Diu Island: A Former Portuguese Colony in Gujarat
Diu Island: A Photo Story
Diu Island is a former Portuguese colony but still, it has the influence of Portuguese culture depicted from the houses, churches and the streets. It is located at off the Southern coast of Gujarat’s Kathiawar peninsula. An isolated Island from the mainland, connected by the bridges though, brings an extra charm to its beauty due to the peaceful environment. Although, area wise it is a very small place but has many options to make an excellent weekend getaway. One can spend some relaxed moments on the sandy beaches, visit the history of this beautiful place which is home to the 16thcentury fort with a prison in the mid of Arabian Sea, can wander around in mazelike Naida caves for a perfect photo shoot. More than this is to know about the glorious history of the Indian Navy. There is so much to explore in Diu Island.
Day 1: 30th September 2017
Road Trip: Ahmedabad to Diu
Our exploration started with a road trip from Ahmedabad to Diu Island on September 30, 2017. It took seven hours to reach Diu with the help of Google map. To be honest, the road was not in a good shape back then. We had to take some extra turns to avoid some rough patches, even got road blocked at some places. Anyway, we reached Diu at around 2 PM. We expected some pleasant weather at this time of year but it was a bit hot during days and pleasant at evenings. After lunch and a quick power nap, we were ready to explore some parts of Diu as we never wanted to kill our precious time staying at the hotel.
Hyphaene thebaica aka Hoka Tree
The distinctive feature of Diu Island is a doum palm/gingerbread tree, a type of palm tree with edible oval fruit. This tree can be seen only in this region of Gujarat (India). Basically, it is a native of the Arabian Peninsula and also to the northern half of Africa. In India, it is known as Hoka tree. The tree is unique in its structure with small oval fruits hanging in bunches. These fruits can be seen served at beaches and other touristy places in Diu. We haven't tried them though.
Alfiston Jail / Fortim-do-Mor aka Pani Kotha
The first thing we visited was Fortress of Pani Kotha also known as Fortim-do-Mar. It was an Alfiston jail, served as the main prison complex when Portuguese ruled Diu. It is built as a huge stone structure in the middle of the Arabian Sea with a lighthouse and a chapel. It is one of a kind jail in India. In the evening we got to see a glittering view of the Pani Kotha located in the Sea, off the coast opposite to the Diu
Timings: From Sunrise to Sunset.
Day 2: 1st October 2017
It is 16th-century fort built by Bahadurshah, Mughal sultan of Gujarat and Portuguese. The architecture of the fort itself depicts its history of Mughals. The fort presents a magnificent view of the Arabian Sea. There is a giant Lighthouse and several canons lined up along the walls of the fort facing the Sea like peeping out of the holes on gigantic walls of the fort. Canons are also placed at other places inside the fort.
Opening Hours: 8 AM to 6 PM
Address: Near Collectorate Office, Diu.
This is a perfect maze-like structure of unique rock formation portraying a beautiful network of caves and caverns. The amazing part is the sunlit canyons providing magical touch. There is a huge network of tunnels with square hewn steps. One can have a perfect location for a photo shoot. Apart from the crowded touristy places like beaches and fort, this place is a hidden gem of Diu. We loved this place and would name it as an explorer’s paradise. To fully enjoy this majestic location, just sit there for a while and enjoy the peaceful and calm atmosphere around. As the day progresses, one can observe the beautiful hue and contrasts due to change in the sun rays coming through the top.
Location: At 1 km distance from the city center via Hadmitya road.
Visiting time: Sunrise to Sunset
INS Khukri: Naval War Memorial
This is an Indo-Pakistani War memorial commemorating a torpedoed by a Pakistani submarine in 1971. INS Khukri was an Indian NavalShip that sunk off the coast of Diu. The memorial was inaugurated on 15thDecember 1999.
On the fateful night of 9th December 1971 during Indo-Pak war, INS Khukri (British Type 14 frigate of Indian Navy) was sunk off the coast of Diu when hit by three torpedoes fired by Pakistani submarine (PNS Hangor). This was the first warship sunk in action by a submarine since World War II. Along with the ship, 178 sailors and 18 officers made the supreme sacrifice. Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla, the captain of INS Khukri chose to go down with his ship. Only 61 sailors and 6 officers survived. Captain Mulla was awarded Param Vir Chakra posthumously.
Location: Near Jalandhar Beach
Opening Hours: 24 hours open.
Day 3: 2nd October 2017
St. Paul’s Church
This is among one of the three churches of Diu Island. It came under Portuguese control in the early 16th century. It has a beautiful Baroque architecture and dedicated to Paul the Apostle. Walking around the area, street
Location: Fortside, Diu
Opening Hours: All days of the week except for Sunday (8 AM to 6 PM).
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Gangeshwar Mahadev Temple
It is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva at the waterfront with five Shivlingas washed by the Sea’s tidal waves. During our visit to this temple, we haven’t seen water waves washing the Shivlingas as it occurs only during high tides. Mythologically, it is believed that this temple was built by Pandavas in Mahabharata times.
Location: At 3 km away from Diu in Fudam village of Gujarat.
Opening Hours: 6 AM to 8 PM
Among all the popular and tourist beaches in Diu, we found Jalandhar beach best for its peaceful, clean, and calm environment. It is one of the untouched beaches of Diu for people seeking solitude and some quality time with friends and family. It is a good spot for seeing sunrise and sunset. This beach has importance for Hindus. The name Jalandhar originated from a mythological demon which was killed by Lord Krishna. There is a Jalandhar Shrine located on a hillock close to the beach. The shrine has a dome which features a stone carved face of Jalandhar, the demon.
Location: At 1 km from Diu Town.
We spent our wonderful evening gazing at the tides and with a soul healing beach walk along the coast. Karen had fully enjoyed her time with building sand castles. 🙂
Further suggested readings: Rann of Kutch (Great White Desert)
Bhuj: City of architectural marvels
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68 thoughts on “Diu Island: A Former Portuguese Colony in Gujarat”
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Gandhi’s home state: The 12 top Gujarat highlights - Reading the Book Travel
[…] The Calico Museum of Textiles is highly regarded – advance booking is necessary. The Ahmedabad region also has a number of spectacular stepwells to visit, and is a perfect jumping off point to explore the former Portuguese colonial island of Diu. […]
Long Weekend Trips in India for 2019 - Backpack & Explore
[…] Diu is a small island surrounded by Maharashtra, Gujarat and the Arabian Sea. It is a beautiful city and a part of the Indian union territory of Daman and Diu. It is a former Portuguese colony but still has the influence of Portuguese culture depicted from the houses, churches and the streets. The best time to visit Diu is from October to March. Attractions There are many beautiful attractions like Diu Fort, St. Paul’s Church, Alfiston jail aka Pani-kotha, INS Khukri, stunning Naida Caves, and is quite popular for its sun-kissed golden beaches. There is so much to explore in the former Portuguese colony in Gujarat. […]
this is a unique explanation you got there!
Wow! Such a great place to explore. Diu Island sounds fun to visit. The history of Hindu temples and other sites are so interesting to know. Love it! Keep it up
Thanks Alexine! 🙂
Emilio Marcos Sierra
The Nadia caves look and sound amazing!
yeah, Naida caves are stunning place to visit.
So cool! I have been to Goa before, but didn’t realize how much Portuguese influence there was throughout India. Always fascinating to learn more about it.
Yeah, Portuguese ruled India for a long time. They had an impact on Indian culture.
I’ve just been to Portugal in Summer and was amazed at how many countries they’ve had an impact – and everyone is still proud of these reckless guys – somehow only few people keep in mind what this ‘conquista’ really meant.
yes, Portuguese ruled India for a long time and had an impact on Indian culture. This could be seen in the states of India till now.
I have been meaning to plan a trip to Daman and Diu but somehow haven’t got around to it. Your post has motivated me to plan one soon. I love the vibes of classic Portuguese towns. Lovely read and beautiful photographs!
I am glad this post motivated you to plan your visit to Diu. Hope you would able to execute your plan soon. Thanks! 🙂
This place looks fantastic, so scenic and those caves look really cool. I’ve never heard of Diu Island before but I think it’s one for the list.
You would be glad to be here and loved the vibes.
What a beautiful unspoiled place! It looks so quiet and the cave looks like great fun!
Indeed a good place to have some peaceful time.
This looks like an exciting place to visit. I haven’t been to Diu but other Portuguese colonies in India and I must say they were well worth visiting. I love the diversity of this place. There are beaches, canyons, temples and so much more to do in just one destination. Whwn do you think is the best time to visit this place? Would like to avoid both tourists and scorching sun.
Winter would be the best time to visit Diu. October-March.
The European influence is really obvious with Diu as it looks really different from the rest of India. By the way, did you guys climb the hole and then from there went down to the cave? Or did you enter using a different entrance? That looks dope!
No, there was a separate entrance and proper signages are there to guide through.
Fabulous article about a place not much blogged about. Diu looks like a perfect family getaway destination. Sea, colonial architecture , forts – it has everything. Great guide and travelogue
Truly, Diu is perfect for a family to have some beautiful time together.
I have been to Diu when I was in school and till date, I could remember Diu Fort. You have taken wonderful photographs of Lighthouse and Hoka tree in Diu. Thanks for sharing all tips and details about Diu.
I am glad you liked it. thanks! 🙂
Farah al Zadjaly
This is great, never knew about this Island. I can see from the photos all the Portuguese influence. I am always in Portugal and its a country that has so much history. To see where they left around the world is beautiful.
Yeah, you can feel the presence of Portuguese in India. They left a strong impact on Indian culture.
Wow, I’d especially love to visit Naida Caves, and the entrance is free, it’s so unusual coz people all the time try to charge for entrance to caves. Unique place for exploration and taking some amazing shots indeed.
That’s true. It is all win-win situation if you would manage to visit the Naida caves.
I’ve never been to Diu but it is definitely on my bucketlist. Marking this post for my reference for whenever I plan to visit.
I am not a big fan of Diu given the crowd that it attracts. Also, I think the Diu beaches are pretty mediocre. But, this Portuguese colony looks interesting.
I second your views. But it is the choice you made for beaches to visit. We tried to ignore the most popular beaches and explored the less popular one. And we really didn’t get disappointed with our decision.
This looks like such an interesting place with so much history to explore. More than just a photo story – you give so much helpful information as well. Will need to add Diu Island to our list. Thank you for the inspiration!
Thanks Alex! I will take these words of appreciation. 🙂
oh wow! to be honest, if there is a fort I’m happy – but there there is a fort and so so so much more!! thanks for all the historical info, i love knowing the background!
Glad you liked it. Thanks! 🙂
I feel silly that I’ve never heard of Diu Island, and wouldn’t be able to locate it on a map until your post. Thanks for sharing the Diu Island itinerary and recommendations. I absolutely was blown away by the majestic caves, great photos. I also always like historic spots so the memorials and also the temples are breathtaking. Great Diu Island trip guide
Thanks a ton for your beautiful words. 🙂
I’ve never heard of Diu Island before, and always thought my Indian geography knowledge was quite good! Also had no idea the Portuguese even got as far north as Gujarat. My favourite of all the places you mentioned would probably be Naida Caves – they look amazing. Like you said, an explorer’s paradise.
I am sure you would plan your visit here. Thanks for your excerpt on this. 🙂
i have never heard of Diu Island before so thank you for introducing me. What great history and natural beauty. I know my kids would love to tour the cave system and run around the prison pretending to lock each other up. what’s even better is it’s on a beach!
Yeah, kids would love to visit Naida caves. My little one also loved it exploring. It was a cool experience.
This looks incredible! We love places full of history and these caves and caverns look like so much fun for kids (and adults!) to explore!
Absolutely, kids would love being there in Nada caves. It was great fun for my daughter too. She really enjoyed it.
Jacob de Boer
I’ve never heard of this island, but it looks really nice! I love your pictures of the lighthouse and the caves.
Thanks a lot. You would love being there. 🙂
I love the fort as well as this tour itinerary. I enjoy reading about history and it fascinates me. I also enjoy learning more about them and visiting them as well.
Thanks Rachelle to let me know your interests. 🙂
Great share, I bet few know this place. It’s incredible that there’s still things and remnants left as a reminder that the place was colonized by other country.
Yeah, history had an impact on our present. It happens always.
Very informative post. Such a shame you didn’t get to try the fruit from the Hoka tree, it has left me quite curious. Naida Caves seems like a place not to be missed! Your little one seemed to have had a gala time too!
Yeah, maybe I hadn’t gathered much courage to try that fruit. But I heard it tastes sweet. 🙂
I have never ever had of such place thank you for opening my eyes to brand new place. I must do more research.
I never even knew Diu Island existed! I may have to add this to the list. The caves in particular, look really cool! Great pictures – looks like y’all had a blast!
Yeah, it was well spent time together. Hope you would love it too.
Nice! Diu Island looks great. Beautiful beaches and it seems very quiet! Perfect laid back vacation.
Yeah, it is a good place to have some quality time.
I’ve never heard of Diu Island but your post makes it sound really appealing. I especially love your photos in the fort.
Thanks Nina. You would love exploring it as well.
Had been to diu.. but never knew it got so many more to it..
Yeah…It got so much to explore in Diu Island. I hope you would plan your visit again.