La Isla Bonita

A wall of rock rises out of the sea, shimmering against the sunlight like a samurai warrior. Waves crash with loud and deafening sounds, charging against the wall like invading soldiers. Within seconds of hitting the rock, they fall silent and  defeated, washing ashore and retreating back into the sea.

Standing on top of Diu fort I watch the waves fight this loosing battle and Im delighted to be spending a weekend with my friends in this little dot of a place.

The union territory of Diu is an undiscovered treasure island, a secret hideout on the coast of Gujarat.

Diu can be a high maintenance diva playing hard to get, as going to Diu can be a back breaking adventure. However, once you are here, Diu will seduce you with her glorious beaches, formidable forts and divine churches.

The cultural legacy left by Portuguese has influenced the way of life among the people. Locals live the susegad life as their ancestors did and the Portuguese language is still widely spoken.

Everything in Diu is within walking or cycling distance. The locals recommended that we use activas to get around, but we preferred to go old style and use cycles instead and Im happy that we did that.

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Here are some of the quintessential Diu experiences that visitors can savor.

The Heritage Church

Life of the local Catholic community revolves around the Church of  The Immaculate Conception also known as St Paul’s Church.

It was completed by the Portuguese in the year 1610. Sea shell motifs are found in the interiors and the exteriors, due to its presence near the sea.

Intricate patterns are found throughout the building facade.

The church altar has detailed patterns sculpted into the wood. Similar detailing on wood is found throughout the interiors.

This artistic creation done by hand hundreds of years ago is a unique and magnificent masterpiece worth preserving for the coming generations.

The Strategic Fort

The fort of Diu gives us a commanding view of the sea.

Cannons are found clinging to the crumbling ramparts, while chapels dedicated to saints stand their ground.The ancient lighthouse is a major attraction and still in working condition.

The Secluded Beaches

Rocky Jalandhar and peaceful Chakratirth are distinctly different beaches on the same coastline. Mesmerizing sunsets, sugary soft sand, warm waters weave their spell on us.

Walking or cycling along the promenade at Jalandhar beach is a treat as there is no one around.

The Memorial

The memorial dedicated to INS Khukri overlooks the restless sea. Sitting at the steps of the amphitheater, we watch an endless performance of the waves crashing against the rocks. The hypnotic sound is unusually calming. Gazing endlessly into the Arabian Sea, anyone can loose their sense of time here.

She Sells Sea Shells 

An erstwhile sailor has a private collection of sea shells from his worldwide travels. He is proud of his museum and shows it off to us like a father would show off his new born baby. Spend a short hour or so here, only if you are really into sea shells 🙂

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The Exclusive Trees

On our way to the Sea Shell museum we see Hokka trees.

These trees are an indigenous species of Africa. Legend says that Gujarat broke away from the African continent and so we find these trees only in this part of India.
The main trunk branches into smaller trunks and the fruits are bright orange in colour.

The Serene Neighborhood

Walking around the neighborhood is a pleasurable experience.

The queen of calm and peace reigns supreme here and her subjects are happy to live in this serene atmosphere. Neat houses, are decked up in bright and colourful shades. A happy vibe is felt as we walk around exploring the lanes dotted with crosses at the turn of the road or in a street corner.

Friendly locals waving out, saying “Kem Cho” smile at us as we pass by.

The Busy Market

The town is a late riser, so we found tea to be available only in the market place at around 8am. A busy buzz is seen in the market as the local vegetable vendors set up shop for the day.

Tea is accompanied with deep fried snacks of potato dumplings and chili, a perfect start to an early morning.

The Ghost Village

Fudham village is an extension to the town of Diu. On our way to Gangeshwar temple we pass through Fudham and see the doors locked at almost every house.

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Our auto driver informs us that the locals are settled overseas, mostly in Mozambique and Portugal. He added that the villagers do not rent out their houses to outsiders. So Fudham is like a ghost village, with very few locals residing.

The Church Museum

St Thomas museum used to be a church. The statutes look almost real, standing in the dark depths. These vintage statutes are mostly made of wood. The statue of Jesus laid down in the tomb looks like he is asleep and will wake up anytime.

All the saints and angels of the Catholic faith adorn the museum. Some of them  are relics from St. Paul’s Church.

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The Sound & Light Caves

The roads towards Naida caves were empty for long stretches which gave me and my friends a good opportunity to improve our cycling skills.

The wind chasing my hair, the sun on my back and me pedaling furiously for my dear life running away from a dog chasing me…ah life felt perfect on my bicycle 🙂

Naida caves are surprisingly clean and well maintained. Light from the openings above the caves filter inside. The early morning sun played hide and seek among the rocks making this a great place for a photo opp.

Do The Diu

Diu is known as the isle of calm. Its commanding forts, churches oozing with art and history, impeccable beaches, friendly happy people, delicious food and tax free drinks make it a perfect getaway.

Holiday Advisory

This was a spontaneous trip, so we spent around 17 hours getting to Diu. For your benefit here are some options to consider.

OMG, This Journey Never Ends….

Option 1 – If you are on a budget take a reliable sleeper bus going directly to Diu, from Ahmedabad. Travel time would be around 8 to 9 hours.

Option 2 – From Rajkot hire an Ola cab or rent a car. This is an expensive but comfortable option. The cost would come upto approx. INR 5000 with toll and it takes around 5 hours to get to Diu.

Option 3 – Air India operates direct flights from Mumbai to Diu and back on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

We did a combination of option 2 and 3 which worked well for us.

I See, You See, We All See….Seafood

Reshma is a small non descript restraunt near St. Paul’s Church. Visit this place if you love fresh seafood and don’t mind some personal attention by the host.

Home Sweet Home

Located in the Firangiwada neighbourhood, Hernaça Goesa is a cosy homestay . Run by Alina and Senhores Francisco, we found our hosts to be a happy bunch who loved to chat about the history of Diu.

Alina charmed us with her ability to speak fluent Portuguese and even sang a Portuguese song for us. Later we discovered a secret – Alina makes the best bibinca in Diu. Try some and be transported to heaven.

What did we miss…

Nagoa beach – a touristy spot, so we did not visit

Vanakbara Jetty – Fishermen bring in their catch here and the fish are auctioned off, we deliberately missed this.

Panikota Fort – A tiny island off the Diu fort houses a chapel and a jail. It was closed for repairs during our visit.

Zampa Gateway – Missed due to time constraints

After Thoughts….

Diu is a great place to unwind, slow down and recharge yourself. Long walks on the beaches and promenade  will fill your soul with peace. Friendly folks will make you feel safe. Good food and drinks will be an unending satisfying experience. The beautiful churches will give you a much required spiritual retreat. My thumbs up to this place.

Obrigado Amigos 🙂

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