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10 Stunning Locales in Diu For Your Offbeat Travel Bucket List

10 Stunning Locales in Diu For Your Offbeat Travel Bucket List

The island of Diu is dotted with Indo-Portuguese architecture. But it has had a long-standing maritime heritage connection even before the Portuguese arrived. Here are 10 heritage structures that capture the essence of the city.

A sandy beach destination, Diu is known for the Ghoghla Beach which has a Blue Flag certification – an honour by the Foundation for Environmental Education that says the waterbody meets its standards. But beyond its pristine beaches lies the city’s heritage. 

“The Diu Fort was listed as one of the Seven Wonders of Portuguese origin in the world, which houses a chapel, a former residence of the governor and several other aspects inside the fort,” says Maria Victor, 38, who founded Make It Happen in 2011. An experiential travel company that started as a hobby travel venture, evolved into a community-led local experience initiative in Goa. 

“Soon we were invited by Diu Smart City, a government initiative, to set up heritage walks there. They saw the value of having heritage experiences to capture the essence of the city,” says Maria.

While Diu has been long known for being a Portuguese territory, Maria says, it has had a long-standing maritime heritage connection even before the Portuguese arrived. “It has palatial Havelis with Indian as well as influences from the eastern coast of Africa. It is also a fortified town where we have different communities living together,” she adds.

You can find more details about Diu Heritage Walks organised by Make it Happen on their website.

If you’re planning to visit Diu, here are 10 heritage structures that you cannot miss.

1. St Paul Church

St Paul Church, Diu
St Paul Church

St Paul’s Church is the largest functional church in Diu. Dedicated to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, its construction was completed in 1601. Sharing close similarity with the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, the church is known for its intricate sculptures and stunning Jesuit architecture by Indian craftsmen architecture. The church boasts rich wood carvings, a splendid facade, intriguing volutes and shell-like motifs.  

2. Gangeshwar temple

Gangeshwar temple, Diu
Gangeshwar temple

Situated amidst serenity and scenic beauty, the Gangeshwar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This ancient Hindu Temple is located on the seashore and is believed to have been built by the Pandavas 5000 years ago. The temple is famous for its five Shiva Lingas under a rock-cut cave. Only the tip of these rocks can be seen whenever there is a high tide as the sea water submerges them.  

3. Pani Kotha

Pani Kotha, Diu
Pani Kotha

Pani Kotha dates back to the era when Malik Aiyaz was the governor of Diu before the Portuguese arrived. The Portuguese reconstructed Pani Kotha and called it Fortim Do Mar which translates to Fortress of the Sea. They built a small Chapel in the fort in 1638, dedicated to Our Lady of Victory and a lighthouse as well. Pani Kotha also served as a jail during Portuguese rule. Pani Kotha was built at the mouth of the creek, north of Diu and can only be accessed by boat.

4. INS Khukri Memorial

INS Khukri Memorial
INS Khukri Memorial

Inaugurated on 15 December 1999, the INS Khukri Memorial is dedicated to the crew aboard the warship of the Indian Navy that was martyred during the Indo-Pak War in 1971. The memorial comprises a scaled model of INS Khukri F149  enclosed in a glass case. Names of all officers and sailors of the ship are displayed at the top. There is an open-air theatre towards the sea with seating arrangements for visitors. From the memorial, one can get a beautiful view of the setting sun over the Arabian Sea.

5. Diu Fort

Diu Fort
Diu Fort

This enormous monument had a residence for the nobles, a warehouse, barracks for the soldiers, a house of arms and ammunition, a prison, a church, and a chapel.

On the Fort stands a giant structure, now housing the lighthouse which serves as a navigation aid to the fishermen, and is considered the tallest structure in the Fort. The Fort has stood the test of time witnessing various siege battles fought to gain control over the island of Diu. The Fort was upgraded at various stages with over 70 cannons installed at all sides and defensive bastions that were built to make it a formidable structure. Diu fort is one of the Seven Wonders of Portuguese origin. This further highlighted the importance of the Fort and put it on the world tourism map.

6. Old town of Diu

Old town, Diu
Old town of Diu

This street highlights the local heritage through residential buildings colloquially known as Havelis. The functional and devotional buildings were built, maintained and conserved in the Old Town of Diu. The beauty of the Old Town’s a reflection of the wealth brought into Diu by the historically privileged contacts of Vaniyas and the journey of Vanzas, who was an integral part of the lucrative textile trade with East Africa.

7. Jagdish temple

Jagdish temple, Diu
Jagdish temple

Shri Jagdish is a form of Lord Vishnu and this residential Haveli has been repurposed as Shri Jagdish Mandir. Earlier only an image of the deity was placed at the end of Suraj Vav Chowk in the Old Town, which was bought from Odisha. The main idol is 300 years old and cut from a single piece of wood. This double-storey facade has carved stone work, floral design, and figures of sadhus and pandits soldiers and lions painted in bright colours.

8. Khukri Warship Museum

Khukri Warship Museum, Diu
Khukri Warship Museum

INS Khukri P49 was the lead vessel of her class of corvettes, in service with the Indian Navy. The ship was named after INS Khukri F149, the only Indian Navy ship to be martyred in combat.

Khukri was launched in 1986 and decommissioned in 2021. On the 26 of January 2022, the warship was formally handed over to the administration of the Diu district and was converted into a war museum. Travellers visiting the Khukri warship museum will get fascinating insights into advanced weaponry, Naval combat techniques, the life of Navy officers and crew aboard a warship and the Legacy of INS Khukri P49.

9. Tower of Silence

Tower of Silence
Tower of Silence

A dakhma, also known as the Tower of Silence, is a circular raised structure built by Zoroastrians for the deceased. Built by the Parsis as an excarnation site for their dead bodies that are eaten by vultures. The Tower of Silence in Diu stands as a testimony to the migration of Zoroastrians from Persia to India.

10. Nuno Da Cunha

Nuno Da Cunha
Nuno Da Cunha

Nuno Da Cunha is credited for building the Diu Fort in 1535 which was a result of a defence treaty between Bahadur Shah of Gujarat Sultanate and the Portuguese. This large statue was installed in his memory in Diu Fort and was later moved to the garden of the Collector’s office.

Edited by Yoshita Rao; All image credits to Make It Happen

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