After a few days in Udaipur we headed south to the small island of Diu. A former Portugese colony, Diu was a nice relaxed sunny break for everyday India. We found a nice guesthouse 2 minutes walk from Diu Town and even closer to some beautiful beaches right on the Arabian Sea. Diu Town was differed from tradional Indian architecture and definitely had a Portugese feel with its many windy streets. One day we rented a moped to catch the rest of the island, of course being only 12 km long it was a quick trip with great views of palm trees and beaches aong with some really interesting caves (and I am not normally a "cave person"). Even though the Naida Caves had signs from the road pointing to them and a map describing the lay of the area, there was little more information given about the area. Maybe this made the area even more intriguing because the caves showed obvious signs of inhabitation. With stairs cut into rock leading directly up to the surface we had no way of knowing what these caves were used for and even the caves tehmselves looked as if they were carves out - not your normal cave formations that looked as if they were shaped by water. I'm afraid I'm having a hard time describing them, hopefully the pictures can fill in the blanks. Of course, this whole cave description will sound very silly if I find out that the caves are just the local quarry.
The absolute best part about Diu besides the warm tropical feel was the fort. Built by the Portugese this is possibly the coolest fort I have ever seen. Why, you may ask? There are many reasons. The fort has two moats (one tidal) and plenty of area to explore. There are cannonballs strewn about everywhere and beatiful views of cliffs and beaches. Part of the fort is still used as the local jail
. There are tunnels that, if you bring flashlights like we did, you can delve into if you don't mind braving the odd bat. The first tunnel we went down was definitely bat infested (I can easily identify the guano smell now). Before we even turned on the flashlight, I peaked in and a bat flre straight into my face. I mean it made contact! These were apparently the retarded Diu bats - I've never had one hit me before. As Sarah and I headed into the tunnel the bats mostly headed further into the tunnel, a few brave ones flew pasrt us, usually making some contact. The further we headed down the more dense the bat population got. After a few twisting turns (maybe 100 meters down the tunnel) the bats started heading at us. Not wanting a bat onslaught and figuring the tunnel was ending soon, we turned around. Just the action of pointing the flashlight the other way brought the bat charge. As I was behind Sarah now (since we turned around) I got pelted by tons of bats fleeing the tunnel. Still, that feeling of beeing able to explore these tunnels was worth it. There were several other tunnels, some that lead to cave-ins, others to different parts of the fort. We never did find any that lead outside, but supposedly when the fort was build there were secet tunnels that went outside th fort and to a tiny island outpost just a few hundred meters in the sea.
Diu definitely sucked us in to it's relaxed atmosphere. Even after packing up and heading to the bus station we turned around and headed back to our guesthouse for one more day for fort exploration.
From Jaipur we were off to the much more laid back Udaipur. For all those James Bond fans out there Udaipur is where the 007 film "Octopussy" was filmed. It is shown every night at most restaurants there and I must say that I have seen few films cheesier than this one, which doesn't mean I didn't like it. Still, most of the sights of Udaipur are right there in the film if anyone wants to get a taste of the sights. Besides the local palace and forts Udaipur also boasts many havelis (mansions) from it's former glory days. One of these, the Bangore Ki Haveli has been renovated and made into a museaum. I actually liked it much better than the Udaipur city palace as we were alowed to wander about more - the "ticket check" was asleep on the stone floor inside, and only after passing him several times did he wake up and ask for our ticket. The haveli also had one surprise attraction which made it the best sight in all of Udaipur - THE WORLDS LARGEST TURBAN!!! We have several pictures, so don't worry, everyone who reads this will get to appreciate it