Daman-A lasting memory

Being an avid traveler, there are many destinations that are in my wish-list. Tibet, Bhutan, Gangtok, Rann of Kuch are some of the places that are on top of the list. One such place that had lingering somewhere at the bottom of this list was Daman. I have never visited Goa and I heard that Daman is very much like Goa but with much less crowd. When a chance visit to Pune for a family function gave my wife and I an opportunity to visit Daman, we simply grabbed it both hands.

Daman is roughly 200-odd km from Pune. The place is accessible both by road as well as train. It was challenging for me to decide on our commute as both the buses and trains would either leave Pune or reach Daman at unearthly hours. Also, since we had limited number of days therefore, I was not comfortable spending more time on travel. I did a little bit of research about the place including choices of hotels. In the meantime, my brother helped arrange a cab that would ferry us to Daman and back. Finally, the d-day came and my wife and I left Pune early in the morning for Daman.

The drive from Pune to Daman passed through Mumbai, Thane etc. and the drive was nothing to harp about. It was mostly 4-lane expressway roads so the ride was quite smooth but a touch dragging too. After brief stops for breakfast and tea, we eventually made it to Daman by afternoon. One very distinct thing that I noticed as we entered Daman was the many liquor shops. It is said that with Gujarat being a “dry” state, Daman is the nearest watering hole for those who have a liking for hard drinks. I being a complete teetotaler, my first impression about Daman was a bit of a disappointment. But we moved on and started looking for a suitable place to stay. We deliberately moved away from the main town and went towards what is called “Devka” beach, one of the two famous beaches in Daman, the other being Jampore beach.

As we came nearer to the coast line, we could see the typical line of coconut trees along the beach line. This obviously is distinctive to coastal regions and reminds you of Kerala. Near Devka beach there were many small houses of the locals. They looked absolutely beautiful with the line of coconut trees and the sea as the backdrop. There were hotels on both sides of the road that was running parallel to Devka beach. Obviously the ones that had the beach view were much costlier than those without. We quickly settled on a hotel called “Jazira” and booked a spacious room for ourselves. A very good thing about this hotel was its restaurant that was in the backyard and it opened up to the beach itself. It had an amazing view of the sea. Also, typical to Devka was the sand that was black in color. We quickly had our lunch, inquired about places to visit and started off on our car.

The hotel restaurant with the beach view


The black colored sand of Devka beach

Till now, my impression about Daman was not that great. Although I had a desire to visit this place for a very long time, now that I was here, the feeling was not sinking in. So, quite reluctantly, we headed off to the first place of visit called Fort of St. Jerome or “Nani Daman”. The construction of this fort began in 1614 A.D and ended in 1672 A.D. The fort also houses a church of “Our lady of the sea” within its walls.

Fort of St. Jerome in b&w

The entrance of St. Jerome fort. Two giant figures on each side

Just outside the fort, the view of the small fishing boats is quite interesting. The entrance of the fort had two giant figures drawn on both sides. It was truly an awe-inspiring sight. Right above the entrance gate is the statue of St. Jerome. There were inscriptions in Latin on the walls that looked like some biblical message. The first feeling that struck me as soon as I saw the fort was its deteriorating condition. It was irritating to see the quintessential names of locals who use these monument walls to proclaim their love for someone. The monument was not maintained at all. We quickly entered the fort and started to trace the path along the fort walls. From one juncture, the sight of the sea was simply amazing. With the rays falling from the sun, partially hidden behind clouds, on the sea beneath, it looked as if the colors were varying by distances. I instantly captured the sight with my camera. I also took a few photographs of the cross that was erected on the top of the fort wall along with the church and cemetery. We quickly surveyed the whole place and soon bade adieu to this ancient monument.

the many fishing boats lined outside nani daman

different shades of the sea from nani daman

the cross atop the fort

We quickly left for our next destination, the Moti Daman fort. My first impression of the Moti Daman fort was as if this was a walled city much like our very own old delhi. There were many government offices within this walled structure and it looked as if it used to house the denizens of Daman in the ancient era. A little bit of research indicated that this fort built between 1559AD and the 16th century. Inside the walled structure were two prominent place of interest-the church of Bom Jesus and the light house.

The first place that we visited was the church of “Bom Jesus”. This building of the church was completed in 1603 AD. It served as the parish church of Daman during the days of Portuguese rule. Here, I would like to pause and share with you my long-last fascination towards churches. When I was young, my mother used to work in an office where there were many Christians. One such Christian aunty was a very good friend of my mother. She would often take me and my brother to the church. My early schooling was done in a Christian school and I had also visited the velankani church in Santom beach, Chennai. Right from the beginning, I was intrigued by the carols sung in the church and also the melancholic faces of the Christian gods. So when I entered the Bom Jesus church, each step was like a step into nostalgia as I started to relive some of my childhood moments. The church looked splendid, painted in white and blue. The façade of the church was imposing. I took permission from the church keeper for taking photographs of the sanctum sanctorum. It was so peaceful inside the church and the architecture was awe-inspiring. My wife and I also inquired about the mass as I was looking forward to attend one however, the church keeper advised that the mass would not happen until Sunday.

The imposing facade of Bom Jesus church

the Bom Jesus signage

The Church Altar

We quickly left for our next destination, the light house.

Light house, a name that is often a synonym to a reliable guide. A structure that is lifeless yet provides a new lease of life to lost ships, boats and ferries and shows the right path and the direction to the shore. Looking from afar, one would usually wonder who lives there and controls the light. Light houses have always been a part of many mystery stories usually read in childhood so it was no surprise that my enthusiasm and excitement knew no bounds when I was first saw the sight of the light house..err..two light houses. Yes, there was this new light house that was recently built and the old “original” light house from the bygone days. A closer look at the wall of the old light house indicated that it was built in 1888AD. I always had this fantasy of climbing to the top of a light house and although this one was not a very tall one yet it satiated my desire.

The light house

the twisted fleet of stairs leading to the top of the lighthouse

the source of the light from lighthouse

the view of a lonely boat from the light house

The flight of stairs leading to the top of the lighthouse was in the form of a swirl, very much like the DNA structure. The stairs were enclosed within a dingy room and was in a dilapidated state. My wife was quite brave as she climbed the stairs quickly and reached the top. I, being the chicken, slowly climbed one stair at a time and eventually made it to the top trembling with fear of falling over. From the top, the view of the sea was breathtaking. No wonder these lighthouses are such fascinating places. On the top of the lighthouse lay a contraption which I believe was the source of the light going to the ships and boats in the far sea. I chanced upon this picture of a lonely boat in the middle of the sea with a small island like structure as a background. It was an amazing sight. My wife and I came down the treacherous fleet of stairs and started for our next destination, the church of “Our Lady the Remedios” built in 1607 AD.

Our Lady Remedios church singnage

Unfortunately, the church was closed for the day so we could not visit the sanctum sanctorum. However, we were able to visit the garden within the church walls. In this garden there was this statue of Jesus with his arms wide open as if welcoming for an embrace. This instantly reminded me of the “Christ Redeemer” in Rio de Janeiro. Obviously, it was not at the same magnitude as the latter yet the figure was equally imposing. I did not waster time and quickly took some photos of the statue. We decided to return to the church the next day when it would be open.

the imposing statue of jesus

What came as a bit of a disappointment was that I had planned for a 2-day trip to Daman and here we were done with almost all the places of interest in a span of 2 hours. With still some more time to dusk, we sped off to the next place-Jampore beach. The beach was serene and peaceful and the sun was on its way to shine the other side of the world. My ever adventurous wife quickly spotted a group of people who were organizing paragliding for the tourists. She just jumped on this prospect and asked me to participate as well. But I, being the chicken, quietly refused. My wife made of fun of my cowardice and went on her 2 minutes of adrenalin rush. While she was at it, the setting sun caught my attention and I captured a few amazing moments of the setting sun.

the setting sun

setting sun

In a short while, my wife came back from her adventure and we both started our drive back to the hotel.

After freshening up in our room, we thought of going to the restaurant and having dinner. Both my wife and I were looking forward to have dinner by the beach side, listening to the jostle of water crashing down the shore and the cool breeze blowing from the sea. Stop, Rewind, Play. We came down to the restaurant that was overlooking the beach….huh..?? where’s the beach..??? What we saw left us gap-mouthed, astonished and our eyes sprung out if their sockets. Where there was a beach in the afternoon now laid a bare stretch of dry-land. This was a never before seen phenomenon. After rubbing my eyes a couple of times and finally realizing that there was nothing wrong with my eyesight, I quickly enquired with the hotel staff about what happened here. He demurely said this is because of the sun and it happened every night. He said, everyday with sunset, the water recedes by miles and comes back during the early hours of the following morning and by the time the sun rises, the water reaches the shore again and remains during the day. This was unbelievable as I have never heard of sun influencing the flow of water in the seashore. It was always the moon that controlled it but strangely here, it was the sun.

where's the water..??

the same dried up beach, the next morning..still no water

We quickly had our dinner besides the dry sea shore and called it a day. The next morning, we went back to the church of “Our Lady the Remedios”. The inner structure of this church was very similar to the “Bom Jesus” church. What amazed me was some of the old paintings that were hanging on the church walls. After spending a few moments of solace and taking umpteen pictures, we started our journey back home to Pune.

the facade of lady remedios church

Our Lady Remedios Church

Mother Mary and Lil Jesus

a painting on the wall

Its been eight months since our visit to Daman and it is now that I have sat down to write about it. All this while, I thought that my visit to Daman would never last long in my memory as the place did not live up to the expectations that I had for it. But with the amount of detail with which I have been able to recall our visit, I guess I have underestimated the lasting impression that Daman had left in my memories.

11 Comments

  • GAM says:

    Lovely photos and write up. We had been here quite a few years ago and I must say your pics make the place look a lot more interesting than what I remember it to be.

    In the Mid Day there are daily ads from hotels in Daman offering packages including unlimited booze at UT rates so that must be their USP for those from the dry state of Gujarat. Even the small Maharashtrian village at the border of Saputara, is lined with booze shops!

  • rkumar02 says:

    Nice review and really lovely photographs. I also heard that Daman is similar to Goa, however your write up is eye opener. Is the Diu is also similar? I am planing for a week long holiday with kids in one resort (being member of RCI) and would be thinking fo Daman and Diu…now seems no – no !!

  • ssk agra says:

    we send this due to i like

  • Roopesh says:

    Good writeup about Daman. The pictures are great especially the sunset ones and Christ redeemer. I personally love to visit old sites like the fort, churches, cemetery especially if they are “maritime” i.e. close to sea, and try to imagine how the life would have been at that time. Interestingly, I am reminded of Daman & Diu when I see a rare truck with registration “DD” :) About the water receding in the sea (low tide), both sun and moon have influence on tides, moon being greater due to proximity.

  • awesome pictures with good description of Daman….

  • Vishal M says:

    Pretty Good Writeup…………Pl write more often!!
    Regards
    Vishal

  • arvindpadmanabhan says:

    Wonderful snap: “different shades of the sea from nani daman”. The church interiors are similar to those in Portuguese Goa. No surprises there. I didn’t like the beaches of Daman but thanks for showing that there is so much more to Daman than what I could see in a few hours.
    http://indianjourneys.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/daman/

  • hello everyone..!! thanks for the wonderful comments on my article. this surely encourages me to write more. daman had been a peculiar experience for me. while i am not in absolute love with this place, i can’t seem to be loathing it either. it has left a sort of love-hate paradox in me. i loved the church owing to my own admiration from early childhood, found the beaches a bit weird and somewhat shady…fell in love at first sight of the light house and just hated the upkeep of the fort. overall, if i get a second chance to visit daman, i guess…..hmmm, would leave for the moment to decide…!!!

  • manish khamesra says:

    So the dear Sun also conspired with Jazira owners painting beautiful picture at day time and differenrt one at night. Reading about Daman’s reputataion, I think many gullible tourists might have thought that its the effect of their over drunk state ;-)

    Very well written Vasanth and no doubt that the pictures are adding to the beauty of the post, presenting the best of Daman to the readers.

    Keep writing :-)

  • Very nice post pretty much interesting. Thanks for capturing and sharing the beauty of this location.

  • Nice and very informative write up although its very long it should be like this. http://blog.railyatri.in/must-visit-beaches-of-daman-and-diu/

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