Diu going steady

first_imgThe impressive St. Paul’s ChurchThere’s no escaping the near-indelible Portuguese stamp on Diu, the Union Territory that was a Portuguese colony till 1961. In fact, even now, its the Portuguese ‘feel’ and ‘look’ that draws tourists to this laidback tidal island. Often considered a cheaper option to the more frequented Goa, also a former Portuguese colony, Diu offers a bouquet of similar attractions–Portuguese forts, medieval churches, lovely beaches, water sports, lively bars, great seafood and et al.Diu’s appeal has a lot to do with its laidback character and most of all, its friendly people. Though largely composed of villages, it is now a leading example of how resorts can change the pace of life. And its the people from Gujarat, one of its immediate neighbours, who set the ball rolling. A steady flow of tourists, which grew considerably in the last decade, reaped a harvest of hotels and resorts on the island.First movesParasailing is one of the sports on offer for water enthusiastsA special mention must be made of Yatin Fugro, son of a wealthy and influential family from Goa, who gave Diu its first sprawling resort-Kohinoor Hotel. Proud of the island’s Portuguese heritage, he decided to build the resort hotel in the style of a Mediterranean village and even got an entire team of artisans from Goa for their expertise in recreating the architectural style of Goa’s old Latin Quarters. Thus, the 50 rooms are located in bungalows with classical cream-hued faades, mouldings, pilasters, cornices and a balcao or a pillared portico at the entrance. Each room has a balcony with ornamental trelliswork railings. These bungalows are set around a swimming pool, the hotel’s centrepiece.Between 2001 and 2004, Fugro developed a plot of three-and-a-half acres around Kohinoor. This includes a waterpark with slides, a wave pool, play areas for children, a discotheque, a large landscaped lawn and garden for outdoor events, a cake shop and ayurvedic spa. A complete family destination.Resort fareThe mini fort of Pani KotaThe success of the Kohinoor Hotel became a forerunner for other developments in Diu. The most remarkable of these is the Radhika Beach Resort, which is set on the road facing the popular Nagoa beach.Cross the road from Radhika and you reach the crescent-shaped Nagoa Beach. The sea is safe for swimming in winter and the sands are lovely for a long stroll. The more adventurous can engage in a round of parasailing, sailing and scootering. Some smaller properties have opened up over the last 10 years near the beach, Resort Hoka and Richie Rich being among the prominent ones.While Kohinoor and Radhika has taken Diu upscale on the tourist front, it is the Fugro family’s most recent offering that has added a touch of luxury to the island. Called the Azzaro Resort & Spa, it is set beside a lake across the road from Kohinoor. The highlight here is the mid-water pool bar–you swim or wade to it and enjoy a drink in the centre of the pool. The gardens have tented gazebos and al fresco seating in the lawn. The 36 rooms and suites offer views of either the pool or the lawns. The restaurant here serves a variety of cuisines but no one should come away without a taste of its seafood. Ask the chef for the fresh catch and choose your bite.Golden oldThe Portuguese FortTangible reminders of the colonial past, scattered across the island, are not to be missed either. The most important on the list of monuments is the 400-year-old Portuguese Fort. Imposingly situated on a promontory on the eastern-most tip of the island, it gave the colonisers a commanding view of ships approaching the island. The deep moat, hewn from sheer rock, made the fort impregnable.Another interesting place is the Fortim do Mar or Pani Kota in local parlance. This ship-like mini fort sits in the middle of the narrow channel that connects the Diu harbour to the sea. St. Paul’s Church, too, is impressive, with intricate woodcarvings and old paintings. There is daily Mass for those who wish to attend.Good appetiteThe island’s food offerings, too, have grown over the last few years. A whole range of restaurants have opened shop, luring holidaymakers with various cuisines. A popular choice is the terrace restaurant of Apana Hotel on Fort Road. Patrons swear by the generous tandoori seafood platter. On most days, however, you are likely to find on it a whole kingfish or pomfret, a lobster or crab, a variety of shrimps, squid, vegetables and rice. Equally recommended is the pomfret pulao, kingfish masala, tandoori chicken and shark tikka.For Indo-Portuguese food the best bet is Heranca Goesa where you can have fish recheido, chicken cafreal, chicken or prawns with peri peri sauce, bebinca in the front room of a family-owned home. If fish ‘n’ chips and pasta is more your style there is O’Couqueiro while for breakfast the favourite is Uma Shakti with views of the town from its rooftop cafe. There is only so much you can do in Diu, the small island that has, thankfully, not changed its character with the arrival and growth of tourism. The days in Diu are filled with sunshine and the pleasures of an easier paced life. Yet there is an awareness that changes must come in, which is likely to take this small island several notches up on the tourism ladder.advertisementadvertisement Fact fileKohinoor Hotel Fofrara-Fudam; tel: (02875) 252 209, 253575Radhika Beach Resort Nagoa; tel: (02875) 252 553/54/55Resort Hoka Nagoa; tel: (02875) 253 036Richie Rich Nagoa; tel: (02875) 255 355Azzaro Resort & Spa Fofrara-Fudam; tel: (02875) 255 421Diu Fort Near Diu Jail. Open from 8a.m.-6p.m.St Paul’s Church Near Diu fort. Open 8a.m.-6p.m.Apana Hotel Fort Road; tel: (02875) 252 650Heranca Goesa Near Diu Museum; tel: (02875) 253 851O’Couqeiro Garden Restaurant Near Diu Museum; tel: (0)98246 81565Uma Shakti Behind Diu vegetable market; tel: (02875) 252 150last_img

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