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Places to visit in Diu

Discussion in 'West India' started by Ladoo, Sep 11, 2016.

  1. Ladoo

    Ladoo New Member

    This is my second post on the forum, and this time round I would like to find out about the places to visit in Diu.

    One of my reasons for going to Diu is visiting Ghoghla beach, which is a beautiful, clean beach to relax at. Apart from that, I would also like to visit some other places as well, but I need to find out about them and know where they are in Diu.
    Please mention which places I can visit in Diu.

    My sister who has a 7 year old son may also come along, so please also post about places which may interest children.
     
  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Moderator Staff Member

    Hello, @Ladoo, welcome to the forum!

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    (Images from Syen, Poida Smith and Viraat Kothare)

    Overview

    A tiny island off the coast of Gujarat, Diu is part of the union territory of Daman and Diu. It is best known for its Portuguese heritage sites and culture, but it also has influences of the nearby state of Gujarat when it comes to other aspects like cuisine or language. Whereby Goa's beaches, another Portuguese colony, are known for their vibrancy, Diu's beaches are known for their solitude. And unlike major beach destinations, Diu receives less of the tourists even during peak season. Being a hidden destination, one can marvel in the structures beaming with Portuguese era architecture and the beautiful beaches off the Arabian sea. So if you love lazing in the beach, exploring unexplored heritage sites and finding unique cultures of the locals, Diu is just a ride away from cites in Gujarat or even from cities of Maharashtra.

    Places to Visit in Diu

    Heritage
    • Praca De Diu - Praca De Diu is more commonly known as the Diu Fort. This fort was built by the Portuguese in the 15th century but there already stood a fort in the location prior to that time. As history has it, the Diu Fort became the Portuguese point of entry into Diu. This otherwise innocent treaty between the Sultan of Gujarat at that time, Sultan Shah Bahadur, and the Portuguese colonisers became the strategic defensive and offensive move of the latter. With a panoramic view of the Arabian sea, the Diu Fort not only has hundreds of years of stories behind it, but also offers the best view of the wide coastline of the region. And when the Portuguese finally left India and gave it the independence it so long needed in the 19th century, they left a little bit of themselves in the form of such structures, such as the Diu Fort. Surrounded by water on its three sides and by land on the remaining side, the fort has an impressive double moat which rendered it impregnable by attackers. Inside the fort, bastions, cannons, artilleries and watch towers are spread all around, giving you that feel of a Portuguese soldier during the bygone era. Influences of Portuguese architecture are dominant all around, like the old prayer houses and inscriptions in the respective language. There's also a lighthouse that you can climb to get a better view of the surroundings. On one side of the fort though, from your entrance, the area has been converted into a jail proper so access to that area is restricted.
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    Diu Fort (Image from Kanj Saurav)
    • Pani Kotha - Also known as Fortim Do Mar, this pure white fortress can be seen from a distance through the Diu Fort. Its ship-like structure renders it quite a stunning facade, especially as it stands in contrast to the blue water of the sea. Originally, the Pani Kotha was built as a prison for the political enemies of the Portuguese. With time, the prison slash fortress became neglected and out of use. Entry to the Pani Kotha is restricted and you can only view it from a distance. You can, however, ride a boat to get a closer view of the structure, with its small shrine dedicated to the Our Lady of the Rosary and a lighthouse that seems to stand guard over it. Alternatively, you can just take photographs of the structure from the Diu Fort. It looks especially grand during night time, when it is lit in different colours and provide stark contrast to the dark surroundings.
    • Zampa Gateway - After exploring the fort side of the region, you can then venture into the town side of it. You enter the main town through the Zampa Gateway. Historically, this gateway's location is where the Portuguese created the boundary for their territory, evidenced by an old wall behind the new wall having the same materials as the fortress. The newer wall was made by the government though, it has a bright red facade, reminiscent of the red sandstone structures in Delhi. To give that Portuguese vibe, the gateway has been decorated with a few statues and a cross on top as well.
    • Nagar Sheth Haveli - On the town side of Diu, you would find plenty of ancient havelis that truly reflect the Portuguese style of architecture. You can simply take a stroll around the town or you can opt to reach the Nagar Sheth Haveli as well. An ancient mansion featuring elements of the Portuguese style of architecture, this haveli would take you back to the bygone era. It has a bright orange and green facade, complete with balconies with carved elements plus stucco carvings above its wooden windows and doors. The haveli though is a private residence, with the descendants of Mr. Nagar Sheth still residing here.
    • INS Khukery - A tribute to the brave soldiers of the INS Khukery that died during the midst of the Indo-Pakistan War, this memorial is also a must visit when in Diu. The INS Khukery was a war ship that played a pivotal role during the war. It, however, sank when a Pakistani submarine, the PNS Hangor, torpedoed the war ship in 1971, nearby the Diu coastline. Over 190 Indian soldiers, along with their captain and leader, Mr. Mahendra Nath Mulla, died in the tragic event. The INS Khukery is set upon a cliffside setting, with a view of the sea in all its expanse. There's a miniature ship here, enclosed by glass on all sides, built to commemorate the memory of the event. A small plaque-like structure has also been installed, with the names of all the soldiers who died defending the country.
    • Parsi Monument and Tower of Silence - Before the Parsis, exiles from Persia, made Gujarat their home, they landed first in Diu. In the main town of Diu, close to the market area, you can find the Parsiwada, literally translated to Parsi Village. In this village, you can find a pure white statue, dedicated to these first Parsis who migrated into Diu. Further to the town, located in the Fudam area, are more remnants of the Parsi migration. The Parsi Mandir is located here, two sets of dakhmas and a temple containing the holy fire of Ahura Mazda. The dakhmas are particularly interesting as they can be viewed from a close proximity, unlike other dakhmas in other regions wherein only pure Zoroastrians can go near them. Dakhmas are also known as Towers of Silence, it's the place where the Parsis lay their deceased loved ones' bodies to have vultures dispose of the remains, without it touching the earth or fire, as these are considered sacred in their religion.
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    Parsi Tower of Silence (Image from Poida Smith)
    • Naida Caves - Last on this section is the Naida Caves, a mixture of both a natural and historical attraction. Interestingly, the caves started out as natural rock formations. According to scholars though, the Portuguese might have quarried materials for the Diu Fort from here. This resulted in a labyrinth of man-made caves, with crevices in some parts that let the sunlight in. This mixture of natural and man-made attraction is one-of-its-kind and can't be missed when in Diu. The underground setting, the trees embracing the huge boulders and the rays going in and out in some areas are sure to delight the natural history lovers.
    Religious
    • St. Paul's Church - Within walking distance to the Diu Fort is the St. Paul's Church, the only functioning Portuguese church of the region. The church has a stunning pure white facade, with a high spire that stands in contrast to the blue skies. The exteriors are decorated with impressive stucco works as well. Inside, the church has a high ceiling, with richly carved wood works all around. The main altar has a statue dedicated to the Our Lady of Immaculate Concepcion. Several paintings and statues can also be found lining the altar which gives it a more serene vibe. Masses are still held in the church and photography is prohibited inside to retain the serenity of the place.
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    St. Paul's Church (Image from Diu Tourism)
    • St. Thomas Church and Museum - Next to the previous church you can find the St. Thomas Church. It has a whitewashed facade too, although less pure as the previous church. Unlike the former as well, this church is not a functional one, it mainly serves as a museum as it holds a few ancient artefacts inside it. The architectural style of the church is a typical Baroque, much like the churches of Goa. Inside, there are statues of saints that are in display, like that of St. Thomas, St. Benedict and Virgin Mary. The intricate wood carvings in the church are also worth seeing, believed to be over 400 years old already. The garden outside the church is well maintained and can complete your spiritual as well as historical journey here.
    • St. Francis of Assisi Church - The oldest church built by the Portuguese in the region is the St. Francis of Assisi Church, located upon a hillock, close to the Delvada Railway Station. It also has a pure white facade but remains closed for visitors, though you can view it from the outside. The church was built around the end of the 15th century and has served in the past as a hospital for the locality. Its location gives one a great view of the surrounding Arabian sea though it's best to skip when you have little time to explore Diu.
    • Gangeshwar Temple - A unique sea side temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Gangeshwar Temple is revered sacred by Hindu locals and tourists. It is almost like a cave temple, where you need to climb a few steps downwards to reach. There are five shivalingas here, believed to have been built by the five Pandava brothers. However, these shivalingas become submerged in water during high tide so if you want to perform darshan or simply pay your respects to the deity, you need to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon during low tide.
    Beaches
    • Nagoa Beach - This horse-shoe shaped beach is the most popular beach in Diu as well. Lined with Hoka trees all around, a golden-blackish shore with some pebbles and dark blue water, it's a must visit beach when in Diu. Another feature of the beach is its liveliness and vibrancy where water sports, activities and resorts can be found all around it. Adventurous water sports like parasailing, water skiing, jet skiing and banana boat riding can be enjoyed here. Don't worry though because these activities are done on just one end of the beach, to avoid collision with swimming tourists or little children. Other fun activities like horse riding and camel riding can be done on the shores. The water is good enough for swimming but the uneven slopes might be dangerous for children.
    • Ghogla Beach - Ghogla Beach is located further from Diu town though accessible by an auto ride. It has fine golden sands, quite powdery and pure enough for one to walk barefooted in. The water is very inviting too, with minimal waves and a flat sea bed. It is quite deeper though as compared to the Nagoa Beach so always be cautious when you have children around you. The best part about Ghogla Beach is its balance of activity and serenity. Since it is out of the city centre, it isn't as crowded nor as noisy. There are some water sports here that one can enjoy like parasailing, jet skiing and speed boating. But if you would also just like to relax and chill, you can do that here. There's one resort close to the shores of the beach as well as a few beach shacks. But it's best to bring your own snacks and water just in case the options are not to your liking.
    • Jallandhar Beach - A close distance from the Naida Caves and INS Khukery is the Jallandhar Beach. It has soft, creamy sands and bluish water, with Saru trees all around. It is mostly visited by Lord Krishna devotees, who make their way into the nearby Jallandhar Shrine. If you want a less commercialised beach, the Jallandhar Beach is a good option for that. There are no water sports nor activities here, but you can enjoy the serenity and tranquility of the beach. Do climb the nearby Summer House as well, for a better view of the sea, especially during sunset.
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    Jallandhar Beach (Image from Ankita L.)
    • Chakratirth Beach - A small stretch of beach to the other side of the INS Khukery is the Chakratirth Beach. It is only mildly developed, with not too many tourists flocking to the place. It has a rocky shoreline, which looks quite stunning when photographed. There are no beach shacks, water sports or resorts nearby though so make the necessary arrangement prior to reaching the beach. You can opt to climb some of the rock formations, let time pass by until sunset, for an amazing view of the orange hues of the sun amidst the blue sea.
    • Gomatimata Beach - The last beach on this section is also the most remote, located off the western part of Diu, about 30 minutes away from its centre. Because of its isolated location, it's best to reach the beach during day time, before sunset occurs. This is an under developed beach, hence there are no proper tourist facilities here. You can call it the virgin beach of the region, where you can find local fishermen in boats gathering their catches everyday from. If you want a non-touristy approach to Diu, then you must visit the Gomatimata Beach, seemingly unknown to many tourists until now.
    Fun and Educational
    • Shell Museum - Close to the Diu Airport is a small but fascinating museum, the Shell Museum, established by Captain Fulbaria. He was a former navy captain who spent most of his life in the sea and was able to collect more than a thousand sea shells during his service to the country. Small almost microscopic sea shells are also on display, which you can view more closely with a magnifying glass. Other specimens such as fishes, star fishes, crabs and other marine animals can also be seen here. Entry here is very minimal and you can spend a few hours especially if you have children with you. There's also a small souvenir shop here where you can buy sea shell items like necklaces, earrings, bracelets, decors and more.
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    Shell Museum (Image from Shoe Bytes)
    • Dinosaur Park - A stroll amidst the Dinosaur Park would sparkle the little ones' fantasy. This park is located close to the Nagoa Beach, with a view of the wide sea. It is still under construction although there are a few dinosaur statues in the park already. A small children's play area has also been installed where they can have fun riding swings or running around. For the adults, a small temple is also located within the park premises where you can pray with your loved ones in. Make sure you reach the park early in the morning or late in the afternoon as it is within an open-air location.
    Nature and Wildlife
    • Fudam Bird Sanctuary - Last on the list is the Fudam Bird Sanctuary, located close to the Nagoa Beach in Diu. Lying in close proximity to Gujarat, it's inevitable that bird species reach the island of Diu as well. The Fudam Bird Sanctuary serves as the home of many resident and migratory birds in the region. The presence of the mangroves around the bird sanctuary attracts both birds and fishes alike. Some of the commonly spotted bird species here are that of egrets, flamingoes, spoonbills and stilts. The bird sanctuary is still undergoing constant upgrade to ensure the bird watching experience of the guest. Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times for bird watching, with the migratory winter season bearing the most number of birds.
    Conclusion

    Diu, once a Portuguese colony, is now a thriving city near the state of Gujarat. Though it has a number of beaches and heritage sites, it still remains under the radar of many local and foreign tourists. You won't need more than a few days to explore the city because its attractions are located close to one another. A coastal destination filled with ancient stories, Diu is sure to fascinate the wanderlust in anyone. I hope this helps you!

    :)
     

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