Welcome to the Isle of Calm as they say in Portuguese – Ilha de Calma. Islands are all about the sun, sea and the sand. Yet Diu has more jewels in its crown – the tales of the bygone era, the Portuguese history, the serenity of the surrounding, beautiful architecture and the idyllic lifestyle.
There is a joke that the thirsty Gujarat dwellers (because of the liquor ban in the state) travel to Diu to have a drink 🙂 . Apart from the beauty of the destination, the location often attracts people on a visit to the neighbouring state of Gujarat with some extra time. This was the case with us. Later we were overwhelmed by its beauty.
With a few extra hours left in hand on a religious trip to Dwarka and Somnath, we made good use of it. With our belly full of phaphda and dhoklas for breakfast, we were on the smooth roads heading towards Diu. Some were also packed for the rest of the road. A man is known by his company (foods in this case). Thus, we became true Gujarati with these local foods.
A peaceful location by the sea with the city devoid of any high rise. Diu is a small island located in the extreme south of the Saurashtra peninsula. And the south-east part of it has the formidable structure of the Portuguese fortress.
The citadel is guarded by the sea from three sides. While on the land side a deep moat was cut through the solid rock which was defended by cannons placed on double lined bastions. Within this area were housed – the Governor’s palace, the prison, the barracks for the garrison, state offices and several other churches. This fort is considered the most important Portuguese fort of Asia.
A lighthouse is situated within the premises of the fort. It provides a panoramic view of the surrounding area and the fortress, overlooking the sea. Although built in the Portuguese era this lighthouse is functional till date, providing assistance to the sea traffic. It was a weekend and there was a huge rush. School children, local picnic teams, other travellers all flocked to the fortress. The lighthouse was a major attraction among the children and the youths. All gathered around the base waiting for their turn to climb. This made it a crowded hotspot and prevented us from the aerial view. We had little time to spend waiting.
The Panikotha fort is located in the sea off the coast, opposite to the Diu Fort. This impressive sea fort is located at the mouth of a tidal creek. This can be accessed by boat or canoe. This fort also houses a lighthouse and a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Sea.
We drove to the nearby St. Paul’s Church. This the famous, surviving and functioning church among those built by the Portuguese in Diu. This church was built in baroque architecture. Baroque architecture is a building style of the Baroque era (a period of artistic style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail).
The Nagoa Beach was a hub for the beachgoers. The hot afternoon sun could not turn down the spirit of a large number of tourist here. There were a variety of water sports, other rides especially for children and shacks selling eatables. We finished off our Diu trip with a sumptuous lunch in a restaurant by the sea shore. My non-vegetarian friends gorged on the seafood delicacies, after a few days of strict vegetarian diet in Gujarat.
We were content, but not fully satisfied. It was like appetiser served without the main course. This short, brisk trip triggered our temptation to discover more of Diu. But had to return, with a promise to be back soon.