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Over 520 yrs ago today, Vasco da Gama landed in India: Here's how he discovered the country
On May 17, 1498, Vasco da Gama became the first European to land in India.
Born around 1460, Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese nobleman sailed from Lisbon on July 8, 1497, and arrived at Kozhikode (then Calicut) on May 20, 1498. As many as 523 years ago, Vasco da Gama completed the first European voyage to India.
During his journey, Da Gama stopped in Mozambique, Mombasa and Malindi. It was due to this voyage that all water-trade route opened between Europe and Asia.
Da Gama was not the first person who started out in search of India - a fabled land of spices and riches. Many sailors before him set out to discover India but none of them succeeded.
Christopher Columbus started his voyage in 1492, five years after Da Gama as he wanted to discover the sea route to India but his journey took him to America.
During his voyage, Da Gama's fleet reached the coast of Natal on Christmas Day. By crossing various rivers, the fleet headed towards Mozambique. On its way to Mozambique, the fleet took rest at one place, where they stayed for a month. On March 2, the fleet reached the Island of Mozambique.
In Mozambique, Da Gama learned about their trade with the Arabs and found four vessels of gold, silver and spices on the port. The vessels reassured Da Gama that he was headed towards India, his final destination. On April 7, 1598, the fleet reached Mombasa (now Kenya) where Da Gama met a Gujarati pilot.
Vasco da Gama took the pilot aboard and after a 20-day journey across the Indian Ocean, he could spot India. On May 17, 1498, Vasco da Gama became the first European to land in India.
Da Gama returned to Portugal with spices and silk. A celebrated sailor, Da Gama was sent back on a voyage to India by the king of Portugal in 1502-1503. He died in 1524 when he was on his third journey to India.