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Notes on the Geography of Peninsular India: Diu: Photo 10

world pictures Peninsular India: Diu




This probably isn't the picture that the tourism authorities would choose, but it does show the harbor that the fort protected. It also shows Ghogla, the town on the far side. Ships en route to the Gulf of Cambay, with its nearby towns including Baroda and Surat, would shelter here. Here's what they saw, as recorded in the Voyages of John Van Linschoten, 1583: "This Iland [Diu] aboundeth, and is very fruitfull of all kind of victuals, as Oxen, Kine, Hogges, Sheepe, Hennes, Butter, Milke, Onions, Garlicke, Pease, Beanes, and such like, whereof there is great plentie, and... such as better cannot be made in all these Low-Countries... they have likewise cheeses, but they are very drie and sault, much Fish which they sault, and it is almost like unto salt Ling, or Codde, and of other sortes... they have so great quantity that they supply the want of all the places round about them, especially Goa, and Cochin...."

Van Linschoten continues, "This towne hath a very great haven, and great traffique, although it hath verye little or nothing of it selfe, other more than the situation of the place, for that it lyeth between Sinde and Cambaia, which Countries are abundant in all kind of things, whereby Diu is alwaies ful of strange nations, as Turks, Persians, Arabian, Armenians, and other countrie people..." (Quoted in Shokoohy, "The Island of Diu, its Architecture and Historic Remains," in South Asian Studies, 2010.) Location, location, location. The local fleet no longer parks here but ties up instead at the new jetty at Navibandar, five miles east. Diu in fact has been quiet a long time. The authors of the Imperial Gazetteer of India, from 1908, write that Diu, "once so opulent and famous for its commerce, has now dwindled into utter insignificance." Fishing is "the chief employment," the authors continue, but many locals migrate to Mozambique for work. Weaving and dying are dead. And the Portuguese? According to the census of 1900, Diu had 15,000 residents, of whom three were European. One was the Portuguese governor, whose assistants were Goan. It must have been a posting from hell for most people, although you wonder what kind of story Joseph Conrad might have made of it.

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