The Mahabharata Era:
The history of Goa or Gomantak has been woven into seamless mixture of various myths and stories that takes us back into time of Mahabharata. For some the origin of Goa lies when Parshurama; sixth incarnation of Vishnu ordered the sea god Varuna to recede the sea till the point his axe struck after his flung it. Lord Varuna then gave up this piece of land till the banks of River Mandovi and River Zuari to Parshurama and Aryan clan accompanying him. This piece of land came to be known as Konkan of which Goa is a southernmost part of. Another mystical legend is a collection from Krishna’s stories according to which Lord Krishna became fond of the coastal area of Konkan. He then named the area Govapuri (gov: cows) after the cows belonging to the locals.
The settlements of the Saraswat Brahmins:
Photo Credit: GFDL/Drshenoy
Rule of Maurya Empire:
From 3rd century B.C Emperor Ashoka ruled Gomantak for some time as a part of his Maurya dynasty. After him many empires subsequently tried to form their base permanently in Gomantak, prominent among which included Satavahana’s, Chalukya’s, Silhara’s and Kadamba’s in the 11th century. The arrival of the Kadamba dynasty is considered thought to be the first phase of the Golden Age of Goa. The death of their king in 1198 marked the end of their dynasty and finally the arrival of the Muslims.
The arrival of the Muslim Bahamani’s brought in mayhem as they destroyed temples, looted wealth and murdered priests. Due to their rule, today no remains have been left behind belonging to the Hindu Rule, except for the Mahadev mandir at Tambdi Surla. Their rule was breached in between when the Vijayanagar Empire arrived in 14-15th century A.D. But they returned back with more power in 1470 as the Muslim Bahamani Kingdom of the Deccan. When the dynasty split up into five parts, Goa was attached to Sultan Yusuf Adil Shah Khan Bijapur territory.
Goa’s Golden Age:
Goa reached its peak culturally and economically by the end of 16th century when it was fondly referred as ‘Lisbon of the East’. Christianity arrived in Goa with St. Francis Xavier and the Jesuits. Such was the Saints impact on the people’s mind that he still is remembered by the Goan’s as the city’s patron saint. The inquisition of Goa saw its attitude toward the Hindus change from being liberal to imposing with more duress given on to promoting Roman Catholicism and converting to Christianity.
Decline of Goa’s Golden Age:
Photo Credit: Creative Commons/Ondřej Žváček