03 May 2010

Vintage Postcards from Portugal..


Portugal Postal cards commemorating 400TH ANNIVERSARY of discovery of the sea route to India by Europeans in 1498

All the Portuguese colonies, including India released cards for the 400th Anniversary of Vasco-da Gama's landing on the shores of Calicut, on May 18th 1498.The other colonies are Angola, Mozambique, Timor, Cape Verde Islands, Macao, St Thome Principe,Madeira.



From thematic angle, a part of Maritime history, India had trade relations with the middle east and, therefore on wards to Europe through Venice and Florence in the Mediterranean coast from ages. During the 15th century the Turks occupied most of Middle east and demanded tax for all the trade passing through their territory.


The Venetians were hurt badly and looked towards Spain and Portugal both sea faring countries to provide an alternate route.Spain, as result of a treaty declared by the Pope of Rome, tried to explore the Western lands whilst it was left to the Portuguese to discover routes towards the Eastern side. Both were in search of the golden land called INDIES (India).



Prince Henry the navigator from Portugal began a tradition of expeditions on sea , which first explored the Western coast of Africa, reached the "Cape of Good Hope",in the 1480s which was earlier called "Cape of Storms" due to the rough seas around,but its discovery marked the beginning of hope to find a sea route to India. A voyage to India from Europe to India via Cape of Good Hope, in South Africa would take 6 months, with many dieing, enroute,due to a disease called scurvy. Vasco da-Gama's discovery of the sea route to India was thus an epic event in the maritime history of the world.





During the 500th Anniversary of this event in 1998, the Portuguese colonies commemorated the event with beautiful stamps and other philatelic elements, but state of Goa prevented the INDIA POST from bringing out even a stamp. Perhaps the occupation of Goa by the Portuguese and their treatment of the local population during their rule in India led to this protest of a philatelic boycott of this epic event.

Courtesy – Cdr UN Acharya , Bangalore - Naval Philatelic Society of India

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