It was one of the most exciting and rejuvenating trips to the Divar Islands!!!!! 🌊🌊
This was the first time we’re visiting the island. We had already planned the visit on Friday, 2nd Oct’20, starting the long weekend. It was supposed to be a little long getaway after being just confined to nearby beaches of Goa like Calangute, Baga, Candolim, etc. The whole trip on Divar Island can be experienced in 2 to 2.5 hours.
The first step was to be thoroughly prepared before leaving the house and we had prepared a small kit bag with an extra face mask😷😷, hand sanitizer, paper napkins, and hand gloves. We were all set. After leaving we went to a snack shop and bought some cold drinks, samosa, chicken🍗 and veg sandwiches🍞🍞, chicken cutlets, and some packet of chips.
We had also kept an opener as we wanted to buy some beer🍺, but as being 2nd Oct and a dry day every shop was shut without exception. But getting not too disappointed we headed for Divar Island 😁😁
We left Calangute at 11:30 am and Divar Island is around 24 km that takes an hour to reach the Old Goa Ferry Station.
The weather was a little cloudy but no signs of rain☁️☁️. Initially, I thought being a national Holiday would the ferries be operating but to our delight, the ferries operate each and every day despite national off as Divar Island is a local island comprising of 3 small villages namely Piedade, Malar, and Naroa and ferries operate for the locals as well every day.
When you are in Goa, Divar Island is a must-visit offbeat destination apart from the usual Beaches & Nightlife⛵⛵
HISTORY OF DIVAR ISLAND
The splendid Divar island is a pleasant getaway from the tourist crowds of areas like Calangute and Baga.
Initially, there were 3 villages in Divar: Piedade, Malar, and Naroa. Later the village Piedade was subdivided into two namely Goltim and Navelim.
According to a legend, the name ‘Divar’ is derived from ‘Devallem’ or ‘Devola’, meaning Hindu temples. Another source said that the name came from ‘Dipavatti’ meaning a village (vatti) of lights (dipa). Also, another version states that the name comes from ‘Devipavatti’, a place (vatti) surrounded by many islands (devippa).
It is believed that Divar Island was once a very popular site of Hindu pilgrimage and housed temples of Shree Saptkoteshwar, Shree Mahamaya, Shree Dwarkeshwar, and Shree Ganesh. These temples were destroyed by the Portuguese in the year 1540 during religious persecution. This led to the abandonment of the Divar Island resulting from this incident leading to its ruins.
REACHING THE DIVAR ISLAND 🙌🙌
Located on the Mandovi river, the Divar island provides beautiful sights and also a sneak-peek into the history of the Kadamba dynasty.
Divar Island is located about 9-10 kilometers from Panjim. The only way to reach Divar island is by ferry. The best part is the ferries even carry the cars with 2 wheelers and a person separately. However, there is a very minimal fee of Rs 7 one way to the island. There are three free ferry services 🚢 🚢 available to reach Divar island.
If you wish to reach the south of the Divar island, you need to take the ferry that runs from Old Goa near the Viceroy’s arch that we took on that day. Taking this ferry you will reach the village Piedade/Goltim Terminal on the Divar Island.
The east part of the island is connected to the Naroa terminal in the Bicholim district. Naroa village is home to the holy Saptakotechwar temple that dates back to the Kadamba dynasty.
And the third ferry connects the southwest of Divar island that is Navelim or the St Pedro terminal to Ribandar.
LOCALS ON THE DIVAR ISLAND
The inhabitants of Divar Island were mainly of Konkani descent. It is believed that Divar Island was once a very popular site of Hindu pilgrimage and housed temples of Shree Saptkoteshwar, Shree Ganesh, Shree Mahamaya, and Shree Dwarkeshwar.
Its very name ‘Divar’ indicates it is a center of pilgrimage in the Konkan area. These temples were destroyed by the Portuguese in the year 1540 during religious persecution. The idols of a few temples were shifted to other locations. Even the Konkan railway line 🚆🚆 passes through Divar Island without any station located on the island. Therefore, even the islanders have to catch trains from the mainland, Carambolim being the nearest station.
The people on this island are indeed very friendly and will go out of their way to guide you whenever you ask them anything.
VILLAGES IN DIVAR ISLAND
Divar Island is basically a Goan countryside with lots of Portuguese influence in its architecture. When looked from a distance it looks a place full of greenery and peace🌻🌻.
A lot of Portuguese villas can be spotted on the island, some of them are very well maintained. Many dignified families of Goa have residencies on Divar Island.
On the route, after landing on the Divar Island you can see the mangrove swamps having many smaller islands and canals. An ideal place to relax, unwind, and enjoy nature to the fullest. Explore the rural side of Goa like never before.
On the Divar Island, while driving, you will find many churches, temples, and old colonial homes en route. There are a few restaurants, bars, and cafes. The river splits into two leaving a big sandy shore.
The condition of the roads on Divar Island is good. The roads are narrow and are surrounded by vast green 💚💚agricultural fields, mostly paddy. Currently, around 1500-2000 people reside on this island. The locals are very warm and welcoming portraying typical Goan culture.
This sleepy village of Piedade was once home to a Ganesh Temple atop the highest hill in the town. These temples along with other Hindu temples in were destroyed by Muslim troops at the end of the 15th century. And later the Christians acquired the place building churches and chapels.
Our Lady of Piety Church – Also known as Our Lady of Compassion
A Beautiful white façade, this church⛪ is one of the best things to see on Divar Island. The original church bell was replaced as it was made of glass, used to break glasses when it rang. Built-in the 1700’s at the site of an ancient Hindu temple destroyed by Muslim rulers during the 15th century. This is the first Christian church in Divar Island. You will get to see a panoramic view of the island from here.
Kadamba Dynasty Ruins
Besides this beautiful church, you can see the tombs of Kadamba dynasty rulers. The cemetery has a small chapel, where once there was an ancient Ganesha temple. The deity was relocated after the Portuguese destroyed this temple.
This small village Malar was formerly known as The Sao Matia village. A road passes through the middle with tall trees and plenty of greenery everywhere. The Portuguese began their mass conversions here.
400 years old Sao Mathias Church is a must-see sight for any visitor on the Divar Island.
Saint Mathias Church⛪
This church is a beautiful blue and white façade, the architecture Named after Mathias, the apostle of Jesus. Dom Mathias de Albuquerque erected this small church between 1591 and 1597 when he was the Governor of Goa. The church consists of 8 altars. There is a small ground beside the church where you can relax and click some scenic pictures.
In Naroa, you can explore the Naroa fort and Koti Tirth Tali, which is home to 108 temples.
Saptkoteshwar Temple – It was Constructed in the 12th century beside a tank. This was once a very popular religious site, but destroyed by the Muslims in the 14th century and was later reconstructed. But the deity was moved during the Portuguese inquisition.
This Hindu temple is dedicated to Lord Saptkoteshwar, the family God of the Kadamba dynasty rulers.
STAY & RESTAURANTS ON THE DIVAR ISLAND 🍄🍄
The few popular restaurants are Rock Inn bar and restaurant, Bradlee bar and restaurant, and Island bar and restaurant. The restaurants serve thalis and fresh seafood along with urak (local cashew feni).🍓🍓
Mercure Devaaya Resort 🏩 🏩
The Resort has traditional Goan style villas situated on the idyllic island of Divar easily accessible by drive-in river ferry, surrounded by lush greenery and the cool blue waters of the river Mandovi.
Devaaya – “ Divine Healing” is Goa’s only Ayurveda & Nature Cure Centre which provides traditional Ayurveda & Naturopathy therapies in a modern, luxurious and relaxing environment.
FESTIVALS ON DIVAR ISLAND 🎆 🎆
Potekar – This festival is almost like Halloween. It is held 3 days before Lent. The locals go from house to house wearing bells and handmade masks.
Bonderam – Carnival is on the 4th Saturday of August. The villagers bring out floats. This carnival consists of a colorful parade.
Activities to do on Divar Island ✌️✌️
Take a Drive & enjoy the lush greenery and nature 🍇🍇
See rural Goa, beautiful old colonial homes
Visit the churches and temples ⛪
Kayaking through the marshy waters 🚣
Fishing, crab catching 🐠
You can also see the Se Cathedral Church ⛪and Adil Shah palace before the start of the Divar Island tour or after you have visited. These two attractions lie before you board the ferry from Old goa Terminal.
Se Cathedral is a beautiful church⛪ and ideal for taking picturesque shots with lush green garden and palm trees surrounding it.
I would recommend a short day tour to Divar Island for sure to experience Goa like never before. The whole tour takes no more than 2 to 2.5 hours and is more than enough.