Saturday, July 08, 2006
Travelogue - Daman in the rains
Daman in the rains! Had heard plenty of Goa in the rains, but Daman, well decided to check out this Goa wannabe and drove out the 200kms to Daman this monsoon. Daman, which used to be a Portuguese territory, became part of India with Goa and Diu in 1961. The Portuguese took control of Daman in 1531. There is still a Portuguese feel to the city with the fort, churches, and ancient Portuguese houses. Daman and Diu now make up the Union Territory of Daman and Diu and are governed from Delhi. The Daman Ganga river divides the town in half. In the southern part of the city known as Moti Daman (or Big Daman) is the old Portuguese area where the government buildings and old churches are located. A large wall surrounds it. Most of the hotels are located in the northern part of the city, Nani Daman (Little Daman). The roads all the way are superb. Daman lies about 15kms off Vapi along the Mumbai Ahmedabad highway. There are plans afoot to convert this highway into an expressway like the Mumbai-Pune one and the efforts are evident in the widened roads and smooth surfaces all along. The dhabas that used to dot the countryside along the route have disappeared and replaced by restaurants, which are few and far between. The route somehow seems to be accident-prone as we saw quite a few trucks that had rolled off the highway into slushy land and had to be towed back by cranes. This led to frequent traffic hold ups, otherwise the journey is pretty quick and pleasant. But one should be warned about the lack of prominent signage for the turning into Nani Daman. It is very easy to miss it if it does exist as we did not see any and had to ask around for directions. Once you reach Nani Daman, it is just one straight road to Devka Beach. This is where the action is in Daman. Devka Beach is around 3kms of promenade lined by Hotels, wine shops and bars and restaurants on one side and a park on the beach on the other. It is bargain time in Daman during the monsoons and we got a fantastic bargain in Hotel Shilton at Rs.500/- per day for an air-conditioned double-bedded room that faced the beach. There are plenty of Hotels along the road and it is advisable to check out as many as possible to get the best possible rate. Some of the hotels offer Health Club facilities, swimming pool, indoor games like table tennis and carom, which can be useful during rainy days when you might not be inclined to step out. There is nothing actually much ‘to do’ in Daman. It is a place where you can go for long walks on the beach, sit around in the park or in your hotel room facing the beach and watch the sun go down. In short just chill! Liquor is cheap and freely available, hence Daman is a big bar for the residents of neighbouring dry state of Gujarat. In the park and on the beach you will find hawkers peddling beer and nuts on the sly. Daman is also being promoted as a conference and rest and recreation center for the Corporates in the industrial belt of Vapi just across the border.