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History and Geography of Goa

Goa, geographically situated between the "Sahyadri" mountains and Arabian Sea, is part of an escarpment widely known as Konkan. Of the total 3700 Sq km area, around hundred kilometer is coastline, the highest point being Songsor (3827 feet). Zuari and Mandovi are the lifeline of Goa. The Marmugoa harbor situated at the mouth of Zuari is known to be best natural harbor of South Asia. Other rivers that flow through Goa are the Terekhol, Chapora and the Betul.

The land which is also known as the "Pearl of the Orient" is a combination of forty estuarine, eight marine and about ninety riverine islands and anavigable inland waterways of 253 kms.The forest cover which forms the part of eastern goa adds to the natural diversity of the region. More than 33% of its geographic area is under government forests (1224.38 km )There is a substantial area under private forests and a large tract under cashew, mango, coconut, etc. plantations, the total forest and tree cover constitutes 56.6% of the geographic area. The tropical forests cover is of ten compared to Amazon and a Congo in terms biodiversity.

The Portuegese in Goa
The coast , the rivers and the forsets combined with vibrant people in the are make goa a hot tourist spot.The culture which blends both eastern and western civilizations one of the most modern . With majority of the population being Hindus and Christians, ordained by a minority Muslim community, Goa has been known for itís communal harmony and secular outlook since itís liberation. A Portuguese colony, it was liberated forcibly by Indian troops in 1961. This ended a 450 year occupation by the Portuguese, and can be considered as the end of imperialistic occupation by European kingdoms within the Indian subcontinent.

It will be very ironic to note that the Portuguese were the first to land in Indian coast but it were British who occupied most part of India by Second World War. The Portuguese sailor Vsaco Da Gama who landed in "Kappad", near Calicut (now in Kerala) had business in mind more than territorial ambitions. Portuguese troops first entered Goa in 1503 under Alfonso de Albuquerque on orders of king of Portugal. It was just to protect their trade interests. The Portuguese conquered the city, only in 1506, from kings of Bijapur in order to establish a safe land and naval base, which will help them in their trade of spices. History records that local king Timayya had instigated Albuequerque on this attack. The Portuguese lost control of Goa for a brief period in 1508 but soon regained control in 1510.

Early Occupiers of the Land
The Portuguese were not the only invaders of peace loving people of Goa. The Portuguese bought Christianity into Goa. There were conversions from Hindus and Muslims to Christians. The native Hindus are said to have come from the banks of river Saraswati in Northern India. These Brahmins who ate fish and are known to be subsets of Sarswat Brahmins. Goa was then called "Gomantak" meaning fertile land. It was later on known as Gowapura or Gove, which was renamed as Goa by Portuguese.

Looking back into history, Goa was a part of the Mauryan dynasty. The famous king Ashokaís Feudatories ruled Goa in 3rd century BC. After the decline of the Maurayn Empire, the place came into the hands different Hindu dynasties. They rule for the next 700 years. It became a part of the Delhi Sultanate in 1312 AD. The Muslims had conquered the state from Kadambas. The Kadamba period is known as he first Golden era of Goa. They are credited with the first settlement in "Thorlem Gorem" in mid 11th century. Now this place is called Goa Velha .The Kadambas had strong alliance with neighboring Chalukayas, which protected them from Muslim invasions. Once the Chalukya Empire declined the Muslim got hold of the place. Many People were converted too Muslims during this period and many fled the state fearing persecution.

Christian Missionaries and their contributions
As it's widely known, Sanskrit was language through out India in Vedic Era. It's believed that the whole Konkan region also had Sanskrit as the primary language. Later on Konkani became the language of Konkan and so Goa. But it has to be noted that there was no literature in Konkani till the Christian missionary Fr. Thomas Stephens wrote the "Krista Purana", or story of Christ.

The Christian missionaries especially Jesuits have played an important role in Goa. They had come with the aim of conversions to Christianity, but were surprised to find a Christian minority, which already existed here. These Christians were Baptized and converted by St.Thomas, a disciple of Christ, an early as AD 2nd century. Confrontation with foreign Christians resulted when they imposed their ways of worship on local Christians. The locals had their own worships, which was greatly influenced by the traditional Hindu culture and methods of worship.

Goa in 20th century
The history of Goa will not be complete without mentioning "Conspiracy of Pintos" which was his first ethnic rebellion against the Portuguese. It was after this rebellion the local community was given civic rights as in Lisbon. Portuguese considered Goa as one among he most precious possessions in South Asia. This is evident from the fact that they encouraged marriage of their citizens with local women. But the local people considered this against their interests.

The importance of Goa for Portuguese imperialists can be further substantiated by the fact they brought Goa under direct control of the King of Portugal. They formed a senate in Goa, which was answerable to the Portuguese Government in Lisbon. This was in mid 18th century. When India got independence in 1947, the democratic governments asked for Goa, but were turned down by the Portuguese. After a long wait till 1961, India annexed this colony and made it a Union territory along with Daman and Diu. Later on it was made a state and is now the second smallest state in India in terms of land and fourth in terms population.

This is the land we cultures blend to form one of the most magnificent communities in modern India. Unlike other parts of India which are deeply rooted in Hindu cultural values, Goa can be considered more western. (As is appreciated by people who visit the place.)

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Article by: Macks Maliyakal
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