We read and write so much about Goa and her beauty and culture. From her quaint and picturesque little villages to the towns that are buzzing with life, India’s tiny state packs quite a punch. The beaches along Goa’s coastline are pretty and dotted with shacks, some more than others. Inland, there are lakes and waterfalls and rolling hills. This is all part of Goa’s beauty. On the culture front, we have architecture and art and food and music that the Portuguese gave us. The towns in Goa are a testament to this. We talk so much about Panjim, Old Goa, Margao and even Mapusa but no one seems to make any noise about Vasco da Gama in the Mormugao taluka.
Granted, it may not be one of Goa’s prettier towns but it does have some historical and also economic value.
Who was Vasco da Gama the explorer?
Vasco da Gama,1st Count of Vidigueira was the first European to reach India by sea. He reached Goa on 11 September 1524 but died in Kochi three months later. His remains were eventually returned to Portugal and interred at St Jeronimos monastery.
Vasco da Gama, Goa’s history
Vasco da Gama, Goa was founded in 1543 by the Portuguese. It remained in their hands until Goa ceased to be a Portuguese territory in 1961. The town shares its name with the world-renowned Portuguese explorer who landed in Goa all those years ago. It is the largest town in Goa located in Mormugao taluka. Mormugao is also Goa’s busiest port and an important one for the country. The town is located approximately 30 kilometres from Panjim and 5 kilometres from the Dabolim airport.
The Portuguese constructed a fort at Sada although all you see today are the remnants of the ramparts of the structure. They also lost no time in establishing Vasco da Gama as a port to control the smooth operation of shipping and sailing in the Zuari River.
The port town
Vasco da Gama is also a naval town on account of the base located in Dabolim. INS Hansa is a well known naval base in the state as well as the country. The base shares the Dabolim airport with the state and there has been a lot of controversy over this too.
As a town, Vasco da Gama does not seem to have much aesthetic value. The roads run parallel to each other in interlocking grids. There are two beaches located close to the town; Baina and Bogmalo. Bogmalo beach is the bigger of the two has a few beach shacks and hotels scattered in the vicinity. Baina beach used to be the red-light district in the port town but is now clean and free of this menace. Hollant beach is also a part of Vasco but is very tiny, complete with shells and pebbles underfoot.
Vasco da Gama, Goa’s one well-known feature is the Church of St. Andrews which is approximately 400 years old.
The town has links to the rest of the country by road, air, and sea. Goa’s only airport is located at Dabolim, approximately 5 kilometres from the main city area. This is where most of the tourists visiting Goa, land at, making it a major transport hub.
The port of Mormugao, located approximately 4 kilometres from the town used to be a major shipping zone for the ore taken from Goa’s mines. Now that mining has shut down indefinitely, the port is a lot less busy. Although now the port is being used to move coal to other nations in the world. This has left locals outraged and protesting against it.
Education and Sports in Vasco da Gama
There are a number of educational institutions in Vasco. Being a naval town, some of these are schools run by the Indian Navy.
- The Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani has its second campus in Zuarinagar in Vasco da Gama. The campus offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in engineering and science.
- The Navy Children School, established in 1987 under the aegis of Naval Education Society, is located in Vasco da Gama.
- The city has two Kendriya Vidyalayas, established under the aegis of the Indian Navy. Both are located at Mangor Hill in the Varunapuri compound.
- Mormugao Educational Society’s College of Arts and Commerce, locally known as MES College, is an institution in Zuarinagar, Vasco-da-Gama which provides training in commerce and the arts.
- Mormugao Port Trust also runs three schools at the Primary, Secondary and Higher Secondary levels named Deepvihar.
- New Dawn Ashadeep School is a special school for the physically disabled.
Information credit – Wikipedia and Goa Holiday Homes