Pritam Rohila Travels

Reports of my travels along with some pictures

Sep 12, 2009

2008 Union Territory of Daman & Diu
December 18-21, 2008
We arrived at Anand in the state of Gujarat, on December 12, to attend the wedding of a niece and to spend some time with my wife Kundan’s cousins and their families. Since we had a few extra days, we decided to go sightseeing to a few places in the state of Gujarat, we had not been to before.

December 18

We hired a car with a driver and left Anand early on the morning of December 18 for Diu, in the Union Territory of Daman & Diu, 180 miles away.
Part of the way the road skirted salt pans along the southeastern coast of the Gulf of Cambay. We reached Diu early in the afternoon.

Described as the Gibraltor of the East, the small 15 sq mile island of Diu is located a little off the southern tip of the Saurashtra part of the state of Gujarat. For more than four hundred years, Diu was under the Portuguese occupation until its liberation by Indian forces in 1961.

Late in the afternoon, we reached the Radhika Resort, a pleasant hotel,

which is located by Nagoa Beach on the Arabian Sea.

Holka palms lining Diu beaches were brought by the Portuguese from Africa.

After a light meal, we left for the beach, where spent the rest of the day doing people-watching.

December 19

After breakfast, next morning we left for a sightseeing tour of Diu. Our first stop was Gangeshvar Temple in Fudam village. Washed by the tidal waves, five shivlings are located here amid rocks on the seashore. Pandava princes are believed to have worshipped here during their exile.

From the Temple we proceeded to Diu Fort. Skirted on the three sides by the sea the double-moat fort of Diu stands on the easternmost tip of the Island. It was built between 1535 and 1541. It successfully repelled several attacks, but finally succumbed to the Indian airstrikes in 1961.

Across the Fort, in the sea, is Fortim-do-Mar (Panikot), a magnificent ship- shaped stone structure has a lighthouse and a small chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of the Sea.

Not far from the fort is St Paul’s Church. Dedicated to our Lady of Immaculate Conception, and built 1601-1610, this church is believed to have the most elaborate of all Portuguese Churches in India. It richly has a carved wood altar. Its Gothic façade is illuminated by flood lights at night.

Nagar Seth’s Haveli was our next stop. One of the town’s grandest European-Indian-style mansions, the Haveli is located in the midst of the web of narrow lanes of the Old Portuguese District. It has carved balconies, and embellished with stone lions.

We returned to the waterfront for lunch. But before heading to a restaurant, we decided to spend some time at the Vegetable Market.

After lunch, we returned to Radhika Resort for the check-out and proceeded to the historical town of Somnath, 37 miles northwest of Diu.

2008 Gujarat, Somnath
December 18-21, 2008

December 19

One of the 12 most sacred Shaivite sites, the temple city of Somnath is situated on the Arabian Sea.

Always thronged by pigeon & people, the Temple is believed to have been destroyed and rebuilt 17 times. It lay in ruins for over two-hundred years, until the most recent rebuilding started in 1951. Parts of it are still under construction.

Close to the temple there is workshop where various sculptures are being fashioned for the temple.

Being a popular place of Hindu pilgrimage, many groups of school children, are found around the temple all times of the day.

The way to the temple is lined with all sorts of vendors selling to pilgrims music, mementos, and objects of temple-offering.

In the evening, hundreds people gather on the beach below the temple, to sample food from various fast food vendors who line up along the temple wall,

to enjoy a camel- or horse-ride,

to play in the sea-water on the beach,

to have pictures taken with friends,
to enjoy the sunset,
or just to watch people.

We decided to spend the night at a small guesthouse near the temple. Next morning, we participated in the 7 a.m. prayers at the temple. Then after a quick breakfast at a nearby restaurant, we embarked on our drive to Junagarh, the ancient town 70 miles northwest of Somnath.