By: Kamal Baruah
The island has always been an over-hyped destination for travellers of Saurashtra. If ever there is a plan of a holiday, the place is always their first choice and I can’t remember any occasion other than to that land of Portuguese by a new Qual is – the first car model earned Toyota the fame in India. It had truly been a phenomenal tour during my stay in Jamnagar way back in 2000.
We travelled in the wee hours of the morning to reach Junagarh at the foothills of Gir National Park. The Sakkarbaug Zoo offered the perfect opportunity to witness the Asiatic Lion’s behaviour. It was exciting to hop off a battery electric vehicle into the wild to see animals that live in the forest. When we spotted a predator that made it worse since it felt threatened.
The sunset was still a couple of hours away and we hauled our MUV out of the jungle to Somnath at the shore of the Arabian Sea. The temple was destroyed and looted several times by the Islamic invaders. It’s been a lasting source of inspiration for millions of followers since time immemorial. The present form is the 7th time of reconstruction after independence. Getting on the hump of a camel on the rough patches at the beach was indeed a joyful experience.
After a decent night’s stay, we proceeded further for the final lap towards the south coast of the Kathiawar peninsula. As we approached a long bridge that connected to the mainland, we were greeted by a gentle wind of maritime breeze in the beautiful twilight. After checking into a hotel, the room served us a welcome cuppa. The mesmerizing view of the sunset over the sea was breathtaking.
We were no longer held fast by any obligation. We walked wildly on the street of Diu at the night with full of excitement and anticipation. There were hordes of tourists flocking to the coastal town. The atmosphere was very relaxed and people were showing good hospitality. Very soon we realized why it’s a holiday destination. The markets, restaurants, and bars are open till midnight. We ordered a fish platter of silver pomfret, calamari, tiger prawns, fried tuna, and prawn curry rice. Those were of great quality and fresh. Nightlife is quite enjoyable and safe.
The first light appeared through the window that had risen behind incredible trees adding its scenic beauty. Hokka trees structurally appear as if several coconut trees have been grafted into a common trunk. Its seeds are used for the country liquor ‘Todi’. After a quick and easy breakfast, as we set off on a day sightseeing tour in an auto rickshaw, the rainfall started. Our toddler daughter got displeased and expressed spontaneously from her favourite cartoon ‘Cinderella’ – “Itna suhana mausam tha, kharab hogaya”. It brought laughter into our trip. But the sky got clear after a few minutes.
History shows that the Parsee that fled religious discrimination in Iran landed at Diu in the 7th century. The Sultans of Oman controlled the island during the 14-16 centuries and it became a flourishing trading and naval base. The bygone era of gallant soldiers is reflected at the majestic Diu fort. The Portuguese ruled for over four centuries until it become the Indian Republic in 1961. There are attractive churches by the side of the road and they are sparkling clean and uninhabited. Indo-Pak war memorial INS Khukri has displayed heroism by the side of Golden Beach. The sunset point is a phenomenal location on a crowned dome of a hillock at Jallandhar Shrine.
The gentle lapping waves beckoned us by the blue colour of the water in the sea at Nagoa Beach. It was the daughter’s first visit to a large body of water. As she left a quick reaction “Jindegi me, itna paani kabhi nahi dekha” we all jumped into the sea. It was a fun-filled afternoon of building sandcastles, collecting seashells and snoozing. Copying with Swelling Ocean was an adventure while rolling up and down with the waves. We had a day of soaking in the sea and headed back to the hotel in the evening.
We walked the talk about choosing the right cuisine at last supper and finally looked out for a European ambience. It greeted us ‘bem vinda’ with ‘menu de grupo’. There were ‘sopa’ (soup), ‘prato’ (dish), ‘bebida a discricao’ (drink discretion) ‘durante a refeicao’ (during the meal). A bottle of ‘port wine’ is often served on ice, a symbol of their heritage to date. They represent a mingling of European, African, and Indian cultures.
We left Diu at the dawn recalling the land of Portuguese, its food, wine, and the name ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’. Suddenly we were stopped just off the inter-state checkpoint. We wonder what went wrong after a hospitable stay. “Welcome, but no Porto in Gujarat”. It has a prohibition on alcohol. This sets Diu up as the premier Alco-Tourism destination. It was amazing a bag-in-box of wines placed inside the boot. At last, we dropped that anchor offshore. We got in the Toyota and drove away.