Situated about 193 km north of Mumbai, Daman has become synonymous with composed blue sea, rustic beaches, picturesque villages and relics of Portugese past. The former Portugese colony lies sandwiched between Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Daman was a Portuguese territory for over 300-years and was liberated only in 1961 along with Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Goa and Diu. Daman lies on the banks of the Daman Ganga River.
Today Daman is a Union Territory but the influence of the Portuguese is evident in its architecture, way of life and food habits.
The Portuguese took over Daman in the 16th century due to its strategic importance on the sea route between East and West Asia. The Portuguese made multiple attempts to capture Daman but failed. In 1559, the colonial power received Daman and surrounding regions as compensation for helping the Shah of Gujarat to fight the invading Mughals.
Daman was an important outpost of opium trade to China till the Portuguese remained a potent naval power. Resistance to Portuguese control flared up after India won independence from the British. In 1961, the Portuguese withdrew from their enclaves and since then Daman has been a Union Territory of India.
There are people belonging to European, African and Indian origin settled in Daman. The influence of diverse cultures is evident in dance, food and music of Daman. There are different dance forms that that show strong Portuguese influence like the Verdigao, Vira and Mando. Garba has come across the Gujarat border into Daman as well. Tribal dances are also popular in Daman.
Most of the people speak Gujarati, Hindi, English and most old people speak Portuguese. There are a few convent schools that still teach Portuguese and French along with English and Hindi.
Daman is popular with Gujaratis who head to the beach state to satiate their thirst for alcohol. Gujarat is a dry state and alcohol is banned.
Nani Daman is the place to visit for shopping. The Foreign Market, as the name suggests deals in imported electronic and household goods. Other things that you can buy at Daman are bamboo baskets, bamboo mats, seashell ornaments, leather footwear and furniture.
WHERE TO STAY
The road along the seafront is dotted with decent budget hotels that are comfortable and many of these hotels have restaurants attached. Most of the hotels are located near Devka Beach in Nani Daman. The hotels are at walking distance from the main shopping centre in Nani Daman.
Mid-range hotels are scattered throughout Daman but several are located about five minute walk from Devka Beach.
Daman also boasts of a luxury hotels. There are a few resorts that offer cottages with a view of the sea located on Devka beach. The resorts have clean rooms and most offer swimming pool, room service, parking space, access to a bar and restaurant. There are a couple of resorts near the Coastal Highway that offer the same amenities.
WHAT TO SEE
Old Fort: It once housed the Governor’s Palace, ruins of a monastery, a hospital and two churches. The eastern side of the fort has a moat and drawbridge.
St. Jerome Fort: Situated on the northern bank, it encloses a church and a cemetery. A few canons still stand on the fortifying perimeter wall. There is an impressive gate that faces the river. The Church of Our Lady of the Sea inside the fort is worth visiting.
Fort of Moti Daman: The fort located in Moti Daman dates back to 1559. The entire fort is spread over 30 sq km and has ten citadels that divide the fort into sections.
Jampore Beach: About 23 km south of Moti Daman area, the beach is a nice place to relax. However, it is unsuitable for swimming.
Devka Beach: About 3 km north of Nani Daman, the beach is a nice and quiet place to relax with hotels and bars lining the entire beach.
Jain Temple: The temple has 18th century wall paintings that show the life of Mahavir.
Church of Our Lady of the Rosary: The church has Portuguese tombstones and is adorned with meticulously detailed gilded statues.
Bom Jesus Church: The Church was a parish church during the reign of the Portuguese and remains a testament to the craftsmanship of Portuguese artisans. The church is dedicated to Bom Jesus and attracts scores of travelers and pilgrims.
Church of Our Lady of Remedies and Church of Our Lady of Angustias are also worth seeing.
NEAR TO DAMAN
Mumbai: The financial capital and most populous city in India, Mumbai is a diverse, vibrant, multi-cultural, modern city teeming with crowds. Situated on the west coast of India, Mumbai is the capital of the state of Maharashtra and home to 20 million people. Mumbai, along with the neighboring urban areas of Thane and Navi Mumbai, is one of the most heavily populated regions in Asia.
Ahmedabad: Ahmedabad is the 7th largest city in India. It is also titled as the Manchester of the east. It is the most thriving city and second in growth in west India following Mumbai.
A former Portuguese colony, Diu is popular for its history, architecture and culture. It was an important trading post of the Portugese during colonial times.
Located at the southern tip of the Saurashtra peninsula of Gujarat, Diu is part of the union territory of Daman and Diu.
The 38.8 sq m island was ruled by many rulers including the Mauryans, Guptas, Mughals and many others but it were the Portuguese who ruled the island for more than 400 years and built forts and cathedrals.
Among the Portuguese structures, Diu Fort is the main attraction of Diu. It was built by the Portuguese Governor Nuno De Cunha between 1535 and 1541 AD. Other Portuguese structures on the island are the St. Paul Church, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Thomas Church.
The 21 km shoreline of the island comprises of three beaches – Nagoa, Ghoghla and Jallandhar. All the three beaches have escaped commercialization and are ideal places to unwind. On the Nagoa and Ghoghla beach, one can enjoy water sports activities like water scooter and parasailing. Evening boat cruises are another attraction on the beach.
Another attraction are the Hoka trees which were introduced by the Portuguese from Africa.
The culture of Diu is unique as it is a blend of Kathiawadi (Saurashtra) and Portuguese culture. Hindu, Islam and Christianity prevail on the island. Gujarati, Hindi, English and Portuguese are spoken by the locals.
To promote tourism, the administration of Diu conducts the Diu Festival annually. It is organized on December 19th, the Liberation Day of Diu. During the four day festival, several cultural programs are conducted.
Diu has been ruled by several rulers and it also has mythological stories attached to it. According to mythology, Pandavas during their 14-year exile visited a place called Mani Nagar (Diu), which was under the control of Yadava dynasty.
Diu, it is believed, was once ruled by a demon called King Jallandhar. He was killed by Lord Vishnu with his Sudarshan Chakra. After killing Jallandhar, Lord Vishnu left the Sudharshan Chakra. The place where the chakra was left on the island is known as Chakra Tirtha.
Diu was an important trade centre on the Saurashtra coast during medieval times. It was ruled by Mauryans, Kshatrapas, Guptas, Maitrakas, Chavdas, Chalukya’s, Mughals and Portuguese. Before Diu came under the control of the Portuguese, it was ruled by the Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat, who entered into a defensive alliance treaty with the Portuguese on October 5th, 1535 to protect them from Mughal Emperor, Humayun.
The treaty allowed the Portuguese to build a fort and organize their arsenal. However, the treaty was soon broken, when the Sultan of Gujarat attacked the Portuguese in 1537 and 1546; but failed to succeed. Diu came under the complete control of the Portuguese on November 10th, 1546.
Portuguese went on to rule the island for more than 400 years before the Indian army took possession of all the Portuguese colonies, which also included Diu. On December 19th, 1961 Indian military occupied the island under Operation Vijay. In 1962, Diu was declared a separate Union Territory.
WHERE TO STAY
There are several accommodation options in Diu. There are many budget, mid-range hotels and beach resorts. The tourism department of Diu maintains a tourist at Ghoghla.
WHERE TO EAT
There are several multi-cuisine restaurants in Diu. One can get Gujarati, South Indian, Punjabi, Portuguese, Chinese and many other cuisines in Diu.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Diu is during the months of November to February. It also coincides with the annual Diu festival.
WHAT TO SEE
Diu Fort: The fort is surrounded by sea on three sides. It was constructed between 1535 and 1541 AD by Portuguese Governor Nuno De Cunha. On the fort, one can see a light house and canons. The main front wall of the fort has five windows with stone galleries.
Nagoa Beach: It is a horse-shaped beach. On the beach one can enjoy water sports. The beach is also safe for swimming. The beach has escaped rampant commercialization.
St. Paul’s Church: Dedicated to our Lady of Immaculate Conception, the St Paul’s Church was built between 1601 and 1610. It resembles the Bom Jesu basilica of Goa. One can see mofits and magnificent wood carvings.
St Thomas Church Museum: Built in 1598, the Church has now been converted into a museum. In the museum, one can see antique statues, various stone inscriptions, wooden carvings and idols.
INS Khukri Memorial: Inaugurated on December 15th, 1999 in the memory of officers and the sailors of INS Khukri. INS Khukri was hit by PNS Hangor during the 1971 war. Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla and other officers refuse to abandon the ship and went down along with it.
Ghogala Beach: It is the largest beach of Diu. The golden beach is safe for swimming and ideal for sunbathing. One can also enjoy water sports activities like parasailing, surfing, etc.
NEAR TO DIU
Gir National Park: Sasan-Gir National Park, better known as Gir National Park, is the last remaining refuge of Asiatic lions in India. Spread over 1,412 sq km park in Junagadh district of Gujarat, the national park was the erstwhile game preserve of the Nawab of Junagadh.
Junagadh: Junagadh means ‘Old Fort’ and it is the seventh largest city in Gujarat. It was once part of Saurashtra state and later part of Bombay.
Somnath Temple: The most sacred among the 12 Jyotirlings in India, Somnath Temple is located in Veraval region of Junagadh district. The Somnath Temple is the seventh temple built to commemorate Lord Somnath.
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Daman and Diu is as given below. The best time to visit Daman and Diu is also specified.