Goa is a small state located in the West India and is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its western coast. It is India’s smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Panaji is the state’s capital, while Vasco da Gama is the largest city. The historic city of Margao still exhibits the cultural influence of the Portuguese, who first landed in the early 16th century as merchants and conquered it soon thereafter. Goa is a former Portuguese province; the Portuguese overseas territory of Portuguese India existed for about 450 years until it was annexed by India in 1961.
Goa’s history goes back 20,000–30,000 years. The rock art engravings exhibit the earliest traces of human life in India. Upper Paleolithic or Mesolithicrock art engravings have been found on the bank of the river Kushavati atUsgalimal. Petroglyphs, cones, stone-axe, and choppers dating to 10,000 years ago have been found in many places in Goa, such as Kazur, Mauxim, and the Mandovi-Zuari basin. Evidence of Palaeolithic life is seen at Dabolim, Adkon, Shigao, Fatorpa, Arli, Maulinguinim, Diwar, Sanguem, Pilerne, and Aquem-Margaon etc. Difficulty in carbon dating the laterite rock compounds poses a problem for determining the exact time period.
Early Goan society underwent radical changes when Indo-Aryan and Dravidian migrants amalgamated with the aboriginal locals, forming the base of early Goan culture. In the 3rd century BC, Goa was part of the Maurya Empire, ruled by the Buddhist emperor, Ashoka of Magadha. Buddhist monks laid the foundation of Buddhism in Goa. Between the 2nd century BC and the 6th century AD, Goa was ruled by the Bhojas of Goa. Chutus of Karwar also ruled some parts as feudatories of the Satavahanas of Kolhapur (2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD), Western Kshatrapas (around 150 AD), the Abhiras of WesternMaharashtra, Bhojas of the Yadav clans of Gujarat, and the Konkan Mauryas as feudatories of the Kalachuris. The rule later passed to the Chalukyas of Badami, who controlled it between 578 to 753, and later the Rashtrakutas ofMalkhed from 753 to 963. From 765 to 1015, the Southern Silharas of Konkan ruled Goa as the feudatories of the Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas. Over the next few centuries, Goa was successively ruled by the Kadambas as the feudatories of the Chalukyas of Kalyani. They patronised Jainism in Goa.
In 1312, Goa came under the governance of the Delhi Sultanate. The kingdom’s grip on the region was weak, and by 1370 it was forced to surrender it to Harihara I of the Vijayanagara empire. The Vijayanagara monarchs held on to the territory until 1469, when it was appropriated by the Bahmani sultans of Gulbarga. After that dynasty crumbled, the area fell into the hands of the Adil Shahis of Bijapur, who established as their auxiliary capital the city known under the Portuguese as Velha Goa.
In 1510, the Portuguese defeated the ruling Bijapur sultan Yousuf Adil Shah with the help of a local ally, Timayya. They set up a permanent settlement in Velha Goa (or Old Goa). This was the beginning of Portuguese rule in Goa that would last for four and a half centuries, until 1961.
In 1843 the Portuguese moved the capital to Panjim from Velha Goa. By the mid-18th century, Portuguese Goa had expanded to most of the present-day state limits. Simultaneously the Portuguese lost other possessions in India until their borders stabilised and formed the Estado da Índia Portuguesa or State of Portuguese India, of which Goa was the largest territory.
After India gained independence from the British in 1947, India requested that Portuguese territories on the Indian subcontinent be ceded to India. Portugal refused to negotiate on the sovereignty of its Indian enclaves. On 19 December 1961, the Indian Army began military operations with Operation Vijay resulting in the annexation of Goa, Daman and Diu into the Indian union. Goa, along with Daman and Diu, was organized as a centrally administered union territory of India. On 30 May 1987, the union territory was split, and Goa was made India’s twenty-fifth state, with Daman and Diu remaining a union territory.
Goa is visited by large numbers of international and domestic tourists each year for its beaches, places of worship and world heritage architecture. It also has rich flora and fauna, owing to its location on the Western Ghats range, which is classified as a biodiversity hotspot.
Goa has two World Heritage Sites: the Bom Jesus Basilica and churches and convents of Old Goa. The Basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, regarded by many Catholics as the patron saint of Goa (the patron of the Archdiocese of Goa is actually Saint Joseph Vaz). The relics are taken down for veneration and for public viewing, as per the prerogative of the Church in Goa, not every ten or twelve years as popularly thought and propagated. The last exposition was held in 2014. Goa also has the Sanctuary of Saint Joseph Vaz in Sancoale. Pilar monastery which holds novenas of Venerable Padre Agnelo Gustavo de Souza from November 10 to 20 November yearly. There is also a claimed Marian Apparition at the Church of Saints Simon and Jude at Batim Ganxim, near Pilar, where a number of Goans and non resident Goans visit. There is also the statue of the bleeding Jesus on the Crucifix at the Santa Monica Convent in Velha Goa. There are a number of churches (Igorzo), like the Baroque styled Nixkollounk Gorb-Sombhov Saibinnich Igorz (Church of the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception) in Panjim, the Gothic styled Mater Dei (Dêv Matechi Igorz/ Mother of God) church in Saligaoand each church having its own style and heritage, besides Kopelam/ Irmidi (Chapels). The Velhas Conquistas regions are also known for its Goa-Portuguese style architecture. There are many forts in Goa such as Tiracol, Chapora,Corjuem, Aguada, Reis Magos, Nanus, Mormugao, Fort Gaspar Dias and Cabo de Rama.
In many parts of Goa, mansions constructed in the Indo-Portuguese style architecture still stand, though in some villages, most of them are in a dilapidated condition. Fontainhas in Panaji has been declared a cultural quarter, showcasing the life, architecture and culture of Goa. Some influences from the Portuguese era are visible in some of Goa’s temples, notably the Shanta Durga Temple, the Mangueshi Temple and the Mahalasa Temple, although after 1961, many of these were demolished and reconstructed in the indigenous Indian style.