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

By Balaji

Updated on: February 17th, 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) became the first one to arrive in India. The colonization of the Portuguese prevailed and limited influence beyond their colonies, unlike its English partner. The rule of Portuguese in India is articulated to be within the years 1505 – 1961.

Portuguese in India featured numerous enclaves on India’s western coast during the timeline of India’s independence in 1947, including Goa, the coastal province of Daman and Diu, and the internal district of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Goa is used to refer to the Portuguese Indian territory. In this article, read all the information about Portuguese in India’s history, settlements, invasion, significance, advent, and decline of Portuguese in India.

Table of content

  • 1. Portuguese in India History (1498 – 1961) (more)
  • 2. Portuguese Settlements in India (more)
  • 3. Portuguese Invasion in India (more)
  • 4. Important Events Related to Portuguese Arrival In India (more)
  • 5. Advent of Portuguese in India (more)
  • 6. Significance of Portuguese in India (more)
  • 7. Decline of Portuguese in India (more)
  • 8. Portuguese in India UPSC (more)
  • 9. Portuguese in India UPSC Questions (more)

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 comprehend the chronology of the events that led to treh advent of the Portuguese in India and their decline. Walk through the table that has been elaborated herewith.


Portuguese in India Timeline


Zamorins accepted a seashore created by Vasco-da-Gama at Calicut


Cochin (currently Kochi) had the First Portuguese fort.


The construction of the Second Portuguese fort took place at Cannanore.


Portuguese crushed the combined caravan of Zamorin, Arabs, and Egyptians during the Diu Battle.


Goa got seized from the Sultanate of Bijapur by Alfonso Albuquerque.


The capital of the Portuguese (in India) was Goa.


Noticed the defeat of Diu.


Portuguese Diu was under blocking by the Zamorin of Calicut, Ottomans, the Gujarat Sultanate, and Mamluks of Egypt. It finished with Portuguese decisive success.


Portuguese held Daman.


The Dutch established a spice trade monopoly after displacing the Portuguese in South-East Asia.


English had authority over Surat.


English got control over Bombay.


All forts of Portuguese were lost to the Dutch on the Malabar Coast.


Purchase of Nagar Haveli and Dadra.


The new capital of Portuguese in India was Panjim.


The Portuguese lost their final colony, Goa when the Indian army founded a martial process on unleashing 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 encountered the ruler of Zamorin (Calicut) and got consent to trade from Zamorin even after many disapprovals from the Arab raiders.

  • Vasco da Gama could not pay the patronages’ burdens and expenses for his goods.
  • His men were imprisoned by Zamorin’s officials when the commitments were not disbursed.
  • It outraged Vasco da Gama and forced him to abduct some residents and fishermen.
  • The journey was booming till the Lisbon Portuguese government was involved.
  • 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

The tours of Vasco da Gama and other disputes with the Zamorin Kingdom set the ground for functions on the Malabar coast. Francisco de Almeida was the first ruler who founded his centers in modern-day Cochin.


Important Events Related to Portugese Invasion in India


The second Portuguese governor of the residences in the East was Alfonso de Albuquerque.


Afonso de Albuquerque overthrew the Bijapur sultanate, setting up Goa’s permanent colony with the Vijaynagar Empire’s assistance.


Albuquerque capitulated and joined into a compact with the Zamorin to guard Portuguese stakes in Malabar.


Another colonial occupancy was modern-day Mumbai, which was later offered to the British.

1799 – 1813

The British shortly colonized Goa, during which the last traces of the investigation were eliminated.


The official executive seat and capital of the Portuguese in India was changed to Panjim (Named again as Nova Goa).

Important Events Related to Portuguese Arrival In India

A Portuguese caravan arrived off the shore of Calicut under Marshal Fernão Coutinho with instructions of the Zamorin devastation. The palace of Zamorins was seized, and the metropolis was diminished to leftovers.

  • The native forces rallied and caused the occupied Portuguese to withdraw after injuring Albuquerque.
  • The state became the center of the Portuguese colonial tenancies in India and the seat of the ruler.
  • Portuguese authority was confined to Goa and the territory of Diu and Daman and Goa for the next century.

Advent of Portuguese in India

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

  • Resulting, 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 its English enemy.
  • 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 signaled 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.
  • The Portuguese accustomed to weapons, matchlock troopers, and body armor, landed from ships in Malabar (16th century), illustrating the military invention.
  • They were masters of progressive sea tactics.
  • The Portuguese onshore contributed to the military by creating a system of drilling infantry groups implemented in the 1630s to react to the Dutch force.
  • Goa became a headquarter 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 qualify 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 designated “United Front of Goans’ captured the innocent Dara 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 ultimately stopped with insensitive 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 communities, 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.
  • Portuguese in India Governor 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 connection 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 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, peacefully 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.
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