Herança Goesa – A haven for genuine Portuguese Hospitality in Ilha de Cama, Diu (U.T.), India

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Located at the southern tip of the bulge of the Gujarat peninsula, the Union territory of Diu, is a former Portuguese enclave and today considered to be the ninth least populous district of India. An island spanning 11kms by 3kms and separated from the mainland by a narrow channel, Diu has been a vied for territory since ancient times.

A predominantly fishing town, this enclave has been the apple of many a ruler’s eye for its strategic location for trade and commerce and once served as an important port for traders venturing into emerging markets across the Arabian Sea. Under the control of the then Sultan, Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, Diu, being highly coveted, saw many a failed battle for its possession until it finally changed masters with the signing of the treaty of Bassein between the Sultan and the Portuguese 1535 in exchange for their protection against the then invading Mughal Emperor Humayun, a decision he later repented.

Diu has since been a Portuguese enclave and an equal partner with mainland Portugal along with the remainder territories of Daman, Goa and Dadra & Nagar Haveli. Along with flourishing trade with Mozambique and an introduction of the Portuguese language and culture, Diu was transformed from an ordinary fishing hamlet to a vibrant township protected by a formidable fortress which in a recent poll was considered to be one of the seven modern wonders of Portugal along with the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, by the Portuguese Nationals.  Diu remained under Portuguese control from 1535 AD to 1961 AD when the Indian forces liberated the island after an overwhelming land, sea and air strikes on the enclave for 48hrs until surrender.

Today, one can still find reminisce of a bygone era as Diu positions itself as an upcoming destination on the tourist charts of India. But if one wishes to come and experience the true Portuguese style hospitality of an enclave proud of its rich heritage, then one cannot overlook the humble abode of Herança Goesa.

Started by Senhores Francisco and Alina, Herança Goesa or Goan Heritage, is today the epitome of traditional authentic hospitality mixed with the largesse of the heart. Being a retired Civil Engineer and a school teacher respectively, they along with their son Allwyn, have opened their home of six spacious and comfortable, reasonably priced rooms to many a discerning traveller looking for that unique experience.

Herança Goesa, is conveniently located in the Christian locality of Firangiwada and is in close proximity to many a site that captures the attention of the hungry traveller. From the main jetty to museums, the grand 17th Century St. Paul’s Church, still in use for its original purpose, the formidable Diu Fort, intriguing Naira Caves and a plethora of rocky coves and pristine beaches to tempt the traveller.

Being third generation of Diu, Alina Gomes de Melo, is a Portuguese descendent with a rich Heritage while her husband Francisco da Cruz hails from Goa and being a Civil Engineer by profession has not only helped map the city but also been an integral part of its many projects much to the delight of the local population.

“Bem vindo a minha casa”, says Alina in her fluent Portuguese as she welcomes the weary traveller seeking a haven in the sweltering heat and humidity that engulfs the landscape. Being the only Portuguese-Indian Christian family that has started this venture, Alina and Francisco and filled with knowledgeable stories that will captivate the value seeker. An ardent lover of cooking, Francisco has the potential of cooking up a storm for the gastro enthusiast, from traditional Portuguese Sea Food dishes to his famed Swiss Omelette whose taste lingers as is served with the genuine warmth and hospitality dipped in Diu Portuguese Pride.

Being simple folk as is the most of Diu, one can easily see the spirit of the township emanating though them, like an unspoken magic that will beckon you to return. Even the likes of many a famous personality like the family of the Portuguese Governors of Diu, make this place an annual pilgrimage, as the calmness of the locality, coupled with typical Portuguese siesta and comida best compliment the territory’s marketing strategy as being rightfully called “Ilha de Cama” or “Island of Calm”.

VIREN DE SA