Why was Vasco da Gama’s journey to India so important?
Spices and other valuable goods from India reached Europe from very ancient times. However, goods from India had to travel a long way through sea and land to reach Europe. Trading merchants had to cross the Arabian and Red Sea, and also an overland route through Central Asia. This took a lot of time and effort, making goods from India highly expensive and rare. When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, the excluded the Europeans from the trade with the East, by closing the old link between Europe and Asia.
Europeans were keen to find an alternate route to India. In 1488 Bartolemeu Diaz, a Portuguese explorer sailed round the Cape of Good Hope, the southern tip of Africa. This important achievement helped in finding a sea-route to India.
In 1497, Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese sailor was chosen by King Manuel I of Portugal to lead an expedition to find a sea route to India. In July 1497, Gama left Lisbon with four ships. He rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and sailed up to Kenya. From there, he crossed the Indian Ocean, and in April 1498, he landed in India at Calicut, Kerala.
Gama’s new trade route helped open trade between Europe and Asia. It also made Portugal a great power in the 16th century.
Many explorers followed the route that Vasco da Gama had discovered. Portuguese trading posts were established in East Africa and on the west coast of India. Goa was Portugalis chief colony in India, and it remained under Portuguese control till the Indian Government took it over in 1961