdom comprised the Lata or South Gujarat, coastal Maharashtra, Goa, and approximately half of the North Kanara district. After the Maurya Empire had passed its meridian in the 2nd century BC its satrap in Aparanta made himself independent. A scion of the imperial Mauryas, he founded a dynasty that ruled over the west coast for nearly four centuries from its capital Shurparaka or modern Sopara. This dynasty was known as the Konkan Mauryas. Goa was called Sunaparant by the Mauryas.

Chandragupta Maurya incorporated the west coast of India in his province of Aparanta, and the impact of Magadhan Prakrit, the official language of the Mauryan Empire, on the local dialects resulted in the formation of early Konkani, as was the case with other Aryan vernaculars. During this era Buddhism was introduced to Goa. Similarly a native Goan named Purna, also known as Punna in Pali, who traveled to Sarnath is considered a direct disciple of Buddha, who popularised Buddhism in Goa in 5th century BC.

The Shatavahanas

The Satavahanas dynasty began as vassals of the Mauryan Empire, but declared independence as the Mauryan Empire declined. The Satavahana dynasty ruled Goa through their coastal vassals, the Chutus of Karwar. This period is estimated to have lasted from around the 2nd century BC to 100 AD. The Satavahanas had established maritime power and their contacts with Roman Empire from the coastal trade from Sindh to Saurashtra, from Bharuch to Sopara to Goa, where Greek and Roman ships would halt during voyages. The Bhojas fortified themselves after the end of Satavahana Empire. With the fall of the Satavahanas, the lucrative seaborne trade declined. Many Greek converts to Buddhism settled in Goa during this period. Buddha statues in Greek styles have been found in Goa. It can be seen that they ruled a very small part of Goa. Maharashtri prakrit was their language of administration, which influenced medieval Konkani to a great extent.


Goa under the Western Kshatrapas

In the year 150AD, Vashishtiputra Satakarni was defeated by his son-in-law, the Kshatrapa King Rudradaman I who established his rule over Goa. This dynasty ruled the territory until 249AD. Thereafter the dynasty's power seems to have been weakened by their generals, the Abhiras.


First existing as vassals of the Mauryan Empire and later as an independent empire, the Bhojas ruled Goa for more than 500 years, annexing the entirety of Goa. The earliest known record of the Bhoja Empire from Goa dates from the 4th century AD, it was found in the town of Shiroda in Goa. According to Puranik, by tradition the Bhojas belonged to the clan of Yadavas, who may have migrated to Goa via Dwaraka after the Mahabharata war. Two Bhoja copperplates grants dating back to the 3rd century BC were unearthed from Bandora village, written by King Prithvimallavarman. Many other copper plates, have also been recovered from other places in Goa which date from the 3rd century BC to the 8th century AD. Ancient Chandrapur, modern day Chandor, was the capital of the Bhoja Empire; the Bhojas ruled Goa, Belgaum and North Canara.

From the Bhoja inscriptions found in Goa and Konkan, it is evidenced that the Bhojas used Sanskrit and Prakrit for administration. According to Vithal Raghavendra Mitragotri, many Brahmins and Vaishyas arrived with Kshatriyas Bhojas from the north. The Kshatriya Bhojas patronised Buddhism and employed many Buddhist converts of Greek and Persian origin.

Medieval period

Goa was ruled by several dynasties of various origins from the 1st century BC to 1500 AD.[citation needed] Since Goa had been under the sway of several dynasties, there was no organized judicial or policing system in those days, except for traditional arrangements governed by absolute rulers and local chieftains. There may have been more order under Muslim rule. During this time, Goa was not ruled as a singular kingdom. Parts of this territory were ruled by several different kingdoms. The boundaries of these kingdoms were not clearly defined and the kings were content to consider their dominions as extending over many villages, which paid tribute and owed them allegiance.



The Shilaharas of South Konkan ruled Goa from 755 till 1000 AD.Sannaphulla the founder of the dynasty was a vassal of the Rashtrakutas.Their copper-plate inscriptions suggest that they ruled from Vallipattana, Chandrapura and Gopakapattana. This was a tumultuous period in Goan history. As the Goa Shilahara power was waning in the 11th century, the Arab traders gained increasing control of the overseas trade. They enjoyed autonomy from the Shilaharas. In order to control this decline, Kadamba King Guhalladeva I, ruling from Chandor only, established secular, political, and economic partnerships with these Arab states. After the Chalukyas defeated the Rashtrakutas, exploiting this situation to their advantage, the Kadamba King Shashthadeva II firmly planted his rule in Goa.

Ruins of Gopkapattana port in Agassaim in Goa

Kadambas of Goa.

The Kadambas ruled Goa from the 10th to 14th centuries. In the beginning, the Kadambas ruled only Sashti and a small part of Konkan. They ruled from Chandor, over a large part, but the port of Gopakapattana was not included in the early years. The Goa Kadambas were the later scions of the main Kadamba Dynasty, whose modern descendants still live in Goa.

Gold coins issued by the Kadamba king of Goa, Shivachitta Paramadideva. Circa 1147-1187 AD.

Port of Goapakapattna

Later King Shashthadeva conquered the island of Goa, including the ports Gopakpattana and Kapardikadvipa, and annexed a large part of South Konkan to his kingdom. He made Gopakpattana as his secondary capital. His successor, King Jayakeshi I, expanded the Goan kingdom. The Sanskrit Jain text Dvayashraya mentions the extent of his capital. Port Gopakapattna had trade contacts with Zanzibar, Bengal, Gujarat and Sri Lanka. The city has been described in the contemporary records not only as aesthetically pleasing, but spiritually cleansing as well. Because it was a trading city, Gopakapattna was influenced by many cultures, and its architecture and decorative works showed this cosmopolitan effect. The capital was served by an important highway called Rajvithi or Rajpath, which linked it with Ela, the ruins of which can still be seen. For more than 300 years, it remained a nucleus of intra-coastal and trans-oceanic trade from Africa to Malaya. Later in the 14th century, the port was looted by Khilji general Malik Kafur. The capital was transferred to Chandor and then back to Gopakapattna because of Muhammad bin Tughluq's attack on Chandor.

Guhalladeva III, Jayakeshi II, Shivachitta Paramadideva, Vinshuchitta II and Jayakeshi III dominated Goa's political scene in the 12th century. During the rule of Kadambas, the name and fame of Goapuri had reached it zenith. Goa's religion, culture, trade and arts flourished under the rule of these kings. The Kings and their queens built many Shiva temples as they were devote Shaivites. They assumed titles like Konkanadhipati, Saptakotisha Ladbha Varaveera, Gopakapura varadhishva, Konkanmahacharavarti, Panchamahashabda. The Kings had matrimonial relationships with the Kings of Saurashtra, and even the local chieftains. The Kings patronised Vedic religion and performed major fire sacrifices like the horse sacrifice or Ashvamedha. They popularised Jainism in Goa. They are also known for patronizing Jainism in Goa.

Though their language of administration was Sanskrit and Kannada, Konkani and Marathi were also prevalent. They introduced Kannada language to Goa, which had a very profound influence on the local tongue. Nagari script, Kadamba script, Halekannada script and Goykanadi scripts were very popular. Kadamba Tribhuvanamalla, inscribed a record, dated saka 1028 or AD 1106, that he established a Brahmapuri at Gopaka. Brahmapuris were ancient universities run by the Brahmins where the Vedas, astrology, philosophy, medicine, and other subjects were studied. Such Brahampuris were found in many places in Goa: Savoi verem, Gauli moula and other places.

Kadambas ruled Goa for more than 400 years until they lost power to Devagiri Yadavas. After the Muslim invasions, the Kadamba Dynasty was lost forever. Ruins of the palaces, mansions, temples and markets can be still seen in Chandor village.

Muslim conquest and rule.

In 1350 AD, Goa was conquered by the Bahmani Sultanate. However, in 1370, the Vijayanagar empire, a resurgent Hindu empire situated at modern day Hampi, reconquered the area. The Vijayanagar rulers held on to Goa for nearly a century, during which time its harbours were important port of arrival for Arabian horses on their way to Hampi to strengthen the Vijaynagar cavalry. In 1469 Goa was conquered by the Bahmani Sultans of Gulbarga. When this Sultanate broke up in 1492, Goa became a part of Adil Shah's Bijapur Sultanate, which established Goa Velha as its second capital. The former Secretariat building in Panaji is a former Adil Shahi palace, later taken over by the Portuguese Viceroys as their official residence.

Portuguese conquest and colonization

Vasco da Gama joined the Portuguese navy as a young man, where he learned navigational skills and served with distinction in the war against Castile. He set off from Lisbon in 1497 and a year later, landed in Calicut, India, and broke the Arab monopoly of trade.

In 1510, Portuguese admiral Afonso de Albuquerque attacked Goa at the behest of the local chieftain Thimayya. After losing the city briefly to its former ruler, Ismail Adil Shah, the Muslim King of Bijapur, Albuquerque returned in force on 25 November, with a fully renovated fleet. In less than a day, the Portuguese fleet took possession of Goa from Ismail Adil Shah and his Ottoman allies, who surrendered on 10 December. It is estimated that 6,000 of the 9,000 Muslim defenders of the city died, either in the battle in the streets or while trying to escape. Albuquerque gained the support of the Hindu population, although this frustrated the initial expectations of Thimayya, who aspired to control the city. Afonso de Albuquerque rewarded him by appointing him chief Aguazil of the city, an administrator and representative of the Hindu and Muslim people; he was a learned interpreter of the local customs. Albuquerque made an agreement to lower yearly dues and taxes. In spite of frequent attacks by raiders, Goa became the center of Portuguese India, with the conquest triggering the compliance of neighboring kingdoms; the Sultan of Gujarat and the Zamorin of Calicut dispatched embassies, offering alliances and local concessions to be fortified.

In Goa, Albuquerque started the first Portuguese mint in the East, after complaints from merchants and Timoja about the scarcity of currency. He used it as an opportunity to announce the territorial conquest by the design of the new coins. The new coin, based on the existing local coins, bore a cross on one side and the design of an armillary sphere, King Manuel's badge, on the reverse. Gold, silver and bronze coins were issued: gold cruzados or manueis, esperas and alf-esperas, and leais. More mints were built in Malacca in 1511.

Chapel of St. Catherine, built during the Portuguese occupation in Old Goa. It should not to be confused with the Cathedral of Santa Catarina, also in Old Goa.

Albuquerque and his successors left the customs and constitutions of the thirty village communities on the island almost untouched, abolishing only the rite of sati, in which widows were burned on their husband's funeral pyre. A register of these customs was published in 1526, it is among the most valuable historical documents pertaining to Goan customs.

Goa was the base for Albuquerque's conquest of Malacca in 1511 and Hormuz in 1515. Albuquerque intended it to be a colony and a naval base, distinct from the fortified factories established in certain Indian seaports. Goa was made capital of the Portuguese Vice-Kingdom in Asia, and the other Portuguese possessions in India, Malacca and other bases in Indonesia, East Timor, the Persian Gulf, Macau in China and trade bases in Japan were under the suzerainty of its Viceroy. By mid–16th century, the area under occupation had expanded to most of present-day limits.

Goa was granted the same civic privileges as Lisbon. Its senate or municipal chamber maintained direct communications with the king and paid a special representative to attend to its interests at court. In 1563 the governor proposed to make Goa the seat of a parliament representing all parts of the Portuguese east, but this was rejected by the King.

The Portuguese set up a base in Goa to consolidate their control of the lucrative spice trade. Goods from all parts of the East were displayed in its bazaar, and separate streets were designated for the sale of different classes of goods: Bahrain pearls and coral, Chinese porcelain and silk, Portuguese velvet and piece-goods, and drugs and spices from the Malay Archipelago.

In 1542, St. Francis Xavier mentions the architectural splendor of the city. It reached the height of its prosperity between 1575 and 1625. Travellers Marvelled at Goa Dourada, or Golden Goa. A Portuguese proverb said, "He who has seen Goa need not see Lisbon."



Map of Goa, in Histoire générale des Voyages, de la Harpe, 1750.

In the main street, African and Indian slaves were sold by auction. The houses of the rich were surrounded by gardens and palm groves; they were built of stone and painted red or white. Instead of glass, their balconied windows had thin polished oyster-shells set in lattice-work. The social life of Goa's rulers befitted the capitol of the vice regal court, the army and navy, and the church; luxury and ostentation became a byword before the end of the 16th century.

Almost all manual labor was performed by slaves. The common soldiers assumed high-sounding titles, and even the poor noblemen who congregated in boarding-houses subscribed for a few silken cloaks, a silken umbrella and a common man-servant, so that each could take his turn to promenade the streets, fashionably attired and with a proper escort.

Man and Woman of Goa. From Mary Annie Vanning, 'A Geographical Present; Being Descriptions of the Principal Countries of the World'

Around 1583, missionary activity in Cuncolim led to conflicts, culminating in the Cuncolim Revolt in which natives killed all the missionaries. The Portuguese authorities called the sixteen chieftains of each ward or vado of the Cuncolim village to the Assolna Fort, ostensibly to form a peace pact with the villagers. At the fort the Portuguese killed the chieftains, except for two who jumped from the fort into the Arabian Sea and presumably swam to Karwar. The villagers lost their traditional leaders and the Portuguese began confiscating the land of the locals. At the same time, they initiated the Goa Inquisition.

In 1556 the printing press was first introduced to India and Asia at Saint Paul's College in Goa; through the spread of the printing press, Goa led the acceleration of the availability of the knowledge and customs of Europe.  After getting established in Goa, the Jesuits introduced the printing press technology for the first time in history into Macau-China in 1588 and into Japan in 1590. The Jesuits founded the university of Santo Tomas in the Philippines, which is the oldest existing university in Asia; in the same period, Goa Medical College was established as the first European medical college in Asia.

The Crown in Lisbon undertook to finance missionary activity; missionaries and priests converted large numbers of people in all spheres of society, especially in Goa. St Francis Xavier in Goa, pioneered the establishment of a seminary, called Saint Paul's College. It was the first Jesuit headquarters in Asia. St. Francis founded the College to train Jesuit missionaries. He went to the Far East, traveling towards China. Missionaries of the Jesuit Order spread out through India, going as far north as the court of the great Moghul Emperor Jallaluddin Akbar. Having heard about the Jesuits, he invited them to come and teach him and his children about Christianity.

From Goa, the Jesuit order was able to set up base almost anywhere in Asia for evangelistic missions, including the founding of Roman Catholic colleges, universities and faculties of education. Jesuits are known for their work in education, intellectual research, and cultural pursuits, and for their missionary efforts. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes, and promote social justice and ecumenical dialogue. Saint Paul's College Goa was a base for their evangelization of Macau, and then for their important missionary campaigns into China and Japan. Macau eventually superseded St Paul's College, Goa. They built St Paul College in 1594 (now the University of Macau), known in Portuguese as the college of Mater Dei. Because of state conflicts with the Jesuits. In 1762 the Marques de Pombal expelled the order from Macau. The Macau university combined evangelization with education.

In the year 1600 António de Andrade made the long voyage from Lisbon to Goa, where he pursued his higher studies at St. Paul's College and was ordained a Jesuit priest. He eventually became rector of the same college. He made a landmark missionary expedition from Goa, across the length of India and into Tibet. He overcame incredible hardships in the journey as the first European to cross the Himalaya mountains into Tibet. There he founded churches and a mission in 1625. The corpse of the co-founder of the Society of Jesus, Francis Xavier, whose example many Goan missionaries tried to emulate by engaging in evangelizing work in Asia, was shipped to Goa on 11 December 1553. Goa has also produced its own saints: the martyrs of Cuncolim, Blessed Joseph Vaz, whose missionary exploits in Sri Lanka are remembered with gratitude in that country; and the Venerable Angelo de Souza.


The 16th-century monument, the Cathedral or Sé, was constructed during Portugal's Golden Age, and is the largest church in Asia, as well as larger than any church in Portugal. The church is 250 ft. in length and 181 ft. in breath. The frontispiece stands 115 ft. high. The Cathedral is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria and is also known as St. Catherine's' Cathedral. It was on her feast day in 1510 that Afonso de Albuquerque defeated the Muslim army and took possession of the city of Goa.

The Goa Inquisition was the office of the Inquisition acting within the Indian state of Goa and the rest of the Portuguese empire in Asia. It was established in 1560, briefly suppressed from 1774–1778, and finally abolished in 1812. The Goa Inquisition is considered a blot on the history of Roman Catholic Christianity in India by both Christians and non-Christians alike. Based on the records that survive, H. P. Salomon and I. S. D. Sassoon state that between the Inquisition's beginning in 1561 and its temporary abolition in 1774, some 16,202 persons were brought to trial. Of this number, 57 were sentenced to death and executed; another 64 were burned in effigy. Others were subjected to lesser punishments or penances, but the fate of many of the Inquisition's victims is unknown.

The Inquisition was established to punish relapsed New Christians, Jews and Muslims who had converted to Catholicism, as well as their descendants, but were suspected of practicing their ancestral religion in secret. Numerous Portuguese Jews (as converted Catholics) had come to Goa and worked as traders. Due to persecution during the Inquisition, most left and migrated to Fort St. George (later Madras/Chennai) and Cochin, where English and Dutch rule, respectively, were more tolerant.

In Goa the Inquisition also scrutinised Indian converts from Hinduism or Islam who were thought to have returned to their original ways. It prosecuted non-converts who broke prohibitions against the observance of Hindu or Muslim rites, or interfered with Portuguese attempts to convert non-Christians to Catholicism. While its ostensible goal was to preserve the Catholic faith, the Inquisition was used against Indian Catholics and Hindus as an instrument of social control, as well as a method of confiscating victims' property and enriching the Inquisitors. Most of the Goa Inquisition's records were destroyed after its abolition in 1812. It is impossible to know the exact number of the Inquisition's victims.


The appearance of the Dutch in Indian waters was followed by the gradual ruin of Goa. In 1603 and 1639, the city was blockaded by Dutch fleets, though never captured. In 1635 Goa was ravaged by an epidemic.

Trade was gradually monopolized by the Jesuits. Jean de Thévenot in 1666, Baldaeus in 1672, and Fryer in 1675 describe its ever-increasing poverty and decay. After escaping from Agra, Shivaji slowly started gaining the areas which he lost in Treaty of Purendar to Moghuls. In this he conquered most of the area adjoining to Old Conquestas of Goa. He captured Pernem, Bicholim, Sattari, Ponda, Sanguem, Quepem, Cancona. Sawantwadi Bonsale and Saudekar Rajas became his vassals.

In 1683 Sambhaji, the son of Shivaji, tried to conquer the entirety of Goa, including the areas then in Portuguese control. He almost ousted the Portuguese, but to their surprise a Mughal army prevented the city's capture by the Marathas. In 1739 the whole territory of Bardez was attacked by the Marathas again in order to pressure the northern Portuguese possession at Vasai, but the conquest could not be completed because of the unexpected arrival of a new viceroy with a fleet.

Following the Third Battle of Panipat, Peshawa control over Maratha Empire was weakened. The Portuguese defeated Rajas of Sawantwadi and Raja of Sunda to conquer area that stretched from Pernem till Cancona. This territory formed the Novas Conquistas, the boundaries of present-day Goa.

In the same year the viceroy transferred his residence from the vicinity of Goa city to New Goa, today's Panaji. In 1843 this was made the official seat of government in 1843; it completed a move that had been discussed as early as 1684. Old Goa city's population fell steeply during the 18th century as Europeans moved to the new city. Old Goa has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its history and architecture.

In 1757, King Joseph I of Portugal issued a decree, developed by his minister Marquês de Pombal, granting Portuguese citizenship and representation to all subjects in the Portuguese Indies. The enclaves of Goa, Damão, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli became collectively known as the Estado da Índia Portuguesa, and were represented in the Portuguese parliament. The first election was held in Goa on 14 Jan 1822, electing 3 locals as members of Parliament.

In 1787, some priests started a rebellion against Portuguese rule. It was known as the Conspiracy of the Pintos. Goa was peacefully occupied by the British between 1812 - 1815 in the context of the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance during the Napoleonic Wars.

Second World War

Goa remained neutral during the conflict like Portugal. As a result, at the outbreak of hostilities a number of Axis ships sought refuge in Goa rather than be sunk or captured by the British Royal Navy. Three German merchants ships, the Ehrenfels, the Drachenfels and the Braunfels, as well as an Italian ship took refuge in the port of Mormugao. The Ehrenfels began transmitting Allied ship movements to the U-boats operating in the Indian Ocean. An action that was extremely damaging to Allied shipping.

But the British Navy was unable to take any official action against these ships because of Goa's stated neutrality. Instead the Indian mission of SOE backed a covert raid using members from the Calcutta Light Horse, a part-time unit made up of civilians who were not eligible for normal war service. The Light Horse embarked on an ancient Calcutta riverboat, the Phoebe, and sailed round India to Goa, where they sunk the Ehrenfels. The British then sent a decrypted radio message announcing it was going to seize the territory. This bluff made the other Axis crews scuttle their ships fearing they could be seized by British forces.

The raid was covered in the book Boarding Party by James Leasor. Due to the potential political ramifications of the fact that Britain had violated Portuguese neutrality, the raid remained secret until the book was published in 1978. In 1980 the story was made into the film, The Sea Wolves, starring Gregory Peck, David Niven and Roger Moore.

After the independence of India

When India became independent in 1947, Goa remained under Portuguese control. The Indian government of Jawaharlal Nehru insisted that Goa, along with a few other minor Portuguese holdings, be turned over to India. However, Portugal refused. By contrast, France, which also had small enclaves in India surrendered all its Indian possessions relatively quickly.

In 1954, unarmed Indians took over the tiny land-locked enclaves of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. This incident led the Portuguese to lodge a complaint against India in the International Court of Justice at The Hague. The final judgment on this case, given in 1960, held that the Portuguese had a right to the enclaves, but that India equally had a right to deny Portugal access to the enclaves over Indian territory.

In 1955 a group of unarmed civilians, the Satyagrahis, demonstrated against Portugal. At least twenty-two of them were killed by Portuguese gunfire.

Later the same year, the Satyagrahis took over a fort at Tiracol and hoisted the Indian flag. They were driven away by the Portuguese with a number of casualties. On 1 September 1955, the Indian consulate in Goa was closed; Nehru declared that his government would not tolerate the Portuguese presence in Goa. India then instituted a blockade against Goa, Damão, and Diu in an effort to force a Portuguese departure. Goa was then given its own airline by the Portuguese, the Transportes Aéreos da Índia Portuguesa, to overcome the blockade.

On 16 December 1961, Indian troops crossed the border into Goa. 'Operation Vijay' involved sustained land, sea, and air strikes for more than 36 hours; it resulted in the unconditional surrender of Portuguese forces on 19 December. A United Nations resolution condemning the invasion was proposed by the United States and the United Kingdom in the United Nations Security Council, but it was vetoed by the USSR. The territory of Goa was under military rule for five months. However, the previous civil service was soon restored. Goan voters went to the polls in a referendum and voted to become an autonomous, federally administered territory. Goa was later admitted to Indian statehood in 1987.

Goa celebrates its "Liberation Day" on 19 December every year, which is also a state holiday.

Places to visit in Goa

Located 14 kms north of Panaji in the state of Goa, the Candolim Beach is a part of a long extension of beach coastline along the Arabian Sea that begins at Fort Aguada and ends at Chapora Beach.This place is also famous as it is the birth place of Abba Faria, considered to be one of Goan freedom fighters and the Father of Hypnotism.

Miramar Beach

Miramar Beach is situated 1 kilometer ahead of the confluence of Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea. It is situated on the way towards Dona Paula, about 3 kilometers from Panjim, the capital city of Goa. MiramarBeach of Goa is also known as 'Gasper Dias'.

The Miramar Beach in Goa begins at the gulf and then culminates in the Emerald Coast Parkway. It is a golden beach fringed with palm trees. The soft sands of the beach makes it the best site for evening walks. Moreover, 'miramar' in Portuguese implies 'viewing the sea'. Tourists can get a glimpse of the majesty of the Arabian Sea from the Miramar Beach at Goa.

Majorda Beach

Majorda Beach is situated in the southern part of Bogmola. It is one of the marvelous beaches in Goa that is located about 18 kilometers from Dabolim Airport. Marjorda Beach in Goa is connected to Margao with an excellent network of roadways, including buses, auto rickshaws and taxis. It is one of the most popularbeaches of Goa.

Majorda Beach of Goa has a strong bearing upon the Indian mythology. Legends believed that Lord Rama was kidnapped and brought to the Majorda beach in his childhood. It is also said that Lord Rama came to the beach in search of his wife, Sita. He is said to have come to Cabo-de-Rama, which lies in he southern part of the beach.

Mobor Beach

Mobor Beach is an ideal location for the adventure tourists. It is one of the most popular beaches in Goa, which enables the tourists to indulge in adventure sports such as water skiing, water surfing, jet ski, banana and bump rides and parasailing. The beach can be visited throughout the year; however, the best months to visit Mobor Beach of Goa is between the months of September and March.

The Mobor beach in Goa is one of the most popular tourist sites in the city. Every year thousands of tourists come to the beach to indulge in water sports. In fact, the Cavelossium-Mobor is famous for water sports.

Colva Beach

The Colva Beach lies about 6 Kms to the west of Margao and is the oldest, largest and the most spectacular beaches of South Goa. The beach consists of about 25kms of the fine powdered white sand and is bounded along its coast by coconut palms that stretch from Bogmalo in the north to Cabo de Rama in the south along south Goa's coastline.

In the colonial days it used to be the resting area for Margao's high society, who would visit Colva for their "Mundanca" or change of air. Today the area that is reminiscent of the luxurious lifestyle of the aristrocratic class has the beautiful houses or villas that dot the village.

Anjuna Beach

Located about 18kms from Panaji and situated in Bardez taluka, the Anjuna Beach is the part of a 30 km extended beach coastline along the west coast of Goa by the Arabian sea.

The Village of Anjuna, a five square mile area is nestled between the Arabian Sea and the Hill overlooking the beach. The beach is famous for its stunning natural beauty with swaying palms trees and soft powered white sands.

Varca Beach

Varca Beach is one most popular tourist sites in Goa. It is one of the most beautiful and exotic beaches of Goaand is situated about 2 kilometers from Benaulim. The beach is marked by a number of wooden boats, belonging to the fishermen of the city.

The Varca Beach in Goa is known to its soft white sands and its cleanliness. It is one of the cleanest beaches in Goa that allows the tourists to spend some time in solitude.

Sinquerim Beach

The Sinquerim Beach of Goa is located some 13 km away from Panaji and is stunningly beautiful and quieter than the other beaches of Goa. This long, extended sandy terrain that runs incessantly along the coast is ideal for taking a walk. The feel of the glistening sands and the cool water caressing the feet gives you out of the feeling. The beach is one of a series of tranquil and spectacular stretch of sand and an ideal place for swimming. The tourists come down to this beach and prefer it for its pristine and serene setting.The lovely beach of Sinquerim is one of the oldest preserved beaches in Goa. The famous fort Aguada is located near the beach. Fort Aguada was built by the Portuguese in the early 17th century Portuguese fort that was built by the Portuguese to defend themselves against any foreign attack and to control the entry of the intruders through River Mandovi.

Vagator Beach

The Vagator beach located near Mapusa Road, North Goa and 22 km far from the state capital Panaji is less crowded and isolated compared to other Goan beaches. It boasts of pure white sand, doted with black lava rocks and swaying coconut and palm trees and lies within the backdrop of the 500-year-old Portuguese Fort and takes the visitors down the memory lane depicting the Old Portuguese era. Vagator's broad white sandy beach - Big Vagator Beach also known as "Little Vagator" is undeniably beautiful and offers picturesque vista with the red ramparts of Chapora Fort.At the southern end of the beach, a row of makeshift cafes provides shade and sustenance for a predominantly Israeli crowd. Like Anjuna, Vagator is a relaxed, comparatively undeveloped resort that appeals, in the main, to budget travellers with time on their hands.

Immaculate Conception Church & Reis Magos Fort

Immaculate Conception Church & Reis Magos Fort Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church was one of the first church to be built in Goa, being there by 1541. The early church was completely re-built from its foundation in 1619 and this was even considered, taking into account of the negligible population of the area and the size of the new church, a striking commentary on the religious climate of the time and the wealth available to the churches.

Morjim Beach

The Morjim Beach, popularly known as the Turtle Beach, is located in Pernem, north Goa. The beach is bestowed with elegant vistas, including a blossoming, green environment.

The Morjim Beach is special as it serves as a hatching and nesting habitat of the Olive Ridley turtles, which are an endangered species. The sight of the tiny hatchlings, turtles and crabs makes your experience at the beach an unforgettable one. Kite surfing is another activity popular at this beach because of its shallow depth.

Betalbatim Beach

Each one of us has definitely been lucky enough to witness beautiful sunsets sometime but the beauty of the sunsets at the Betalbatim Beach is beyond imagination. Located in the south of the Majorda Beach, Betalbatim Beach is one most beautiful beaches of Goa. Owing to the spectacular sunsets it offers, it is popularly known as the "Sunset beach of Goa". Not only is it more peaceful than the other beaches but is also much cleaner. The quiet and secluded location of this beach makes it all the more attractive and inviting.

Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary

Heading to Goa this season? Then don't forget to set foot in the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary for a close rendezvous with your favorite animals. The smallest yet most popular sanctuary in Goa, it is located in Ponda Taluka in the northeastern part of the city. Contained in a very small area of just 8 km, the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is covered with moist deciduous forest and evergreen vegetation patches. This little sanctuary proudly houses a Mini Zoo, Rose Garden, Deer Safari Park, Botanical Gardens, Nature Education Centre and Eco-Tourism Cottages within its premises.

Baga Beach

Goa, an endearing paradise of scenic charm, is famous for its mesmerizing beaches all over the world. With glistening sands, sky-high coconut trees, majestic sea waves and delectable sea food, Goa has so much to offer. It is blessed with a number of exotic beaches, yet as we think of Goa the first name that comes to the mind is the super-adventurous Baga Beach. Anybody who has had a chance to witness the beauty of Goa will vouch for the fact that Baga beach is for sure the most happening beach in Goa.

Arvalem Caves

Apart from the admirable beaches and waterfalls, Goa is also one of the most sought after destinations for heritage architectures. Goa is an ancient state and so is the architecture found here. A beautiful example of the historical monuments present in Goa is the Arvalem Caves or the "Pandava Caves". Located in the Bicholim town of North Goa, these caves are ancient rock cut caves that give us a chance to steep into the mythological tales. The origin of these caves dates back to the 6th century.

Arvalem Waterfalls

A thunderous spurt of water beautifully cascading down a rocky terrain of a mountain! This is the picture of the splendrous Arvalem Waterfalls in Goa. Popularly known as the Harvalem Waterfalls, it is located at Arvalem, around 9 km from Bicholim, North Goa. With water falling headlong from a height of 70 meters, it makes up for an absolutely breathtaking view.

Palolem Beach

The Palolem Beach is located about 2-km West of Chaudi, Canacona District of South Goa and is also known as the "Paradise Beach". It was amongst the virgin beaches of Goa which remained secluded from the tourists' eyes until a few years back, but now it is gradually becoming commercialized and developed since tourists have started pouring in. It is the place of glorious sunsets and stunning sunrises with backdrop of Western Ghats situated in Southern Taluka of Canacona. The enthralling Paolem Beach instills in us a feeling of tranquility that is one of the major attribute of this serene Goa beach.

Goa Churches

Goa churches enjoy their share of popularity. There are several churches in the state owing to the long history of Portuguese rule in Goa. These churches other than being a place of worship, also makes for beautiful pieces of architecture from by gone days. Some of the popular churches in Goa are St Cathedral Church, St Francis of Assisi, Basilica of Bom Jesus, St Augustine Church among others. These churches are visited by most of the tourists heading to the state of Goa.

Arvalam Waterfall

Arvalem Waterfall is located 2 km from the town of Sinquelim in the North of Goa. The 24 feet high waterfalls makes for a beautiful picnic spot. One can have a look at the waterfall from the staircase of the famous Rudreshwar Temple. The government has also constructed a park near the waterfall to help people have a closer look of the fall and appreciate its beauty.

Aguada Fort

Aguada Fort stands tall as one of the most known representatives of the Goan history. The fort was constructed in 1612 by the Portuguese afearing an attack from the Marathas and the Dutch. The fort had a fresh water spring that provided for the water requirements of all those who used to pass through the place. The giant fort served as crucial point for all the important operations of the Portueguese.

Chapoli Dam

Located about 40 km from Margoa, Chapoli Dam is blessed with scenic charm as it lies in a valley which is surrounded by hills. If you are fond of fishing, this eco-tourist spot of Goa, is a place for you.

Mahalaxmi Temple

Mahalaxmi Temple situated in Bandora Village of Goa, is dedicated to goddess Mahalaxmi (Goddess of power and strength). The Temple has a beautifully constructed Chowk which is its major attraction. The temple constructed as early as 1413 A.D, is visited by tourists all across the country especially during the Navratri which is celebrated with a great pomp and show at the place.

Mangeshi Temple

Mangeshi temple in Goa is an amalgamation of modern and traditional Hindu pieces of architecture. The Temple is a dedication to Lord Mangueshi, incarnation of Lord Shiva. Legend has it that Lord Brahma himself consecrated the Linga that is worshipped here. The idol of the presiding deity is taken out in a procession every week on Monday.