Somnath to Diu is 90 km via Veraval-Prachi-Kodinar on Somnath-Una NH-8E HW upto Keshariya and then right turn on Keshariya-Diu road upto Diu, all on good tar. Landscape is very-very picturesque with rows of coconut trees and Hokka trees canopying, in lush greenery and clear blue sky with flocks of migratory birds flying overhead in a hurry to reach their destinations. With occasional stopovers, shooting the colorful birds hatching, feeding and fishing in the saline swamps, we reached the very well organized and beautifully decorated city, Diu.
On the way, we deliberately stopped at one point sighting a very unusual Palm-Tree with multiple branches. Later we found jungles of such trees in entire Diu and its adjoining areas. Browsing, it revealed, those were the Hokka-Trees, African specie of Palm brought by the Portuguese which in due course adapted Diu’s atmosphere and grow in plenty throughout. Locals call it Hokka, not found any where else in the country and also bore edible fruits that have medicinal properties.
Brief history of Diu: (Compiled from its official site)
“Diu was ruled by many well-known kings and dynasties during the prehistoric, ancient and medieval times. It was a Portuguese colony until 1961. It is now a Union Territory, separated from Goa in 1987. It was an important trading post and naval base from where the rulers controlled the shipping routes in the northern part of the Arabian Sea between the 14-16th centuries”.
Diu, another district of Daman & Diu UT the other being Daman, already briefed in my previous log, is contradictorily distinct from each other. Diu with its breathtaking landscape, serenity, planned settlements and well decorated, organised civic structures and far less messy, jubilantly impress debut visitors. We found a brilliant accommodation in a large, spacious hotel near Jethibai ST bus depot.
Unlike Daman it was pleasing to notice a decent surrounding without the chaos of liquor shops and drunken-brawls instead, the hard drinks were available in much civilized and socialised manner. The places worth a visit in Diu are the Ghoghla Beach, Diu Fort, St. Paul’s Church, Nagoa Beach, Gangeshwar Mahadev Temple, Shell Museum, Naida Caves and Fortim-do-mar (Panikota).
Out of the above and few more, the most visited place is the Nagoa Beach, a virgin beach with greener surrounding along the clean blue shallow water and white sand is one of the very beautiful tourist places retaining its unexploited wilderness. Like all other beaches it too offers a range of water-activities besides swimming in its warm water, speed boating and parasailing are the most sought ones @ Rs. 1,000/- each ride.
After a tiring but exciting and fulfilling long hours in Nagoa, till it was pretty dusky, we were astonished to see the sparkling city appareled in novel, innovative and artistic transformation. The pieces of arts on the round about, the massive bridge, the fort, the historical structures, the churches, the beach side resorts, hotels and if not an exaggeration the entire little land was illuminated with mind blowing colourful lights creating a unbelievable illusion of pictures on canvas. Hats off to the curators and administrators, a true honest effort and belongingness can only produce so good result and appreciations are indispensable for those behind the curtain. Lost in illusions, we slowly ventured the entire city with occasional halts to experience the enchanting colorful views and capturing them in my camera. Enough sign boards helped in navigating the entire piece of fairy land without hassle.Pic: Colours of Diu, Diu in different shades, Display of Art, Colour fountain in a Resort of Diu,
Soon, we stopped at St. Paul’s Church; its elaborate façade was clearly visible even in low-light, showcasing its architectural style resembling the Bom-Jesus Church in Goa. One of the largest Portuguese churches in India was started in 1601 CE and brilliantly kept till now. A prayer was performing at the time of our visit and we willingly participated in that. The interior decorations are a piece of wooden-craftsmanship, a heritage worth preserving.
Next, enjoying-driving we entered through one of the gates inside the fortified city to explore more un-evenly and soon reached the Fort-road with the giant Fort on right and mighty sea in-front. The date, 30.9.922 embossed on the entry gate of the fort muddled me, if that is the date depicting its construction or some other numerical evidence. The official sites claming its construction between 1535 to 1541 CE. Leaving, it to historians, I am on my way of traveling like Ghumakkar which is more enjoyable than debating.Pic: Illuminated Entry to Diu City, Entry to Diu Fort
The road alongside the sea with a benevolent view of colorfully illuminated Panikota in the middle of no-where (as it seems in darkness) delayed me with only one good picture finally, after clicking innumerable times. Irritatingly blaming the Nikon, I immediately decided to buy a better one, later realized of my ignorance towards photography and decided to learn a bit by joining some school back home. The Fort-road ends with the fort at its summit and opens down the lane at Jethibai ST bus stop on its left and the bridge connecting Ghoghla with the major city on Diu-Una road over the sea on its right with a small round about at the dead end.
Ghoghla beach 5 km further towards Una is another good shore with few large resorts and private beach facilities. Frankly, it was not very impressive when compared with the Nagoa’s happening beach however, with its serenity and lesser crowd is nevertheless, worth a short visit.
Next day, we planned to walk on the fort road with plenty of sea facing budget hotels, eateries and couple of government offices, a circuit house and a Janpath-type market. Boards offering bikes on rent lured me for biking around the city but could not materialize due to non-cooperation by my partner. I strongly recommend visitors to avail a bike, offered at reasonable rents which vary with models and discover the remotest places to enjoy every bit of it. Riding here with a road map would be very enjoyable and easy due to systematic road rules, one-way traffic, sign boards, traffic signals and less traffic on excellent tar in the entire city.
After strolling upto the end of the road, we had our lunch in one of the eateries offering veggies and non-veggies, wine and pubs of chilled beer, all under one roof, well managed by very sophisticated professional helping hands and a wide angle view of the roaring sea-front in bargain. The package was a good deal at a nominal substantial price. Visiting St. Thomas Church, now converted to museum is also not a bad deal.
In the afternoon, we were back on wheels to visit the less talked and least visited Naida Caves and later the unique Shri Gangeshwar Mahadev Temple. Man made excavations during the Portuguese regime for obtaining construction mortar, left unattended thereafter, is how the Naida Caves formed and located aloof in Naida village. A very less popular site, not mentioned even in the tourist spots itinerary of the tourism department nor informed by local tourist agents is visited only by nature-crazy visitors on discovering it by one or two boards affixed nearby. The place is so neglected and solitarily wild that you may find yourself as the only visitor and may not dare entering inside its unknown depths. I and my wife, in excitement entered to some extent when we sighted few stags partying with bottles in the silence of its depths. Without messing their party mood, we turned our back to them but soon we were lost and managed to come out only after too much recalling the way out. Not a good idea at all to enter the extremely beautiful but wild and vulnerable artificial but natural looking caves without a guide and strictly not without a group when with ladies around. Diu tourism may develop the site with little efforts and add the very worth site in their list of tourist attractions.
A few kilometers from Naida is Fudam, a village where the very unique temple comprising five smaller to bigger shaped sand-stone Lingams, lye at the rocky bed adjoining the sea with showers of the saline water washing them with every tide, is an open temple with no boundary and no hood, no priests is perhaps the only of its kind. The turbulent waves after hammering the rocks splittingly enters the rock-bed persistently showering the Lingams in natural course. A visit to the unique shrine was a memorable event. It is believed that the Pandavas during their exile worshiped these lingams.
Retaining a very fond and affectionate memory of Diu, we had to move forward wishing the paradise a good bye and thanks to its curators and citizens to maintain the beauty with their joint efforts. We started early next morning to cover the long distance to reach Dwarka with a stopover at Porbandar on the much awaited coastal highway.
The journey continues……