Baliga is a family name used by the Gaud Saraswats of the Konkan region of India.

The Baliga surname is used by three major families in the Gaud Saraswat Brahmin community: the Bantwal Baliga, Manjeshwar Baliga and Kallianpur Baliga. Their Gotras and Kuldevatas are different. The Manjeshwar Baligas are of Koundinya Gotra and Kallianpur Baligas are of Vachcha Gotra and both worship the deities of Ramanath and Shantheri Kamakshi.

Bantwal Baligas are of Kashyap Gotra and they worship Aryadurga and Damodar as their kuldev (family deities).

Baliga is the written form of the surname but actually in spoken language it is used as Bale or Ballo. (the Double L is actually pronounced as in Tamil or Tamizh) We usually refer to ourselves as Bale, Balo, (Tho Devdas Balo. Iththre Bale ? etc.,)

The earliest documented evidence referring to a Baliga or Ballo can be found in the book "The Goa Inquisition- being A quarter century commemoration study on Inquisition on India" by Ananth K. Priolkar. During the Inquisition of Goa in 1567, soon after the temples in Salcete, had been destroyed a meeting of its inhabitants was convened by Portuguese and they were asked to disclose under oath the information regarding the properties held by the Hindu Temples which had been destroyed. In the list of those who were present in one such meeting there is one Ballo called Naru Ballo. You can search this string "Naru Ballo" in Google Books and get a restircted result desplaying a snippet on this para.

In 1637, at the flourishing rice port par excellence of Basrur (Barcelore in Portuguese Records)in Canara Coast a group of merchants express their unhappiness to the Portuguese Viceroy of Goa through a letter about the problems they face because of the portuguese officials stationed there. And they also warn the viceroy if the problems continue they will leave the port city with their money. 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 Ancient History of South Canara written by Ganapathi Rao Aigal also mentions one Damarsa Bale, among nine other Samasthas (Noblemen) of Bantwal, signing a copper inscription of offering to Sri Bhadra Narasimha Temple of Manjeshwar. This inscription of offering was created in the year 1747 A.D. and its complete text can be found in the above book.

There are families in Goa who use the surname Bale and their Gotra and Kuldev match that of Manjeshwar Baligas.

Some historians claim that the foot soldier with a spear was called Ballo. The soldier Ballo (Baliga) was under the command of the Nayak (Chieftain). The daily requirements of every family for survival, presentations, etc were the responsibility of the Ballo.

Some say that the Bantwal Baligas hail from the Hegde family. Incidentally, the Hegde Family also bears the same Gotra (Kashyap) and Kuldevata (Aryadurga-Damodar).

Well known historian used to jocularly relate the story of how a Hegde hid himself in a banana plantation (‘Bale Thota’) fearing dacoits or others. The name struck as ‘Bale’ (of the Banana Plantation). He claims that the name Bale evolved into Baliga over the years.

I don't subscribe to this amusing story. I have my own strong reasons to disagree with him.

Incidentally, the Hegde Family also bears the same Gotra (Kashyap) and Kuldevata (Aryadurga-Damodar). But then, so do some sections of the Pais, Nayaks and Shenoys.

Now let us look at this possibility: There is a village near Zambaulim in Quepem Taluka of Goa called Balli. Some people hailing from Balli use Ballikar as their surname. For some, it is customary to be identified by the name of one’s place of origin. Some examples are the Bastikars, Bhandarkars and the Katpadikars. It is likely that we assumed the name of Ballikar which could have evolved as Ballika- Balika-Baliga.

Another angle to this issue is connected with a GSB surname in Goa called Pai-Bhale. Since the surname Pai is associated with many sub surnames like Pai-Panandikar, Pai- Angale etc.

Pai-Bhale is also a point to ponder. Pai used to be the general identity of a GSB in earlier days. (Likewise Shenvi use to be the identity of GSBs in the Mumbai Province) Eventually Pai must have been dropped from our surname and Bhale must have struck. The fact that Damarsa Bale was called so further strengthens this point. (In the earliest documented evidence about Bantwal Baligas)

The Baligas of Kallianpur counterparts originally used to spell their name as Balge.