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, 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
Where to eat
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.