Weekend road trip in India: Ahmedabad to Diu
When the idea for a weekend road trip in India from Ahmedabad to Diu came up in conversation, I had enough reasons to want to embark on this adventure for three days and two nights. Having learned about Diu in school always made me curious about this former Portuguese colony and, when traveling, I like to see the other side of what the History books tell you. Unsurprisingly, the perspective of the colonist is never the same as of the colonized.
Best way to reach Diu from Ahmedabad
We could have reached Diu from Ahmedabad by bus or by plane (via Mumbai). Instead, we chose to rent a car and hire someone to drive us the approximately 350km (217 miles) of Ahmedabad to Diu distance.
Although it was a nine-hour ride (including plenty of stops along the way for us and the driver to eat and stretch our legs), it paid itself off on comfort. A bus ride would have taken from 10 to (maybe) 20 hours. A plane trip would, of course, be quicker, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of my first road trip in India.
Places to visit in Diu
So here it was. My chance to go and see the traces of the over 400 years of heritage the Portuguese left behind. But, there are almost none. Apart from the fort, some churches that still stand and some local establishments with Portuguese names (I’d say more for the sake of tourist attraction than any relation with the meaning), Diu is pretty much a beach resort tourist destination by the Arabian Sea.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a place where you can find the oh-so-very-typical (whatever you think that might be) India, Diu isn’t it. It’s a destination to enjoy the beach, the sea, the food, the beer, the company of friends, the chill-out and do a little sightseeing in between. A weekend might seem too short to include it all, so it’s best if you plan for at least the highlights.
I’m all for preserving History, even if it doesn’t always bring you the best of memories. All cultures have a background and a story to tell, so the respect and conservation of their heritage should be top of mind for everyone. The care is the very first thing I see, and in Diu, the fort (and the nearby churches) were in bad condition.
The fort, built in 1535 by Portuguese, could use a little restoration work or at least some maintenance — at some parts the original stone floors and walls were covered with cement, to prevent them from decaying any further I assume — and some of the walls are vandalized with graffiti. It still had some signs of Portuguese presence on stone inscriptions and some of nature decorative elements (like grapes and grape vines) around the arches above entrances and doorways.
Adress: Near Collectorate Office, Diu, 362520
Opening hours: 9am-6pm Mon-Sun
Admission fees: free
St. Paul Church
Within ten minutes walking distance from the Diu Fort, the still fully-functional early seventeenth century St. Paul Church with its distinctive Baroque façade that is unique and unusual in India. Although not at its best shape, there were still some impressive decor elements inside the church: the elaborate carved woodwork of the pulpit (the raised platform from which the preacher used to deliver the sermon), the statues of St. Mary and other saints at the altar, the carved decorations in white stucco on the ceiling and walls.
Address: Fortside, Diu, 362520
Opening hours: no information
Admission fees: free
Just next to St. Paul Church is the St. Thomas Church that now serves as the Diu Museum. Built in 1598 and labeled as Gothic Architecture, this church’s façade and inside walls were in need of some serious maintenance with most of its white coating peeling off.
Inside several wooden statues of saints and various crucifixes were displayed, along with (I think) some archeological findings (mostly, stone inscriptions in Portuguese that seemed to be tombstones).
Again it was a visit that left a lot to our imagination, guessing and future searching for details about the pieces exhibited. Either you have some (even if minimal) background on Portuguese (Art) History, or you don’t know what you’re looking at.
Address: St. Thomas Church building, Diu 362520
Opening hours: no information
Admission fees: free
I wouldn’t say that spending time at the beach was one of the reasons for me to see Diu. In fact, I’m not much of a beach person, although I enjoy the soothing of the waves, the sunset, the smell of the sea. But in the back of my head, when I hear the word “beach,” usually that’s not the first image that pops up. I immediately think of a crowd of oiled up sunbathers and not an inch of free sand to be seen.
That is why Jalandhar Beach was a surprise. Unlike Diu’s most famous beach among tourists, Nagoa, this one was isolated, quiet, peaceful. The perks of a beach that isn’t near any resorts, restaurants, bars, shops.
Where to stay in Diu
We stayed at the Magico do Mar resort by the Arabian Sea where you can choose between Gujarati style cottages or single rooms, with its restaurant serving three delicious cuisines (Gujarati, Goan and North Indian) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The name of the (sort of) resort was Portuguese, but there was nothing Portuguese about it.
From our duplex cottage doorstep to the sand of Ghoghla beach it took us about thirty seconds. Yes, really. The beach was deserted most of the time, maybe because it was for the use of guests only or because it was Monsoon season (it’s not usual for people to travel around the rain seasons).
Address: Diu Checkpost, Ahmedpur Mandvi, Junagadh, Gujarat, 362510
Phone: +91 2875 252567
Where to eat (and drink legally) in Diu
Diu is a Union Territory, and the only place other than Daman in Gujarat state where drinking and buying alcohol is legally allowed. A pro, it’s good to know, especially when you are coming from a dry state (and you may miss the occasional beer or glass of wine). A con, it also turns Diu into a booze travel destination. To be frank, I didn’t see any signs of people going nuts over alcohol, but it’s bound to happen.
When your local cuisine’s knowledge is limited (or, well, influenced by what you think is typical), make no mistakes and go with what the locals recommend you. I was traveling with a group of people who knew the place very well, who had been in the island a few times and who have narrowed the options down to two great places to eat at without blowing up your budget.
Cat's Eye View
The Hoka’s Cat’s Eye View is the bar and restaurant of the Hoka Island Villa resort, so it had a laid back ambiance to it. It’s more of a snacks-and-beer place than an actual restaurant, so it’s the right spot for a casual dinner.
Address: Nagoa Beach, Diu-362520
Phone: +91 2875 275301
The Prato Delicioso is the Sugati Beach Resort restaurant and had a more “restaurant-y” feel to it, crisp-white cloth napkins and the likes, so it was a little more expensive than the other option. We had lunch there the day we arrived (and got there close to closing time) because it was within walking distance from our resort Magico do Mar.
They have a more extensive range of cuisine options, from North Indian to Chinese.
Address: Opposite Check Post Ghoghla, Diu, 362520
Phone: +91 2875 252212
Weekend road trip to Diu budget breakdown
Car rental from Ahmedabad (including fuel and driver’s expenses such as food and accommodation): 11,860 INR / USD $185
Accommodation 3 days/2 nights (total spent for one cottage for 7 people, plus breakfast): 12,900 INR / USD $201
Meals (average per person per day): 495 INR / USD $7.73
Admission fees for sights: FREE