Though the Portuguese conquered Old Goa on November 25, 1510, their rule was confined to Tiswadi, Bardez and Salcete for over 200 years. They could annex only seven more talukas in the 18th century.
“It was only in 1543 that they took over Bardez and Salcete through an agreement with Muslim rulers, after extending their jurisdiction to other parts of Tiswadi and adjoining islands,” says Percival Noronha of the Indian Heritage Society. At that time, Mormugao was part of Salcete. “In 1917, the Portuguese separated Mormugao,” he adds.
The conquest of the other seven talukas started with the tide turning in favour of the Portuguese. They got Ponda on May 31, 1763; a month later, on June 1, 1763, they bagged Canacona, and in the same year they got the remaining two talukas of Sanguem and Quepem from the King of Sunda.
Bicholim was added on August 25, 1781, and a month later, Sattari, with due guarantee to the people of protecting their rights and religion. Two years later, on May 15, 1783, Pernem was added to what was then called Portuguese Estado da India, following an agreement with the King of Sawantwadi who held sway over these three talukas.
The Sonda king signed a treaty with the Portuguese in 1764, compelled by Hyder Ali’s attacks, which helped the Portuguese confirm their annexure of the four talukas of Ponda, Quepem, Sanguem and Canacona in lieu of payment of an annual stipend to the Sondekars.
Interestingly, what may be talukas today, were earlier designated as provinces. The province of Ponda or Antruj had 28 villages when the Portuguese took over and Queula, a village on the south-eastern end of the taluka, was its capital.
The only district under the Sondekars was Zambaulim or Panchmal, as it had five provinces. The first province, Astraghar, comprised of 18 villages, including most areas of the present Sanguem (51 villages) with Rivona as the capital. The other province, Embarbarcem, comprised 38 villages, including Surla, Oxel and Sancorda. The province had nine torofos. Balli, with 27 villages and divided into four torofos, was the third province, while Cacora was considered an incomplete province as it was small. Chandravadi province was part of Quepem.
The province of Canacona, with a same-name capital, had seven villages. Cabo de Rama village was called a jurisdiction, with Cola or Khola as its capital.