Genral Information - Diu
If you were asked to choose just one place for relaxing by the sea during your visit to Gujarat, you couldn't do better than to opt for Diu! It has its share of historical monuments and sights to see - as well as some lovely beaches where you can soak up the sun. The bonus is that, unlike neighbouring Gujarat where prohibition is strictly enforced, Diu is not 'dry'!
The Parsee community that fled religious persecution in Iran in the 7th century landed here before moving to the southern coast of Gujarat. Diu is a tiny little island in the Arabian Sea, comfortably and easily accessible on the sea route from West Asia to India and the Far East. The Sultans of Oman controlled the entire region during the 14th and 16th centuries and Diu became a flourishing trading post and naval base from where the shipping routes of the Arabian Sea could easily be controlled. Little wonder then that the Portuguese doggedly tried to gain control of this strategically placed enclave before finally succeeding in 1539, after almost twenty years. For the Portuguese, Diu and its counterpart across the Gulf of Cambay, Daman served as base for the lucrative opium trade with the east. Diu remained under Portuguese control till its independence in 1961, even though the mighty naval empire of Portugal had declined long ago.
Diu is a tiny island on the southern tip of the Kathiawad peninsula in Gujarat - about 13 km long and 3 km at its widest. Diu, whose territory includes a small area of the mainland, is separated from the Kathiawar Peninsula by a narrow swampy creek. Much of the island is covered by sand, silt, and marsh. Till 1961, it was a Portuguese colony like Goa and Daman and like Daman, it is still a centrally administered Union Territory. Being relatively isolated, Diu retains much of its colonial flavour. Place To See :
The local flora is interesting in as much as it is the only place in India with African species of branching palms. The saltpans and marshes on the northern side of the island attract a number of wading birds like egrets and stilts.
Diu's beaches lie along the southern coast, much of which is made up of cliffs and rocky pools. There are four beaches to choose from - Nagoa, Jallandhar, Chakratirth and the good for swimming Goghla beach. A favourite hangout of the locals is Sunset Point. How Get There :
Nagoa beach is by far the longest and most attractive, though it is furthest away from Diu Town (7 km). So you'd need to keep track of the time to make sure you catch the last bus back unless, of course, you are staying close by. While here you could also spend some time exploring the imposing Diu Fort, where you will still find centuries old cannon balls littering the place. The fort provides superb views out to sea. It would be a good idea to hire bikes for just cycling around the island in the sun, or to visit some of the landmarks of Diu Town.
There are three churches worth a visit, St. Paul's, St. Thomas' and St. Francis of Assisi though they are put to other use and are in various states of upkeep. A visit to Nagar Seth's Haveli, one of the grandest of the remaining Portuguese mansions is also of interest to history aficianados.
By Air Accomodation :
Domestic airline connections are available to Diu from Mumbai. The airport is 5km away from the city; auto rickshaws are easily available outside the main concourse to get to Diu proper. But bear in mind that flights are often delayed or even cancelled.
Direct bus connections to Diu are available from Bhavnagar, Palitana, Veraval and Talaja (access from Una via Ghogla) in Gujarat. These towns are connected to Ahmedabad by rail and road and Bhavnagar is also connected by air to Mumbai.
The Diu Railway Station is 8km away from the main town. The station is not on any of the main lines and so is fairly redundant from the traveller’s point of view. The sole connections are to the little port town of Veraval and to Junagadh via the sanctuary town of Sasan Gir in Gujarat.
Take your pick from an old Portuguese building with not so clean rooms but great seafood right in the heart of the vegetable market or a more upmarket place with good, clean rooms with or without air conditioning but with the requisite cable TV connections and in house dining but not so great Indian and Chinese food. Diu has its share of rest houses and guesthouses that cost less than the hotels but may or may not have dining facilities. But almost every place in Diu will have a bar (!) catering to the people who travel down from next-door Gujarat for weekend breaks, to relax and have a drink or two or many more! PS. Gujarat is dry.
Although Daman and Diu is not a typical shopping destination, still shopping in Daman and Diu can be a cool experience. Events :
Daman is particularly noted for Customs Shops selling seized foreign goods in attractive prices.
If you are keen on shopping in Daman and Diu, you can look for
Woven of bamboo mats and baskets
You can find Electronic goods, Gift articles, attractive household appliances for shopping in Daman and Diu.
Maharaja Super Market, Princess Park at Devka Beach are renowned shopping areas, which offer good shopping in Daman and Diu.
Regular beach items like goods made of seashell, oysters etc are also available at Devka Beach, Nani Daman.
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 seasonthe 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.