India Diaries| Exploring Diu 

Tripoto
20th Jan 2018

One of the many beautiful views from the fort

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

It never ceases to amaze me how close we are....sometimes just a few minutes or hours away from abundant nature, beauty and inspiration. However in order to make the most of any journey, even the smallest one, I've come to learn that they're best when you leave all your other identities behind. Forget that girl with round glasses who is sits in front of her desktop at work, forget the young man in you jostling to find space to stand in a local train en-route to make a living, forget the woman who puts her heart into making the most delicious meals for her family day after day or forget the businessman who has to deal with clients that never seem to be happy. The possibilities that travel could unravel!

The World Above Us

Photo of Diu, Daman and Diu, India by Shachi Sanghvi

I wouldn't like to negate the importance of a little bit planning before going on a trip but every once in a while it is okay to hand over the reigns of control to life and let it surprise you. Which is exactly what I did after a long working Saturday as I hopped on a bus to Diu from Ahmedabad at 10:30 pm. The idea was to spend the whole day there and catch a bus back at 7:00 pm.

After a surprisingly decent journey(if you've traveled long distances by bus in India, you know how tiring they can get), I got off at the Jethibai Bus Station in Diu at around 10:00 am. I was hoping to find a place close to the bus station where I could take a quick shower. Most of the hotels said that I would have to book a room for the entire day. After walking around for a while, I stumbled upon a small lodge called Anand Guest House. Lalji bhai, who worked in the merchant navy till 2008-2009 and now owns the guest house was a really kind host. He helped me chalk out an itinerary for the day that covered almost everything there was to see in Diu and also shared a map that would help me get around. I gulped down an amazing club sandwich at a hotel nearby called the The Grand Highness along with some cold coffee and quickly walked towards the Diu Fort that was about 1.5 kms away.I enjoyed the walk along the broad and clean coastal road. However, unlike most coastal cities/towns, I could not smell the sea or the salty sea breeze or fish drying in the open.

Picture Perfect

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

The magnificent Portuguese fort was constructed in 1535 AD and was constructed with finesse to prevent attacks from the sea that covered in on three sides (a deep moat protecting the fourth side that faced land as well). The canons that were placed on bastions on all four sides as well as the 2 light houses were impressive. From the fort, one can also see Pani Kotha, a jail erected in the middle of the sea. (I was told that the monument is lit up in the evenings. Wonder where this fascination to illuminate monuments with multi-colored lights comes from?). I spent an hour soaking in the beautiful views from various points inside the fort.

Pani Kotha

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

Lucky are those born in an environment where they need no protection

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

A light house at one end of the fort

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

You rarely get an opportunity to revisit a place twice in a lifetime and so I wanted to try to see everything that Diu had to offer over the course of the day. A auto rickshaw driver outside the fort agreed to take me around for a very reasonable amount. Besides driving me around, Vinod Kanjibhai Solanki also told me some very interesting things about what life on the island for the locals was like. The subsequent generations of his great grandfathers and everybody who served the Portuguese on the island in various capacities are invited by the Portuguese government to settle down in Portugal and also have the option of getting Portuguese citizenship. As a result, a lot of locals have moved out of Diu to settle down in Portugal where they work in restaurants or in the construction industry. In spite of being employed in those industries, the locals prefer to migrate because of the immense social security benefits that are offered to Portuguese citizens as well as the higher wage rates. While most men migrate with their families, there are a few who leave the women behind as they are afraid of their wives leaving them in the new-found freedom they would get in the foreign land. He has been unable to migrate so far as a result of a spelling error in his documents and he would have to spend over Rs 2,00,000 to get it rectified. Vinodbhai belongs to the Koli community(the other fishing community in Diu are the Kharvas) but he does not work in the fishing industry like his brother because he is more comfortable on land than the sea. After throwing up continuously while fishing a couple of times, he decided to earn his livelihood driving a rickshaw. Until a few years ago, it was also common for parents to send their sons to Mumbai to train as sea-men at the age of 15-16 that was followed by a career in the merchant navy. However, it is not a very popular choice any longer because of the long periods that keep them away from their families. A popular saying among the locals is, "a seaman's life is without a wife!"

The white-washed exteriors of St Paul's Church against the blue sky still remain etched in my memory. I hadn't been to a Church in a really long time and a feeling of peace and calmness swept over me as I stood inside for 15 minutes. I'd give Diu Museum a miss were I to go again as it did not tell me anything about the history of the place.

St Paul's Church

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

At around 1:50 pm, he dropped me to Jallandhar Beach which was my favourite part about the trip. There wasn't another soul on the entire beach. It was one of those rare moments where nature gives you a private appointment. The waves sparkled under the sunlight as they gently swept over to the coarse shores. The sand that kept slipping through my palms as I tried to hold on seemed to say how nice it was to let things go.

A private appointment with nature at Jallandhar Beach

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

Footprints on sand and in time...

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

The quiet solitude at the beach was followed by a trip to the INS Khukri Memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives on the ship during the Indo-Pakistan war in 1971. The memorial was surrounded by some strange structures that seem to have been constructed recently.

INS Khukhri Memorial

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

Strange structures that are being built by the sea

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

There are certain places that enchant you the moment you step foot in them and the Naida caves is most definitely one of them. The caves call out to the children inside all of us that loved to play hide-n-seek or get lost in a maze once upon a time. The Portuguese soldiers that used the caves to store arms and ammunition must have enjoyed this fascinating place. Photographs probably play a better role in capturing the magic of this place than words do. However, I'd like to call upon the government/bollywood to provide exclusive sets to couples that want to capture their romance on film before their weddings so that they don't take over public places. Pre-wedding photo/film shoots were abuzz in some of the most beautiful caves that led to a lot of litter because of the confetti, water bottles and other material used during the shoots.

Into the Jungle

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

Inside the caves (A 'cloud' artificially generated to give special effects to a pre-wedding photo shoot)

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

Some landscapes make our hearts feel at home

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

There was some renovation happening at the Gangeshwar temple that consists of five Shivlings believed to have been worshiped by the Pandavas during their exile.

Gangeshwar Temple

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

It was around 4 pm by the time I left Gangeshwar temple and I was beginning to get hungry. On the way to Nagoa Beach, we briefly stopped at a placed called the Fudam Bird Sanctuary. Since it was the afternoon, I could not spot too many birds but recommend the place to any bird lover coming to Diu. At present, they have a watching tower that gives you a view of the vast expanse of the marshes but a government official present at that time said that they were planning to start boat rides that would take bird lovers/tourists into the marshes for a better look at the birds.(I hope they have stricter laws that prohibit tourists from feeding the birds and other practices that are rampant in lakes around Gujarat like Nalsarovar).

Fudham Bird Sanctuary

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

You don't have to be a bird lover to fall in love with this place!

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

Another Landscape, Another Wonder

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

Authorities are still in the process of 'developing' the bird sanctuary

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

A bird watching tower that overlooks the marshes

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

The sea-shell museum has been painstakingly managed by a man who has a vast collection of shells they have from all over the world but it is definitely worth a visit. If it fancies you, you can even buy a preserved starfish to keep at your bedside for Rs 250.

The seashell museum has a fantastic collection of shells from all over the world. A shell lover's paradise!

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

Would you fancy a star fish you keep by your bedside?

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

Sensing that I was starving, Vinod took me to a really cute place called the Hoka Island Villa that serves some delicious pasta at 5:00 pm. After a quick meal, we head to our last stop for the day, Nagoa beach.

Stay with someone who cares & cooks you a good meal ;)

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

The cafe has a warm and cozy interior

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

Pasta never disappoints

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

Would love to come back to Diu for the Tent Carnival which is held close to this spot

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

The Nagoa beach is vibrant with tourists strolling on the beach, swimming in the sea or indulging in water sports. Diu has something to offer to everybody. It is a relatively peaceful place. Vinod said that the episodes of communal violence in surrounding places like Una never really affected them. Locals like him who depend on tourism to earn their livelihood suffered considerably for a few months last year when a Supreme Court order prohibited the sale of alcohol within 500 m of highways. However, things are back to normal now and business is doing well.

Almost time to say goodbye

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

Watching the sun set from a quiet corner further up Nagoa Beach

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi

Vinod dropped me back to the Jethibai bus stop at 7:30 pm and I got on a bus back to Ahmedabad. It was a long but exciting day and the stories, sights and charming vibes from this tiny union territory helped me catch some sleep on the bumpy bus ride back to the chaos of everyday life. Until next time <3

Because all good things must come to an end...

Photo of India Diaries| Exploring Diu by Shachi Sanghvi
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