The Adil Shah or Adil Khan whom the Portuguese call Hidalcao, in their writings, is an enigmatic figure. He belonged to the royal family of Turkey, which wielded absolute power over the trans-continental Ottoman Empire.


The Ottoman Empire was founded at the end of the thirteenth century in Turkey by Osman, an Oghuz Turk tribal leader. After absorbing most of the middle-eastern Muslim kingdoms, the Ottomans crossed into Europe by 1354 with the conquest of Serbia and the Balkans and thus, it was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans also ended the Eastern Roman Empire (also known as the Byzantine Empire) with the conquest in 1453 of Constantinople by their Emperor, Mehmed II, who, therefore, came to be called the Conqueror.

As long as Constantinople was in the hands of the Byzantines (who were Christians), the Europeans could venture to come by the former Mediterranean Sea – Red Sea – Arabian Sea route to India and the Eastern countries. But now with the fall of Constantinople into the hands of the Muslim Turks, that former route to the East was totally blocked, and the Europeans had to find new ways and means to reach the East. The year 1453 thus became a turning point in the history of the world as it led the Europeans to future discoveries of new continents, oceans and seas.


The above mentioned Mehmed II, Conqueror of Constantinople, was the eldest son of the Ottoman Emperor, Amurath Sultan, also known as Agha Murad II (1421-1451). Under the prevailing custom only one, the eldest male child was to survive his father, so as to avoid any contest for succession to the throne, on the death of the ruler. However a second son was born to the above Amurath Sultan; he was Yusuf Adil Khan1, born in 1443 AD. Being the second son, an order was given for Yusuf to be killed. But he was saved by the stratagem of the Queen-Mother, who liked him very much, and placed some other child in his cradle to be killed in his place. The Queen-Mother then gave a big sum of money to a merchant and got his help to send Yusuf to Persia. Yusuf was educated in Suva, the capital of Persia.


In about 1461 the merchant brought Yusuf to India and sold him as a slave to Muhmad Gawan, the able Minister of the Bahamani Sultanate (see Chapter 7). Yusuf was very clever and intelligent and rose to high positions; soon the Bahamani Sultan, Mohammad Shah III, seeing his qualities, appointed him as the Governor of Bijapur, while the capital of the Bahamani Sultanate was at Bidar.


In 1489-90 AD, Yusuf first rebelled against the Bahamanis and conquered Goa from them. Yusuf declared the independence of Bijapur, from the Bahamanis in 1501 AD, and sought to bring Goa under his direct control. He saw to it that the Muslim city of Ela (Velha-Goa) was well fortified with a strong wall constructed around it.2 A road was laid from the jetty, right up to his palace, which was situated in the compound of the present St. Cajetan’s Church and Pastoral Institute, Old Goa. There is a controversy whether the remains of an entrance stone-arch that exists in the compound, really belongs to Adil Shah’s palace or not as it has some Hindu figurines carved on it. At one time Yusuf is said to have made Ela the principal seat of his Government3.

Yusuf Adil Shah also constructed a beautiful building in Panjim, which was called ‘Palacio de Hidalcao’ (Portuguese name for Adil Khan’s Palace) and which served for several years as the Secretariat of the Portuguese Government as well and, after the liberation of Goa, as also the seat of the Vidhan Sabha (Goa Legislative Assembly), until a new complex was constructed for them in Porvorim.


The Portuguese had by now become a strong maritime power and their sailor Vasco-da-Gama had discovered the new sea-route from Portugal to India by rounding Africa in 1498. Duarte Barbosa, a Portuguese writer, who had visited Goa several times after 1500 AD, depicts the conditions prevailing during the period of Yusuf Adil Khan: “The city of Goa (present Old Goa, Velha Goa) is inhabited by many Moors, respectable men and rich merchants and other gentlemen at arms. It is a place of great trade and merchandize. It has a very good port to which flock many ships from Mecca, Aden, Hormuz, Cambay and the Malabar country4.


Adil Shah’s navy was commanded by a Polish Jew, and when Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa, (as will be seen in Chapter 9), he was promptly converted to Christianity and later achieved great fame as the interpreter Gaspar de Gama.5 It is also known that besides the Turks and Jews, Adil Shah’s navy consisted of sailors / soldiers of various Balkan nationalities as the Croatians, who settled on the outskirts of the city at Gandaulim (S. Bras).

Another writer, Gaspar Correia states that the whole territory of Goa, yielded 300,000 pardaus. A Pardau was a gold coin and ten pardaus were at that time equivalent to one British Pound. This wealth was mainly collected by imposition of tax on the articles of consumption and the import tax on horses from Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and Arabia. There was a tax of 20 Pardaus per horse6. There were shops of different citizens. The goldsmiths of Goa had the high reputation of being the best in India, says Barros the biographer of Albuquerque7.

Yusuf Adil Shah was building a strong navy and, with the help of the Sultans of Gujarat and Egypt, wanted to drive the Portuguese from the Indian waters because with their coming the monopoly of the Muslim trade was totally threatened. Yusuf strengthened his grip over Goa by giving civil and military authority to Hindu Kshatrya landlords, the Dessais. They who were in authority are said to have started the oppression of the other Hindu landlords, especially the Brahmins, which led to the discontent of the latter. Later on, they incited the local population to aid the Portuguese against the Muslim rulers, and thus the door was opened for foreign domination.8 According to Konkanakhyama, a Sanskrit poem written in 1721 AD, which gives an account of Saraswat Brahmins, it is said that Mhad Pai Sardessai from Verna, had written a letter to Timoja, commander of the Vijayanagar army, inviting the Portuguese, who were at that Court, to conquer Goa.9


Afonso de Albuquerque was aiming at the conquest of Hormuz and was proceeding in the direction of the Persian Gulf, when Timoja convinced him of the advantages of attacking Goa. So Afonso de Albuquerque and Timoja attacked Goa on 1st March 1510, and found little resistance.10 Tiswaddi (Ilhas), Bardez, Salcete and Ponda came under Portuguese power. However, within two weeks, Yusuf Adil Shah sent a force of 60,000 soldiers, under the command of Kemal Khan. Khan entered the island of Goa through the Agasaim pass11. Since the then road from Agasaim to Ela passed through Pilar, probably the battle was fought around the Pilar hillock. The result of this battle was that Goa was re-captured by the forces of Yusuf Adil Shah after fighting for two days and all the conquered territory came back under Adil Shahi power.

Figure 66- Bullet

A round bullet with radius of 1 centimetre and another smaller than that with radius 0.5 cm, were found in the Pilar tank, which could have been used in this war. These type of bullets are said to have been used in guns in Goa, for the first time by the Portuguese.


Albuquerque passed the monsoon months at sea and in Anjediva islands, off the coast of Karwar and returned to reconquer Goa islands on 25th November 1510 AD. When the news of this loss of Goa, reached the ears of Yusuf Adil Shah, he died of heart attack on 5th December 1510, and his young son Ismael Adil Shah succeeded him in Bijapur. Ismael sent his troops and made several attempts to drive out the Portuguese from the Goa Island but in vain.12

  2. Pieces of Lattice / Glass
Figure 67- Lattice / Glass

These three pieces of glass (figure 67) belonging to the Kadamba or Adil Shahi period were found in the Pilar Tank. As mentioned in Chapter 5 (Section 7 C), Fr. Heras has taken a lattice window from the Pilar Monastery to his Museum in Bombay.

(ii) Coin of Ibrahim II

Figure 68- Both sides of Ibrahim II’s coin

A coin of Ibrahim II (1580-1627)and some coins of the Adil Shahi dynasty of later periods can also be seen in the Museum. It was collected from the Sanguem area, which continued under the Adil Shahi dynasty till 1696.

(iii) Smoker (Hooka)

Figure 69 – Smoker

Broken pieces of a Hooka ( of the 16th century), used for smoking tobacco or opium were found in the Pilar tank. It is said that opium was introduced in Goa with the coming of the Portuguese.

In the next Chapter, we shall see how the whole of Goa was slowly and gradually absorbed into the Portuguese colonial empire.

1 Salma Ahmed Farooqui, A Comprehensive History of Medieval India: From Twelfth to the Mid-Eighteenth Century, (Dorling Kindersley, 2011), p.174.

2 Ibidem p.85

3 Ferishta: History of the Rise of Mohamedan Power in India, Vol.2, p. 19

4 S. Barbosa, A description of the Coast of East Africa and Malabar in the beginning of the 16th century, p. 74

5 Vivek Menezes, Israel’s long standing Goa connections, article on Times of India, Goa edition, issue 4-7-2017 p. 3

6 Gaspar Correia, Lendas da India, Vol.2, p74

7 Joao de Barros, Decadas da Asia, Liv. 5, pp. 44-47

8 G. A. Pereira, op cit. p. 89

9 G. M. Moraes, Christianity in India, op cit. p 164

10 G.A. Pereira, op cit. p 129

11 Ibid, p. 130-131

12 Ibid p. 134- 140