Portuguese’s Contribution to India

Portuguese, a Romance language, was brought to India by Portuguese invaders and traders in the 16th century. Along India’s western and southern coasts, the Portuguese built many forts and colonies, including Goa, Daman, and Diu, as well as areas in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Portuguese had a profound impact on the culture and language of these locations as a result of their stay there. However, the usage of Portuguese as a spoken language has significantly decreased since the fall of the Portuguese empire in India. Today, Goa and other areas of western India are home to a tiny community of Portuguese speakers. In this article, we will learn about Portuguese’s Contribution to India

Historical Background

The Arabs were the first known travelers to arrive on Indian soil in the seventh century. They primarily traded spices and other luxuries with India’s coastal areas. As early as the second century BC, the Chinese maintained communication with India through the Silk Road trading routes. Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese navigator, landed at Calicut (now Kozhikode) in 1498, making him the first European to enter India by sea in the early 15th century. He created the first Portuguese commercial base in India and pioneered the maritime route connecting Europe and India. Up until the 17th century, Portugal colonized and traded in India for a considerable amount of time.

The Portuguese faced competition from the Dutch, French, and British for commerce and hegemony over the continent when these European nations also built colonies in India.

Advantages to Portuguese

There were several advantages for the Portuguese in India:

  1. Control of commercial routes: As the first Europeans to arrive in India by sea, the Portuguese were able to exercise control over the trade routes between Europe and India. They were successful in establishing a monopoly in the trading of expensive items like spices, which were in high demand in Europe.
  2. Military edge: The Portuguese enjoyed a military edge over the regional powers in India thanks to their sophisticated naval technology, which included the employment of cannons and carracks. They were able to build and keep control of their colonies and trading sites because of this.
  3. Political advantage: The Portuguese were able to make alliances with regional tyrants and seize control of important ports and commercial hubs, which gave them the power to regulate the movement of people, products, and information.
  4. Cultural benefit: Portuguese culture and language had a significant influence on Indian culture. They brought new cuisine, tunes, dancing, and artwork to India. They also established churches and cathedrals in India and spread Christianity there.
  5. Economic advantage: The Portuguese were able to create a successful trading network in India, which benefited the Portuguese empire financially.

It’s important to remember that the Portuguese’s superiority over the indigenous people led to exploitation, forced conversion, and cultural repression. 

Pedro Alvares Carbral contribution in India

The Portuguese explorer Pedro Lázaro Cabral is most recognized for heading the voyage that found Brazil in 1500. He set off for India in 1501, commanding a fleet of 13 ships that arrived in Calicut (now Kozhikode) on the west coast of India in May 1501. After Vasco da Gama, who made his way to India in 1498, he was the second European explorer to travel there by water.

Cabral did not make a substantial contribution to the colonization or exploration of India. His primary objective was to forge economic ties with the Indian countries, particularly with the King of Calicut.

However, a battle with the local king and traders shortly after his arrival in India caused the Portuguese fleet to be destroyed and cost many lives.

With just four ships and little spice, Cabral returned to Portugal in 1501, which was not a big success for the Portuguese throne. The Portuguese would only completely establish commerce and colonization in India with the arrival of Afonso de Albuquerque in 1503. His expedition to India was more of a diplomatic mission to forge a pact with the local monarch, but it failed.

Francisco de Almeida’s Contribution to India

From 1505 until 1509, Francisco de Almeida, a Portuguese explorer, and nobleman presided as the first governor of Portuguese India. He was chosen by King Manuel I of Portugal to create and run the Portuguese colonies in India as well as guard the trade routes from rivalry with other European nations.

Almeida made many contributions to the foundation of the Portuguese kingdom in India while serving as governor. A few of the major contributions include:

  1. He built a series of vital forts along India’s western coast, notably those in the Portuguese military and commercial hubs of Cochin, Cannanore, and Quilon.
  2. He built a fleet of ships and trained sailors, establishing a powerful naval presence in the Indian Ocean. The Portuguese were able to dominate the maritime lanes and safeguard their commercial interests as a result.
  3. He developed cordial ties with many local leaders, which aided in ensuring the safety of the Portuguese colonies and trading outposts.
  4. He led several military operations against Indian and Arab commerce and kingdoms, establishing Portuguese authority in the area.
  5. He also founded the first Portuguese commercial ports in East Africa, which aided in the development of a direct maritime route connecting Europe and the East African coast.
  6. He laid the groundwork for the Portuguese empire’s future naval and territorial expansion and formalized the Portuguese Armadas.

In conclusion, Francisco de Almeida’s military and diplomatic endeavors were crucial in the founding and administration of the Portuguese empire in India.

Afonso de Albuquerque

From 1509 until 1515, Portuguese explorer and nobleman Afonso de Albuquerque presided as the second governor of Portuguese India. He is renowned for his tactical and military brilliance and is considered one of the most important figures in the history of the Portuguese empire in India.

A few of his most notable accomplishments during the Portuguese occupation of India include:

  1. Goa was conquered in 1510 by Albuquerque, who successfully led a military operation to seize control of the important trading and commercial center. Because they were the dominant force in the region, the Portuguese were able to dominate the trade routes to the east. 
  2. Albuquerque established a significant Portuguese presence in the Indian Ocean and built up a powerful navy. By acquiring significant ports and establishing a network of bases and trading stations along the coast, the Portuguese were able to control the sea lanes and protect their commercial interests. His ability to establish relationships with local rulers and kingdoms helped secure Portuguese colonies and commercial operations.
  3. Diplomatic prowess. Albuquerque’s efforts led to the expansion of the Portuguese Empire, and he constructed and cemented the Portuguese victories in Southeast Asia and India, notably the conquest of Malacca, an important commercial center in the region. 
  4. Establishment of a powerful administration: Albuquerque also established powerful civil and military administrations in the Portuguese colonies in India, which helped maintain peace and order in the colony.
  5. Effect on local culture: By bringing new foods, music, dance, and visual arts, Albuquerque had a significant influence on the language and culture of India.

To sum up, Afonso de Albuquerque made a substantial contribution to the establishment and expansion of the Portuguese empire in India through his military might, diplomatic skills, and administrative abilities. He is recognized as one of the most important figures in the history of the Portuguese empire in India.


In conclusion, the Portuguese were among the first Europeans to explore and create colonies in India, beginning with Vasco da Gama’s journey in 1498. Because of the efforts of explorers and governors such as Pedro Alvarez Cabral, Francisco de Almeida, and Afonso de Albuquerque, they had a sizable presence in India during the 16th century. They erected several significant forts, controlled trade, and marine routes, and joined forces with local rulers. However, their arrival in India also led to conflicts with the local kings and traders, and their attempts to seize control of India were marked by both successes and failures. 

Afonso de Albuquerque is recognized as one of the most important figures in the history of the Portuguese empire in India because of his military successes, diplomatic skills, and management abilities. An important role was played by him in the establishment and expansion of the Portuguese empire in India. With the capture of Malacca, an important economic center in the region, he increased and consolidated the Portuguese influence in Southeast Asia and India. Additionally, he established strong civil and military administrations in the Portuguese colonies in India, contributing to the stability and order of the province. 

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