Saturday, April 14, 2012

Shivya Nath: Diu May Be India's Last Beach Paradise

My slippers are in hand and my jeans are rolled up. I want to feel the white sand and the last remnants of Arabian Sea waves on my bare feet. I look at the turquoise waters in front of me and at the trail I've left on the beach. In a country of 1.1 billion people, you have to be really lucky to find a sun-kissed beach with not another soul in sight.

I arrived in Diu after a long, jerky bus ride from Ahmedabad this morning and immediately fell in love with the laid-back ambiance of the island. The empty roads beckoned me to rent a scooter and drive along the untouched coastline. With the wind in my hair, I maneuvered my way around the majestic churches of Diu, its sparsely populated villages, its eating joints and the remains of its old forts, the remains of Portugal's long-gone control.


Instead of returning in the evening to what is locally known as Sunset Point, a snippet of conversation with a resident of the island convinced me to head towards an edge of the island, where I was promised that there would be "no one." I found myself at the base of a cliff, on the right of which the sea and sand stretched for miles. No one was there.

The sun is now bright ball of fire it appears to be smiling at my arrival. On an impulse, I drop my slippers and run into the sea. The waves throw me a frisky welcome; I float atop the smaller, jump against the mighty, duck under the intimidating and find myself hurled to the sandy seabed despite my efforts. Each time I look up, the sun has moved a few inches lower and turned a few shades towards orange.


A dozen colorful little structures on the cliff scramble for my attention and, as the tide starts to rise, I wade my way to the shore to attempt to climb the rugged but gentle slopes of the cliff. The structures, I soon realize, are shrines that house the remnants of the Portuguese occupation. The waves crash sharply on the rocks at the edge of the cliff and the sun turns a bright red, the original color of these shrines. I keep them company until the sun makes its quiet exit.



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