History of Goa

The history of Goa is much shrouded in mystery. When the Hindu epic Mahabharata was written in the later Vedic period (c.1000-500 BC), Goa was referred to "Gomantak" (a Sanskrit word having many meanings, two of them being 'fertile land' and 'land of the Gods').

One legend has it that the mythical sage Parashuram - who was the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu - created the entire stretch of Konkan coast, several thousand years ago, by ordering the seas to recede. The entire community of the warrior tribe Kshatriyas was eradicated by Parashuram. He then gifted the land that was captured Kashyapmuni - a sage. The Kshatriya annihilation left the land unadministered; thus leading to lawlessness and turmoil. As a result, the anxious sage Kashyapmuni, requested Parashuram to leave and settle in a different place. So Parashuram, in obedience to Kashyapmuni, recovered land from the sea by ordering the sea to go back - he is believed to have shot an arrow from the top of the Western Ghats into the sea; the distance covered by the arrow indicated the amount of land to be given up by the sea god. The location where the arrow is said to have landed was called "Bannali" (Sanskrit for 'where the arrow landed'; Bann: arrow, ali: village). Today the place is better known as Benaulim. Legend has it that the land surrendered by the Sea God lies on the banks of the two main rivers: Gomati and Asghanasini - now known in Goa as Mandovi and Zuari.

Another legend has it that the beautiful ladies of the Konkan region enthralled Lord Krishna when he saw them bathing in the coastal area. The ladies in their turn were drawn to the music generated by his flute, that they were entranced and kept dancing. Lord Krishna, christened the place "Govapuri" after the cows ('gov') belonging to the locals.

The first settlers of Goa were the Brahmins who were called Saraswats. They were originally residents of the land lying on banks of the River Saraswati; hence the name. Following the drying up of the river, an exodus of Brahmins took place to all corners of India.