Wrapped in history

Wrapped in history

Travel tales

Wrapped in history

Our visit to Diu was purely by chance. We were on our way to the Gir Lion National Park in Gujarat and since the park was closed, someone suggested that we visit Diu which is hardly a 45-minute drive from Gir.

On the way to Diu, our taxi driver informed us that a large number of people from Gujarat visit Diu since there is no prohibition there. True to that, as we entered Diu, we were greeted by many liquor shops and beer parlours which at once reminded us of Goa.

Indeed, Diu was very much under the rule of the Portuguese like Goa. Since it was an important port and lay on the trade route, the Portuguese established an alliance with the then ruler of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, and constructed the Diu Fort. Slowly, the Portuguese took over Diu and ruled the area till December 1961, when India reoccupied this territory.

We first visited Diu Fort. Built in 1535, and strengthened till 1546, this fort is one of the important buildings built by the Portuguese during their colonial rule. The fort is a huge complex built on a hill commanding a magnificent view of the Arabian Sea. There are two walls — the outer and the inner one — and a moat is constructed between them. We entered the fort through a bridge on the moat and as we climbed up, we reached a place where several cannons made of bronze are mounted facing the sea. This is known as a bastion.

The next prominent site is the light house located in the topmost portion of the fort. From here, the view of the sea is actually breathtaking. A number of bastions are located in many directions. There are a few old churches within the complex. There are many small buildings and a tunnel in the fort. A part of this fort is still being used as a jail. Reportedly, a number of Hindi movies have been shot in this fort. Following that, we drove to St Paul’s Church nearby.

Considered as one of the best examples of baroque architecture, this church, built in 1610, is dedicated to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. The interior of the church has excellent carvings and elaborate wood work. The altar has the statue of Mother Mary carved out of a single piece of teakwood. There are a number of impressive paintings on the walls of the church. It has a serene atmosphere.

We later went to Nagoa beach, which is one of the most beautiful and unpolluted beaches I have seen in India. Situated close to the airport, this beach attracts tourists because of water sports like parasailing, water scooter and water-skiing. We watched a lovely sunset on this beach and decided to spend the night on the beachfront as there are a number of hotels and resorts nearby.  The next morning we went to Ghoghla beach near the city centre. This beach has less tourists and hence, it is very clean and quiet. It is the largest beach in Diu. Since it faces the east, one cannot see the sunset from here.

 Many people come here for swimming and bathing. However, one can get a beautiful view of Diu Fort from here.

Later, we went to the monument erected in memory of INS Khukri. INS Khukri was a naval ship and during the Indo-Pakistan war, it was sunk by a submarine on December 9, 1971, off the coast of Diu. This is the only ship which the Indian Navy has lost in battle. 194 sailors lost their lives and the captain of the ship, Mullah, refused to abandon the ship and went into sea with it. A memorial for the dead sailors in the shape of a model ship enclosed in a glass case has been erected.

On the way to the fort, we saw a ship-like structure in the sea. We were told that this is actually a fort called ‘Fort of Panikota’ or ‘Fortindo Mar’. This fort houses a small light house and a chapel. Someone told us that it is a jail.

The fort was built 400 years ago and one has to take a boat to reach it. Since the fort was closed for maintenance, we couldn’t visit it.  The latest tourist addition in Diu is the Dinosaur Park near the airport. It is an attraction for children. Diu is also famous for a unique tree called Hokka. It looks like a palm tree.  Its fruit is brownish black in colour, but not tasty. A visit to Diu is like visiting Goa, sans the crowds. The destination is ideal for a two-day visit.

How to get there

The round trip cost for an Air India flight from Bengaluru to Diu via Mumbai is approximately Rs 12,000 per person.

Places to stay

We stayed at Rasal Beach Resort. The room tariff is Rs 3,500 per night (breakfast included).

Dr D V Guruprasad

(The author can be contacted at drdvguruprasad@gmail.com)