General Information about Daman
Daman is the tiny union territory which was the Portuguese enclave and situated on the southern side of the Gulf of Cambay. Geographically, Daman and Diu are the part of the state of Gujarat and connected to the mainland of Gujarat by a causeway. The small town of Daman is like Diu which is a tiny island in the Arabian Sea and covers an area of 380 square km.
This beautiful island has excellent golden beaches, forts and churches, bazaars, and a booze soaked whimsy that attracts Gujarati and Mumbai weekenders who flock for the cheap booze and sunshine on the Devka beach. Gujarati, Hindi, English and Portuguese are the main languages which are spoken in Daman.
The best time to visit Daman is from September to May.
History of Daman
Daman developed as the Portuguese trading centre from 1531. Much of its early commerce was with the Portuguese territories in East Africa. Later from 1817 to 1837, it was a link in the opium trade chain until this was broken by the British. The Portuguese officially ceded Daman from the Bahadur Shah, the last major Gujarati Sultan, in 1559. Along with Diu and Goa, Daman was taken in 1961 from the Portuguese, who had seized in 1531. With Diu and Goa, it is still governed from Delhi as a Union Territory.
How to reach Daman
Daman has excellent all weather roads linked with the major cities of Gujarat like Diu, Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Rajkot and Baroda and even Mumbai.
The nearest railway station is located at Vapi, on the main railway line and is only about 10 kms. from Daman.
Tourist Attractions in Daman
St. Jerome Fort
The St. Jerome Fort offers views of the colourful fishing fleet. This fort on the northern banks encloses a church and cemetery with still a few cannons on the walls. The nearby bridge often tumbles in monsoon season. The fort has a magnificent gateway facing the river to impress incoming traffic. The Church of Our Lady of the Sea inside the walls is worth visiting place inside the fort.
The Old Fort contains the ruins of a monastery, Governor’s Palace, barracks, hospital and two churches. The eastern side has a moat and drawbridge.
The Jain Temple is located to the north of the church. This temple has 18th century murals depicting the life of Mahavira, who lived around 500 BC.
The Fort is situated in the Moti Daman area and dates back to 1559. The walls, divided by 10 bastions, encircle the 30 square km of land. Inside are sleepy, leafy streets reminiscent of the Portuguese era and there are relaxing views across the river to Nani Daman form the ramparts near he lighthouse. Moti Daman once housed the Portuguese gentry and near the fort gate is the sometime home of the 18th century Portuguese poet Bocage.
Church of Bom Jesus
The Church of Bom Jesus was built in 1603 and is a piece of Iberia in India, with elaborate woodcarving.
Church of Our Lady of the Rosary
The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, across the overgrown square has ancient Portuguese tombstones set into its cool, damp floor. Light filters through the dusty windows, illuminating the altar, a masterpiece of furiously detailed, gold-painted woodcarving.
The grubby, rocky shores of the Devka Beach is located about 3 kms. north of the Nani Daman. But the ambience of the place is quiet and easy. The bars and hotels dot the quiet beachside road.
The palm-shaded Jampore Beach is located about 23 kms. south of Moti Daman. This beach is better, but not good for swimming.