Day 7 (31st December, 2020)
The town of Diu was an important port of trade routes of the Arabian sea since ancient times.
The documented history of the District of Diu begins with the Maurya rule Emperor Chandragupta Maurya had extended his supremacy over Saurashtra and Diu became a part of the Mauryan empire. After the fall of the Mauryan empire, Diu came under the possession of Indo-Greeks and then under the possession of Western Kshatrapas. After the fall of Western Kshatrapas, for more than the next thousand years, Diu formed part of the kingdoms of various Hindu dynasties that ruled over western India including Gujarat. The last Hindu king of the Vaja dynasty ruler of Somnath Patan ruled over Diu in the first decade of the fifteenth century. Thereafter, Diu came under the control of the Muslims Sultans of Gujarat who ruled Diu for the next one and a half centuries.
Due to its strategic importance, there was a Battle of Diu in 1509 between Portugal and a combined force of Turkey, Egypt, Venice, the Republic of Ragusa (now known as Dubrovnik), and the Sultan of Gujarat, Mahmud Begada. In 1513, the Portuguese tried to establish an outpost there, but negotiations were unsuccessful. There were failed attempts by Diogo Lopes de Sequeira in 1521, Nuno da Cunha in 1523.
Early in 1535, the Portuguese Governor De Cunha had led his expedition for the capture of the town in Diu but was defeated by the Sultan. However, around that period, the Gujarat Sultan Bahadur Shah's kingdom was overwhelmed by the Mughal invasion. Pressed by Mughal king Humayun on one side and the Portuguese at the gates of Diu, Bahadur Shah entered into a treaty with Nuno De Cunha on October 25, 1535, who agreed to assist Bahadur Shah against his enemy by land and sea. In turn, he received permission to construct a fortress at Diu and a site was granted for this purpose in the harbor. After the Mughal danger was receded, the Shah of Gujarat realized his mistake in allowing the Portuguese to construct the fort. So he tried to recapture Diu between 1537 and 1546 but failed. By 1546, Diu was under the firm control of the Portuguese.
Diu was so fortified so that it could withstand the later attacks of the Arabs of Muscat and the Dutch in the late 17th century. From the 18th century, Diu declined in strategic importance, due to the development of Mumbai.
Diu remained in the possession of the Portuguese from 1535 until 1961 when it was liberated under Operation Vijay. The island was occupied by the Indian military on 19 December 1961. The Battle of Diu involved overwhelming land, sea, and airstrikes on the enclave for 48 hours until the Portuguese garrison there surrendered. It was declared union territory of India, Goa, Daman, and Diu. Goa separated as a state in 1987 thus it became a part of the Union Territory of Daman and Diu.
I was quite keen to see the historical places of Diu but my wife and daughter were not. Their objective was just to chill and watch sunsets from any of the many beaches of Diu. So, I started alone around 9.10 am for Diu fort.
My first stop was at Jalandhar Beach which is just outside of the old walled city. Though this beach is located just a kilometer away from the city center, and yet it was quiet and sparsely crowded. There were just a couple of families on the beach. This beach is concave in shape with two ridges guarding the two flanks.
A well-tarred north-south road separates the walled city and the beach. The beach is at a depth from the road. Along the road, there is a parking lot, paved walkaway, and benches for seating.
The beach was named after the mythological Hindu demon Jalandhar whose shrine is located on a hillock, close to the beach. A temple dedicated to goddess Chandrikais is also here.
I spent 10-15 minutes thereby walking one full round along the beach.
I reached the Church of St. Francis of Assisi around 9.35 am. This was the first church to be built by the Portuguese. Constructed in 1593, the Church of St Francis of Assisi is the oldest church on the island. The church is located on a hillock that overlooks the Arabian Sea. The church was built to replicate churches built in Europe. A long flight of stairs leads to the entrance of the church that was built on the eastern and the northern ends of the church. Today, it functions as a hospital
I took some photos from the outside and then moved on.
The next stop was Sr. Paul Church. Its construction is dated to 1601 AD. Built in the style of a similar basilica church namely, the Bom Jesus Basilica at Goa, its construction was completed in 1610 AD and dedicated to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception.
Here also I did not go inside and took some photos from outside.
I reached Diu fort at 9.50 am. Diu is quite a small island and all the attractions are nearby.
The fort is separated from the main island by a narrow creek and there is a causeway to reach the fort from the island.
At the end of the causeway, just before the entrance of the fort, there is another causeway on the left-hand side.
At the end of that causeway, there is a canon aiming Pani Kotha at a distance.
Pani Kotha or Fortim do Mar as named by the Portuguese is a 12th-century edifice. Once a fort it was made to look like a ship to mislead invaders. It is located on an islet at the mouth of the creek of the Arabian sea. Pani Kotha was later used as a prison and was controlled by the Portuguese along with the Diu fort. This stone construct was fortified in the year 1588 by adding a few structures. Besides this, a small chapel was erected in the year 1638 as a dedication to Our Lady of the Sea. Pani Kotha also houses barracks, a warehouse, and a lighthouse.