Ever wondered, does Goa have a king? It is true that colonial rule lasted for 450 years but there was a king in Goa. Even when the Portuguese ruled. The kings of this dynasty are known as Raja of Sonda, Saundekar Raja and Rei de Sonda throughout Goa. However, how the family came to Goa? Is an interesting story in itself.
Like many great stories this one too starts with a tragedy. Savaiveer Immodi Sadashiv Rajendra Wodeyar ruled the Kingdom of Sonda. The kingdom consisted area of Sonda district in Karnataka along with talukas of Ponda, Sanguem, Canacona and Quepem in Goa. They had ruled these lands for centuries as vassals for many big powers of Southern India such as the Vijayanagar Empire, the Bijapur Sultanate, the Maratha Empire and later the Kingdom of Mysore.
In 1761, Hyder Ali (father of Tipu Sultan) had just seized power in the Kingdom of Mysore. The reigning Wodeyar dynasty of Mysore was deposed. Their vassals in Sonda, also Wodeyar, were threatened by Hyder Ali’s invasion. In 1763 King Savaiveer gathered his family along with all his treasures and moved into his territory in Goa.
The Raja of Sonda sought assistance from the Portuguese against Hyder Ali. The Portuguese agreed to protect the King in return for his territories of Ponda, Sanguem, Canacona and Quepem. The Raja obliged to the demand. The famous Cabo de Rama fort in Goa was part of this exchange.
The royal family built a palace in Ponda and have ever since resided there. The palace is spread on a 3 acre plot. It houses the Nageshi Temple along with a water tank and a betel nut plantation. The palace is over 250 years old.
King Madhulingnagesh Rajendra Wodeyar currently holds the royal mantle. There are only two known interviews to have been given by him. One was in 2013 while the other seems to be taken in August 2015. From the interviews it seems the current King is very down to earth.
After all the King did give an interview wearing a humble kurta and rubber slippers! It seemed the King was reluctant in giving that interview but was convinced by his mother. He runs a textile business in Belgaum and spends most of his time there.
When the Royal family moved to Goa in 1763, even in great adversity the then King had put a condition to the Portuguese that patronages to local temples should be continued. The Portuguese authorities obliged. Such was the family’s sway.