Diu was our next destination but we added detour to Somnath as an evening delight. Road between Sasan to Veraval is not in good shape and also does not have frequent connectivity with busses. Khatra and Shared Autos are the primary mode of transport and we declined that option in the beginning. From Sasan, We boarded a state transport bus to Talala (16km, 30 minutes, 14 INR) which lie outside the Gir forest reserve. We assumed that we will get a connected bus to Veraval from Talala but it was just a false notion which we realized after waiting for 90 minutes on the bus stand. Finally a shared auto plied us to Veraval from Talala (20 INR, 1 hour). Traveling on a shared Auto with so much of luggage was another test of perseverance. Finally we reached to the sacred temple of Somnath which is very close to Veraval town.
Lazy Sea on the shore of Somnath
One of the twelve Jyotirlinga, the sacred temple of Somnath lies on the shore of Arabian Sea. It is one of the important destinations on the pilgrims trail of Gujarat and constantly full of visitors. The present temple of Somnath is architecturally rich with traditional influence and built on the original site on the coast. Aside from its religious importance, Somnath temple raises interesting questions to historians due to its continuous destruction and rebuilding for centuries. It is believed that this temple was rebuilt at least eight times and suffered incessant attacks from Muslim invaders. Lonely sea beneath the temple adds charm to its aura. Photography is prohibited inside the temple complex.
Outer wall of Diu Fort
Somnath was a quick stop enroute Diu so we hit back to the main road to catch a bus to Diu. One might not get a direct bus to Diu so it’s better to get a bus to Una and then continue journey further to Diu.
Fishing boats at Diu Jetty Stand
I arrived at Diu with a high hope of quenching my thirst with something soporific which I was not getting in Gujarat. Decorated and vibrant wine shops induced the underlying desire which was suppressed after such a long travel. Getting a budget accommodation in Diu may be tricky especially over the weekends when wine lovers from nearby town congregate in the town. Accommodation options are in surplus but budget options are limited. After inquiring at all the hotels on fort road, we returned back to the first one which offered us the best price (300 INR per night).It was closer to bus stand and opposite to fish harbor which might be one reason of discount. I was pissed off with my never ending curiosity of inquiring to all the available options…eventually getting rejection everywhere….and then settle to the first one. Rejection part is awesome perhaps and the most intriguing. Anyway, we were off to Dinner which was complemented with a beer. My eyes brightened once again.
Diu was picked as our laid-back destination so no itinerary for coming days….Read, Write, Roam, Flirt, Sleep, Laundry, Drink… The beach time…
Coastal plantation before Goptimata beach
Indented coastline of Diu
One fine day, we decided to go for Diu sightseeing which can be best done on a bike. Unlike Goa, Diu is a small island with coastline of 8-10 km and can be easily covered on bike. Being a Union Territory has also given it additional adds hence roads are really good in Diu. Generally it’s fairly easy to get a scooty or bike on rent in Diu but we had to struggle a lot. Fortunately we found someone who was ready to rent us a bike.
Nagoa Beach Diu
We headed to the Nagao beach which is some 8 km from bus stand. Nagao beach is the most popular beach among the travelers. Riding on the roads of Diu is quite lazy experience where you rarely come across to other vehicles. Nagao beach is a perfect semi circle palm fringed beach with gentle waves lapping on the shore. On weekends it would have been a picnic hangout but weekdays are generally idle. Nagao beach is the best for swimming and indulging into water sports. During winters, various types of birds flock to the island which makes it a little paradise for bird watchers.
Headland at Khodidhar Beach
After usual splashing and dunking, we drove further to Khodidhar beach which is quite off the tourists. Khodidhar beach is close to Nagoa beach towards the dead end of the road. Khodidhar beach is more of a headland overlooking the sea. Coastal rocks covered with algae support the beach line of Khodidhar and add a colorful charm to its appearance. If you descend down to the coastal rocks, you can see small colonies of colorful corals fringed around rocky cove. It is distinctive geological formation and quite alluring at the same time. From Nagao beach, one can easily walk till Vanakbara and Goptimata beach those are on the extreme west of the Island. We went on the same direction but on the bike.
Coastal Rocks at Khodidhar Beach
In between Nagao and Goptimata beach lie an unusual stretch of coast line interchanging with limestone cliffs, rocky coves and sandy beaches. It looked an appealing site from a distance and we could not restrain ourselves getting closer….Woow…this is what we were looking for…a warm place with no memories… a tiny sandy beach secretly settled between the headlands… Gentle waves lapping on the sand formed a natural pond adjoining a placid blue water bay…It was so tempting that even the chronicle ablutophobic will jump in…
Secret Beach near Goptimata
The usual yearning of finding something better was what restrained us taking a dip at that secret beach and we drove further west towards Goptimata beach. Goptimata beach is a long and empty stretch of sand ending to a fishing harbor. It is the perfect for long beach walk splashing your feet under the sinuous waves… Beware of Dogs.. There had been unfortunate incident nearby.. Vanakwara, situated on the western most tip of the island is a little fishing village adorned with colorful wooden boats and a busy fish trading market. Quirky charm of the fishing harbor might catch your curiosity. Goptimata temple is another delight around Vanakwara village.
Long Stretch of Sand at Goptimata Beach
Goptimata beach (perhaps due to Dog’s hoax) could not qualify as an ideal beach for lazy bathing so we turned back to the Secret beach. Our time at Secret beach passed as a slow motion picture and we were pretty occupied until hunger rang the bell. Driving back to Diu town was the best way to slake appetite but still we stopped at Sea Shell Museum (Close to Airport, 10 INR entrée fee) which has about 2500-3000 sea items are displayed from all over the world. Items colors and shapes are natural. Nothing is painted. 18 types of Crabs, Octopus, mother of the pearls porcupine fish, flying fish, star fishes etc & about 600 and more sea items are displayed in various sizes of magnifying Glasses. Curator of the museum is a cool retired captain from Merchant Navy. His passion about sea shells cannot be expressed in words and in my dictionary he will be someone epitomizing passion. Sea shell museum is another engaging attraction where an hour went like flick.
Palm Fringed roads at Diu
Driving through the palm fringed roads; we touched back to Diu town for lunch. Another lunch went for Gujarati thali because other options were queer. We thought of visiting Pani Kotha (Fortim-do-Mar) which is a ship shape white structure seems like floating in the bay. It’s a former prison and believed to be once connected with land by an under-sea tunnel. Ferry around Pani Kotha departs at 10:30 AM (75 INR per person) from the jetty harbor. Tourists are not allowed to get down at Pani Kotha and there was no way to reach there in the afternoon.
Portuguese Fort Diu
Finally we headed to Diu Fort (Visiting hours: 08 AM to 06:00 PM) which lies at the eastern tip of the island. The Portuguese fortress of Diu is formidable and imposing structure on the extreme south-east point of the island. The original fortification was constructed under Nuno-da-Cunha in 1535 AD and was rebuilt by the Viceroy D Joao-de-Castro after 1546 AD.
Double moat of Diu Fort
Crossing the outer and inner ditches, this historic citadel enters the fortress through double gateways. The gateway and the landing pier are protected by the bastion called St George, considered to be the oldest part of the entire fort. This bastion was erected by Capt Nannel-de-Souza-de-Supulveda, who also extended the rock cut moat from sea to sea in 1542 AD.
Array of Cannons at Diu Fort
The Citadel is protected by the sea on three sides and on the land side by a deep moat cut through the solid rock and was defended by several cannons placed on bastions. On the land side (West) of the fort is an imposing double line of bastions facing the city. Three of them are on the outer line and four on the inner line and all are named after Christian Saints. It was on this land side of the fort that the Gujarat army under Khwaja Safar and his son Rumikhan had directed all their attacks in 1546 AD. The Southern wall of the castle faces the open sea. The St Luzia bastion (1650 AD) from extreme point of the castle to the eastern side. In between the bastion of St. Luzia and main bastion at Gateway are the cisterns of the "Kings and queens", so constructed as to collect the rain water. Within the area of the fort of Diu were located the Governor's palace, the prison, barracks for the garrisons, state offices, besides several churches.
Pani Kotha from Diu Fort
The fort enclosing an area of 56.736 Sq meters has facilities for storage of all kinds of arms and ammunition, rations and water to withstand siege of longer duration. Many underground escape channels were also provided. The fort is considered as the most important Portuguese forts in Asia. The light house at Diu Fort is considered as the highest point of the Island.
St Paul's Church Diu
After visiting the fort, we hit to St Paul church which is close to Diu Fort. Immaculate conception Church also known as St Paul's Church was begun in the year 1601 and was completed only in the year 1610. The architecture of the church has a lot of Renascent and mannerist influence. The main facade of the church, perhaps the most elaborate of all Portuguese churches in India is adorned with curiosity treated volutes and shell like motifs which immediately attracts visitors. The work is executed in great perfection. One will also find the use of Indian motifs. The facade of the church is minutely decorated. The interior of the church as well as the vault of the doom is also bearing much decoration. The Altars and the Pulpit are the masterpieces in the Christian art in India. The wood work is of such precision and perfection and religious motifs of Hinduism, Christianity and Islamism are so well balanced that it was a vision of Universalism. Although the artists are not known and their names are not recorded yet their work is immortal. The interior and exterior of this monument is so elegant and symmetric. Portuguese built the church of Diu with domes not only because of the lack of wood but to protect it from cyclones. Shells this motif is made very prominent in the entire building that is in the temples as well the cloister, to show that this beautiful church is situated by the sea side.
Strangler fig inside Naida Caves
Behind St Paul’s Church lies the church of St Francis of Assis which is now converted into a hospital. It’s a remarkable white building which will definitely come to your attention. The Southern-East side of the island has got a long stretch of sandy beach line. Jallandhar beach is the first one which stretches till the shrine on a headland. Due to its proximity with the town, Jallandhar beach is a favorite among locals yet lonely. We took the road inland towards Zampa gateway to visit the waterfall and Naida Caves. Naida Caves became one of the beguiling experiences for us. Unlike usual caves, these are more like underground ravines which gives a feeling that it formed due to manual digging. It’s a dark maze of caves fringed with aerial roots which add to its mystery. Naida caves are remarkable site and scary at times. Wandering through these underground caves might lead you to nowhere and you may lose the steps which you took while descending. We also could not find the steps and rose on the other side of the caves. Finally a generous lady helped us locating the main road and bike.
Sunset at Chakratirth Beach Diu
In the evening, we headed to famous sunset point of Diu which is close to Chakratirth beach and supposedly the southernmost tip of the Island.INS Khukri memorial is built on the headland overlooking the sea and offers a scenic sunset. So here all the tourists come to witness the spectacular sunset under the mythical conception…. Sun is always setting somewhere… and it’s always endearing… Stop buying this exclusive sun set myth…. Try it tomorrow from wherever you are…you will find it fascinating…just like the end…. For the sake of capturing the misty dusk, I took some shots and head back to Diu to embrace another night…
Pani Kotha in night
Night is an overwhelming transformation for Diu.. It’s vibrant, giggly, colorful, bright and intoxicating… Glittering prison of Pani kotha looks like a floating diya on the river surface…combining it all become a perfect night out setting… we crossed the bridge and headed to Ghoghla beach which is on the other side of the Island. Ghoghla beach is known for water sport and remains busy during light hours. In the night there was just the sheer sound of silence in the background of lapping waves… that’s how another evening at Diu concluded and becomes night…. Lighting at Pani Kotha turned off and darkness enveloped the puzzling island of Diu… Dinner and a long day ahead…
Boats resting in the bay
Trailing Gujarat Series: In Chronological Order