Fort Anjediva, built on the Anjadip Island, is off the coast of the Indian state of Karnataka but under the administrative jurisdiction of the Indian state of Goa, was once under Portuguese rule. There are two ancient religious homes in the vicinity of the island; the Church of Our Lady of Springs built in 1505 and the Chapel of St Francis D’Assissi which is in ruins. This is place is known to have rich historical background surrounding it. Both the fort and the church are located in the island of Anjadip.
It covers the area of 1.5 square kilometers (0.58 sq mi) of the island. Anjediva, which means “fifth island” is the largest of an archipelago of five islands (known as the Panchdiva chain of five islands); the other four islands are the Kurnagal, the Mudlingud, the Devgad and the Devragad. Because of its strategic importance in the seafaring route to India and also as a watering destination for ships, a fort was built on this island by the Portuguese to enhance their military presence and control the trade route.
The island was also known as Agiadvipa (clear butter), Angedvpa (some isles), Agadvipa (derivative from goddess Aja) and Adiadvipa (Ancient Island). It was called Aigidias by the Greek geographer Ptolemy. The etymology of Anjediv is also attributed to the name of the local Goddess Ajadurga Devi.
In March 1505, Dom Francisco de Almeida came to India as Portuguese monarch. He had a “Regimento” or mandatory orders to establish four forts in India, which included the fort at Anjadip island, (the other three forts were proposed at Cannanore, Cochin, and Quilon) where seafaring merchant vessels from Greece, Arabia, Egypt, and Portugal would stop for water on their way to and from the East carrying valuable goods from India. The decision to build a fort was decided after when Vasco da Gama had stopped on this island in 1498 on his return from Calicut to Portugal. They discovered that the water was of good quality and a place not only to collect fresh and safe water but would also be a perfect, safe site for docking ships during the south-west monsoon season in India.
Hence, Vasco Da Gama and Gaspar da Gama (a Jewish trader who was converted to Christianity in Cochin) recommended to the King of Portugal to establish a naval fort at Angediva, which eventually could help Portuguese to get control of the neighboring island of Goa. Almeida took up the task of building the fort so seriously that he even declined an invitation from King of Bisnaga (Vijayanagara), a staunchally of the Portuguese. As soon as he landed in Angedipa on 13 September 1505, he started building the fort with enthusiasm.
Construction materials such as timber, cane, palm leaves and lime were readily supplied by the local people. An ancient temple on the island is said to have been demolished to extract stones for use on the fort. During excavations of the foundations for the fort, a stone bearing a Cross was found, which was interpreted to mean that the island was once a habitat of Christians.
Anjediva fort, when it was a Portuguese territory, was used by the Christians and Hindus of the mainland as a refuge during the invasion by the coastal kingdom of Bednore, and by Tipu Sultan.