The Arabs were controlling the spice trade with India since the end of the 12th century AD. During the 15th century AD, Spain and Portugal, the then main maritime powers of Europe, initiated a series of expeditions with royal patronage. While one such voyage led to the discovery of West Indies by Columbus, another voyage brought the Portuguese to India, the El Dorado.
Vasco da Gama, a nobleman and navigator sailed out from Portugal on July 8, 1497, with 4 ships and 170 men, travelled along the western coast of Africa, crossed the Cape of Good Hope south of South Africa and moved eastwards to reach Kapukad, twelve kilometers north of Calicut on the Malabar coast of Kerala, on May 17, 1498. Indian spices and spread of Christianity were the two driving factors behind this voyage.
After sustained efforts of almost 80 years by the Europeans, this breakthrough heralded a new dawn in Indo-European relations. Portugal made expeditions to India a regular annual event.
The Portuguese eyed the Arab monopoly of Indian spice trade and tried to overthrow the Arabs. They succeeded, however, after continuous battles with the Arabs within twenty years of their arrival in India.
Pedro Alvares Cabral led the second voyage in 1500 AD when he brought 17 missionaries to convert the Hindus. He established the first Portuguese factory at Cochin and established friendship with the Chief of Cochin and Cannanor
In his second voyage in 1502, Gama was instructed to snap the Arab trade with India. He destroyed the Muslim business at Calicut.