Diu is different. This tiny island linked by a bridge to Gujarat’s southern coast is infused with Portuguese history; its major architectural landmarks include three churches and a seafront fort; the streets of the main town are remarkably clean and quiet once you get off the tourist-packed waterfront strip; and alcohol is legal here. If you’ve been spending time immersed in the intensity of Gujarati cities, or just really need a beer, Diu offers a refreshing break.
Despite its draw as a seaside destination, Diu is not a great choice for a beach-centric vacation. Most of its sandy strips are littered with trash, and the throngs of families make them better for people-watching than sun-worshipping. Add in the random drunk-guy factor and any fantasies you have of a tropical paradise will surely be dashed. Diu, however, is one of the safest places in India to ride a scooter, with minimum traffic and excellent roads, and zipping along the coast with the wind in your hair is a joy.
Like Daman and Goa, Diu was a Portuguese colony until taken over by India in 1961. With Daman, it is still governed from Delhi as part of the Union Territory of Daman & Diu and is not part of Gujarat. It includes Diu Island, about 11km by 3km, separated from the mainland by a narrow channel, and two tiny mainland enclaves. One of these, housing the village of Ghoghla, is the entry point to Diu from Una.
Diu town sits at the east end of the island. The northern side of the island, facing Gujarat, is tidal marsh and salt pans, while the southern coast alternates between limestone cliffs, rocky coves and sandy beaches.
The island’s main industries are fishing, tourism, alcohol and salt. Kalpana Distillery at Malala produces rum from sugar cane.
One custom of the Portuguese still very much respected by local businesses is that of the siesta, meaning you shouldn’t count on much being open in mid-afternoon.
Tourist Attractions in Diu
Various tourist attractions in Diu are the Diu Fort, Fortress of Panikota, Nagoa Beach, St. Paul’s Church, Jallandhar Shrine, Gangeshwar Temple, Diu Museum, Ghoghla Beach and Gomtimata Beach.
Diu Fort is a very large and imposing structure, situated on the coast of the island. This fort was constructed between 1535 and 1541 AD after the treaty signed between the Sultan of Gujarat and the Portuguese. The fort is surrounded by the sea on the three sides and a canal on the fourth side. The fort offers a magnificent view of sea. On the fort stands a giant structure which now houses a Light House and the Diu jail. The beam from the lighthouse reaches to about 32 kms. Several canons are still located on the top of the fort and peep out of the holes on the walls of this gigantic structure.
Fortress of Panikota is a magnificent stone structure in the sea, built right at the mouth of the creek. This fortress can be reached only by a canoe or a motor launch. This fortress has a light house and small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Sea. The fortress offers a very beautiful view whether seen from the jetty, from the Fort, from the village of Ghoghla or from Diu proper.
Gangeshwar Temple is situated 3 kms away from the Diu town in Fudam village. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. There are five lingas which are located in the middle of the rocks on the seashore, and are washed by the waves of the sea. It is believed that these lingas were established here by the five Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata during their exile.
St. Paul’s Church is dedicated to the Lady of Immaculate Conception. This church was built during the 17th century and the most elaborate of all Portuguese churches in India. St. Paul’s Church was founded by Jesuits in 1600 and then rebuilt in 1807. Inside it is a great barn, filled with heavy dark wood, with a small cloister, next door. The main entrance of the church is adorned with volutes and shell-like motifs.
Jallandha Shrine is located on a hill close to the beach. This small shrine crowned with a dome, contains a niche where a stone carved face of the demon Jallandhar can be seen. Near to this shrine, the temple of Goddess Chandrika is located.
Earlier there was no building in Diu to house the antique statues and various stone inscriptions, so the old St. Thomas Church was converted into Diu museum. Diu Museum houses wooden carvings, statues, idols, shadow clocks and other important artifacts collected from various sites.
St. Thomas Church
St. Thomas Church is a lovely simple building housing the Diu Museum. There is a spooky, evocative collection of worn Catholic statues. Once a year, on 1 November, this is used for a packed out mass. There are also some remains of the Jain temple. There is a guest house upstairs and you can also climb the roof for amazing views.
Church of St. Francis of Assisi
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi has been converted into a hospital, but is also sometimes used for services. The Portuguese descended population mostly live in this area, still called the foreigner’s quarter.
The Naida Caves are situated outside the city wall. These caves have an intriguing, overgrown network of square hewn hollows and steps leading off into nowhere. This is where the Portuguese hacked out their building materials.
The Shell Museum contains the shells collected by Captain Devjibhai Fulbaria. Captain Devjibhai Fulbaria, a merchant navy captain collected shells for almost 50 years. The amazing shells range from the silver abalone to folding shells.
Vanakbara is a fascinating little fishing village. It is great to wander around the port, packed with colorful fishing boats and bustling activity. It is best to watch this place at 9 AM when the fishing fleet returns and sells off its catch.
Ghoghla Beach is one of the most beautiful beach in Diu. This beach also offers various water sports facilities like parasailing etc.
Nagoa Beach is located in the Nagoa hamlet of the Bucharwada village. This beach stretches about 2 km from one end to the other. This long, palm-fringed beach is very beautiful and quiet and is in the horse-shoe shape. This beach is very safe for swimming.
Gomtimata Beach is located on the western end of the island. This is one of the best beaches of the region, long and secluded and spread with natural white sand.
Some of the other beaches within the easy reach of the Diu Town are Jallandhar, Chakratirth and the stunning Sunset Point. These beaches are very popular among the foreign tourists and a small, gentle curve is good for swimming and hassle free.
How to Reach
Diu and Mumbai are well connected by domestic airlines. The Diu Airport is at a distance of 5km from the main city; auto rickshaws are available with ease outside the entrance to reach Diu proper.
Veraval, the nearest railway station has a direct connection to Rajkotand other major cities by rail.
Direct bus networks to Diu are available from Palitana, Bhavnagar, Talaja and Veraval in Gujarat. These towns have a railway and roadway connection to Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar also has an airway connection to Mumbai.