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History of Konkan

History of Goa

Goa is a small state on the western coast of India. Goa was the first part of India that was colonized by Europeans and also the last to be liberated. In the past it was known as Govapuri, Gomant or Aprant. The Arab sailors knew it as Sindabur, or Sandabur, and the Portuguese as Goa.

Religious history

According to some Hindu legends, Parashurama flung his axe into the sea and commanded the Sea God to recede up to the point where his axe landed. The new piece of land thus recovered came to be known as Konkan meaning "piece of earth" or "corner of earth" (Kona(corner) + kana(piece)). The Southern Konkan was called Govarashtra.

The Mahabharata refers to Goa as Goparashtra, "a nation of cowherds or of nomadic tribes". In other ancient Indian texts in Goa is also known as Gopakapuri, Gapakapattana, Gomanchala, Govapuri. Suta Samhita, an Indian classic, describes Goa as such: "To the north of Gokarn is a 'kshetra' with seven 'yojanas' in circumference: therein is situated Govapuri, which destroys all sins. The sight of Govapuri destroys the sin committed in a previous existence, as at sunrise darkness disappears. Even by making up his mind to bathe once in Govapuri one attains a high place (in the next world). Certainly there is no 'kshetra' equal to Govapuri.";

Settlement

According to the legends of the Gaud Saraswat Brahmin community, they were settled along the banks of the Saraswati river. When the river suddenly went dry, Parshurama created the new land on the coast and ordered them to migrate there. The Saraswat Brahmins settled in three islands in the estuary of the Zuari and Mandovi rivers. The Sarswats settled in three different groups which lent the name to the land based on the number of families settled there:Twelve(Barah) families in Bardesh(modern Bardez); Thirty(Tees) families in Tiswadi; and sixty six(Sashasta) families in Sashti(modern Salcette). . These three islands formed the ancient Gomantak.

Ancient history

In the 3rd century BCE, Gomanta formed part of the Maurya Empire. It was later ruled by the Satavahana dynasty. Eventually, it became a part of the Chalukya empire, who controlled it from 580 to 750. Over the next few centuries it was ruled successively by the Silharas, the Kadambas and the Chalukyas of Kalyani. The Kadambas are credited with constructing the first settlement on the site of Old Goa in the middle of the 11th century.

Muslim rule

In 1350 CE, 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 100 years, during which its harbours were important landing places for Arabian horses on their way to Hampi to strengthen the Vijaynagar cavalry. In 1469, however, Goa was reconquered, by the Bahmani Sultans of Gulbarga. When this dynasty broke up in 1492, Goa became a part of Adil Shah's Bijapur Sultanate, who made Goa Velha their second capital. The present Secretariat building in Panaji is a former Adil Shahi palace, later taken over by the Portuguese Viceroys as their official residence.

Portuguese conquest

In 1498, Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope and landed at Calicut. In 1510 Portuguese admiral Afonso de Albuquerque attacked Goa at the behest of the local cheftian Thimayya. After losing the city briefly to its former ruler, the Muslim king of Bijapur, Albuquerque returned in force, killing the Muslim inhabitants .

Portuguese rule

The Portuguese set up a base in Goa in their quest to control the spice trade. The city 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.

In 1757, the king of Portugal, D. José I, put his seal on a royal decree passed by his prime minister, Marquês de Pombal, granting the rights of Portuguese citizenship and representation to all subjects in the Portuguese Indies (Goa, Damão and Diu). The enclaves of Goa, Damão, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli became collectively known as the Estado da Índia Portuguesa, and had representation in the Portuguese parliament.

As Portugal's first territorial possession in Asia, Goa was the base for Albuquerque's conquest of Malacca (1511) and Hormuz (1515). Albuquerque intended it to be a colony and a naval base, as distinct from the fortified factories established in certain Indian seaports.

Goa became the capital of the whole Portuguese empire in the East. It 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 even proposed to make Goa the seat of a parliament, in which all parts of the Portuguese east were to be represented; this was vetoed by the king.

In 1542 St. Francis Xavier mentions the architectural splendour of the city; but it reached the climax of its prosperity between 1575 and 1625. Travellers marvelled at Goa Dourada, or Golden Goa, and there was a Portuguese proverb, "He who has seen Goa need not see Lisbon."

Merchandise from all parts of the East was displayed in its bazaar, and separate streets were set aside for the sale of different classes of goods–Bahrain pearls and coral, Chinese porcelain and silk, Portuguese velvet and piece-goods, drugs and spices from the Malay Archipelago.

In the main street 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 headquarters of the viceregal court, the army and navy, and the church; luxury and ostentation becoming a byword before the end of the 16th century.

Almost all manual labour was done by slaves; common soldiers assumed high-sounding titles, and it was even customary for the poor noblemen who congregated together in boarding-houses to subscribe 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.

There were huge gambling salons, licensed by the municipality, where determined players lodged for weeks together; and every form of vice, except drunkenness, was practised by both sexes, although European women led a kind of zenana life of seclusion, and never ventured unveiled into the streets; they even attended church in their palanquins, so as to avoid observation.

Albuquerque and his successors left almost untouched the customs and constitutions of the thirty village communities on the island, only abolishing the rite of sati (widow-burning). A register of these customs (Foral de usos e costumes) was published in 1526, and is an historical document of much value; an abstract of it is given in R. S. Whiteway's Rise of the Portuguese Empire in India (London, 1898).

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, and in 1635 it was ravaged by an epidemic. With the situation already volatile, Maratha troops entered parts of Bicholim in 1641 and began the minor Bicholim conflict, which ended in peace treaty between the Portuguese and Maratha Empire.

Its trade was gradually monopolised by the Jesuits. Jean de Thévenot in 1666, Baldaeus in 1672, Fryer in 1675 describe its ever-increasing poverty and decay. In 1683 the Mughal army prevented it from capture by the Marathas, and in 1739 the whole territory was attacked by the marathas again, but could not be won because of the unexpected arrival of a new viceroy with a fleet. This continued until 1759, when a peace with the Marathas was concluded.

In the same year the viceroy transferred his residence from the vicinity of Goa city to New Goa (in Portuguese Nova Goa), today's Panaji, which became the official seat of government in 1843, effecting a move which 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.

Early freedom movement

The first armed battle of independence of Goa from the Portuguese was fought by the Desais of Cuncolim in c.1583. The Portuguese missionaries used to regularly come along with soldiers to convert the villagers. This resulted in small skirmishes, with both parties suffering casualties each time. Finally, the villagers, angered after some missionaries desecrated a local temple, killed the invading party, including all the missionaries. This angered the Portuguese authorities.

They called the 16 chieftains of each ward (vado) of the Cuncolim village to the Assolna fort to formulate a peace pact with the villagers. At the fort, the Portuguese slew the chieftains, but two of them jumped from the fort into the Arabian sea and swam to safety (presumably to Karwar), and managed to tell the tale. After this episode, the villagers were left without leaders. Taking advantage of this impasse, the Portuguese began confiscating the land of the locals who refused to convert to Christianity.

To avoid demolition of the village temple, the villagers took the idol of the village goddess, Shantadurga, to an area outside Portuguese control, deep in the forests of Fatorpa. In the present day, the annual festivals of Sattreo, Dussehra and Jatra (fair) are celebrated by both the Hindus and Catholics alike, in an example of syncreticism. Twelve vangddi (leaders representing the 12 groups of villagers of the temple), perform most of the rites in these festivals. Of these twelve vangddi, three are of Catholic religion, as there are no Hindus that remain of those wards. Today, a small chapel rests at the spot where the Shantadurga temple stood in the village.

Similar unrecorded battles were fought in most of the villages and settlements all around Goa. This finally led to the stopping of the inquisition, and Goa remained peaceful under the Portuguese, though suppressed, and forced to study in either Portuguese language or Marathi language of neighbouring Maharashtra.

Many people fled the inquisition and suppression, and there are large Goan colonies in Karwar and Mangalore in Karnataka.

In 1787, there was a rebellion started by some priests against Portuguese rule. It became famous as the Conspiracy of the Pintos.

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. Portugal, however, refused. France, which also had small enclaves in India (most notably Pondicherry, see French India), gave them up. Portugal, however, amended its constitution so that Goa became a Portuguese province and refused to surrender it.

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 judgement 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 Goan territory.

In 1955 a group of unarmed civilans, satyagrahis demonstrated against Portugal. At least 22 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. In 1955 also Jawaharlal Nehru declared his government would not tolerate Portuguese presence in Goa. India then instituted a blockade against Goa, Damão and Diu, in an effort to force the Portuguese to leave.

On December 19, 1961, Indian troops crossed the border into Goa. Code named 'Operation Vijay', the move involved sustained land, sea, and air strikes for more than 36 hours; it resulted in the unconditional surrender of Portuguese forces. 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.

Under Indian rule, Goan voters went to the polls in a referendum and elected to become an autonomous, federally administered territory. Goa was admitted to Indian statehood in 1987.

After annexation to India, the area was under military rule for five months, but the previous civil service was soon restored and the area became a federally administered territory. Goa celebrates its "Liberation Day" on 19 December every year, which is also a state holiday.

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