I visited Diu Island during my 17 days trip of Gujarat. We started from Ahmedabad then went to Little run of Kutch, Bhuj, Great Rann of Kutch, Junagarh, Gir National Park, Somanath and finally ended in Diu before returning to Ahmedabad. It was my second trip to Gujarat, I could not go to Diu during my earlier trip. Diu island is popularly known as Daman and Diu but both Islands though fall under one Union Territory are very far from each other. The driving distance between Diu and Daman is 635 Km.
We kept Diu island in end of our trip before flying back to Delhi from Ahmedabad. We wanted to relax on the beach after traveling for two weeks. We traveled to Diu from Somnath temple town. Diu island is approx 90 Km from Somnath and it is approx 2 hours drive. We checked with Taxi services a day before the travel but they were charging 2200 Rs to drop us to Diu Islands. The price was high because they were calculating for the return journey also. We checked from our hotel in Somnath and guy at reception for traveling to Diu, he told us that there is a bus every 30-40 minutes to Diu island.
We decided to take a bus and arrived at bus stand next day morning for 09.00 AM bus. We waited but there was no sign of bus till 09.20 AM and we started getting restless. A couple of taxi guys also approached us when they saw us waiting for a bus but most of them were asking too much. After some time another guy approached us, he said he can take us for 1000 INR but he has a different vehicle. His price was almost half so we decided to check his vehicle as there was no information about the bus. His vehicle was a combination of autorickshaw and tempo, I noticed that seats were comfortable. We negotiated with him and he agreed to go for 800 INR. On the way, we came to know that he accepted this price because he was from Diu and came to drop a family in Somnath. It was a good deal for him also because otherwise, he has to go empty and with us, he was making some money.The road to Diu was broken in between but overall it was a comfortable journey. We entered into Diu city through Zampa Gateway. This is a big gateway built during Portuguese time, painted in bright red color. There is a city wall along the gate on both sides. There are carvings of lions, angels and a priest on it. We comfortably reached our hotel and checked in.
We have planned to stay for two nights in Diu island but advance booked for one night only because we thought of shifting to some other hotel on the beach. Finally, we didn’t shift as we find there were many food options in town and beaches of Diu get secluded at night. Our hotel was in the town but close to the seashore. We can see the sea from our second-floor room’s balcony. It was a good deal and stayed there both nights.
It was already afternoon so we decided to go for lunch. The main market with shops and restaurants was only 5 minutes walking distance from our hotel. Which was very convenient for us. Every restaurant in Diu island has a big board of beer or wine brand on the front of it. The Diu Island is a big attraction for drinkers as it shares the border with Gujarat which is a dry state and due to this its a favorite drinking hole for Gujarati people. You may not get nonveg food or fishes in a restaurant but you will surely get drinks. We found a restaurant for lunch, which was next to sea road.
After lunch, we decided to visit churches and Museums of Diu Island. All monuments in Diu are close to each other within walking distance in town.
First, we went St Thomas church museum which is now converted into Diu Museum. This church is situated on an elevated platform and made in the Gothic style of architect. The exterior of it is white colored and the facade is almost plain in design. Inside the church’s museum, they have kept old carvings on fossilized wood, shadow clocks, marble statues, sculptures of Jesus and Virgin Mary, antique idols, stone inscriptions, and several artifacts. There were few artifacts in this museum and these can be easily covered within 10-15 minutes. The garden outside church cum museum is very well maintained well considering the state of the main building. There was a row of fountains in front of it, which we came to know operates at night on some special occasions. The person in the church told us that these fountains look very interesting when they operate with light but unfortunately we could not see them operating.
Our last stop for the day was St Paul’s church which is dedicated to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. This church is biggest and only functional church in Diu. The exterior of the church was painted in white color and it was built in baroque architecture style. The design of the church is similar to the Bom Jesus Basilica at Goa but with better workmanship and design.
The interior of the church is one of the most elaborate in Portuguese churches in India and is decorated with intricately carved woodwork. The altar has the statue of St. Mary carved from a single piece of teak wood from Burma (Myanmar). Above the altar, the old paintings and statues are made in a blue and white colored design. The church has local flavor in the design because it is said that Jesuits Portuguese could not find the natives in Diu island so they used Indian artists.
When we went to church they were about to start a special mass and a function on the occasion of a special day (Oops, I forgot the name). My friend is a Catholic Christian and she asked me to attend the mass when she came to know about it. We decided to stay there for mass, for me it was a learning experience and for her, it was an opportunity to participate in a holy mass. We spent 1.30 Hours in church, they sing carols, then there was a holy sermon by the priest and finally a procession by kids dressed in costumes of angels. It was an interesting experience for me.
After attending the mass, we came back to market which was only 5 minutes walking distance. We decided to eat in open area next to seashore, it was pleasantly cool at that time of the day. We ordered fish and vegetables for dinner, which was ok in taste.
It was dark and there was nothing else to do, so returned to our hotel.
For our second day in Diu, we have a planned sightseeing in first half and second half on the beach. We got ready by 07.30 AM and had traditional Gujarati breakfast at one small shop in the market. After breakfast, we walked to Diu fort a few minutes away walking distance away. There was no entry ticket and the fort was open for all. We crossed a small bridge and entered the main gate with an inscription in Portuguese. The bastion at the gate is named St. George and we climbed on it to see the view. From here we saw the Panikotha fort located at distance in the sea. They light it every night.
Diu fort was built by Portuguese in 1535 on the edge of the bay of Khambat. The fort is surrounded by sea on three sides and there are moats around its wall for protection from enemies. Now the fort is in ruins, there are parts of walls, arches, ramps which provide an impressive view of the fort’s original structure. There are gardens and old cannons inside the fort premises. There is a large lighthouse located on a ramp at the end of the fort, it is still in good condition. From here we saw the vast expanse of sea. We walked around in the fort to see different places, there were very few people. Interestingly the jail of Diu is also situated in one part of the fort, we saw it from a distance because the entry for visitors is restricted.
We wanted to visit Naida caves which are next to Diu fort but we have been advised not to visit these alone for security reasons. We were two women and decided not to take chances.
From fort, we came to market and hired an autorickshaw to show us other places on Diu island and then drop us to Nagoa beach.
We almost drove along the sea beach and crossed the Jalandhar beach on the way.
Our first stop was Gangeshwar temple. It was not a temple but a cave converted into the temple. There were 5 shiva lingams next to the sea and waves touch them during the high tide. According to mythological belief, these Shivalingams were installed by Pandavas during exile. There were some people praying at Shivalingams, we also paid our respect and returned to our autorickshaw.
Our next stop was INS Khukri memorial. The memorial was made in the memory of 200 officers and sailors died during 1971 war between India & Pakistan. It is said that the Captain of the ship, Mr. MN Mulla, refused to abandon the ship and opted to go down with the sinking ship. This was the biggest casualty of the war, which India won comfortably. According to the war records, this accident happened due to the negligence of some higher officials. This was a controversial issue and inquiries were conducted against officials. We saw the museum and paid our respect to the soldiers who lost their lives for the country.
There is a semi-circular sitting place near memorial and we were told that this is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Diu.
Our driver stopped in the middle of nowhere while we were driving towards Nagoa beach. He pointed to a round structure on a hill at some distance and told us that this is “Tower of Silence” made by Persian Zoroastrians. The Parsi community came to India from Hormuz in 936 AD and their ship landed on Diu port much before the Portuguese. There is no much left except for the round tower on the hill. This Tower of Silence has survived well and still in good condition. From here we mostly drove along the sea towards Nagoa beach. As we approached the beach, we saw many Hokka Trees on both sides of the road. Hokka is a distinct variety of Palm tree found only in this part of India. It is believed that the seeds of this plant were brought to India by Portuguese people from Africa. These palm trees look different from the common Palm trees.
Finally, we reached Nagoa beach which is the biggest beach on Diu Islands. There are some good resorts on this beach but other then this there was not much. We also saw few shacks on the beach. The beach was not crowded and there were some people on the beach swimming or enjoying water sports. This was the most happening beach in Diu but not crowded. We saw many young and old people drinking beer in shacks. Diu beaches are very popular among beer and alcohol drinkers from the dry state of Gujarat. We spent the relaxed afternoon by the beach and had sea water fish curry for the lunch while watching sea waves. After relaxing at the beach we returned to our hotel on Diu Island.
There is a garden maintained along the sea shore from jetty till Diu fort.
Later same evening we went to the jetty and there were boats full of people going in the sea for the excursion. These were big boats with sitting arrangements on 2 floors with music for entertainment. We were not in the mood for loud music and decided to stay on shore. We returned to our hotel after dinner. There was nothing in Diu in terms of nightlife or party.
On our last day, we went to Ghogla Beach. This beach is close to the Gujarat and Diu border, there were two resorts on this beach. The beach was almost empty except for a family and some fishermen. The park between road and beach was a good place to relax during the day when the sun is harsh. Ther were swings & slides for kids & adults. There was not much to do or see on the beach so we relaxed there for some time before leaving Diu.
We had an evening overnight train from Veraval railway station to Ahmedabad. To catch our train from Veraval we traveled by bus from Diu. When we reached Gujarat border few policeman climbed into our bus and checked few bags randomly for liquor. We came to know that people try to smuggle liquor into Gujarat from Diu. After that brief checking, we had an uneventful journey. We reached an hour before our train.
Few Important things about Diu (Daman and Diu) –
There are direct flights from Mumbai to Diu.
The closest railway station of Veraval in Gujarat is 95 Km.
There are overnight buses from Ahmedabad and other important cities in Gujarat.
On weekend Diu is very crowded and better to book hotel or resort in advance.
There are more beer and wine shops in the city than restaurants. (Don’t get surprised if you notice this)
Other places to visit are the Chakratirth beach, Jalandhar beach, and Seashell Museum.
There is nothing much to do or see in Diu, neither there are many party places in town but it is a good place to spend some time in quite by the beach.