The union territory of Daman was an ‘Accidental Discovery’ by the famous Portuguese Navigator, Diogo De Melo.

Daman Fort and Beach

Daman: For the curious travelers wanting to explore the rich heritage of more than 400 years of the Portuguese in India, this small union territory tucked on the Arabian sea coast is the best place to visit. Welcome to Daman or Damao (the name given by the Portuguese), known as the watering hole of Gujarat, still has strong imprints of the Portuguese rule.

Many historians believe Daman was an ‘Accidental Discovery’. The famous Portuguese Navigator, Diogo De Melo, who was on his way to Ormuz—Hormuz island in Persia– was caught up in the violent storm and his vessel hit the coast and that he embarked at the bank of Daman-Ganga river, merging the Arabian Sea in 1523.

Melo was awestruck to see the small coastal town on the Daman Ganga river, merging the Arabian sea. When he returned to Ormuz, he reported the sighting of the coastal settlement at the Arabian sea coast to the higher Portuguese authorities.

After eight years of remaining on the sea, the Portuguese sacked and burned the coastal town in 1531. In 1559, the town was rebuilt, and that the Portuguese made it their permanent settlement and named it Damao.

Damão or Daman became a flourishing port, but its importance waned with the decline of Portuguese sea power. Soon it was settled as a Portuguese colony which lasted for over 401 years.

A larger fort was built in Moti Daman in the 16th century by the Portuguese to guard against the Mughals who ruled the area. The magnificent fort still stands tall in Moti Daman and attracts many tourists from across the country. Most of the fort’s structure is well-preserved in its original form, thanks to the Daman administration.

Daman, formerly (Portuguese) Damão, town, is the capital of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu union territory, in western India. The town, together with numerous villages in the surrounding area, forms an enclave in southeastern Gujarat state and is situated on the Gulf of Khambhat (Cambay) of the Arabian Sea.

The Daman Fort houses a majority of the government offices including the Daman Municipal Council (DMC).

The Daman-Ganga river divides the union territory of Daman into Moti (big) Daman and Nani (small) Daman. While Nani Daman boasts a majority of the hotels and restaurants and the famous Devka Beach, Moti Daman is the government headquarter, where the Administrator of the union territory of Daman, Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli (DNH) has its office, along with other senior officers.

The Nani Daman was established on the other side on the bank of Daman Ganga River in the name of St.Jerome.  It is famous for fishing and tapping of the toddy palm for its juice.

Ghol, a dried fish product used in making isinglass (a type of mica), is exported to Europe.

What is isinglass used for?

Isinglass, also known as fish glue, comes from the membrane of the “sounds” (air/swim bladders) of certain kinds of fish. It has been used for centuries as a fining, or clarifying agent, in alcoholic beverages. Finings remove particles like the yeast used in fermentation.


(This article is written by KC Sethi, an international art photographer, and historian)