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The Quirky story of Goa's Capital Cities

For a regular tourist that visits Goa, one would know for sure that Panjim is Goa's state capital. It is true and has been for the past few centuries. What about the times before? Was Panjim the capital of Goa from the start? You would be surprised that Goa has 4 recorded capitals in its history and each has a story of its own.

First Capital of Goa Chandor
The First Recorded Capital of Goa

Goa as we know it now did not have the same boundary from the start. It had a fluid boundary that varied right from Vengurla in Maharashtra to Karwar in Karnataka. The boundaries varied depending on who ruled and their state of unperturbed power. The current boundary of Goa is defined based on the area that the Portuguese finally colonized. Even this boundary took its due course as multiple battles took place between the Portuguese and local rulers. In the earlier days capitals of kingdoms would be defined based on the settlements. These settlements would be found wherever the natural conditions permitted humanity to flourish. Usually that would mean availability of fresh drinking water, fertile soil and a peaceful environment. In Goa the Bhojyas, Silaharas and finally the Kadamba dynasty established Chandor or Chandrapura along the banks of the Kushavati river which is now in South Goa. The Kushavati is a tributary of the mighty Zuari River and aided in a lot of trade at the time. Eventually the river began to silt and the capital had to be relocated.

Gopakkapatana Port
Ruins of the Glorious Gopakapattana Port

The Kadamba Dynasty then moved their capital to a place they called Gopakapattanam. Currently within the perimeter of Agassaim, Pilar, Goa Velha along the Zuari River. It had one of the longest ports in India and some people believe it could dock 200 ships. The Zuari river then began silting. The location of where the port formerly stood is now a beach that is forming on top of the age old laterite structures. It is a capital that is lesser known of and has literally been forgotten after the next capital was established by the Muslim rulers.

Ruins of St Augustine Old Goa
Ruins of one of the Tallest Churches in Goa

The Yusuf Adil Khan also known as Hidalcao by the Portuguese established Ella or Ellapuri as his capital in the Bahamani ruled Goa. It stands at a location we now call Old Goa. Trade took place through the river Mandovi and continued even as the Portuguese first attacked and took over this capital. Then onwards it came to be known as Cidade De Goa or the City of Goa. The massive monuments that have survived to this day speak of the the glorious days it once had as the Capital City. There was a fortified wall around the whole city with only 7 gateways that one could enter through. The administration center, religious center as well as the education center was in one place. Unfortunately, a plague struck the city and people began dying by the hundreds. Bouts of Cholera, Malaria and other epidemics spread through the city and then it was abandoned bit by bit.

Panjim Church
Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception

This finally led to the capital being shifted to what we now call Panjim. All the administration moved and this marshland was reclaimed with some of the most beautiful architecture in Goa. Hence we have the Latin Quarter which is a prime example of how the Indo Portuguese architecture looks like. The Portuguese government operated from a structure that is addressed as the Adil Shah Palace. The Indian state government still continued to use the palace until a new establishment came up in Porvorim. It is also interesting to know that Vasco was considered as a potential location to shift the capital but eventually Panjim won the title and it now stands strong for the years to come.


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