Daman and Diu are among those places that I got to hear about continuously but never had the chance to visit. After all, if you are in Pune and a long weekend falls on your lap, the heart cries, GOA!!! So this time when I decided to buck the trend, I did not have many backers. It seemed very few people had actually been there. That made me even more interested to visit a comparatively virgin place, so to speak.
Including the 26th of January, a national holiday, I had total 4 days in hand. So had to plan accordingly to accommodate both Daman and Diu in this trip. It was possible due to the fact that Daman does not have a whole lot of sights to see. Travelling was a bit quirky as train services from Pune to Vapi did not suit my timings. So I took a bus. I boarded the bus at 10:30 PM on 25th Jan and reached Vapi next morning at 7 AM.
Vapi to Daman is about 30 minutes by auto rickshaw. Fare is about 200 INR. I reached Daman and checked into the guest house at around 8 AM. January being an off season, I was able to score very good deals for hotels. The stay at Daman was at Sanjar Homestay opposite Dunetha Hospital. I got the room for just 750 for the day although I was not going to stay there for the night. Bus Station of Daman is about 10 minutes walk from the homestay. I urge you to take a walk as auto will cost around 60 INR for this small distance. From the bus station, you can get conveyance for all of Daman’s tourist spots.
My plan was to visit all of Daman tourist spots during the day (hence the early morning arrival), have lunch, book a bus for Diu for the evening and reach Diu by early next morning. There I could spend the whole of Friday and most part of Saturday before boarding the bus for Daman/Vapi on Saturday afternoon. Reach Daman/Vapi on Sunday morning, kill a few hours, get on the bus for Pune and reach Pune by Sunday evening. Quite hectic but that is the only option if you try to fit both Daman and Diu within a 4 day window.
Daman Tourist Spots:
Daman Fort (4 / 5)
Daman fort spans a radius of 3.5 kilometers so you better have some time in your hand. Compared to other forts of India, Daman fort is in considerably good shape as the Portuguese stayed here till 1961. Once you climb to the top you can see the olden canons aimed at the sea, the watch towers and the older jetty where portuguese war ships operated from. It gives you plenty of photo opportunity as well. One problem is that there are absolutely no signs whatsoever so you have no idea where you are going. I, for example missed the gravesite while a friend had missed the lighthouse when he visited.
Take auto from bus stand for 60 INR
Lighthouse (5 / 5)
Just an old lighthouse that has now been replaced by a modern one. If you have seen the likes of such lighthouses at Aguada Fort and other seaside forts, you will know exactly what to expect. No reason to dock any stars, it is what it is supposed to be.
Cathedral Of Bom Jesus (5 / 5)
Also within the bounds of the fort, the Cathedral of Bom Jesus is beautiful. The atmosphere is somber and the craftsmanship is exquisite. This is a 17th century church! Kept in pristine condition, it will be your highlight of Daman trip.
Pargola Garden (5 / 5)
At the foot of the stairs of the fort, there is this small garden called Pargola Garden. It is not listed as a tourist spot but it should be. Inside the garden you will find a monument, erected to commemorate the Portuguese soldiers of Dadra and Nagar Haveli who mutinied in 1954 and rejected Portuguese ruling.
Jampore Beach (5 / 5)
Exactly what you would expect from a busy beach. Hustle, bustle and tussle all present along with a large number of shacks to quench your thirst or fill your belly. Prices were on the higher side a bit so I did not grab anything over there. It is a great place for a family or for a swim though. Abundant snacks, relatively calm waters and acceptable cleanliness. Even during an off season, it was still filled with people so you must give it a whirl.
Take auto from Daman Fort for INR 60. Returning to bus stand from Jamore you might need to shell out 100 INR unless you get to share the ride with someone.
Other Tourist Places In Daman:
Mirasol Garden lake was closed at the time due to bird flu. I did not visit Devka beach as I was travelling alone. Seen one beach seen it all I guess 🙂 Also it has been said that Devka beach is filled with black sands and sharp rocks hence not too yielding for tourist interests.
Food In Daman:
I had grabbed breakfast from a road side food stall. 3 small samosas for 10 rupees and a glass of tea for 5. Was sufficient for me to push forward. I had lunch at Tawakkal which just around the corner of the Bus Stand.
Tawakkal (Lunch) (3 / 5)
As per internet reviews, Tawakkal used to be a force to be reckoned with in the Daman food map with a number of signature dishes. Due to its proximity to the bus stand I decided to grab my grub over there. Although some people commented that the restaurant has lost its sheen in recent times, how bad could it be? I thought. Well it turned out to be average, just about. It had no customers apart from me. The owner did not look overjoyed at the look of a customer. Menu had only a few mutton dishes, god knows why. I ordered the mutton biriyani. Mutton pieces were well boiled and tasty but the rice lacked flavour. At 150 INR however, you cannot expect much more I guess.
Travel From Daman To Diu:
You can guess sleeper buses from Daman to Diu in the afternoon and evening. Tickets per person is 550 – 600 INR. I booked my spot earlier in the morning and you should do it too. During peak season, seats might get full very fast. I booked mine through Khodiyar Travels, their office is on the first floor of the City Center building at the bus stand. You can call them, book your spot. You will get SMS confirmation. Then reach on time, visit their office, pay to get the ticket and board the bus.
Khodiyar Travels phone number: 07046922002
Google shows the travel from Daman to Diu is about 12 hours. Do not let that fool you. The bus will give you an estimated time of 14 to 15 hours and take around 18 to 19 hours, as I found out during the to and fro journey.
Finally reached Diu Friday morning 11 AM. Pretty late but no choice. I got down at Diu checkpost and walked back to get to my guesthouse “The Sea Palace”. It was technically in Gujarat but as I was not planning to drink (at least not that much) it suited me fine. It had a great double bedded room, good bathroom, hot water, soaps, towels and most importantly, cleanliness. All that for just 500 INR per night. With some hours lost thanks to my bus, I did not waste much time before leaving for why I was there, sight seeing.
Renting A Bike:
You can rent a bike in Diu just like Goa. Rates are the same, 350 INR per day for basic bike types. I booked a passion for 2 days, paid 700 in cash. They give you half a litre petrol, sufficient to get to the petrol pump in Diu which is very close to the Diu bus stand and on the way to Diu fort.
Diu Tourist Spots:
Diu Fort (5 / 5)
Not often do you find a fort that is in such a great shape as the Diu Fort. It is in even better shape than Daman fort. Once you enter Diu, you immediately take a left from the bus stand and keep going straight until you reach Diu fort. It has a number of bastions, a host of well oiled cannons that look as if ready to go. Lookout towers in the corners, a memorial in the center and also two old lighthouses. Throughout the fort you will find prayer houses and Portuguese inscriptions that add to the experience. The fort of Panikotha is visible from the fort. It also provides a splendid view of the Diu city from up top. At the base of the fort, there is an old jetty where you can sit and enjoy the sea air. It is not a short trip so you should spend at least one and half hours taking it all in.
St. Paul’s Church: (5 / 5)
This church looks like a sister church of Cathedral of Bom Jesus from the inside. One of the most prominent tourist spots of Diu, it is very close to Diu fort. Photography not allowed. But no one stopped me so I clicked away. It also has the 16th – 17th century architecture, European craftsmanship that will leave you speechless. Church is extremely well maintained, information board at the doorstep explains its history. Make sure you sit there and enjoy the ambience as much as possible. Outside in the garden there is a statue of Jesus and a beautiful architecture.
Diu Museum (3 / 5)
Diu Museum is right next to St. Paul’s Church. The information board tells the St. Thomas church was converted into a museum in 1992 and inside there are wooden artifacts and statues that are over 400 years old. But it is extremely poorly maintained. Birds flying everywhere and dirtying up the entire museum hall with their waste. Cobwebs, dirt and dust can be seen everywhere. Building is in quite bad shape as well. This could be one of the best tourist spots of India as you do not get such old wooden artifacts but alas it is being ruined by the lackadaisical attitude of those in charge.
The museum will depict a large number of statues pf prominent Christian saints, including St. Paul, St. Jacob, St. Francis, St. Mark and so on. It also has statues of Our Lady of Good Hope, Our Lady of Mercy and Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. No matter how revolting, be sure to pay it a visit.
Naida Caves (5 / 5)
Natural cave system, well maintained, lovely to visit. Just sit there, take stroll, be amazed by the serene ambience created by sunlight that seeps through small openings at the top. See how old trees have tore through the cave roof and walls and made a permanent home for there everstrong roots. See how your mind can wander off elsewhere in the company of nature’s beauty. Naida caves is a must visit in Diu. Its beauty cannot be described in words and pictures, it can only be felt.
I.N.S. Khukery Memorial (4 / 5)
This memorial can be visited on the way to Gangeshwar Mahadev temple and it mourns and remembers the sinking of I.N.S. Khukery, one of the Indian frigates during the Indo-Pak 1971 war. It has a replica of the frigate that was sunk, a list of names of all hands lost during the tragedy. It is very close to Jallandher beach and offers great view of the city. It is not very well maintained though.
Gangeshwar Mahadev Temple (5 / 5)
Small temple. I liked it because it did not have a crowd trying to catch glimpse of god. Instead you can take your time, climb down the stairs, see the idol of the god, sit there, enjoy the temple, enjoy the view from there of the Arabian Sea and walk out at your own leisure.
Ghogla Beach (5 / 5)
Best beach in Diu for a swim, to chill, to enjoy water sports and what not. If you want beach shacks with drinks, snacks and other stuff, you will not get it here. If we want beautiful view of the skyline, pristine clear and calm water, white sand on the beach without a blemish and a perfect place to just chill, this is the beach for you. The availability of parasailing, paragliding, speedboating and other water sports without a rush makes this the heaven of Diu. Perfect for tourists with a family.
Nagoa Beach (4 / 5)
Nagoa beach is the Calangute of Diu, that should say it all. The usual hustle and bustle, loads of people, roaming and stationery vendors, watersports, merchandise shops, it has the whole 9 yards. Only problem everything closes way too early, by 8 PM. I went there to spend the whole evening but by 8 it was deserted almost. Maybe due to off season. The food at seaside shacks are good, prices comparable with that of Goa. I enjoyed a plate of prawn fries at 200 INR, reasonable quantity, reasonable taste. At the merchandise shops I failed to find anything of particular use.
Visiting the beach during day is also fun, the character of the beach remains same. But I noticed the water was not as clear and calm as Nagoa. People were enjoying themselves anyway. The watersports area is designated and separated from the swimming area, a good move. But there are some rocky and slippery areas on the beach that can cause serious damage. But there was no warning signs around it. Hence I give it a 4 star.
Shell Museum (4 / 5)
The museum can be visited on the way back from Nagoa beach. It is the effort of a single man, the curator who is ever present there. It has some amazing samples of crustacean creatures, huge number of conch samples, oysters and other shelled creatures from all over the world. It needs a 30 INR entry fee. Docking a star because if you do not love seeing such samples, it will be a waste of time and money. And photography not allowed, god knows why!
Other Tourist Places In Diu:
Panikotha is a fort in the middle of water. Apparently ferries took you to that place earlier but it is closed now.
Food In Diu:
Alishan Hotel (Dinner) (5 / 5)
Right on the jetty road, this hotel offers great cocktails and terrific sea food. I had the prawn chilly dry and Mojito at the restaurant and they were wonderful. Had prawn fried rice and prawn chilly taken away for dinner and they were abolsutely delicious. You can definitely enjoy a meal at this place.
The Diu Market:
Diu has nice market where you can buy a lot of novelty items. It is always flocked by tourists. It is right behind, the string of hotels and restaurants on the Jetty road.
Coming Back To Daman:
Called Khodiyar travels again, booked the bus for 5 PM on Saturday. After two days of lovely sightseeing and chilling, I submitted my bike, reached the bus stand and boarded. It reached Daman at around 10 AM next day (Sunday). Had a quick bite, had lunch at 12, left for Vapi and boarded the bus back for Pune at 1 PM.
That was my little trip to Diu and Daman. It was a fulfilling trip. One word of caution, do not compare these places with Goa. Love them for their uniqueness and beauty. These two places will definitely satisfy your eyes, heart and stomach. So what are you waiting for?