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Goa

A Brief History of Goa
Alfred F. Braganza

On the western seaboard of India, an hour's air-hop from Mumbai, lies Goa. It is a historical place, always coveted by kings and rising powers of the East and the West. Through the ages, many other kings and princes took over Goa for its strategic importance.

In the 14th-15th centuries, as the Renaissance flowered in Europe, and the Portuguese rounded the Cape of Good Hope, the European nations battled each other for the supremacy of the East. First Vasco da Gama arrived in Kozhikode, Kerala in May 1498, while the Conqueror of Goa, Afonso de Albuquerque arrived in Kannur on the Malabar coast in December 1508. In 1510, de Albuquerque's troops clashed in three furious battles with those of the then reigning king of Goa, Adil Khan. Eventually the Portuguese established three colonies on the west coast of India, and the French five on its east coast. In the 17th century, the French and the Dutch often clashed with the Portuguese to take over Goa. Meanwhile, Napoleon Bonaparte too readied his flotilla in Brest, France with his ambition to extend his supremacy in the East with his headquarters in Goa. The British too ruled Goa for 14 years from 1798 to 1812, providing the infrastructure for railways and steamships, thus paving the way for the first Goan diasporas to Mumbai and East Africa. In 1858 the British finally consolidated their empire in India.

Later on in the 1960's, while all African and other colonies were gaining independence, the Goan nationalist movement grew. In the face of Portuguese intransigency, the Government of India had to take police action and liberated Goa on December 19, 1961. In 1983 the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference was held in Goa, with the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher representing the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi presided.

Soon Goa became a tourist paradise. From November to February, Goa is now crowded with tourists, especially British and Russians frequenting Goa's sunny beaches and experiencing the warmth of its people. Both the tourism and mining industries bring in millions of dollars to the Indian exchequer. Goan diasporas are now scattered throughout the world.

Alfred F. Braganza is the author of Hosanas à Terra-Mãe India, Canção da Alma, and The Discovery of Goa.
Photo credit: http://www.destinationgoa.com/

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