Goa's history stretches back to the 3rd century BC, when it formed part of the Mauryan empire. Later, at the beginning of the Christian era, it was ruled by the Satavahanas of Kolhapur. Control eventually passed on to the Chalukyans of Badami, who ruled from 580 to 750 AD. Goa fell to the Muslims for the first time in 1312, but Harihara I of the Vijayanagar Empire, whose capital was at Hampi, forced the invaders out in 1370. Over the next 100 years, Goa's harbours were important landing places for ships carrying Arabian horses to the Vijayanagar cavalry at Hampi.
Blessed as it is with natural harbours and wide rivers, Goa was the ideal base for the seafaring Portuguese who arrived in 1510. They aimed to control the spice route from the east and had a strong desire to spread Christianity. Jesuit missionaries, led by St Francis Xavier, arrived in 1542. By the middle of the 16th century, Portuguese control had expanded beyond Old Goa to include the provinces of Bardez and Salcete. Goa's golden age came with the eventual ousting of the Turks, who controlled the trade routes across the Indian Ocean, and the resultant fortunes made from the spice trade.
The colony became the seat of the Portuguese Empire of the east, which included various East African port cities, East Timor and Macau. But competition from the British, French and Dutch in the 17th century, combined with Portugal's inability to adequately service its far-flung empire, led to a decline. The Marathas almost vanquished the Portuguese in the late 18th century, and there was a brief occupation by the British during the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. However, the Portuguese clung on till 1961.
Beaches are the most attractive and frequented spots in Goa. In fact, Goa is almost synonymous with beaches. Nearly the entire coastline is dotted with world-class beaches, which acquire their names after the nearby village or locality. Two continuous stretches of beaches - northern and southern stretches - mark the Goan coastline. Kissed by the passionate, azure sea and embraced by the land and shaded by swaying palms, these miles of golden sand sparkling in the sun are the most desired places you can ever love on earth. Rest, sunbathe, forget everything and see the time fleeting by silently.
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