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Divar Island of Goa

Divar Island

Source: LPGG (Lonely Planet Guide to Goa)

The small island of Divar, which lies to the southeast of Chorao Island and directly to the north of Old Goa, is not only a useful short cut on the route from Panaji to Bicholim taluka in north Goa, but is also worth a visit in its own right. Somehow Divar Island, separated from the rest of the state by the forked waters of the Mandovi, seems even quieter and more picturesque than the villages on the mainland. The largest settlement on the island, Piedade, is a sleepy but picturesque Goan village - well maintained but with hints of crumbling Portuguese architecture. Divar Island was sacred to the Hindus and it contained two particularly important temples - the Saptakoteshwara Temple (which was moved across the river to Bicholim when the Portuguese began to persecute the Hindus), and a Ganesh temple that stood on the solitary hill on Piedade. It's likely that the Ganesh temple was destroyed by Muslim troops towards the end of the 15th century, since the first church on this site was built in around 1515.

The church that occupies the hill today, the Church of Our Lady of Compassion, is
in fine condition. It combines an impressive facade with an engagingly simple interior. The ceiling is picked out in plain white stucco designs and the windows are set well back into the walls, allowing only a dim light to penetrate into the church.
From the small park near the church there are excellent views to the north, west and south. Across the river to the south, the whitewashed towers of the churches of Old Goa are clearly visible.

Divar Island can only be reached by ferry. A boat from Old Goa (near the Viceroy's Arch) runs to the south of the island, and the east end of the island is connected by ferry to Naroa in Bicholim taluka. A less frequent ferry operates to Ribandar from the southwest of the island.

Divar makes a good outing by bicycle, especially combined with a trip to Old Goa. Most of the island is flat, but it's a tough slog getting up to the hilltop church. Although buses run between the ferry and Piedade, it would be a frustrating exercise trying to get around here by public transport - even taxis are scant.

Divar Hide Out

At the north end of Divar Island, Pleasure Island ((+91 (0) 832) 2280505; email islander@goatelecom .com; doubles Rs 1299+, cottages Rs 1549+) is a real retreat if you want to get away from anything resembling a beach or town. It is one of those typically Indian resorts set up .for families and stressed businesspeople. There are overpriced cottages and rooms, a pool with waterslide, a gymnasium, activities such as tennis and a riverside location with private boat trips on offer.

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