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Notes on the Geography of Peninsular India: Diu Fort

The Portuguese built a string of forts along the west coast of India, but only Diu's survives intact.

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Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 1

Unlike the vanished forts at Goa, Cochin, and Calicut, Diu's had and has water on three sides--all four if you count the now mostly dry moat. An earlier fort had been built on the site by Malik Ayaz, the sultan of Gujarat, but the Portuguese rebuilt it and soon reinforced the landward wall with a second or outer one. That outer wall, part of which is seen here, had three bastions. Two are visible here, each with a small chapel and each able to fire at anyone attempting to scale the wall between them. The view includes St. Dominic's Bastion on the left, St. Nicolas Bastion farther right, and the Knight's Tower, with a modern lighthouse.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 2

The third bastion, St. Philip's bastion; the wall at the far right is part of St. James chapel, coming up soon.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 3

The wall was built of rock excavated to make the moat, now flooded only at very high tides.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 4

The moat winds around to the sea. Ralph Fitch wrote in the 1580s that Diu was "fortified by an high Stone Wall with Bastions at convenient Distances well furnished with Cannon to flank it, and a deep Mote hewn out of an hard Rock."

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 5

There is only one entrance to the fort, but there are two paths of approach, one by land (seen here), and one by a jetty shown in the next picture.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 6

The bateria do caes or jetty, along with the St. George Tower.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 7

First gate.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 8

The second gate, the porta principal.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 9

The inscriptions were a casualty of the Indian takeover in 1961, but old photos show that they were added in 1656 by order of Governor Sarmento de Carvalho.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 10

Just to the right of the main gate is a balcony, once part of the governor's palace, moved by 1800 to a site in the adjoining town.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 11

Old balconies have been largely obliterated. The heavy bars may have something to do with the fact that even now this part of the fort is a civil prison.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 12

Lion?

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 13

Virgin and child, with angels.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 14

Another virgin and child in a floral frame supported by three lion brackets.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 15

The business end of the place.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 16

The deroofed Queen's Cistern.

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Although the fort's interior is mostly empty now, it was once a crowded place, a town in itself whose only open space was a quarry. Here, an obelisk marks the spot of the former cathedral.

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The inscription refers to bones found while excavating the site of the cathedral.

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That inscription faces the sea wall of the fort. The door leads to St. Lucy's bastion.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 20

St Lucy (Luzia) stands over the passage. She is protected by angels holding a crown. The missing inscriptions recall the date 1649 and the order of Captain Francisco Monis da Silve to build the bastion.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 21

Out on the bastion. Note the excavated pit.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 22

A better view. The pit was one of many built to hold water.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 23

The cross suggests that this was a church, although the lack of windows suggests otherwise. It was, in fact, a powder magazine, and its walls are over six feet thick.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 24

From the Knight's Tower (with the lighthouse) we can look down first at the quarry at our feet, then the powder magazine and, to it's left, cisterns. Behind them is the site of the old cathedral and beyond it is St. Lucy's bastion. The powder magazine looks semi-buried, but the Shokoohy's write that it was not built below ground. Instead, the surrounding surface has been built up by the accumulated rubble of vanished buildings.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 25

Entrance to the Santiago (St. James) bastion and chapel. Along with the governor's palace, this was one of the two buildings maintained after 1800. Sunlight streams through the roof since the Indian Navy shelled the chapel in 1961.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 26

Bits of original plaster are left on the image of St. James, sword in hand as he presumably butchers the heathens.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 27

Although the roof of the nave is gone, the coffered choir is intact. The memorial carries inscriptions copied from older ones in the vanished cathedral.

Peninsular India: Diu Fort picture 28

It's very hard to read but was installed in 1906.


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