SHIPS FROM EUROPE
You have read that long, long ago Indian ships sailed as far as Egypt on one side and China on the other, and traded with many countries. Ships of foreign nations, particular of the Arabs, sailed along our western coast.
Travellers carried back to their countries stories of the great riches of India. An Italian went back and told his people that Indian muslins were as fine as the web of a spider, and the spices such that even a king would want to taste them again and again. Traders from many countries longed to come to India, but it was a very difficult and expensive business to come by land. If only we could reach India in a sailing ship! they all said to themselves. Many tried, but failed. Then a man called Christopher Columbus set out with three sailing ships in search of India. Instead he discovered America!
At last, a sailor found the sea route to India. He belonged to a small country in Europe called Portugal and his name was Vasco da Gama. Vasco da Gama sailed round Africa and reached India. He stayed for six months. He returned home with his ships full of spices and other rare things that he had bought in India. After this, many other Portuguese ships came to India. Then the Portuguese soldiers and sailors seized a place called Goa on the west coast. This happened nearly 400 years ago. While the British and the French, who came later, have given up their possessions in India, Goa is still not free and is retained by Portugal.
The Portuguese bought pepper and ginger from Malabar and sold it in Europe. They also carried on a brisk trade with the rich kingdom of Vijayanagar of which you already know something. They made such large profits that many other countries of Europe wanted to do the same.
Traders from Holland were the first to follow their example. The Portuguese did not like this and there was much fighting between the two. But the Dutch were stronger and drove the Portuguese from many of their settlements.
After the Dutch came the Danes. Then came the English and the French. Since they all wanted the same thing trade with India each wanted to have the field all to themselves.
The English proved the strongest of all and drove out all the other Europeans. Slowly, from traders they became rulers of India.