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Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer, is credited with discovering the sea-route from Portugal to India. He was known for his sea-faring skills and crafty nature. He facilitated in the establishment of a colony in Kozhikode, in Kerala, which was the first Portuguese colony in India.

Vasco da Gama touched the shores of Kozhikode on May 20, 1498. Though his initial trading was encouraged, he was asked to pay large amounts in tax by the Zamorin, the local ruler. This forced his return to his native country. On his return journey he took with him some spices and Indian hostages, which proved highly profitable for him. This expedition earned him laurels in his homeland. He again returned to India in 1502. This second expedition was however not friendly. Bringing with him 20 armed ships, he attacked numerous Arab ships on the way and later Kozhikode. The Zamorin was forced to sign a treaty with him, which facilitated in the establishment of a Portuguese colony to favor the highly profitable spice trade with Portugal. Vasco da Gama's second expedition earned him laurels which further resulted in his third voyage to India. This time he arrived in India as the Portuguese viceroy. However Vasco da Gama fell victim to an illness, resulting in his death on December 24, 1524. He was buried in St Francis Church in Kochi. His remains were taken 14 year later to Portugal.

[Source all india (131) 28-Feb-05]

Updated on 7th June, 2005

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