Portuguese in India – History, Significance, Advent, Decline of Portuguese in India

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Portuguese in India or Portuguese state in India or Estado Português da Índia belonging to the Portuguese Empire was an Indian state within the Subcontinent that was colonized. The Portuguese were the earliest Europeans who came to India and the final ones to depart. In 1498, Vasco De Gama (Portuguese) arrived in India via the sea. The Portuguese ruled portions of India from 1505 to 1961 (when Goa was liberated by the Indian forces).

In this article, get all the information about the Portuguese in India’s history, settlements, invasion, significance, advent, and subsequent decline in India.

Portuguese in India History (1498 – 1961)

Below are the sequential events that contributed to Portuguese history in India from 1498 to 1961. The candidates must understand the chronology of the events that led to the advent of the Portuguese in India and their decline.

Year Portuguese in India Timeline
1498 Vasco-da-Gama arrived at Calicut
1503 Cochin (currently Kochi) had the first Portuguese fort (Fort Emmanuel).
1505 The construction of the second Portuguese fort took place at Cannanore.
1509 Portuguese crushed the combined caravan of the Zamorin, the Arabs, and the Egyptians during the Battle of Diu.
1510 Goa was seized from the Sultanate of Bijapur by Afonso Albuquerque.
1530 The capital of the Portuguese (in India) was Goa.
1538 Seige of Diu.
1539 Portuguese Diu was under blockade by the Zamorin of Calicut, Ottomans, the Gujarat Sultanate, and Mamluks of Egypt. It finished with a Portuguese decisive success.
1559 Portuguese gets Daman officially although they had held it since 1531.
1596 The Dutch established a spice trade monopoly after displacing the Portuguese in South-East Asia.
1612 English had authority over Surat. Had their first factory there.
1661 English got control over Bombay.
1663 All forts of Portuguese were lost to the Dutch on the Malabar Coast.
1779 Purchase of Nagar Haveli and Dadra.
1843 The new capital of Portuguese in India was Panjim.
1961 The Portuguese lost their final colony, Goa when the Indian Army liberated it.

Portuguese Settlements in India

Portuguese arrival in India and their colonialism started on May 20, 1498, when Vasco da Gama reached Calicut on the Malabar Coast. He met the Zamorin of Calicut and obtained his permission to trade, despite protests by the Arab merchants who were already established traders in the region.

  • The relation between the Zamorin and Vasco da Gama was strained very early on because of da Gama’s refusal to pay the routine customs duties.
  • The profit from the voyage was far more than the initial investment, and there was a discovery of sea passage avoiding the Ottoman Empire.

Portuguese Invasion in India

Further conflict with the Zamorin Kingdom and expeditions of Vasco da Gama established a base of operations on the Malabar coast for the Portuguese. The first viceroy Francisco de Almeida established his headquarters in what would become modern day Cochin.

Year Important Events Related to Portugese Invasion in India
1509 The second Portuguese governor of the residences in the East was Afonso de Albuquerque.
1510 Afonso de Albuquerque overthrew the Bijapur sultanate, setting up Goa’s permanent colony with the Vijaynagara Empire’s assistance.
1513 Albuquerque capitulated and entered into a pact with the Zamorin to guard Portuguese stakes in Malabar.
1661 Another colonial occupancy was modern-day Mumbai, which was later offered to the British.
1799 – 1813 The British shortly colonized Goa.
1843 The official executive seat and capital of the Portuguese in India was changed to Panjim (Named again as Nova Goa).

Advent of Portuguese in India

With its inquiry spirit, the Renaissance movement gripped Europe in the fifteenth century. Europe made notable progress in shipbuilding and navigation during this period.

  • As a result, there was a tremendous urge across Europe for adventurous naval journeys into the unknown countries of the East.
  • The Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach India and the last to leave the country.
  • The Portuguese State of India was a Portuguese colonial state in India.
  • Vasco De Gama was the first Portuguese to arrive in India in 1498.
  • The rule of the Portuguese in India was between 1505 and 1961.
  • Portuguese colonization had less influence beyond its borderlands though it outlived English colonization.
  • Under the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), the rulers of Spain and Portugal split the non-Christian world in 1497 by a mythical line in the Atlantic, extending some 1,300 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands.
  • As per the contract, Portugal could inhabit the East of the line, whereas Spain could settle and colonize everything on the west.
  • As an outcome, the stage was designed for Portuguese attacks into the Indian Ocean.

Significance of Portuguese in India

According to many historians, the Portuguese arrival signalled the commencement of the European age and led to the growth of marine administration.

  • For example, the Cholas stood as a maritime force, but a foreign power arrived in India by water for the first time.
  • The initial approach towards assuring a monopoly over the business included arming the Portuguese yachts with guns for threats.
  • They were masters of progressive sea tactics.
  • The Portuguese onshore tactics contributed to the military by creating a system of drilling infantry groups implemented in the 1630s to counter the Dutch force.
  • Goa became a centre of intricate latticework, stewed greenery work, and metalwork containing diamonds as the goldsmith and silversmith crafts prospered.
  • The interiors of churches constructed under the Portuguese comprised a lot of woodwork, art, and painted ceilings.
  • Their multi-decked ships were powerfully created to resist Atlantic hurricanes and equipped to bear more weapons.

Decline of Portuguese in India

Even after India’s independence from British rule, the Portuguese controlled their colonial base in India. An organization named the United Front of Goans captured Dadra on July 24, 1954, while Azad Gomantak Dal took Nagar Haveli in August 1954.

  • The International Court of Justice’s judgment at The Hague, which gave access to Portuguese territories in India, was rendered useless.
  • Regional rallies started in opposition to Portuguese rule in Goa but were ultimately checked with brutal force.
  • The Indian Government repeatedly requested the Portuguese Government, under António de Oliveira Salaza’s dictatorship, to hand over its colonial holding. Still, they denied and assured that they played a crucial role in the territory of the Portuguese.
  • The Government of India adopted wait-and-watch tactics from 1951 to 1961. Also, it emphasized the issue of decolonization in front of the global community, along with implementing economic prohibition.
  • The Indian military attacked Goa in December 1961. Against overwhelming probabilities, the Portuguese risked fighting but were defeated by the Army of India.
  • The Portuguese freed Goa after 450 years by signing the Instrument of Surrender on December 19, 1961.
  • Salazar’s Government did not recognize India’s dominance until its decline (1970), after which the relationship between Portugal and India became friendly.

Portuguese in India UPSC

Aspirants should be well-versed in the Portuguese in India UPSC topic as it is an integral part of the UPSC Syllabus. Candidates should cover the entire portion of Portuguese in India, including their history, significance, invasion, settlements, and other important aspects in detail, which can be asked in both the Prelims and Mains sections.

The Portuguese in India form an essential topic for the UPSC exam. Candidates must obtain a rigorous understanding of Portuguese in India UPSC, which will be helpful in Modern History notes preparation for the Civil service exam.

Portuguese in India UPSC Questions

Candidates preparing for UPSC must understand and revise the below Portuguese in India UPSC questions that were asked in the last few years question papers. These crucial questions ought to be studied comprehensively after understanding the topic.

Question: Hooghly was used as a ground for pirating in the Bay of Bengal by:

(a) the Portuguese

(b) the Danish

(c) the British

(d) the French

Answer: (a) – During Shah Jahan’s rule, Qasim Khan, the Governor of Bengal jailed thousands of Portuguese. Hence, the Portuguese utilized Hooghly as a piracy ground in the Bay of Bengal.

Question: When the Portuguese came to India, the foreigners whom they met as trade opponents were the:

(a) English

(b) Arabs

(c) Persians

(d) Dutch

Answer: (b) – The Arabs were the foreigners the Portuguese confronted as trading competitors when they arrived in India.

  • The Portuguese tried to overturn the Arab monopoly on the Indian spice trade.
  • They flourished after repeated conflicts with the Arabs within twenty years of their existence in India.
Important Notes for UPSC
Census 2011 National Highways in India
Commonwealth Games Child Labour
UN Security Council Tirthankara of Jainism
Medieval History of India UPSC Notes Advent of European in India
IRS vs IAS Article 12 of Indian Constitution
Our Apps Playstore
SSC and Bank
Other Exams
GradeStack Learning Pvt. Ltd.Windsor IT Park, Tower - A, 2nd Floor, Sector 125, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201303
Home Practice Test Series Premium