The tiny half of Union Territory of Daman & Diu and earlier a tinier part of Goa, Daman & Diu and still earlier a part of Portuguese colony Estado da India is a faint memory of my childhood. I was born in Goa and remember the horror stories of government servants being transferred to Diu if they misbehaved in Goa. It was considered a punishment posting to a faraway island.
As we enter the island from Kodinar side(north), we immediately realize that the place is a beauty. It is also very neat and clean thanks to the Union Territory administration.
When we mention Diu, we immediately remember the Portuguese. Many people do not know that when the Persian Zoroastrians came to India, their first ship which came from Hormuz made its landfall at Diu in 936 AD, a good five centuries before the Portuguese. They had to leave their land for their faith. Nothing much is left of this part of the history except a couple of buildings on a small hill. The Tower of Silence has survived well or perhaps maintained well.
Following the chronology (but giving a miss to a lot of history in between), we go on to the Portuguese built fort which is the major tourist attraction. Let the pictures speak for themselves as it is a complex piece of architecture and fort design.
It has an outcrop separated from the main fort and is called Pani Kotha. This is at sunrise not sunset.
We move around looking for the tell-tale marks of Portuguese occupation of the place. We find some but not as many as expected. Unlike in Goa, the Portuguese failed to make any impact on the cuisine of Diu, for example. Here are some structures and signs that ring Portuguese bells.
The electricity generation station.
There are three churches, one of which is under renovation and another one is used as a Museum.
The small island of Diu is graced by 5 Lighthouses or objects serving the similar objective. The two major ones are inside the Fort. The third one is in the vicinity on the Pani Kotha. There are two others are at the Vanakbara beach. Shown here in that order. The last two at the mouth of the creek to guide the fishing boats.
Naida Caves. If you ask anyone in Diu about the places to be visited, after the Fort, the most recommended place would be the caves. They are worth a visit. They are not a wet, dark scary place. They are airy, with a lot of light coming in from the top and are very pleasant which is not expected of caves. It is speculated that the caves were formed when the Portuguese cut for stones for building the fort which is not far away. If they did that, I am inclined to think that they cut the stones or slabs skillfully to make another structure under the ground.
Among other things one can have look at is the Sea Shell Museum which is unique. It houses the collection of shells belonging to one individual who has passionately collected them from many parts of the world. Capt. Devjibhai Fulbaria served in merchant navy and has retired for 15 years devoting his time for the Museum. What this labour of love is seriously lacking in is scientific display technique.
There is a tree called Rukhda tree which is claimed to be 400 years old (you will find this kind of claims almost everywhere). It is supposed to be a Baobab tree of Madagascar origin. For me it appears to have too many branches and leaves to be called a Baobab but then I am not the authority.
And then of course there are the beaches. Diu island as well as the portion on the mainland have several beaches. Barring one or two, they are rocky and could be dangerous for swimmers. They have one place which has two beaches within the earshot which would be rare anywhere.
This one is at Vanakbara, the fishing village.
What I found very interesting among the places of Diu is this very unassuming but a place of historical importance.
At Vankabara one can see this small creek with Sarkhadi peninsula on the other side. At one time this small creek formed the boundary between the British and Portuguese empires. Currently, I am told, people cross to the Diu side for a peg or two and then return to the ‘prohibited’ Gujarat.
5th, 6th & 7th September 2016
Posted on 8th September 2016