Not many people visit Diu with the idea of sightseeing. They come for the beaches. As soon as they find one they like, they lie down and go to sleep, sometimes for weeks. Yet Diu Town itself is an interesting place, well worth exploring by push-bike there are good bike hire places near Nilesh Guest House) or on foot. The tourist office sometimes operates sightseeing tours, but Diu is one place to see on your own initiative. Off the jetty, the Old Fort Rd leads off left to the fort, churches, and some budget hotels. The town itself lies behind the small market square opposite the jetty. Within the square is the stop for the small, irregular local bus service, which is useful for the beaches, and for out-of-town forays. Diu has a handful of auto-rickshaws, whose drivers charge a fair Rs3 per km. From around noon to 4 pm it’s siesta time (another Portuguese legacy) and the town clears.
Diu Town Tour (by cycle, 3-4 hours)
Diu Fort-Ancient Diu Church-Ruined Churches-St Paul’s Church
It’s best to start touring in the cool of the morning, but this can be difficult. Cycle hire ops open around 9 am, and it’s nearly impossible to get breakfast before this time anywhere in town (try the Hotel Mozambique, if stuck). You’ll quickly notice Diu’s dominant characteristic: nobody is in a hurry to do anything.
Cycle down to the jetty. Opposite this, there’s often an early-morning covered fish/vegetable market, little to buy but lots to see. From the market square, proceed down Old Fort Rd which runs out along the seafront. A cool, refreshing 10-minute ride takes you to the huge, battlemented Diu Fort. This is the double-moated 16th-century Portuguese bastion, largely ruined today but worth an hour-long wander. Within, walk up to the vantage-point Lighthouse, approached by a stone ramp, which gives prime views of the town, churches and coastline. From here, you can well appreciate the fort’s strategic importance to the Portuguese; though rapidly crumbling today, it was in olden days near-impregnable. Round the lighthouse quadrant, looming over the stone buttresses, are some beautiful old cannon with reliefs of human faces moulded into the cast. Returning down into the courtyard of the sub-jail, you’ll find the arrogant, strutting statue of Don Nunho da Cunha, a bronze life-size oddity surrounded by heaps of old cannonballs. Several have been employed as decorative borders to the flower-beds.
Behind the fort, visit the three old Catholic churches on view from the lighthouse. They can be seen in any order. Only a handful of Christian families remain in Diu, and these churches are no longer places of worship, little visited and largely ruined. Of the three, the Ancient Diu Church has been turned into a school—the imposing architectural style of its façade plus intricate interior woodwork contrasting strangely with the gleaming lunar module in the courtyard playground; the second, though notable for its stone springs and depictions of phases in Christ’s life, has for the past 300 years doubled up as the town’s Hospital Building (convenient for casualties of the cricket games going on in the square below); and the third—most peculiar of all—has now become the Diu Badminton Club.
Cycling back into town, drop in on the small but lively town bazaar (tucked away behind the market square), then take directions for nearby St Paul’s Church. This is a towering structure, built in 1691, and dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. It is notable for its magnificent carved gates, and for its beautiful altar made of solid Burma teak.