New Discovery: Basrur Connection?


The port town of Basrur (Barcelore in Portuguese history) near Kundapur in 16th century was a prominent rice port in entire south India. Commodities like Rice, Pepper, Coconut, Coconut Oil and other produces where exported to Arabia, China and Europe. Vijayanagar Kings used to import horses from Arabia thru this port. It was major trading hub in the south dominated by Gaud Saraswath and Jain merchants.


The Portuguese discovered the sea route to India at the end of 15th Century. In 1510 they conquered Goa from the Bijapur Sultan Adil Shah. Gradually the Portuguese extended their activities along the Canara coast. They setup a fort at Kundapur (Lower Barcelore) and also at Gangolli on the mouth of the estuary leading to Basrur to control the trade of Basrur.


The Portuguese were notorious for their malpractices and ill-treatment of the Basrur merchants and their ships. Some of their Captains even damaged the trade of port so much by forcibly taking goods at lower prices. Enraged by the atrocities of the Portuguese the local merchants wrote a letter of protest to the Portuguese viceroy in Goa in the year1637 warning him that they will leave the port town with their money if the situation continues.


This letter provides a clue to our ancestral quest.


This letter was signed by one Narayan Ballo, Shiv Ballo and Damo Ballo among other Saraswath and Jain merchants. This reference can be found in the Book: Studies on Indo Portuguese History by Dr.B.S.Shasthry.


The fact that today there is not even a single family of Baliga or Ballos in not only Basrur but also nearby towns like Kundapur, Gangolli and Koteshwar, indicates the migration of these merchants from Basrur aftermath of this letter.


Where they gone?


Kallianpur and Manjeshwar are the two towns other than Bantwal where families with Baliga surnames are found in large numbers.


But the existence of Shri Damodar Temple in Basrur points towards the possibility of Ballos in Basrur worshipping Shri Damodar as their Kuldev like Bantwal Baligas. One of the merchants in the letter Damo Ballo with his name after Shri Damodar, strengthen this point further. I have visited the temple which is now renovated but evidences shows the temple belongs to the 16th century.


Bantwal, which later become a prominent trade town on the way between Mysore region above the ghats and Mangalore Port on the canara coast, have every possibility of being the chosen town for the migration by these merchants as the other two towns are not trade centres in the history.


So, in my assumption these merchants of Basrur might be our ancestors who came down to Bantwal.


Discussions are invited.