Genral Information - Daman
Casuarinas windbreaks, placid blue seas, idyllic beaches, sleepy villages and easy availability of liquor considering that it is an enclave in ‘dry’ Gujarat, make Daman a popular getaway. Daman is a tiny coastal town at the southern tip of Gujarat, adjoining Maharashtra. It lies on the banks of the Daman Ganga River, some 170 km north of Mumbai. Daman was a Portuguese territory for over 300 years till its liberation in 1961, along with Goa, Diu and nearby Dadra & Nagar Haveli. History :
Today, it is a centrally administered Union Territory. The Portuguese influence is palpably evident in the architecture, cuisine and life style of the locals.
In the beginning of the millennium, the region in and around Daman was ruled by the Kushana Emperor. Habitat :
In the following centuries between the 2nd Century BC and 13th Century AD, Daman formed a part of the kingdom known as Lata, one of the small kingdoms of the Aparant or Konkan Vaishaya and was ruled by the Rashtrakutas of Malkhed in the Deccan directly till AD 808. By 973, the reins of power passed to Tailapa II of the Chalukyas of Kalyani after his conquest of the Rashtrakuta kings. Tailapa II placed Lata in the charge of his relative, General Devarappa Chalukya.
By the middle of the 13th century, a Rajput prince Ramasingh defeated the Koli chief Nathoart of the Thorat tribe and established himself in the hilly tract at Asheri or Asserseta near Daman. The district of Daman including the coastal tract from Surat to Mahim continued to be ruled by the chieftains of Ramnagar during the 14th century and the early years of the 15th century AD.
Daman was acquired by the Portuguese in the 16th century after its strategic importance on the maritime routes between East and West Asia struck them. They attacked Daman several times before it was ceded to them in a treaty with the Shah of Gujarat in 1559. It remained a major outpost of the Portuguese opium trade to China till such time as the Portuguese remained a valid naval power. With the end of British colonial rule in India, the Portuguese enclaves of Goa, Daman, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli became restive. The Portuguese finally conceded these enclaves independence in 1961.
Ever since then, Daman and Diu has been administered as special territories of the Indian Union by the central government in Delhi.
Daman lies on an alluvial coastal plain, outcrops of basalt rocks form higher points of low plateaus and headlands in the area. The Daman Ganga River flows through the territory, with Daman town situated where the river enters the Arabian Sea. The river divides the town into two - Nani Daman (Little Daman), on the northern bank, which is dotted with hotels, restaurants and bars, and Moti Daman (Big Daman) which houses government buildings and churches within the imposing fortifications of the old fort complex built by the Portuguese.
Place To See :
The main attraction in Daman is
its churches, among the oldest and
best-preserved Christian monuments in Asia. The
grandest of all is The Church of Bom
Jesus in the main square of Moti Daman,
built in 1603. Recently renovated, it has a
richly carved portal, a high ceiling and an
ornamental altar. The Church of Our Lady
of the Rosary, on the opposite side of the
square, has ornate woodwork including an
intricately carved, gold painted altar. The
Sé Cathedral is less impressive
but dates back to the 17th century and is
totally Iberian in its façade. Its high point is
the altar, a masterpiece of ornately carved,
gold painted wood. How Get There :
massive fort at Moti Daman
(the old Portuguese quarter)
was constructed by the Viceroy D.
Jeronimo de Azavedo in 1614 and was
completed in 1627. The fort premises
once housed official buildings, barracks
and the residences of Portuguese
officials in its protective custody.
A moat surrounds the fort and is linked to
the River Daman Ganga that flows into the
Arabian Sea. Two magnificent gates lead into the
fort, which has ten bastions. The fort is built
as a polygon with projections at regular
intervals of about 500 feet with wide angular
bastions. From the ramparts you can get a nice
view across the river to Nani Daman.
The beaches at
Daman are somewhat cluttered. So you should try
out the ones at Devka (3 km) or Jampore. But
please keep in mind that there are sharp, rock
formations below the surface at Devka. Jampore
is most suited to swimming as it has no rocky
formations and is particularly good during low
tide, as you can walk far into the sea. The
beach is relatively isolated and casuarinas
windbreaks make it very pretty. The 'Satya
Sagar Udyan' is a park along the
promenade well laid out with colourful fountains
and flowerbeds and shrubbery and a great view.
Nani Daman offers some
wonderful sites to the traveller from
the Gandhi Park near
the Nani Daman jetty, the Light
House, Nani Daman Fort
and the churches in Gothic style inside
the fort compound to the fishermen’s
jetty where boats unload the freshest of
The smaller St. Jerome’s Fort
at Nani Daman has three bastions and two
portals. A large statue of St. Jerome
stands on the premises.
The Fort also houses the lovely
Chapel of Our Lady of the Sea, and its
ramparts are a good vantage point from which you
can watch the fisher folk landing their catch.
In Nani Daman you could also go down to an
interesting Jain Temple by the
river whose inside walls are covered with
glassed in murals depicting the life of Mahavir,
the founder of the Jain religion.
By Train Accomodation :
The best way to get to Daman is by train, the nearest railway station being Vapi (10 km). Vapi is connected to Mumbai, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Surat and Rajkot. The distance between Vapi and Daman can be covered by bus, shared taxi or auto-rickshaw. The other railhead is at Valsad in Maharashtra, 45 km away. Local buses, unmetered taxis and tongas are available from the railhead to the town.
Daman is 193 km from Mumbai, 367 km from Ahmedabad, 763 km from Diu and 87km from Panaji in Goa by National Highway – 8 running from Ahmedabad to Mumbai. It connects Daman via Vapi.
Gujarat and Maharashtra state transport corporations operate daily bus services to and from Daman to Vapi, Bhilad and Valsad or one could also hire a car from rental agencies in Surat or Mumbai. The coastal roads are in fairly good shape, making it a pretty and pleasant drive.
Most tourist accommodation is located at small Daman or Nani Daman, across the Daman Ganga River from Moti Daman. The road along the seafront is full of decent hotels that along with great views, offer their guests comfortable rooms with or without air conditioning, ensuite bathrooms, in house dining facilities and even a roof garden! Down at Miramar and around Devka are good guesthouses, holiday cottages and a resort complex; all of them have decent accommodation and good dining facilities.
Not many would be ready to give their right hand to shop in Daman, but one cannot deny the fact that shopping in Daman can be a delightful experience. If you are planning a tour to Daman, you can't possibly wrap it up without picking up certain souvenirs and keepsakes. That is for those who are not much into shopping. But for those who are self-confessed shopaholics, bazaars in Diu are possible the most attractive aspect of their tours. Events :
The bazaars in Daman brim with seized foreign goods. Daman is mostly dotted with Customs shops where you can display your bargaining skills and buy awesome foreign items at incredible prices. Whether you wish to buy this for yourself or present to friends and relatives as gifts, these articles will serve as prized possessions.
You can also browse the Daman bazaars for good quality leather slippers. The slippers that you get here are reasonably priced and feel good when you slip your feet into them. They have a nice and comfortable feel about them.
While taking a stroll in the bazaars in Daman, your will stumble upon shops selling bamboo mats and baskets. These hand woven mats and baskets testify to the indigenous skills.
These baskets and mats are not then models of the most exquisite handiworks, yet they are pretty durable and come at an affordable price. Besides these, you can also consider buying electronic goods and household appliances. For a wholesome shopping experience, you can indulge in a shopping spree at the Maharaja Super Market at Devka Beach.
The local communities in Daman and Diu celebrate the religious festivals of Nariyal Poornima, Dassehra and Christmas with great fanfare and gusto. All festivities are marked by vigorous displays of music and dance and are always accompanied by feasting and merrymaking.
Nariyal Poornima is celebrated to mark the beginning of the fishing season. The fishing communities flock to the sea-shore to offer coconut to the gods of wind and water in an effort to win their favour and ensure the safe return of the fishing fleet as well as a rich catch. Nariyal Poornima is a day of joy, feasting and revelry that attracts hordes of tourists.
Christmas finds Daman and Diu literally exploding with gaiety accompanied by music and dance.The administration of Daman promotes the Christmas season as a major tourist attraction and Indian and foreign travellers come to participate in a Christmas that combines Indian and Portuguese flavours.