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Ruins in Our Lady of Fatima Daman

Thursday, June 28, 2012

In the premises of the Moti Daman Fort lie the ruins of an Old Portuguese Church in the campus of the school of Our Lady of Fatima.
The ruins of the roofless church are so tall that they can be seen from the road in Moti Daman Fort. I had been trying to figure out a way of reaching these ruins.
A few locals advised me to enter via the school gate and I did the same. The school gate is usually closed while the school is on.
I asked the school peons about gaining access to the fort as I saw that the entrance to the ruins was locked. A steel door was in place. He told me that the door was open. No dates were mentioned on the walls so it was hard to figure out when the church had been built.

Ruins in Our Lady of Fatima School

The entrance to the Church had no doors. The metal door must have been put up years later.
The pillars were beautifully carved out of the stone wall and the design above the door was also very beautiful. The art work was amazing. A cross set in a circle was embedded within the walls.
As I opened the door, I heard a loud crank and the moment I entered, the door banged shut with a loud sound. Am I locked inside, was the first thought that came to my mind. But the door easily yielded when I tried to open it. Maybe the force of the wind against the metal door was what caused the loud sound.
Imagine yourself amid the ruins. What if the door were to suddenly close? Wouldn’t you be startled out of your wits? Believe me; the thought of getting caught in there gave me a rather creepy feeling.

A view in the ruins
The ruins have many arch shaped windows but none of them have window panes. It looks like the doors and the windows have been removed and kept away safely.
This place reminded me of the churches in Vasai Fort in Vasai near Mumbai.
I wish I could go back in time to view the beauty of this place around 450 years ago.
Can anyone design a time machine for me? I’ll be grateful to you for the rest of my life. :)

Journey Udvada to Silvassa

Monday, June 25, 2012

After visiting the old Parsi houses in Udvada, I headed off to the rickshaw stand hoping to get a ride to Vapi station.

When I spoke to the rickshaw drivers about my ride, they warned me that I would have to hire a special rickshaw and that the fare would be high. Just then I saw a bus approaching. The rickshaw driver told me that it would take me to Udvada railway station. I immediately headed off to the bus stop 10 metres away from the rickshaw stand.

The bus was empty and the fare to Udvada railway station set me back by just Rs 7.

The view outside was good; all around was open country. There were houses in the distance surrounded by mango and coconut trees as well as fields. It was a refreshing sight to see, and made me feel relaxed and invigorated. I really enjoy travelling like this.

Outside it was hot as hell, as the expression goes. Seated in the bus, I could feel the hot air flowing in through the windows. Daman was so peaceful and now Udvada is so hot, as if I were in a desert. In 30 minutes, I was at Udvada railway station.

I alighted from the bus and headed to the train station, trying to figure out if there is a train that would take me to Vapi. There was none. What’s more, the ticket counters were empty and the platform was abandoned. A few people were sitting on the platform, clearly seeking to kill time until the train arrived.

One of these waiting passengers advised me to cross over as the NH8 runs parallel to the train tracks. From there I would get a rickshaw or a bus to Vapi. Luckily, I got a semi full rickshaw to take me to Vapi. It was like a tum tum which could accommodate around 11 people. I managed to get a back seat in it.

I enjoyed the view from here. The two -wheelers and four-wheelers were racing along on the highway and in the midst of all that motion, our rickshaw was plodding ahead at a very slow pace.
I saw a fort like structure up on the hills in a distance. I saw the bastions. It stood silent on the hill, watching the highway and the traffic on it. None of my fellow passengers could provide any information on it.

In about 30 minutes time I alighted at Vapi. The fare for the journey was Rs 20. My passengers told me to board a rickshaw to the railway station. When I told them that I wanted to head to Silvassa, they advised me to get back into the rickshaw. A while later, I alighted at the stop from where I was supposed to get a rickshaw to Silvassa.

The rickshaw journey was very annoying. The roads were very bad. To make matters worse, the driver was playing some raucous music in his rickshaw. The songs were playing on tweeters; there was no bass. The so-called music was blasting right into my ears, adding to the discomfort of my travel experience.  You see, we were four of us sitting on the back seat. But the hope of reaching Silvassa kept me going.

The songs that were being played were spoof songs of hit Bollywood songs and hilarious Gujarati songs. Who knows? The songs might have been fun to listen to. If only the volume were a little low.

Finally after 45 minutes, I reached Silvassa. Phew!

Monument of Liberation

Friday, June 22, 2012

In the Moti Daman Fort lies the Monument Liberation.
This monument is painted white in colour and has two miniature cannons erected next to it. This monument is maintained by the Daman Municipal Council.
Monument of Liberation
The monument has a marble stone erected in it which states that “Daman was liberated by 1st BN The Maratha Light Infantry on 13th Dec 1961 after a heroic fight. Thus ended the 450 years of Portuguese Regime.”

Journey Daman to Udvada

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I had buffet breakfast at a place called Hotel Gurukripa in Daman for just Rs 73, inclusive of taxes.
I had planned to travel hardcore from Daman to Udvada. I wanted to have a good breakfast as I had no idea when my stomach would be fed its next meal. So a buffet breakfast was just the thing I was looking for and with an offer of eat-as-much-as-you-want for just Rs 73, I couldn’t resist it.
Breakfast consisted of customized egg preparations served with bread toast and brown bread, three types of jam, vegetable croquette and fruit salad along with tea or coffee. I had my full here as I was uncertain about my afternoon lunch.
Udvada is the next station after Vapi if one is travelling by train, but that would make the journey too simple, so I decided to take on-road transport. I had a lot of free time and I wanted to do some freestyle travelling.
Buses to Patalia, which is on the Daman and Gujarat border, depart from the road next to Hotel Sagar Presidency. Note that there are no buses or rickshaws that go across the border, so from Patalia, I had to figure out another mode of transport to take me to Udvada.
The bus is not a bus but a small tempo in which people are huddled as sheep and then dropped off at their destinations. The tempo was packed with people. Luckily I got a place to sit , but I had to rest my luggage on my lap as there was no space to keep it in the tempo.
Food items and other necessities are also transported by this tempo. These are stacked up next to the driver. The driver then drops them off at hotels and collection points on the way.
This tempo is a private vehicle and so the bus driver doubles up as the conductor to collect the Rs 15 fare from the passengers.
After a journey of 30 minutes along the mini roads of Daman, we finally reached the border. I was relieved. The tempo had been quite cramped.
For a fare of Rs 15, I guess one has to travel in a congested tempo. Alternatively there are rickshaws that ply here as well. These are special rickshaws and their fares are quite high.
I spoke to the driver regarding my further course of journey to Udvada. When I told him that I wanted to go to the Parsi Temple, he advised me to cross the border and board a rickshaw to Char Rasta.
From Char Rasta I had to board another rickshaw to Udvada. The bus driver had told me that the fare would be around Rs 10 each for both the journeys.
I crossed over from Daman to Gujarat and boarded a rickshaw. The first question the rickshaw driver asked me was, “Apke pass bottle hai?” (Do you have a bottle?) My face must have betrayed my confusion, because he re-phrased the question. “Apke pass drink hai”? I got his point then. He was asking me if I was carrying liquor across the border. No, I replied.
Carrying liquor across the border is considered a serious offence. Liquor bottles are confiscated. So it is better to be safe than sorry.
Within 10 minutes, I was at Char Rasta from where I was supposed to board another rickshaw to Udvada. Char Rasta means junction of four roads. There were no sign boards to indicate where the other two roads led.
Finally after a wait for 15 minutes, I hailed another rickshaw to Udvada. Overall, the journey had taken a little more than an hour.
Freestyle travelling by public means of transport -- I am certainly loving it.

Jampore Beach

Monday, June 18, 2012

Six km from Moti Daman stands a white sand beach named Jampore.
I didn’t like the beach much, because the water was dirty, but I could still see people swimming in the water here. I guess people have got used to adjusting to situations.

Jampore Beach

A beach is a beach for them. They don’t bother to see if the water is clean or not. They just jump in and begin to enjoy themselves.
There were few people on this beach. I don’t know if this is the scene everyday or just today or maybe because I landed on the black sand shores in the afternoon. But I could locate more shacks on the beach than people. I found that the cost of cooked food is exorbitant here, compared to the cost of packed food items and beverages. I had a double egg omelet and it cost me Rs 40.

Paban the Camel

I saw a few camels on the beach, offering camel rides to people who wanted to avail of them. But since there were no takers, the camels were busy resting under the hot sun. The bodies of the camels had been decorated. The name of the camel was painted on its neck. 
A few horse carts stood around in the hot sun, waiting to take people for a ride.

More Shacks and Less People on the Beach
This is Jampore Beach. One can reach this place either by a private vehicle or by rickshaws. The rickshaws run unmetered but the fare is reasonable.

Fort of Moti Daman

Thursday, June 14, 2012

After crossing the pedestrian bridge over Daman Ganga, I landed up in Moti Daman. Again the entrance is via a small cutout in the walls. Mind it. This is not an entrance to the Fort, but was made recently by some people who cut into the walls of the fort.
As I was entering, school children were exiting the fort via this entrance cum exit. I guess these children were staying at Nani Daman, as the bridge connects the two with each other.

Fortification of Moti Daman from the bridge over River Damanganga

The fort of Moti Daman is bigger than the one at Nani Daman as it is home to various government offices, homes and schools. The walls of both forts appeared to be constructed in a similar manner. I guess both were built around 400 years ago.
Again this is a huge fort and it is best to climb up the walls of the fort to get a good view of the sea, Nani Daman and the structure inside the Fort.

Hole in the wall, used by school children as entry to the Fort

Some parts of the fort have been spoilt by graffiti. Even so, it is good to see that most of the walls are as good as new even though they are 400 years old.
There is a lot of greenery inside this fort. Steps have been taken by the government of Daman to beautify the fort premises.
There are a number of cannons on this fort. The mouth of each of these cannons has an engraving of a crest and a year. I have been too many forts and seen a number of cannons, but never have I seen a cannon with the crest and year of manufacture inscribed on it.

Fortification with huge trees on it

A few ruins of broken down houses still exist on the fort walls. I wondered what they must have been like in their heydays.
There are two lighthouses on the Fort. The old and the new. Civilians are not granted entry to the New Lighthouse, but the Old Lighthouse can be easily viewed. No one is allowed to walk on the walls near the lighthouse for security reasons. A locked gate stops us from entering its premises.
Cannon with royal emblem and year of manufacture, i guess

The Old Lighthouse was, I guess, built during the Portuguese reign. Painted white, it has a spiral staircase in it. The lighthouse is around one storey tall. The lighthouse has an inscription on it stating when and by whom it was built. But the information is rather unclear. The lighthouse offers a very good view of the sea. Of course, the New Lighthouse would have afforded a better view, but we civilians are not allowed there. L
Around the fort premises are many roofless structures standing with wild grass growing around. Due to forest fires this grass has been burned down but the ruins of these walls still stand. How I wish I had a time machine to go back in history to view the splendor of this fort back then!

Light House, New and Old

The house of Portuguese Poet Bocage is very close to the Main Entrance of the Fort via the sea. A marble tombstone has been erected above the door of the small structure denoting that Bocage used to reside here. His house is very small. The government should have worked on renovating his house so that people could see it from the inside. But instead it lies there locked. The window panes of his house are broken. Neglected.
The wall next to the main entrance to the fort has “Rua Martin Afonso” inscribed on it. And on the wooden door, painted beige with rusted metal on it, I saw “ESTA PORTAF OIFEITA AOS 8 DE AGO TODI.” It was Portuguese, but it seemed like Greek and Latin to me. Totally incomprehensible.

House of Bocage

Fortunately, there is some boasting I can do. Rua is Portuguese for road. No doubt the road was named after some important Portuguese official.
The Fort of Moti Daman houses the Court of Civil Registrar, The Secretariat, GHSS Moti Daman, Excise Forest, Collectorate, Government House, the local hospital, the houses of the locals, schools and other ruins. It also houses the Cathedral of Bom Jesus, the Chapel of Our Lady of Rosary and the Dominican Monastary in the Fort premises and the Church of Our Lady of Remedies and the Church of Our Lady of Agustias on the outskirts of the fort.

Underground tunnel near the entrance of the fort
Some parts of the fort are under renovation. Looks like the Daman Municipal Council has taken the initiative to take care of its rich heritage. I noticed that there are two underground tunnels on the fort. As I had no torch with me, I thought that it would be more sensible not to visit them. Someday I will be back to view the tunnels. It would be interesting to see where they lead. A hidden cave with a treasure trove lying undisturbed for centuries or a hidden entrance to some place. Or maybe a dead-end.
The other entrance to the fort near the Post Office leads to Moti Daman outside the fort. There is an inscription in Portuguese placed on the Entrance. Above it is a statue with an emblem alongside. Higher above this is a Cross, indicating that this is a Portuguese Fort.
It took me around 5 hours to see the Moti Daman Fort in its entirety. The place is certainly worth a visit and is worth exploring, particularly if you like walking.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Whenever one thinks of Daman, what is the first thing that comes to one’s mind?
If your answer is liquor, then you are absolutely right. Daman is supposed to be a haven for people who love to drink. Most people visit Daman to drink liquor as it is available a cheaper cost, compared to Maharashtra and Gujarat.
There are liquor shops all over the place. Every third shop is a liquor shop plus most of the hotels too serve liquor. I guess this is the reason why it is a haven for all drinkers. But of course the price of liquor is cheaper in Goa than in Daman. Then why do people head here? I don’t know.
Daman was a Portuguese colony like Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Goa, Vasai and Mumbai. For a history buff, Daman has loads to offer, including old churches, forts and old houses.
Daman is located near the confluence of the Daman Ganga River and the Arabian Sea. As history states, Daman was acquired by the Portuguese from the Shah of Gujarat. For 400 years, it was ruled by the Portuguese until in 1961 it was integrated into India after the Indian Army, the Navy and the Air Force joined hands to make it a part of India.
Daman consists of Moti Daman and Nani Daman. Moti Daman is older than the other. But both are old enough. Moti Daman and Nani Daman are connected by two bridges, one meant for heavy traffic and the other for pedestrians and cyclists. Though the water in the river recedes when it is low tide, one cannot cross via the water. The fishing boats parked at both Moti and Nani Daman do not allow passage between the two.
Daman has many historical monuments. The forts that guard the coast are St Jerome Fort in Nani Daman and the Fort of Moti Daman. As Daman is a Union Territory, all the government buildings are located in Moti and Nani Daman. It is also famous for its beaches, Devka Beach and Jampore Beach.
There are four churches here. The Church of Our Lady of the Sea is situated in St Jerome Fort, and the other three are located in the Fort of Moti Daman. These are the Church of Our Lady of Remedies, the Church of Our Lady of Augustus, the Church of Our Lady of Rosary and the Cathedral of Bom Jesus.
Moti Daman Fort also houses the New and the Old Lighthouses, the Dominican Monastery and the House of Bocade and offers a spectacularly beautiful view of the fishing boats parked in the creek that divides Moti and Nani Daman.
The streets near the beaches are very narrow and mostly deserted. But these streets lead to beautiful and old houses. These houses are either ground-floor structures or a storey tall with tiled roofs. They are brightly painted and provide good material for photographers. Most of the houses have a small porch ahead of them, but nothing like the houses in Goa. Even though both Goa and Daman were earlier ruled by the Portuguese, the architecture and design of the houses is markedly different.
The windows of these houses are what caught my attention.  Though all of them are made of wood, each one appears to have been designed in a different and unique manner.
The markets here are flooded with goods, both Indian and Chinese makes of almost everything. Daman offers accommodation options to suit everyone. There are options for the budgeted traveller, businessman as well as those willing to shell out more for luxuries. In terms of food too, there is something for everyone. North Indian, South Indian, Moghlai, Gujarati food, take your pick. Sadly, Daman does not seem to have anything special to offer by way of its own particular cuisine.
There are mini buses, taxis and rickshaws which cater to travel needs within Daman, other than the private vehicles. But they leave from various locations across Daman. There is no common point for public transport here. Daman is so small that you can view all the sights here in two days.
Most travel websites talk about Daman and Diu together. I guess this is so because of long-ago history lessons in which we learned to speak of Goa, Daman and Diu in the same breath. I too made the mistake of assuming that Daman and Diu were near each other on the map. In reality, you have to undergo a ten-hour journey just to reach Diu from Daman by road or rail transport. So don’t be fooled the way I was into thinking I could tackle both places on the same trip.
As for how I got here, I alighted at Vapi and got in a shared taxi, which took me to Nani Daman.
Daman is very close to Vapi railway station. Outside the station there are shared taxis which charge Rs 20 per head, rickshaws which charge Rs 150 for a special trip and Gujarat State Transport buses. I don’t know the price of the bus ticket. One can reach Daman by road, rail and air as a mode of transport.
So do plan a trip to Daman. There is much to see and do here.

Church of Our Lady of Piety

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Very close to the Tribal Museum on the road to Sayali stands a grey coloured structure called the Church of Our Lady of Piety.

This church is made of stone and is painted grey in colour. The border on the stone is white. Most Portuguese churches are made of mud, but this is the first one I had come across that was made of stone.
Church of Our Lady of Piety
The church was constructed in the year 1897. A hundred years later, in 1997, an extension was added. The church is very small and has no pulpit; the main altar is small and beautifully carved out of wood and varnished in brown. A huge main altar, and side altars and a pulpit are a constant in all Portuguese churches. I wonder why this one was constructed differently.

The road outside is abuzz with heavy traffic, but all the noise and cacophony just fades out once you step inside this church. Sitting here is so peaceful that I feel totally cut off from the outside world.

Church of Our Lady of the Sea

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

In the Nani Daman Fort, or more accurately, the St Jerome Fort, lies the Church of Our Lady of the Sea.
Perched in one corner of the Fort, protected by its thick, strong, more-than-a-storey tall walls, the church is almost invisible from the outside. The Church itself is a small structure painted beige; the pillars are painted green and to complement the overall look, the doors of the church are painted brown. The name of the Church is written in Portuguese, “Virgen Do Mar,” literally meaning Virgin of the Sea.
Church of Our Lady of the Sea in Nani Daman Fort premises

An inscription, “C 1901 R 1966,” is placed right above the main door of the church. I guess C refers to construction and R to renovation. This might possibly refer to a section of the church which might have been built at a later date, because the main church and the fort on which it resides are nearly 400 years old.
Outside the Church stands a beautiful Grotto of Mother Mary. There is also a statue of Our Lady of the Sea nearby besides a Cross, painted red, atop the Church.
There are two beautifully painted bells, silver coloured, on the right hand side of the Church. These bells have a little artistic work adorning them. These bells are rung to announce the commencement of prayer services and to intimate the community about the death of one of the residents.


When I visited the Church it was afternoon. Since no services are held in the afternoon, the bells remained silent.
A part of the Church is used as a school. I had no intention of disturbing the students studying inside. I inquired at the School Office if I could get to see the Church from the inside.
A lady named Odeth accompanied me to see the Church. As I stepped inside the Church, I felt relieved from the strong heat outside. The atmosphere was soothing and nice. It felt really nice to visit a church so beautiful.  
Church of Our Lady of the Sea

I guess the clay tiles, also known as Mangalore tiles, which were used to roof the church had played their part in keeping the place cool.
Inside I saw paintings displaying the events that are commemorated in the Way of the Cross. These 14 paintings were placed in wooden frames painted dark brown. The Way of The Cross prayer services commemorate the key events that took place as part of Christ’s death and resurrection.
In the church there is a pulpit. A pulpit is a speaker’s stand in the church. In the old days, the Priest used to stand in the pulpit and preach to the people. It serves as a mini gallery suspended from the walls of the church. The pulpit here was made of marble; the edges were painted golden. Its roof had a dove and other decorations carved in it. The Church also has huge chandeliers hanging inside.

The Church Bell

The Church had statues of Mother Mary and Jesus placed in Canopy Altars on the right and left hand sides of the main altar. These were made of wood and painted golden and were beautifully decorated. The carving must have taken years to be completed. 
The main Canopy Altar, placed behind the altar of the Church, was also made of wood and stood around two storey’s tall. Like most of the other standout elements here, it was painted golden. All the pillars were beautifully carved and even the minute details were clearly visible from where I took this photo. One could clearly see the image of Our Lady of the Sea in it.

Inside the Church

The locking system of the doors was old too, as I remember having the same kind of locking system on the main door of our ancestral house in Goa. It consisted of a huge wooden beam, known in Konkani as an adam, which is more than a metre long and with a thickness of 4 x 4 inches. This beam, with a large knob on its head, rests within a cavity in the wall on the inside of the structure. When one wishes to latch the door, one pulls this heavy beam, holding it by the knob, out of the cavity and stretches it across the door. Most old houses in Goa are equipped with this mode of door latching system. You might find it quite outmoded, but try pushing a heavy wooden door, that is barred using one of these huge beams. It is very difficult, I assure you.
Masses and other prayer services are held at this church every day. Prayers are held in English and Portuguese. I have been to Goa so many times but I have never attended a Portuguese prayer service. 
The Pulpit
In fact, Portuguese is actually spoken here. Odeth told me that she herself is very fluent in the language. However, the language is not widely spoken by the younger generation.

If you ever visit the Nani Daman fort, make it a point to visit the Church. It is right inside the fort; there is no way you can miss it. If the church is closed, ask the school office and they will open it for you.
The visit to this church introduced me to the Portuguese way of designing churches.

Church of Our Lady of Remedies

Friday, June 1, 2012

On the outskirts of the Moti Daman Fort stands the Church of Our Lady of Remedies.

One glance at the Church brought memories of the churches of Goa to my mind.  Once again, the same whitewashed walls and wooden doors.
Church of our Lady of Remedies
This church was built by Rui De Mello De Sampaiyo, the Governor and Captain of Daman in 1607 AD.

There is a lovely white cross outside the church. It features a plant bearing flowers with names written in Portuguese. I have no idea what the words mean but this is the first time I have seen a Cross bearing names.

A beautifully carved bell, suspended from a wooden stand, hangs outside near the entrance of the Church. The bell has been re-painted brown to match the doors and windows of the Church. The paint job was a bad one. The painters had managed to paint over and completely obscure the design on the bell. I guess they should have let the bell be the way it was.
Cross made of Flowers

A small grotto of Mother Mary stands next to the Church, adjoining one of the walls of the church. Next to it stands a beautiful cross made of flowers, live flowers growing from the cross. I have been to many churches before, but this concept of having a cross made in the garden truly stands out.
Church Altar
I met the Parish Priest, and requested him to show me around the Church. The Priest was in a hurry but he still decided to show me around. A big thanks to him. The church is painted blue on the inside. It had a pulpit, canopy altar and the 14 paintings of the Way of the Cross.
I liked the paintings done on the pulpit and the altars. Truly commendable. A salute to the great artists whose work they were.

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