Dadu Aur Madak

Saurashtra & Diu
Saurashtra is the peninsula that comprises the bulk of Gujarat, separated from the Kutch by the Gulf of Kachchh, and from the mainland by the gulf of Khambat. We had found Bhuj so enchanting, that we had little time left and chose to head as quickly as possible to Diu, which was one of the places we had heard great things about. We passed one night in Rajkot, heading the next day for Sasan Gir, a lion sanctuary in the south. On the way to Gir we took a little side trip to some cave temples near Junagadh. Compared to the caves we would see later in Maharashtra these were something of a let down.

The important thing about these Buddhist caves is that they date to the 2nd century AD. The disappointing thing about them is the Archaeological Survey of India, the same body that is responsible for gouging foreigners up to 40 times the price of admission as locals to  visit India's historic sites, has allowed many of these sacred treasures to be defaced by graffiti. (see below)

We had a brief layover in Sasan Gir to visit a lion sanctuary. We were lucky enough to get a couple of shots of two pairs (above), and this rear view of a rare deer like animal called a blue bull.

After the sanctuary at Sasan Gir, we were off to one of our primary objectives in Gujurat, the Island of Diu. Diu is a narrow island about 20 kilometers long seperated from the main land by about a kilometer of salt marsh. What makes it interesting is that it was a Portuguese enclave as recently as the early 1960s. The influence is evident even before one arrives in Diu. Taking backroads south from Gir we began to run through tiny villages as we approached the coast where the inhabitants were almost all black. Many Indians have very dark complexions, but these were people of obvious African origin. Whether they were descendants of slaves, or simply laborers imported by the Portuguese was something we were unable to discern. However, once you arrive in Diu, the Portuguese influence is inescapable.

Diu Town occupies the eastern-most tip of the Island, and the old Portuguese fort sits at the far eastern tip guarding over the entrance to the harbor. The distinction between this and the countless other forts one encounters in India is evident from the time you enter below the Saint that sits above the door. Also peculiar to this fort are the double moats.

Other unusual details are the presence of armaments, like this one (top left) overlooking a boat shaped prison in the bay (top right). A view inland from the fort (lower left) reveals whitewashed houses and church steeples. Many of the churches, like the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi (lower right), now serve new functions. This one is currently being used as a hospital but mass is still said here at least once a year.

The church of São Tomé (left) is now home to the Diu Museum. It also houses a guest house called São Tomé Retiro in a few upstairs rooms, and some rooms built on the roof. You can also sleep on the roof for a few rupees. At right, Saint Paul's has mass daily.

Clockwise from right, in the tiny winding side streets of Diu Town you can see the Portuguese influence in the local architecture, and on the opposite side of the island tiny Vanakbara is home to an all wooden fleet of fishing boats. One thing that remains unchanged though, is that there are always parents around trying to stuff their infants into Karen's arms to have their picture taken. It doesn't seem to matter if they have a camera or not, they seem perfectly willing to have you take a picture with your own camera.

Something that we have found to be unique to the state of Gujarat is the chakara. Converted from old Royal Enfields, the car size rear wheels are driven by an overly long chain. The engines are converted to pull start diesels, and make the strange trumpet like noise that gives them there name. They are used for buses and for freight, and they can supposedly haul one ton and still get 65 kilometers per liter.

Diu's secluded beaches are the perfect place to fish, or just kick back. Indian people seldom swim, and when they do the women normally go in fully clothed, and only about up to the knees.