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.