The Portuguese Influence

The entire region comprising union territories of Daman, Diu Dadra & Nagar Haveli (Capital Silvassa) has a distinct portuguese heritage. The Portuguese voyages beyond Taprobane to Malacca, the Moluccas (spice islands), Macau and Japan covered the Indian coasts in the late fifteen century. About 500 years of Portuguese interaction with Asia mainly spread along Indian and Sri Lankan coasts has left inimitable legacy in Goa, Daman, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli. This Indo-Portuguese culture fusion is actively carried on by groups of small still found in Goa, Daman, diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli. To this day, many of the inhabitants of this exquisite land on the west coast still speack Portuguese, actually now a quaint dialect, a mix of Portuguese and local language, Gujarati. The Indo-Portuguese people have long been identified with mechanical trades and fishing.

The most persistent evidences of Portuguese presence in India are the monuments (edifices of archives) and the distinct Indo-Portuguese people, a product of cross fertilization of European, African and Asian sources. The voyages resulted in a rite of cultural cross-pollination and many a renowned Portuguese writers and intellectuals traveled to India in the sixteenth century contributing to the creation of a unique Indo-Portuguese architecture, music, folklore, literature, vocabulary, art, ballads and theatre. This coastal region still possesses many indelible marks of Indo-Portuguese identity and grandeur : fortresses, cemeteries, magnificent churches, altars, art and culture, cuisine and music. The Great Gate and doorways St.Paulís Cathedral at Diu, Viceroyís Arch and the Jesuit Church at Old Goa, Bom Jesus Church at Daman words in stone Indo Portuguese creoles currently spoken in Diu and daman, the religious and the musical culture of this coastal region are some of the examples of a distinct rich past. The cathedrals of the Indo-Portuguese society on the west coast of India, from old Goa to Daman and Diu are inspired from European, Renaissance, Boroque and Rococo architectural style. Portuguese sailors constructed their coastal forts and inhabitants on naturals islands. The 18th century country palaces of the past mostly seen at Goa are elaborate estates with surviving icons (halls, saloons, balconies, chandeliers, doorways, verandahs) of the Portuguese maritime world. Elaborately carved wooden furniture with intricate designs is a rarity but still can be found in some country homes, churches and government bungalows. Double storey tiled roofed structures with balconies and large windows still dot the countryside and carnival procession and Easter rituals continue to add to reinforce the cultural identity of this region. Even after decades of their acculturation with India, Porto-Indians claiming to be descendents of 16th-17th century settlers of Portuguese fortresses proudly consider themselves to be Portuguese, locally maintaining their dialects, culture, heritage, folklore and religion.

Daman - City of Twin Forts

Daman or Damao, a Union Territory was a Portuguese enclave for four centuries and a half till the close of the colonial rule in 1961. The first Portuguese Captain Diogo de Mello, while on his way to Ormuz, met with a violent cyclone and when all hopes were lost, suddenly found himself at the Daman coast. Daman was the battleground to oust the Portuguese and had witnessed many a wars waged against the alien powers. It had been a melting pot where races and cultures met and mixed to bring forth a multicoloured identity. This paradise of peace, solitude and contentment with its coastline about 12.5 km along the Arabian sea (the Gulf of Khambhat) was once known as Kalana Pavri or Lotus of Marshlands. A laid back little town, Daman is divided by the Damanganga river. Nani Daman (or Little Daman) in the north and Moti Daman (or Big Daman) in the south which retains something of the Portuguese atmosphere in its Government buildings and churches of colonial origins enclosed within an imposing wall.

Diu - Island of Sea, Sand and Serenity

A beautiful blend of sun, sand and sea, Diu is a Godís gift to those in quest of a blessed turf where the weary weight of this unintelligible world can, for a while, be lightened and the waking soul can hear the music of the spheres, this tiny island of breeze, beauty and serenity situated off the southern tip of Saurashtra (Kathiwad) peninsula of Gujarat, lapped by the Arabian Sea, is a picture of calmness with some superb beaches and a fascinating history.