The few markets (the names i ll mention after i see all that i can) had been keeping us busy for quite a number of days. The autos are so cheap when there is a group of 3-5 people that even the most distant markets are approachable on a daily basis. But once in a while you need to get away from the city and we were told that Daman is one such place. It is 80-90 km away from Surat, and i thought of it to be unexplored by the tourists as i had not heard of it as a tourist destination. So, we planned a weekend getaway. But we could not make it on Saturday as everybody slept through it. So we decided to go on Sunday and bunk Monday.
We could not get any prior info on how to reach there or what places to see as none of the localites had been there and the info on websites was all i could gather. So the three of us started on Sunday morning with 3 other people who were doing intern with us but were from different colleges. There was Rajat from IITK,Manish from NIT,jalandhar and Mohit from University of Petroleum,Dehradun. We knew Rajat , but the other guys were new and they were on the trip through him.
Since Daman was not very far we thought of taking a taxi but the price quoted by the tour operator was Rs. 6000 !!! So obviously we took a train to Vapi (which is on the same route as Surat-Bombay) for Rs.33 :) We stood in the 2nd Seating compartment(i had seen it for the first time) and the journey was over in just 2hrs without any discomfort. From Vapi, we took a taxi at Rs. 15 per head to cross the Gujarat border and enter in Daman.
To my surprise, Daman was not meant to be a tourist destination. As Gujarat is a dry state and Daman shares a border with it , the U.T. makes full use of it. As soon as you cross the border the first shop is a booze shop and there are hundreds of them on both sides as you go along. Till we reached the taxi stand i had seen as many booze shops as i have cumulatively seen in my life and number of new brands. We reached there at 2.30 pm and booked a cheap hotel(hotel paradise) and looked around for some food. But all we got were shops serving booze. We were told that 3-7pm is off for the restaurant and bars and only booze is served during that time. Also there are no restaurants there, only 'restaurant and bar'. But we managed to finally find a shop which served food.
We asked around and it looked that the only place to see was Devka Beach. So we took an auto for Rs.6 per head and got there. And what we saw was good enough beach , though the water could have been a little less muddier. There was the usual camel/horse rides, vendors serving bhel puri etc. but the difference was that as soon as we entered the beach there were people asking us 'saab beer chahiye ?' ..!! even old ammas whom i thought would ask for money instead asked the same question.
The waves were ideal for a what a beach should have and we jumped into it in no time. After some 2 hours of fun with the waves throwing us in and out of water we decided that we should explore other things. There was another great moment when a table and chairs were laid out for us right there on the beach and the sun was setting, as we sat there. The waves randomly turned violent and reached our feet when we thought we were at a safe distance from them.
The night turned out to be great as we ate in Hotel Miramar which had a seating capacity in hundreds and a live 'orchestra' which played your requests. And as mentioned in my one earlier post the same stuff that happens when you drink and dance was happening here , and we too joined the large dancing group that was busy enjoying. We also saw families enjoying large amounts of beer with one having a 12-14 year daughter having a glass of her own which was being refilled quite regularly.
The only mistake that we did was to book a hotel before coming to Devka beach . It was 5-6 km from there and autos stop operating after 7pm ! so at around 2am , we thought that if we had booked a hotel we might as well check in , as we had not put any of our stuff in it. If we had not booked it , we could have had a night out , while dancing or on the beach. But as 'unluck' would have it it started raining as we were waiting for something to take us to taxi stand. We waited for a little while under a tin shelter and the weather then seemed absolutely delightful with the sound of sea waves at a distance, and the raindrops falling on the shelter providing a perfect backdrop for any silly talk/gupshup with friends. Though in a few minutes we saw an auto and quickly got to the hotel and slept.
As we planned to return the next day , we got up early and due to my persistence , we planned to see the Twin forts instead of going to the beach again. The forts ,though not greatest that i have seen , turned out to be quite fun as we were the only ones visiting them and the rainy weather made Daman look different from the previous day.
We also went to Jampore beach which was cleaner , but it was silent compared to Devka beach. So after an hour there, we went to Devka beach again and planned to end the trip there.
Though i do not recommend Daman as a tourist spot or a holiday option for a family , we all had immense amount of fun there and the day and a half seemed too little a time to take in the shock that such a place could exist in India or for that matter anywhere in the world.