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British occupation of Goa?

It is a piece of history forgotten by many, unknown to the rest and remembered by a few. Goa is unique and unique is its history. Much of it is yet to be explored. But general ignorance is making the known redundant. So was Goa ever under British occupation?

During the Napoleonic wars France under Napoléon Bonaparte was pitted against a coalition of European powers by United Kingdom. Portuguese being an ally to UK, requested help in defending Goa from Dutch or French attack. This seemed very much possible at the time because European powers were still expanding in India.

The British responded by sending an army of 10,000. They were posted at strategic locations like Aguada fort, Gasper Dias (Miramar), Carazalem, Dona Paula and Mormugao. They followed it by building huge fortification in these areas (These were subsequently demolished after their departure). There are two distinct phases of the period, from 1797 to 1798 and from 1802 to 1813 (In 1814 Napoléon was exiled to the island of Elba).

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The soldiers who passed away in the state were buried here. Those are the mysterious origins of the British cemetery near the Raj Bhavan (Governor’s official residence) in Dona Paula.

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