Our trip to Daman was planned in an hour. It was after a short siesta on a hot May afternoon that our visiting clan from Kolkata hatched the plan to drop into Daman in order break the monotony of the better part of their vacation spent in a sleepy industrial town of Gujarat. The excitement of all but the one who had previously visited the place could only be termed as “irrational exuberance”. Go, we did, and came back with mixed feelings about the place.
One half of the union territory of Daman and Diu, Daman is a busy little town surrounded by the state of Gujarat on three sides and the sea on the fourth. While the area inland is heavily industrialized, the area along the coast is lined with resorts to suit every budget; some of them with really exotic names that remind you of golden beaches, blue waters and swaying palms. But if you go to Daman seeking any of these, you will be heavily disappointed since the coast here is predominantly rocky, the water muddy and the sand on the beaches have a peculiar black color. Some say that the sand is naturally black. Others say that it has turned black as a result of the effluents released from the factories inland. But in spite of its limited natural beauty, Daman remains a popular weekend getaway for revelers from Mumbai, Surat and other neighboring towns of Gujarat who are drawn here by Daman’s excise free liquor. The truth is that for the residents of the prohibition slaked state of Gujarat, Daman is like an oasis in the desert.
For those who want to look beyond the cheap liquor in Daman, I would recommend three things:
- The live sea-side orchestra in Miramar or Dariya Darshan – The biggest and nosiest parties in Daman that are sure to transport you back to 90s: While most of the resorts in Daman have live orchestra with food and drinks in the evening on weekends, Miramar and Dariya Darshan are probably the only resorts who hold it in humungous foot-ball field sized arenas and allow entry to people not staying in the resort as well. Don’t go here looking for good music because there is none. The music played predominantly consists of the bhangra and qawali hits of the 90s that is sure to transport you back to the era of garish costumes, brassy sounds and Superhit Muqabla. The ambience is noisy and the crowd completely oblivious of the throwback to two decades ago, is strangely ecstatic. In short, it’s a time machine. Ride for a blast from the past.
- The Portuguese fort: Daman was a Portuguese enclave till 1961 and the fort from where they ruled still stands strong at the mouth of the Daman Ganga river. The fort has two parts, the smaller being in Nani Daman and the bigger being in Moti Daman. The fort houses administrative offices, schools and churches and is an intriguing change from the crowded beaches and zany resorts of Daman. The 16th century Church of Bom Jesu inside the fort is a must see for it’s intricate wooden carvings.
- Jampore Beach: While we did not get the chance to visit this, the photos on tripadvisor look really pretty. If you visit it, let me know how it was!
How to get there:
At 185 kms from Mumbai and 120 kms from Surat, Daman is situated at a comfortable driving distance from both places. If you plan to take the train, alight at Vapi station on the Mumbai –Ahmedabad-Delhi route of Western Railway and travel onwards to Daman, a distance of about 14km, by road.
Where to Stay:
If you are going to Daman over the weekend, be sure to book a place to stay in advance. The road along Devka Beach is lined with the more expensive resorts with imposing facades such as Miramar, Golden Beach, Cidade Daman etc. You will find the less expensive hotels a little off the beach and inside the town.
Where to Eat:
Do try out Veera da Dhaba for some authentic Punjabi food served in a dhaba like ambience of the north with charpai seating.