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The Monsoon Daman Trip | July 2017

Daman and Diu were always part of my GK lessons during my school days and I had never thought or planned of visiting them. But it all changed when we moved from Kuwait to India for good and got settled in Vadodara.

We started living here in June 2017 and started to set up here; finding a new rental accommodation, getting it ready to live,  getting Abhay into a new school, moving our stuff from Jaipur, buying a new Scooterette and moving my Motorcycle from Delhi. Sometime later, Bandita found a new job and we started to get comfortable in this new city. The only thing which troubled us was the extreme heat and when it combined with near 100% humidity, it became very tough to go out. Even planning a trip was out of question due to the grueling weather. But then things changed when Monsoons hit hard and it started to rain like crazy! There was water everywhere, heavy rains almost every day and greenery all around us! We thanked the heavens for giving us this much-needed respite. There was only one thing remaining to complete our desires – TRAVEL. I started to explore & search for some options nearby and came across Daman, which became our first trip out of Vadodara.

As we didn’t have a 4-wheeler of our own then, we planned a Train trip which always remains one of our favourite modes of travel. We had travelled extensively in trains during our April 2017 PolCzech Trip across Austria and Switzerland so we were eager to get back to the trains in India too. It was going to be a 3-days weekend trip and understandably, we were quite excited about exploring a new town together. Bandita had been to Daman many times during her Medical College days in 2000s so she was even more excited to relive her fun days after so many years! Abhay was as always in a fun mood.

Now some information about Daman:

Daman is a city in the Daman district of the union territory of Daman and Diu. It is divided by the Daman Ganga River into two parts, namely Nani-daman (Nani meaning “small”) and Moti-daman (Moti meaning “big”). Ironically, Nani-daman is the larger of the two towns! The Portuguese arrived at the spot by chance in 1523, soon after it was settled as a Portuguese colony and remained so for over 400 years. A larger fort was built in Motidaman in the 16th century to guard against the Mughals who ruled the area until the Portuguese arrived. Daman was incorporated into the Republic of India in December 1961 after a battle between the Portuguese and the Indians. The battle left four Indians dead and 14 wounded; Portuguese casualties were ten dead and two wounded. Since then it is administered as a Union Territory.

Nowadays, it is famous as a weekend destination for people of Gujarat who hop into Daman to enjoy their alcohol in the weekends as there is Prohibition in Gujarat. There are a large number of bars and wine shops spread all over Daman which are frequented mainly by Gujaratis. There is no railway station in Daman and the closest one is at Vapi from where people can reach Daman within 30-40 minutes. It is well connected by road with Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Friday 21-July-2017 | Vadodara – Vapi – Daman

Our train was scheduled from the Vadodara Railway Station at 7:45 AM. We reached the station well in time and started our journey with fresh Poha and hot tea just outside the station. We firmly believe that anything & everything should start with some good food and we did the needful during this trip too.

Our Double Decker train started on time and our seats were very well placed – Number 1 & 2 in the C7 compartment. It meant we had lots of leg space and for Abhay to move around freely.

We were up & running amidst some beautiful terrain filled with lush green fields and forests. It was a beautiful sight all the way through. I kept looking outside from our window and thanking God for making this journey possible.

Soon, breakfast vendors started to move around and I could not control myself even when we were carrying enough food stuff with us, which was supposed to be used for this train journey. It is tough to control when the aroma of fresh pao, bhajiyas and vadas is whizzing past you every 5 minutes. Finally I stopped one guy and enjoyed a round of Pao and Bhajiyas along with another cup of hot tea. They were pretty delicious and all of us enjoyed them thoroughly.

It was raining continuously and we knew what was in store for us at Daman! Abhay was having a ball and was having a gala time.

We reached the Vapi railway station on time and took our seats in a shared Taxi towards Daman which cost us just 60 INR per person. The shared taxis are much cheaper than the private taxis which charge almost 500 INR for this short trip of just 12 kms. Yes the shared taxis are old HM Ambassador cars which are in quite dilapidated condition but still make economic sense.  I had read about them in some of the Daman blogs and we did exactly as they had recommended.

It rained all the way between Vapi and Daman; we were just about to get the taste of Monsoons in Daman!

We reached the “Moti Daman” Taxi stand at 12 Noon and had to walk briefly towards our hotel which was near the Seaside. Hotel Brighton is quite a decent property if one is planning to stay right next to the beach. The rooms are big, bright & clean plus the tariffs are quite reasonable.  We had reached at 11:45 AM which meant our room was getting cleaned and ready for us so we kept our luggage and went towards the beach to enjoy some rain and the beautiful overcast weather. The sea was understandably very rough and no one was allowed to go towards the water so we enjoyed the view from a safe distance. We spotted a cart vendor selling Grilled Bhutta or Corn-cob as it is called in English and asked him to prepare 2 fresh ones for us. It was the perfect accompaniment to the weather which was getting rowdier by the minute.

Soon it started to rain heavily and we had to find some cover! The moment it slowed down, we walked quickly towards our Hotel. When we reached our room was ready, we checked-in, freshened up, rested for a bit before going out for a much needed lunch.

We went to a restaurant named Daman Delite for our lunch, it is famous for its Seafood fare and that is exactly what we wanted. Bandita ordered a Screwdriver cocktail for her along with grilled Pomfret grilled in “Koli” style. For the main-course, we ordered Konkani Prawn Curry, steamed rice, tawa rotis and a stuffed Aloo-Pyaaz paratha for Abhay. The food was absolutely delicious and filling. Nothing can match the simplicity and brilliance of fresh sea food in a seaside location.

The weather outside was absolutely gorgeous so we decided to head towards the beach one more time, this time exploring the black sandy part of it. And then it started to rain again! This was going to be the trend for the next 3 days of our trip – rains, rains and some more rains. We were absolutely loving it though. It was a new experience for Abhay as well; getting drenched in such heavy rains.

We went back to the hotel, changed and enjoyed a 2-hours long afternoon siesta which was the need of the hour at that time. We had woken up quite early and after the train & taxi journey plus 2 beach walks along with the heavy lunch, all that was needed was some sleep.

We woke up fresh and ready to explore Daman in all its evening glory. We started our walk from the beach towards the Fishermen colony and then towards the sunset view point overlooking the Lighthouse on the other side of the river. The weather was just about perfect and thankfully no rain for a change. We had some Bhelpuri to make it even better. Abhay had a whale of a time running at the Jetty Point like there was no tomorrow.

Our next stop was the St Jerome Fort also known as the Nani Daman Fort which was built in the 17th Century by the Portugese. The most impressive feature of this fort is the magnanimous gateway that faces the river where there is a huge statue of St Jerome, a renowned Catholic priest. Some inscriptions in Portuguese are placed below the Portuguese emblems on either side of the statue and there is a Cross placed on the top. There are two huge human figures carved in the walls near the entrance; we couldn’t figure out who they were as there was no board placed by ASI anywhere in the fort. The engravings are quite beautiful even though they were covered by algae and grass, thanks to the heavy rains.

There is a Church of Our Lady of the Sea, a school, a graveyard and a football ground within the premises of the fort. There is a beautiful view of the river, the Arabian Sea and the fishermen colony from the fort. As expected, there was a lot of graffiti ruining the walls of this historic fort which spoilt its beauty; I wonder when our countrymen/women would get some brains and stop destroying our heritage monuments.

We had a wonderful time in the fort exploring almost its entire area while taking a lot of photographs and obviously some selfies! Abhay was running merrily like always. We thoroughly enjoyed the peace as we were the only ones on the fort at that part of the evening. It is quite a rarity to be all alone in a monument in India and it was one of those special moments for us!

And then it started to rain (what else!); it was very windy so our umbrella was of no help and we had to find refuge under an old wall to save ourselves from getting drenched. We walked quickly towards the entrance when the rain stopped briefly but there was no respite for us as a downpour started the moment we got out. Thankfully we found cover at a small tea shop where we enjoyed multiple cups of hot tea enjoying the heavy rains and our conversation with the shop owner who surprisingly was from Bharatpur, Rajasthan! And he had an interesting story to share about how he reached Daman for the first time and decided to settle there.

He came to Daman in the 90s looking for his cousin who had ran away from home and reportedly was spotted in Daman. He stayed here for 2 weeks looking for him but his cousin was nowhere to be found but he found this place quite cold compared to Rajasthan and decided to set up a small shop here. And he has been living here for 6 months a year for the last 20 odd years. His 4 sons also operate a shop each in Daman and they go back to Rajasthan during the winter months to take care of their agricultural land and enjoy with their family. It was fun talking to him and knowing his background while it was raining heavily!

We decided to have an early dinner, thanks to the rains as we were in no mood to go back to the hotel and then come out again for dinner. We sat down at a roadside sandwich shop and ordered our dinner. I got a Bacardi Breezer for Bandita which she thoroughly enjoyed. It was quite a memorable scene, enjoying a quiet sandwich meal while enjoying the rains and the hustle-bustle around us.

After our fun meal, it was time to walk back towards the hotel in a light drizzle while gazing at some old & beautiful buildings of Daman. We reached our room, relaxed for a while watching TV and decided to call it a day at 10 PM.

Saturday 22-July-2017 | A relaxed day exploring Daman

I woke up early thanks to the loud sound of the heavy rain pelting on our room window and the first thing I spotted was a group of men enjoying “large” pegs of alcohol at 8 AM in the morning! And this is exactly why Daman is so popular.

We went for a South Indian buffet breakfast at Hotel Sovereign which was quite a steal at just 99 INR per person. We had a very “heavy” breakfast filled with lots of Idlis, Vadas, Dosa, Corn Flakes, Uttapams, Tea, Coffee, Juice and fresh fruits. Phew! Such buffet breakfasts are the best deals especially for a forever hungry man like me.

We went back to the beach to enjoy the morning view of the calm sea and clicked some real nice photographs with me and Abhay posing merrily.

Our next stop was the Jampore Beach which is famous for its seaside shacks serving fresh seafood cooked in traditional Koli style by Fisherwomen. We went to the Shack Number 4 and enjoyed some delicious food which was quite spicy. Chicken, Prawns, Fresh Pomfret; we had it all! And Bandita had her fair share of Bacardi Breezers.

The sea was very rough there as well and the water constantly came gushing towards us. We were sitting right next to the sea when we started and by the time we left, we were sitting in the last row of tables! Abhay and I had quite a fun time at the sea doing our customary “chhap-chhap” while it was raining steadily all the time.

After spending 3 wonderful hours at the Jampore Beach, we headed back to the hotel to enjoy another long afternoon siesta.

We woke up at 6 PM, enjoyed a session of hot tea at a roadside shop opposite our hotel and went for another long walk. Our first stop was the Jetty Point again which was bathed in a beautiful hue of blue which we had never seen before; it was absolutely surreal. And then it started to rain again, we sought cover at the “Samudra Narayan” Temple where Abhay paid his customary obeisance. Thankfully it was just a short bout of rain so we got to resume our walk.

Our next stop was the Municipal Council Garden which had statues of Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh side by side. When they were alive, their views were contrasting but atleast they were placed right next to each other here!

We explored some more bylanes of Daman enjoying some heritage buildings and Portugese style architecture while the rains kept playing cat & mouse with us. We had to find cover many a times that evening.

Dinner that night was at a small bistro named Meraki which was the only bistro in Daman and had a beautiful setting. We were the first and only guests of that evening though. We had a wonderful conversation with the young owner of Meraki who was quite an interesting young guy. He had designed the place in a very beautiful way displaying photographs from the old times of Daman including some old stamps and coins. We had a delicious dinner comprising of a Tandoori Chicken sandwich, chicken burger and an Olive Pizza along with some strong coffee for me. We wished the young owner the best of luck and bid him goodbye before walking towards our hotel and calling it a day.

Sunday 23-July-2017 | Daman – Vapi – Vadodara

We had another Buffet breakfast at Hotel Gurukripa which was 129 INR per person and had quite a variety – South Indian, Parathas, Pasta, fresh fruits, baked beans, poha, usal pao and what not! We had our tummies full and then ran towards our hotel in another bout of heavy rain.

The plan that day was to explore another part of Daman before boarding our train to Vadodara from Vapi. We took an auto rickshaw and went to the Devka beach and enjoyed some peaceful moments there. Our next stop was the Mirasol Waterpark & Resort where we didn’t visit the Waterpark but the amusement area instead.

We walked across the entire park and then Abhay had his share of fun riding a small electric motorcycle at the play area. Later we had a long boating session in the artificial lake which surrounded the entire resort. There was a continuous light drizzle which made our boating session even better.

We had planned a Parsi lunch that day at a small restaurant located in Duke Hotel. We were short of time so ordered the Parsi dishes readily available. We enjoyed the Sali Boti, Mutton Dhansak, Zeera Rice along with tawa rotis. We quickly finished our lunch as we had to rush towards our hotel, pick our luggage and then head towards Vapi.

As expected it was raining heavily so we had quite a tough time finding an auto rickshaw and had to walk quite a distance in heavy rains to find any available mode of transport. After a long walk we got an auto and then asked him to quickly take us to the hotel. Those were tense moments for us as we were running against time! Thanks to the Auto guy we reached just about in the nick of time.

We quickly picked up our luggage and then boarded a shared taxi to reach the Daman Railway Station. This time I had booked a regular sleeper/non AC compartment for our return journey so that Abhay could enjoy this type of train journey as well. We had the Side berth seats which was the perfect place for us to explore the lush green beauty all the way through. The fields were all green due to the heavy rains and were quite a sight.

Abhay had a real fun time looking outside the window which this time wasn’t closed! We also had many cups of tea-coffee which went perfectly with the weather.  To make things even better, I bought a vegetable grilled sandwich from the Surat railway station which was very delicious indeed.

We reached Vadodara after this beautiful train journey after spending some tense last moments in Daman.

So that’s how our Rainy Daman trip went through. We surely had a fun time exploring and enjoying the small town of Daman along with some real good food. Our hotel was quite comfortable and the rains kept us company for the entire time we were there. We had missed the rains terribly during our 7 years in Kuwait but this trip ensured we got enough of rains. Even though we had to find cover many a times to save ourselves from getting drenched, we never were tired or frustrated with the constant downpour.

We would love to explore the town of Silvassa in the future but through a road trip as now we have a car of our own here and the roads here in Gujarat are a treat to drive on. Also, there is a plan to drive to Diu to complete the duo of Daman and Diu!

So till the time we meet again…

Cheers to life…

Till then ride safe and have safe sex…

Inquilab Zindabad…

Hasta la Victoria Siempre…

Jai BoP!

2 Comments

  1. Wow!! Terrific!!
    Good to see you back in action and that too this time in India 🙂
    You and food are like synonyms for us now. So many posts on food and the details are so mouthwatering that I am straight going for my dinner after this comment as your beautiful post has made me go extra hungry today :).
    Good to see you guys enjoy the Daman trip man.
    Just imagine that I worked in Daman, although briefly but totally enjoyed the Tax Heaven as it was called then, no idea if it enjoys the same status. Had a great time then too as permanently stayed in a beach side hotel that too company paid and enjoyed some authentic dishes with lots of Liquor.
    I found locals to be quite friendly, have been there twice in the past and it is always kool to be there.
    I find Goa to be so overrated in comparison to these smaller lesser known places which are way more beautiful, peaceful and economical too.
    Hats off to you guys to have made this journey by train and the return journey by Non AC is the cherry on cake 🙂
    Keep up the good work Man.
    Guess we will be meeting soon now, counting days 🙂

    • Thanks Rohit Bhai for your detailed comment! Yeah, we were also getting anxious to restart our travel journey in India and couldn’t have made a better start 🙂 I have no idea about it being a tax heaven; didn’t know such a thing existed in India before too. It is now famous only for one reason – cheap booze and nothing else! the cheap seafood is just extra bonus. We love train journeys and always enjoy them thoroughly. Keep visiting the blog as lots of travelogues are headed your way…

      Cheers,
      Che

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