Goa has a very dynamic, exhaustive, and intense history. Dating back to the prehistoric era, despite being the smallest state in Goa, its history can be described as both long and diverse. Vasco De Gama may have been the first European to arrive in Goa with the intention of establishing an eastern maritime route (even though trading activities were going on between Goa and other overseas countries) but life and civilization in Goa was going on since centuries ago. After a long drawn history of colonization and empires, Goa was deemed as an Indian state as late as 1987. Even though very small in size, this western coastal state is replete with evidence of ancient prehistoric settlements. From cave paintings to the now developed multi-cultural aesthetic this beach capital of India has an interesting past that needs to be brought to light more.
Earliest known history of Goa
The earliest origins of Goa can be traced back to its tectonic origins which is 10,000 BC. Some more information about the evidence of human occupation in Goa can also be dated back to the lower Paleolithic age. If you happen to visit Goa you may find some weird or unique rock findings that may seem to stick out from the rest of the rocks. This is indicative of tectonic movements that have prompted these rocks to jut out of the sea surface which had happened a really long time ago. Various fossils and seashells have also been discovered which has helped in depicting the true historical background of this interesting state. As you may already know that Goa is overlined by the Sahyadri hill ranges. Fossilized branches and marine conch shells have been found in the village on the foothills of these hill ranges. With all the available historical sources, it is believed that Goa has risen up from the seabed as a result of tectonic movements.
Kushavati and Shamanic culture of Goa
The very first evidence of the shamanic culture of Goa was uncovered during the 1990s which was in the form of prehistoric engravings. Over 125 different forms of prehistoric paintings were found to be scattered all over the banks of the Kushavati River all along the southeastern bank. For hundreds of years, the rock art in the Kushavati part of Goa was locally known to be prepared by cowherds. However, this went ignored because the people did not know how ancient these were. When it caught the attention of the scientists and with over 10 years of intense analysis they realized that these paintings are much different that the petroglyphs found anywhere else in Goa and in fact they were one of the best ones to exist not just in Goa but in India and probably the rest of Asia as well.
The Kushavati culture was where the people were hunter and gatherers who possessed a deep knowledge of the local resources of Goa like water, plants, fish, game, seasons, natural calamities, and other such things that governed that lives. According to researchers, the Kushavati culture is believed to have existed from 6,000 to 8,000 years ago. Just like every culture the people of Kushavati also had spoken and discussed about the various aspects of human life like death, birth, and illness.
The Formation of Gaumkari and their self-rule
Gaumkari was a village administration in Goa that accepted and overlapped with the local practices of the locals. They jointly owned the land along with the local villagers and had the authority to auction the land off and use the rent for development with the remainder of the rent being distributed among the Gaukars. The main feature of the Gaumkari system was that the village’s preeminent deity’s temple was the central point of all village activities. Gaumkaris were deeply rooted and intensely entwined in Goa long before the constitution of the state of Goa itself. This means that even before any king ruled Goa, the Gaumkari System was already set in place. This village administrative structure which was also known as Gaunponn (in Konkani) always remained despite changes in sovereigns.
Portuguese Rule in Goa
The remnants of Portuguese rule in Goa can be witnessed through their architectural styles, way of life, and even food and some part of their culture. Contrary to popular belief, Vasco Da Gama was just an explorer who was the first one to circumnavigate the last end of the African continent from the Cape of Good Hope to reach Goa, which was never done before. Prior to the arrival of the Portuguese ships, the eastern seas had been dominated by the Chola Empire of the Tamils followed by the Shailendra dynasty successors as well as other Indianized seafaring states of Java and Sumatra. Indian shipbuilding was considered to be high-end genius work however it was all sabotaged by the 15th century in the hands of the Arabs both towards the eastern and western gulf and the red sea.
Life in Goa
The life and times of Goa during that era can be traced back to the sources and mentions by foreign scripts and traveller writings. In 1542, a traveller raved about the architectural wonderment he found in Goa. The heights of Goan prosperity was experienced from 1575 to 1627. It became so popular that one of the early travellers also said that if you have seen Goa you don’t need to see Lisbon. The houses of the rich people were surrounded by palm trees and immaculate gardens. Glass came much later to represent luxury before that the balconies were decorated with seashells and latticework. The main street of Goa had a different story to tell, it was that part of the state where African and Indian slaves were auctioned off to traders. Almost every manual labour was performed by slaves. In 1583, the Catholics faced the cuncolim revolt. The first massacre led to the Kshatriya villagers killing 5 priests and a couple of native Christians. In retaliation, the Portuguese authorities destroyed the orchards and attacked the Hindu villagers. Finally, it all culminated into the fact that those Hindus who did not wish to convert to Christians had to leave their village and hometown and move to a new place where their religion was much tolerant.