Although Goa is the smallest state in India, it offers a host of experiences that are perfect for all types of travellers. Whether you are a beach lover or monument enthusiasts, there is something here for everyone.
Home to a kaleidoscopic blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures, coupled with sun, sea, sand, seafood and spirituality, Goa is unlike any other place in India. And if you are an offbeat traveller, Goa has something truly incredible in store. What, you ask? Divar Island which is located 7 kms from Panjim & 16.6 kms from Reis Magos is a triangular river island sitting upon the river Mandovi. It is the third largest of the seven islands of Goa and from the mainland of Goa, this island appears to be a floating land of mangroves hugging the river. As early in 1596, Dutch geographer Linschoten had mapped out this island.
In order to reach Divar Island, you will have to take a ferry from Old Goa. Surrounded by marshy waters that are intertwined by single-lane roads, this place is isolated enough for people who like to stay away from the crowds but at the same time ensures a lovely, languid exploration for those who like panoramic and stunning views of the sea and nature.
Piedade is the largest settlement on the island. Sleepy but picturesque, the Divar Island has a strong Hindu history with a massive Hindu population and flourishing temples. However, religious persecution by the Portuguese and a plague that broke out led to abandonment of the village, resulting in it falling to ruins.
History of Divar Islands
Before the coming of the Portuguese, Divar was the site of two particularly important temples – the Saptakoteshwara Temple and Ganesh temple that stood on the solitary hill in Piedade. The former was moved across the river to Bicholim when the Portuguese began to persecute the Hindus and forcibly converted them to Christianity. On the other hand, the Ganesh Temple was most probably destroyed by the Muslim troops during the last part of the 15th century, since the first church on this site was constructed around 1515.
The Church Of Our Lady Of Compassion is a unique monument that combines an impressive façade with an engaging simple interior. The ceiling is in plain white stucco designs, while the windows are set back into the walls, allowing only a dim light to penetrate into the church. That being said, the views alone, however, make Piedade and its church worth the trip.
How to reach
Divar Island can only be reached by one of three free vehicle ferry services. A boat from Old Goa (near the Viceroy’s Arch) runs to the south side of the island, while the east end of the island is connected by ferry to Naroa in the Bicholim taluka (district). Another ferry operates to Ribandar from the southwest of the island. Ferries run frequently from around 7am to 8pm.
Best Time to Visit
The island of Divar can be visited at almost any time of the year. However, we recommend you make your way here during the Bonderam festival that is generally celebrated on the fourth Saturday of August every year. Bonderam literally translates into flags. It is said that during the Portuguese reign, frequent property disputes often broke out among the people and in order to solve this issue, the authorities issued a system of demarcation of boundaries with flags. Today, this day is celebrated with flags and mock fights by villagers and those participating in the festival. A float parade is held and live bands entertain the crowds all day.
Where to Stay
V Resorts Three Kings Casa Coco: The resort is located 18.6 kms (drive time: 1 hour 6 mins) from the Divar Island, thereby making it an incredible base to explore the island. Besides the island, other places that you can visit here includes, Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary (13.2 kms from the resort; drive time: 48 mins), Panaji (11.5 kms from the resort; drive time: 27 mins), Charao Islands (14.9 kms from the resort; drive time: 52 mins), Dona Paula (17 kms from the resort; drive time: 37 mins), and beaches like Casa Coco, Candolim and Baga (all within 5 kms from the resort).
The property: V Resorts Three Kings Casa Coco is a 4 bedroom villa that boasts of two separate terraces, along with a common dining room, a large modular kitchen, a common living & lounging room which comes equipped with an entertainment system. Further, you can book just a single room in the villa, if you are a couple or a solo traveller.
Book your stay here.
Divar is one of few places in Goa you will find Urak (mild version of Cashew Feni) all-year round.