Portuguese Conquests

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.




Muslim Invasions

The 14th century saw a series of Muslim invasions on Goa, from the north. In 1312 Govepuri was almost completely destroyed, and after 15 years of fighting, the Muslims returned under Mohammed Tughluk and Chandrapur was beaten down to ruins.

The Muslim kingdom of Bahmani conquered Goa in 1347. The temples in Goa were the target of the fanatic zeal of the invaders who murdered priests and looted the temple wealth. Devotees moved their deities to safer areas under Hindu control.

Many Hindus fled southward. The persecution continued till 1378, when Goa was retaken by the neighbouring Hindu kingdom of Vijaynagar. Goa then started exporting spices to Arab nations, and got Arabian horses for the Vijayanagar army.

During this period, a lot of bloodshed followed when the Bahmanis persecuted the Hindus on a mass scale. Hindu temples were razed and Govepuri was brought down to its last brick. After the destruction of Govepuri, the Bahmanis organised a new capital at Ela, created on the northern banks of the river Mandovi to facilitate trade through the sea routes as the Zuari had begun to silt up.

Yussuf Adil Shah of Bijapur built many impressive buildings and a wonderful palace. The Portuguese later used this palace which is now the Secretariat in Panaji, and the old story of affluence started again, and Gove became an important trading destination again. Gove also became a port from where Muslim pilgrims left for Mecca.