The island of Diu, Gujarat, India 2009.
Diu is at the end of the line. This tiny (11 km by 3 km) ex-Portuguese island at the tip of Gujarat has a quirky charm and lends itself to lazy sand and sunshine-filled days. Not quite a tropical paradise, but very nearly.
Indian, but yet not, Diu has white-washed churches, catholic-saint-filled chapels, and colourful Lisboa streets with gaily painted houses. Our guesthouse was the gorgeous, white-walled Retiro Sao Tome, the five hundred year old St. Thomas’ church. From our kitsch-filled mini-appartment with crocheted table covers and “Little Mermaid” curtains we looked out over the churches of St. Paul and St. Francis of Asissi to the sea. We ate breakfast on the roof and could even sit right on top of the curved dome to enjoy 360 degree views over the whole island. We were literally on top of the world!
Diu is lush vegetation, palm trees, fine sandy beaches, limestone cliffs and rocky coves. The island has excellent roads and minimum traffic so we hired a scooter and drove along the coast, sat on the rocks and listened to the sea, and stopped every so often for a lassi or a great fish meal.
We wandered around the port of Vanakbara, a small fishing village at the extreme west of the island. We admired wooden fishing boats, their prows adorned with garlands of red chilli peppers, marigold flowers, and rainbow coloured flags fluttering in the breeze. A hive of activity, fish were strung up to dry on washing lines of string, intermingled with clothes or clipped onto bamboo A-frames on the decks of boats. Men hacked at huge blocks of ice with pick axes and heavy wooden sticks, unravelled and mended fishing nets, and some just sat on deck chewing the fat, after a hard day’s night.
We wandered around the imposing fort built by the Portuguese in 1535 and strolled along the ramparts – cannons still pointing out to sea ready to blast non-existent enemies to smithereens. In odd places cannon balls still littered the ground.
We met the amazing Captain Devibhai Vira Fulbaria – an ex-merchant-navy captain with a passion for sea shells. He collected shells from all over the world for more than fifty years and now he runs a small museum near Nagoa Beach. ‘I like the colour and the shapes’ he told me. He had no schooling until the age of 14, and failed his exam for second mate, first mate, and ships captain – eight, ten, twelve times. What makes a person keep going in these circumstances? He told us proudly -‘I’m not only a captain, I’m a band master’. He taught himself to play the bagpipes using a cassette tape a Danish tourist once gave him (!) and he now leads and teaches a youth band in town. Extraordinary!
Diu did not inspire such tenacity or ambition in us, but it did give us a chance to relax, a real holiday experience. A shoes off, gone fishin… kind of feeling. A feeling that can be hard to find in India.
Sao Tome Retiro, Diu. Basic but amazingly atmospheric place to stay. If you ever wanted to sleep in a church, this is your chance.
Shell museum. Nagoa Beach Road, Diu.
10 thoughts on “Gone Fishin’.”
That’s a handsome white-throated kingfisher! I had to look him/her up as I’d never seen one before.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks. You’ve taught me something there. I know nothing about birds. Just thought he was a handsome fella.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I never heard of or been to Diu – looks and sounds like a colorful, sometimes hectic (in the port), but mostly relaxing place to be for a bit. I believe you that this is hard to find in India! 🙂
When I first started reading your post, it reminded me of Malacca in Malaysia, which has Dutch roots and interesting architecture, atypical to SE Asia, as well. I was there in 1998.
Did you talk or post about the shell-collecting guy before? Maybe it was on social media. As I mentioned before, you find the most interesting people. And how do you remember all these places and encounters from ten years ago!?
Liesbet, I’d never heard of Diu either, until I was in India. But I often find that – there are so many remarkable places that never make any guide books or hit the ‘tourist radar’ (Thank goodness). I’ve never been to Malacca – it’s on my ever growing list. I didn’t talk about the shell guy before – here, but I did use to write a blog on another travel blog site – when I first started travelling. (That’s how I can remember all this stuff). I’m moving these old blogs to WordPress because I want to have everything in one place. It’s so interesting looking back!
LikeLiked by 2 people
I had never heard of Diu before, so I looked it up and found it on the map. Interesting. I love Portuguese fort cities, they always have interesting architecture and in this case, being India, wonderful colors. Terrific port photos.
Yes, Indian crazy and Portuguese colour – a great combination. It was a total and lovely surprise.
This sounds lovely. I love your photos, and that random “I love you” statue at the fort. I think I would really enjoy this place.
I think you would too Alison, especially the accommodation part – a kind of mini apartment with a lovely colourful, kitsch sitting room. I wanted to stay forever. It still ranks as one of my all time highs.
LikeLiked by 1 person
what an amazing place! And amazing pictures too!
It was, and I’d never even heard of Diu – just goes to show how many amazing places there are out there.