In early 2015, Diu tourism launched an ad that branded the small island at t he southern tip of Gujarat as ‘Ilha de Calma’ (Portuguese for ‘Isle of Calm’). The TVC conveyed a seamless tranquility—a welcome break from the city chaos. Blame the breathtaking sites portrayed poetically, but it put Diu on the tourist map. A visit to the tiny island, however, is a journey full of surprises.
Mornings in Diu are indeed eerily quiet. The view from the first-floor balcony of our guesthouse is a window to the island’s skyline. Amidst the many short, multi-coloured Gujarati homes, three prominent churches stand tall with their crosses and bell towers. Near the coast, Hoka trees, also called ‘doum palm’, quietly watch over the stirring morning. This peculiar tree looks like a bunch of dudes with the same perm joined at the hip, and bears an eccentric red fruit with a hard skin and an even harder seed. Our guide at the Diu fort, Valjibhai Solanki, boasts that even a fully loaded truck couldn’t crush the seed and that the locals use it as firewood. Local legend dictates that the tree, said to be indigenous to southern Egypt, was brought by the Portuguese. Baskets full of hoka, or ‘gingerbread fruit’, were discovered in King Tutankhamun’