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How Goa got its Name and Why Most Village Names end with -LIM

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

Baga, Calangute, Anjuna, Panjim, Morjim, Benaulim, Cavelossim, Sanquelim, Bambolim, Cansaulim, Cuelim LIM, LIM LIM. What is this deal with Goan villages ending with LIM? is this a trend that only Goa follows or has it come from the previous rulers?

Goa was known by many names through the different kingdoms that ruled the land. It changed and evolved over time. Such as Gomantak, Govepuri, Gopakkapatanam, Gopaka, Goi, Gove. The common factor here is Go which is believed to have been dedicated to the 'Gou Matha' that means the mother cow. The cow is deeply revered as a religious symbol by the Hindu culture in India. There is a legend that says it was the Portuguese who named their colony 'Goa' and it was inspired by their capital Lisbon which is pronounced 'Lisboa'.

Mangroves in Goa

Like many of the stories tied to Goa and its culture, here is another fun story of why so many Goan places end with LIM, LEM or IM. This goes back to the background of the ruling powers that Goa saw through the centuries. The first recorded capital is Chandor in South Goa and the dynasty was the Kadambas. This dynasty is from Karnataka. Then came the Bahamanis who were again from Karnataka. The major language spoken in Karnataka is Kannada. Just like you have villages in Goa such as Assagao, Saligao, Madgao and so on. Gao means a village in Konkani, Hindi and Marathi. Very similarly some of the villages in Goa adopted the same idea but instead of Gao, Halli was the word that followed. If you have been to cities like Bangalore and have noticed some of the local names you would find this suffix which means Village. Example: Devanahalli, Marathahalli, Bomanhalli etc

Benaulim beach in Goa
Benaulim Beach called Banauli by the Locals

Historians believe that the case was same in Goa. Some villages had halli suffixed to their names. Benaulim for example came from "Bana-Halli" which means bow in Hindi. This legend is related to Lord Parshuram in Hindu Mythology of how Goa came into being. When the ruling power changed hands, so did the language. The Portuguese first captured Tiswadi in the first conquest and as they acquired other villages, they had trouble pronouncing Halli. So they added a Lim to all of the places and made it simpler to pronounce. Hence we have most of the signboards in Goa even to this day following the same convention. However there is an interesting fact of how Goans pronounce the names. You might think they follow the same signboards and read it as it is.

Cansaulim Railway station
The name of the Village written in Konkani, Hindi and English.

They say that you are an outsider in Goa until you cant live without fish and you are able to pronounce the names of the villages properly. So here are a few examples of how you can begin sounding like a local. Pronounce Candolim as "Kaandholi"; Panjim as Ponje; Cansaulim as Kasavli: Canacona as Kankon; Benaulim as Banauli and so on. One of the hacks you could use to sound less like a stranger is just pronounce the name skipping the M at the end. If you can read the Devnagri script, you can read the Konkani version of the place names and it will be as authentic as you can get. There you have it, you can now talk to the Taxi Drivers, Pilots and Rickshaw Drivers insisting that you've been around for a while when haggling over the fare.


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