marmagao-fort

Mormugao is a sub-district and a municipal council in South Goa district in the Indian state of Goa. It is Goa’s main port. It was featured in the 1980 film The Sea Wolves and the Bollywood film Bhootnath.

Mormugão is located at 15.25°N 73.98°E. It has an average elevation of 2 metres (7 feet).

As of 2001 India census, Mormugão had a population of 97,085. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Mormugão has an average literacy rate of 75%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 80%, and female literacy is 70%. In Mormugão, 11% of the population is under 6 years of age.

When the Portuguese colonised part of Goa in the sixteenth century, they based their operations in the central district of Tiswadi, notably in the international emporium ‘City of Goa’, now Old Goa. As threats to their maritime supremacy increased, they built forts on various hillocks, especially along the coast. In 1624, they began to build their fortified town on the headland overlooking Mormugão harbour.

The sultans of Bijapur, who had colonised Goa before the Portuguese, did not give up easily. There were several invasions. From the sea came the Dutch, who eventually took over from the Portuguese most of the coastal settlements: the Moluccas, Batticaloa, Trincomali, Galle, Malacca, Manar, Jaffna, Quilon, Cochin and Cannanore. From 1640 to 1643, the Dutch tried their best to capture Mormugão but were finally driven away.

In 1683, the Portuguese in Goa were in grave danger from the Marathas. Almost certain defeat was averted when Sambhaji suddenly lifted siege and rushed to defend his own kingdom from the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The narrow escape, no less than the decline of the City of Goa, convinced the Portuguese viceroy, Dom Francisco de Távora, that he should shift the capital of the Portuguese holdings in India to Mormugão’s formidable fortress.

In 1685, the new city’s principal edifices were under construction, with the Jesuit priest Father Teotónio Rebelo in charge. The Jesuit architects made a consistent effort to avoid the ornate style of the time. The austere viceregal palace still stands, having been used, after its short stint as a palace, in various capacities, including as the hotel which housed the British agents who in 1943 destroyed German ships anchored in Mormugão’s neutral waters. Viceroys after Távora found Mormugão too secluded for their liking. The administrative headquarters were moved to the new city of Panjim, which is till today Goa’s chief city.

Ever since it was accorded the status of a Major Port in 1963, the Mormugão port has contributed immensely to growth of maritime trade in India. It is the leading iron ore exporting port of India with an annual throughput of around 27.33 million tonnes of iron ore traffic.

Mormugão has many schools of repute which provides quality education to the residents in and around Vasco-da-Gama. Murgaon Education Society was established in 1971 with the noble goal of providing educational facilities at Vasco-da-Gama and in other parts of Murgaon Taluka. Mormugao Educational Society’s College of Arts and Commerce locally known as MES College is a famous institution situated in Zuarinagar, which provides higher education in Arts and Commerce.