Lat: 20.714547222222000, Long: 70.996116666667000
Historical Background and Urbanism
The most important naval battle in the history of Portugal’s presence in the Orient was fought on 3 February 1509 along the bar of Diu on the coast of the kingdom or sultanate of Gujarat (Khambat or Cambaia as the Portuguese called it), ensuring Portuguese domination of the Indian Ocean for enough time to establish what would become the Estado da Índia. Commanded by Viceroy Francisco de Almeida, the Portuguese destroyed a fleet commanded by Mir Hussein (Hussein Al Kurdi) and comprising forces from the Mamluk Sultanate of Cairo and Alexandria and Rumi mercenaries, as well as from the Samorin of Kozhikode and the Sultan of Gujarat, the latter armed by Meliqueaz (Malik Aiyaz), a former Tartar slave who was the ruler of Diu and thus the vassal of that sultan. The enemy coalition, which had been patrolling the Indian Ocean for just over a year to counter Portugal’s aims and protect Muslim mercantile interests, was also supported by the (Catholic) Adriatic republics of Venice and Ragusa. Paradoxically, at least for traditional historiography, that historic milestone in the Portuguese presence in the Orient has been essentially labelled the result of merely personal revenge taken by the Portuguese commander after his son Lourenço de Almeida was killed the previous year when the same fleets met in front of Chaul, with disastrous results for the Portuguese; this assertion is supported by believable sources and facts. It was indeed his last noteworthy act as viceroy and was otherwise accomplished in disobedience, for he had received explicit orders from the king to hand over the reins of government to Afonso de Albuquerque. The action was, however, consistent with its underlying strategy, which sought only to control the seas and fight against foreign trade networks, replacing them without claiming sovereignty over the native governments. The feats of Afonso de Alburquerque in Goa (1510) and Malacca (1511) shortly thereafter would not have been possible without destruction of this first Muslim coalition fleet, with poorly disguised support from the Adriatic mercantile republics. In the establishment and structuring of a network of ports in the Indian Ocean, the opponents were indeed the Muslims and Diu served as a key port. Situated at the end of the Kathiawar Peninsula at the confluence of several cultures and territories it was a central point vis-à-vis trade flows between the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and all of Hindustan, especially due to its position allowing access to the rich ports on the Gulf of Khambat. Also important was its easy maritime connection to the east coast of Africa. Its geographical position was also crowned by excellent natural conditions. Indeed, Diu was an island separated from the Gujarati mainland by a barely navigable channel by the eastern entrance. This meant that the town and fortified system would develop at that end of the island, ending in a somewhat steep point. Diu means ‘light’. Despite the tremendous victory, domain was not established immediately. Attempted conquests by Afonso de Albuquerque in 1513 and Diogo Lopes de Sequeira in 1521 failed. In between was the authorisation obtained by Albuquerque in 1514 to install a factory, which operated with huge profits precisely until the last attempt. Control over the Persian Gulf and Red Sea took time and a more solid installation on the Hindustani coast under Muslim rule was gradual; it was only openly assumed by the territory-seek- ing rule of Nuno da Cunha (1529-1538). It was favoured by the Mughal Empire’s pressure on Gujarat, which enabled occupation of the territories of Vasai in December 1534; authorisation for an effective installation in Diu only came the following September, spe- cifically by the speedy raising of a fortress at the east- ern end of the island. The Gujarati sultan, Bahadur, suffered a heavy defeat and took refuge with his court in Diu, asking the Portuguese for defence help against the imminent Mughal attack. As in Vasai, the opera- tional commander was Martim Afonso de Sousa. For these reasons, the statutes governing the cessions of Vasai and Diu are very diverse, giving rise to urban situations necessarily quite different. From the politico- administrative standpoint, Diu emerged as a sort of Portuguese protectorate covering a small portion of the Gujarati sultanate and which ended up incorporating the whole island, its population, and also a tiny portion of the closest territory on the mainland. The immediate result was a sharing of power between the local king, who remained sovereign over the mainland territory, and the Estado da Índia, which sought sovereignty over the seas and trade in the Gulf of Khambat ports. Contrary to other installations such as Vasai or Goa, the Diu installation was never subjacent to any aim for territorial control or expansion, overlordship and landed income. The installation was for military, maritime and commercial control, in which it otherwise failed early on, for the Portuguese were never able to control the Gulf of Khambat, not even after occupying Daman in 1559, and the Muslims developed alternatives. Under Portuguese dominion Diu basically exported its own production, as little passed through from the mainland. The sultan’s understanding of the deal he had made was, however, much different from that of the Portuguese, and once the Mughal threat was removed for the time being and the fortress had been put up, he tried to get rid of the Portuguese. This led to his death or rather assassination in February 1537, for it was by means of a simulated accident. A Turkish and Mamluk fleet based in Cairo and the coast of Suez was now formed to fight the Portuguese, with Diu the specific and immediate target. Once again they coordinated with the local Gujarati resistance. The Portuguese strengthened the defence works, preparing for a siege. António de Silveira was put in charge of defending against the siege imposed in August 1538. The Gujaratis then occupied the city, confining the Portuguese to the fortress. The Turkish squadron disembarked a month later. All seemed lost, but the defensive structure held and on 5 November the Turks weighed anchor and the Gujaratis lifted the siege. History was repeated in 1546, though this time the attack took the 200 Portuguese posted in Diu by surprise. The hellish siege lasted from 21 April to 11 November, covering the entire monsoon season, thus preventing the arrival of other Portuguese assistance, which necessarily came by sea. The besiegers counted on the help of Italian mercenaries, specifically military engineers, and were able to break through the defence curtain, giving rise to hand-to-hand fighting. Once again everything seemed lost, but when the monsoon ended Vice- roy João de Castro arrived with reinforcements and forced the siege to be lifted in a week. Both victories were widely celebrated and gave rise to a gradual increase of Portuguese sovereignty over the island. For example, in 1554 all customs revenues began to revert to Portugal, instead of the previously negotiated one third. The opportunity was clearly determined by another local cir- cumstance which generated much agitation in Gujarat: the death of Sultan Mahmud III. From 1570 to 1574 the Portuguese intervened in the urban wall, implying the assumption of overall control over the city, at the time and always in a reasonably cordial manner respecting the principles of identity and religious freedom in a way with no parallel in any other position in Hindustan. In all the events described above the site’s importance for the Muslims is not the only evident aspect, for so is the decisive role the fort played in its defence, with a configuration that was dynamic and evolved over time. After the 1546 siege it was subject to major renovations, with the digging of a new ditch and oreillon bastions, which with small changes endowed it with its current configuration, resisting ruin. The following entry will provide further information about this and its interior. Meanwhile we shall focus on the city itself – it is imperative to indicate the truly exceptional and unique nature in the scope of European heritage in Asia of the fortress and Jesuit church, which are dealt with in specific entries. Diu is a fusiform island measuring about 15 km on its major axis (east-west) and a maximum of five on the respective meridian. The mainland point on the other side of the channel is Gogola, a village on a sand bar of about two square kilometres, which was always a part of the island’s domains. When the Portuguese established themselves there were two bridges making the connection, but which Viceroy João de Castro, despite praising them effusively, ordered destroyed to isolate the island and enhance its security. As stated above, the city was located at the eastern end of the island; it is girded by a belt of walls dating to before the Portuguese presence which shielded it from the channel and land side until the 19th century. On the sea side, only a cove required fortification, given that the coast is abrupt and unsuitable for any kind of landing. The Portuguese introduced some modifications, reinforcing the Gujarati wall, namely in 1574, but it was essentially maintained. Nowadays only the curtain wall separating the city from the rest of the island is preserved. The walled area is considerable – most of it is not and never has been occupied. On the other hand, it confirms that the urban core dates to before it was walled. The delimited territory is marked by rough terrain, with some low hills and ravines, descending more softly on the side towards the channel. The Gujarati city, a medina, is densely and literally clustered against the wall, centred on the Land Gate and extending to the port side, nowadays a shadow of its former activity. Its general framework does not systematically present the usual morphology of Islamic cities, with chemins de ronde and dead ends, but rather a varied scheme which, though very irregular, organically flows among the neighbourhoods where that structure is indeed verified internally. Beyond the relevant Hindu mixture, it seems obvious that there was intervention by the Portuguese administration, which over the centuries would have prevented a tangle of culturally and militarily counterproductive roads, and thereby kept open arteries crossing the Muslim medina. The same happened after the Christian reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula in the 12th and 13th centuries whenever an Islamic city was occupied, there taking the morphological restructuring process much farther. Nevertheless, and despite Diu’s profound decadence with respect to its past, the artisanal and commercial souk nature of its main streets is still evident today in the narrow Gujarati urban mesh of Diu. The presence of the Banias, a numerous ethnic group of merchants with longstanding connections to the Swahili east coast of Africa, persists in the names and activity of the major commercial zone. The truth is that the native architecture itself, via its extroversion and volumetric and decorative exuberance, was also imbued with the spirit of Islamic cities, constituting a regional variant that has nothing Portuguese in it. This must be borne in mind when assessing the urban specificities of Diu. Note also the fact that the old names categorised the streets by activity. At the far eastern end of the island stood the fort built by the well-known process of sectioning off, that is, building a wall dividing part of the city, with one end then reserved as the last defensive redoubt. Inside it a Portuguese core soon developed, with more identity, intensity and density. But its area of about four hectares, including the embankments, interior ditch and civil, religious and military infrastructures which occupied three quarters of the area, would never have allowed full development of an urban situation, an idea installed by the utterly wrong though appealing iconographical portrayal in the Lendas da Índia... by Gaspar Correia, a matter we shall return to in the following entry. What we see today at the site and what is shown in other maps and images [even in the somewhat previous 1539 “Tavoa de Dio” inserted in João de Castro’s Roteiro de Goa a Diu] are the best proof of this assertion. The “Tavoa” shows us the Gujarati city structurally and proportionally corresponding to what it is, with the mosque in the same place as the current one, as well as the earthwork wall, the port and shipyards – the docks. Up to the Sea Bastion it is quite close to what remains today. Nevertheless, within the fortress there were initially “many houses [...], very noble and handsome, with two or three floors, where formerly lived many Portuguese married couples with their families who, due to the bad neighbourliness practiced by the captains of the forts with their servants and relations, left the said houses and began living outside, letting them decay and arrive at that state”. So recounts António Bocarro, along with the also very equivocal 1635 drawing by Pedro Barreto Resende. He must never have been to Diu, for we still cannot understand how those “many” houses, with their respective streets, could fit in so few hectares. Yet we are sure, and also because there are still vestiges and reliable maps, that besides the Church of the Misericórdia (1542) and respective hospital, the Parish Church of Saint Thomas (1536), the chapels of Saint Martin (1546) and Saint James (1623), the factory and the Captain’s Palace were all located there, the latter next to and controlling the entrance opening to a quay on the channel, with the Sea Bastion (locally known as the Panikotha) in front. All these structures collapsed or irremediably fell to ruin, especially during the 19th century when the Portuguese urban focus shifted definitively toward the channel between the fortress and the city’s docks. Some time beforehand, still in the 1500s, the Hospital for the Poor had been raised, an infrastructure offering solidarity more than clinical assistance; it appears in some contemporary images show and in a stone plaque that has been preserved. Catholic religious infrastructures meanwhile began appearing here and there, forming an arc centred on the fortress and delimiting the pre-existing city. This has been attested by the attached satellite photograph, old maps and the following respective entries. They were accompanied by many houses for the Portuguese and local Christians, meanwhile destroyed. Like all amenities, the churches marked Diu’s urban landscape by their style and expression, but also due to the relative isolation in which they are found, in a deserted urban territory of a Portuguese city eventually put up between the native one and the fortress, but which was not successful. This was not just due to the lack of people, but basically to later defensive needs, given that we have reports of the razing of that urban fabric. According to the report by António Bocarro and Pedro Barreto Resende, the previous year and on direct orders from the viceroy, based on a report already published by Pedro Dias, of the three inspectors sent there to ascertain what work needed to be done on the fortress (and which Bocarro inevitably included in the meticulous data on the fortification), 137 “very noble and large” houses existing next to the fortress were demolished to ensure an open ground for defence in case of attack. On that occasion a knoll was levelled between the Saint Dominic’s or Mother of God Bastion and the Dominican convent of that devotion, whose perimeter is indicated in the Planta da fortaleza e cidade de Diu surveyed by João António Sarmento in 1783 [Public and Municipal Library of Porto, C.M.&A., Pasta 24(35)]. The guard was not relaxed, nor were efforts spared. Only the convents (Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans and Hospitallers) and the Churches of Our Lady of Hope and the Parish Church of Saint Thomas resisted, although there are documents which show that over the years that requirement affected all of them, except for the parish church, slightly farther off and perched atop another knoll. In his Década XIII, António Bocarro tells that the first governor-general of the fortifications of India, António Pinto da Fonseca, tried in the mid- 1610s to prevent work on the Jesuit house from continuing; this was severely opposed. The inspectors who were there in 1634 did not share that opinion, considering the aforementioned houses and the knoll to barely overlook the fortress. Indeed, the orders not only counted on their influence with the authorities, but essentially on the argument that they had installed themselves, as otherwise usual, quite far from the fortress (between 400 and 600 metres), bounding the emergent and growing Portuguese city and its border with the pre- existing urban core. This explains the urban void persisting between those buildings, including the ones no longer existent, and the fortress. At a post where the Portuguese presence depended on military security, the open and uninterrupted field was imperative, as mandated by all modern military engineering treaties and practice. With the commercial and thus urban decline the defence function became even more important. Those houses were demolished at a time of economic downturn and gradual depopulation of the post, and were not immediately replaced by a new neighbourhood in another place. Some residents left, others occupied houses left vacant by Muslims in the medina. According to demographic figures supplied by various sources, those 137 houses (Bocarro mentions 135) accounted for nearly all the homes of Portuguese and local Christians, i.e., with the religious complexes they comprised the Portuguese city. The entire 17th century was actually one of great hardship for Diu, with droughts, floods, epidemics, wars, piracy, etc, to which António Bocarro adds the tyranny of the stronghold’s captains, who maintained a chokehold on economic activities with taxes and widespread corruption. He asserts that at the time (1635) only 59 Portuguese lived outside the fortress. By the end of that century only about 170 Portuguese (including the garrison) lived in Diu, out of a population of nearly 5,500 people. This figure was maintained until the mid-20th century, with a growing reduction in the number of Portuguese until they were forced to leave in 1961. Among other witnesses, the aforementioned 1783 survey excellently portrays that unique urban situation. It has a notable yellow line that crosses the urban area from channel to sea, which according to the respective caption “divided the Christians from the gentiles”. It confirms a separation that was not ethnic but confessional, and is referred to in other texts of this volume. But it also confirms the existence, until then only in mind, of a Portuguese/Christian city that had mean- while been demolished, for on the Christian side there is only a sparse housing cluster by the aforementioned religious buildings, half of which would meanwhile also disappear (Dominicans, Hospitallers with their hospital and Church of Our Lady of Hope), if only for mere negligence and declining numbers of worshippers. The document is only not entirely correct and expressive because it represents the fabric of the Gujarati medina in a schematic manner, without the parapets and dead-ends still confirmed by modern aerial/ satellite photography and maps. The morphological contrast and density should otherwise be even more evident. For the above reasons it is evident nowadays it is hard to invoke the theme of First Empire ‘Portuguese city” for Diu. With the specificities seen in others on the west coast of Hindustan, it is difficult to discern an upper Diu (the pre-existing city) versus a lower Diu (which may have been, or ephemerally was, that inter- mediate city between the former and the fortress). On the other hand, there is no information about the existence of a local nobility or overlordship exercised by Portuguese or resident Christians or Goans, etc. Following another system of priorities and conditioned by a number of adverse situations, the Portuguese in Diu were unable to meet the minimum requirements for an eventual archetype of the Portuguese way of setting up a city, endowing it with urban and demographic consistence and a complete social framework, thus ensuring continuity. One question remaining for future investigation – a complete monograph on Diu drawn up according to credible methodology – is to what extent, where and how, due to subsequent Portuguese administrative intervention, a city type developed distinct from what was found. Not a Portuguese city, but a city of Portuguese influence; it is clear, as we shall soon see, that its current nature owes a great deal to interventions made in the last decades of Portuguese administration. After the urban destruction carried out in the 1600s, the few Portuguese then began scattered rebuilding efforts in the space between the fortress and the medina, more concentrated along the channel, its shore and the port. It is there that we still find the governor’s palace and an integrated set of new urban amenities resulting from an operation carried out in the last quarter of the 1700s and reflecting the frustrated Pombaline plan to ‘restore’ the Estado da Índia undertaken in 1774. From east to west, these include, among others: the market on the site of the former customs house and with a monumental column symbolically serving as pillory and dated 1799, which replaced a previous one located next to the fortress; the new urban quay with the new customs house; and the dockyard with its magnificent gate linking the respective warehouses, private quay and winch dated 1782. All this implied dismantling a large part of the wall enclosing the city by the channel, a process finished in the early 20th century. It is an evolution already noted in the half century between the aforementioned 1783 survey and another, the 1833 Plan of the Castle Stronghold and City of Dio by José Aniceto da Silva, Office of Archaeological Studies of Military Engineering 1227/2A-24A-111 (Gabinete de Estudos Arqueológicos da Engenharia Militar 1227/2A-24A- 111). This trend towards monumentality, apparently of Gujarati roots, celebrated facts and people by urban monuments, obelisks, columns and engraved stones, can be seen in the images from the earliest years up to the present at the archaeological museum set up in 1904 in Saint Thomas’s Parish Church, whose epigraph has been subject to exhaustive studies. British rule of India pacified the region and Diu, and the Portuguese were able to move out of the fortress and, as far as possible, integrate the city. Diu then definitively opened to the mainland, with the wall on the channel side giving way to a promenade along the shore between the urban quay and the fortress, passing by the market and the palace and endowed with a porch-like gallery, a structure of innovative romantic taste then common in many other Portuguese cities. It was the corollary of a period in which the Portuguese reused many elements from constructions meanwhile demolished or fallen into ruin, to establish themselves along the channel and next to the monasteries. Several infrastructures came into being (schools, court) and even collective housing for officials. Especially important was the opening in 1857 of the Torres Novas Road, with the name paying homage to the governor who commissioned it, António César de Vasconcelos Correia, Count of Torres Novas (1855- 1864). This measure for urban organisation enabled regulation of the respective new built area. It is an authentic high street between the port and the churches, though ending unworthily in a small square next to the court building. Its course reveals the intention to polarise the effective occupation of the Portuguese city’s territory and consequently to consolidate the plaza by the Jesuit complex, said Saint Paul’s, as a central space. With all these limitations it remains today the most impressive Western touch in Diu’s urban morphology. But it is not the most expressive. Such is the uncommon outline of the square that meets us when we enter the city through the Land Gate. It was already an urban space in the pre-existing city, but acquired a classic Italianate expression through the building on its north and east sides of two arcaded porticos in rustic carved stone (bugnato). Everything seems to indicate an intervention in the 1500s or 1600s, but no. The construction and plan were summarised by its designer, Miguel de Noronha de Paiva Couceiro, fourth Count of Paraty and governor of Diu from 1948 to 1950, on pages 135 and 136 of his book Diu and I. What existed was “a square surrounded by walls which enclosed private properties” and “the remains of a baroque balustrade with an embedded stone with the royal arms, and an arch which gave on to one of the access streets”. He “much appreciated squares, the most attractive motive for urbanisation when the architects know how to take advantage” and reveals that “the plan was done [with those pre-existing elements] and I reached agreement with all the surrounding properties’ owners to open their walls with shops, using the same design of arcades and balustrades taken from the old model. And it was called Novo Bazar”. Miguel de Paiva Couceiro (1909-1979) was governor of Diu during the years when independence from the Raj was achieved, with the violent and often religious- based separation of India and Pakistan. The situation could be no more trying, especially in a Portuguese possession next to India and set in a territory with a Muslim majority. He only governed Diu for two years, for his dynamic efforts and measures to approach the Indians led to misunderstandings (and possible jealousy) with the governor-general. The Indian press labelled him the Portuguese Mountbatten and called for him to rise to the government of what was then Portuguese India. Besides this, he promoted considerable administrative reforms, improved connections to the exterior and health conditions, as well as a number of infra-structures associated to assistance (hospital, medical centre) and culture, namely libraries (Norotom Mulgi and Revam Bai). He reestablished the provision of potable water (abandoned 40 years beforehand) and founded the Estado da Índia’s first radio station in a small modern building by the airport, recently demolished. For the new post office, the plans determined a clear neo-classical vocabulary rare in the overseas provinces under Portugal’s Estado Novo regime. But his impressive action was not driven only by exceptional and modernising efforts at diplomacy and governance, for his individual role as a builder with clearly revivalist tastes was not limited by the aforementioned Novo Bazar Square. Perhaps more notable, albeit hard to perceive nowadays due to disfigurement and surrounding vegetation, was his effort to remodel the Governor’s Palace (basically a true renovation), which he also recounts in his book and which the Anglo-Lusitano newspaper of 24 June 1950 referred to as follows: “With a 17th century façade topped by the coats-of-arms of the valorous heroes of Diu, Nuno da Cunha, António da Silveira, Dom João de Mascarenhas and Dom João de Castro, all the artistic furnishings characteristic of Indo- Portuguese style, the interiors and principally the ‘Parvati Room’, enriched by carved wood and stone”. Miguel de Paiva Couceiro actually did not just include countless coat-of-arms stones found scattered among the city’s ruins, he also enclosed the building and made it neo-Manueline, especially by the carving work on the columns and coats-of-arms stones in shell-shaped battlements, arcades with ball friezes, etc. It is a surprising revivalist wonder with obvious colonial themes, which at first glance misleads in chronology just like the new square. In its equivocal authenticity it is one of the remaining palaces of the old Estado da Índia’s rulers. In the following decade the Estado Novo undertook efforts to modernise, while waging its last battle against the inevitable integration of Diu and the other territories of the then Portuguese India in India. Miguel de Paiva Couceiro waged and lost only his battle of another nature. Finally, in December 1961 and reacting to the invasion of the Indian armed forces, the Portuguese also and ingloriously fought in Diu, losing their lives for something that could not remain theirs. Numerous signs remain, essentially of cultural origin, buildings and crossing spaces, a singular urban morphology with abundant historical sources and information, all awaiting comprehensive study. But amid all this the greatest expression is the military and strategic component, for that was always the purpose and paradigm of the Portuguese presence in Diu. For that reason the territory and its military vocation designed and configured the city, rather than the city modelling the territory.
Equipment and Infrastructures