“People seem to think embracing life means to jump off cliffs and kiss strangers. Maybe it’s just slowly learning to love yourself.”
Move over Gokarna, make way for the newest kid on the block – Diu!! With pristine beaches, old churches and forts, quaint Portuguese houses, caves and reefs and cheap alcohol supply next to Gujarat, Diu fulfils every requirement on the checklist to the become the next beach-hot spot-getaway (though I pray with all my heart and soul that it does not, just to maintain this very same sanctity)!!
So firstly, one must be warned that reaching Diu is not the easiest task ever. Redbus said the journey will take 18 hours from Mumbai, but after a few helpings of dhokla and thepla, that creeps to a good 22 hours. Yes close to a day in a bus with Govinda movies on repeat, so one can well imagine how beautiful Diu must have been to be worth it!
The first thing that strikes you is how clean the place is! You’ve got to give it to a Union Territory for such brilliant development and spic and span maintenance and a fabulously shot video to show the world the same. (Watch it here in case you still haven’t). The roads even have a separate path for cyclists! *chuckles*
So we stayed at the Hoka Beach Resort, on Nagoa beach. Named after the Hoka trees on the beach (apparently the only place in India where these trees are found), the resort is cute, extremely hospitable, the staff a tad too slow in the kitchen but they make it up in their kindness.
First up was the Diu Fort. Built by the Portuguese in 1535, the fort was strengthened over the years till 1961 (which is also the longest period of colonial rule anywhere in the world!) Located at the southern tip of Gujarat at the mouth of the gulf of Khambat, the fort also has a large light house. It takes a good couple of hours to peacefully unravel all the gateways and arches and revel in the magnificent views of the sea. Around the Fort area is the main city, and barring the heat at this time of the year it is a pleasure to walk around the narrow, albeit well-maintained roads, speak to the locals, sit in one of the several churches, or just sit by the dock and watch the ferries come and go.
A few kilometres away to the south is the Gangeshwar temple. The Shiva temple has 5 shivalingas, said to have been constructed by the 5 Pandavas. Once a cave temple, now the shivalings lie open to the crashing of the waves and are completely submerged during high tides. The coast here is extremely jagged, in fact the beach is nothing but walking on reefs and hence not very tourist friendly and that’s what adds to the charm. With a few solitary benches placed across the entire stretch, one can just sit and hear the waves crashing and be at peace! Close by are the two “dakhmas” or Towers of Silence, a memorial for the undying spirit of the ancestors of the Parsi community.
Nagoa beach, is by far the most famous beach in Diu and rightly so. With clear waters (and water sports), lined by swaying Hoka trees, and reefs at one end, the beach, when not crowded can be a solace for many.
For our second day we decided to cycle the entire perimeter of Diu (at least 25km) and even though our butts were not very pleased post the effort, our senses and souls will forever be indebted!
There are hardly any places to rent a cycle from in Diu, its mostly motorbikes and scooty’s. We found our saviour in Safar Bike Rental (thanks Ixigo!). Starting from Diu city, we cycled through the narrow lanes to look for the Nagar Sheth Haveli, an old mansion, now a tourist attraction, done up in some of the most psychedelic colours! A few more kilometres took us to Naida caves. Enough cannot be said to describe the magnificence of these caves. Drama at it’s best. Apparently created after the Portuguese hacked away building material, with crevices and unfinished steps, beams of sunlight interspersed with darkness, dead leaves and dangling roots, the caves are a must visit for anyone in Diu!
And finally, the last leg of our missive bike ride ended at the Gomtimata beach. Not a lot of people go there and it isn’t a beach in the usual sense (less sand, more reefs and cliffs) and yet again this only adds to the unbridled charm.
All I can say is, we found our Island of Calm, and so must you!