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Divar Island

Divar is a small island on the Mandovi River in North Goa. Shaped like a triangular, it is approximately 5 kilometers upstream from Panaji. Old Goa is on the opposite banks of the Divar Island. It has several tourist attractions like Basilica of Bom Jesus, Tomb of St. Francis Xavier, Se Cathedral, Church of St. Cajetan, and the Archaeological Museum. Divar, by comparison, doesn’t have any famous landmarks. But it is still a beautiful island worth visiting.

Southern and western parts of the island have mangrove swamps. There are agricultural fields in the central and eastern part, and villages in the northern and south-eastern parts of the island, with plenty of greenery. The 4 villages are Naroa, Piedade, Goltim, and Sao Mathias, which is now called Malar. In between, you will find many churches, temples, and old colonial homes. There are also a few restaurants, bars, and cafes.

Divar Island: Outside View

From a distance, Divar looks green and peaceful. The river splits into two leaving a big sandy shore. The mangrove swamps has many smaller islands and canals. This is a very good place to unwind, enjoy nature, and see the rural side of Goa.

Where Is Divar Island?

Divar Island Map

Divar Island is on the Mandovi River in North Goa. It is between two bigger islands – Chorao and Tiswaddi. There are 4 smaller islands as well – Vanxim, Tolto, Accado, and Jua or St. Estevam. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, where you can see many species of birds and other animals, is at the edge of Divar. The island’s mangrove swamp is in fact, an extension of the sanctuary. Old Goa is on the other side, just across the river.

You cannot reach Divar by road, so you have to take a ferry to reach the island. There are regular ferry services throughout the day from several places. The Konkan Railway passes through Divar, but there is no station here.

  • There are 4 villages in Divar – Naroa, Piedade, Goltim, Malar
  • Piedade is the biggest settlement
  • Mangrove swamps and agriculture fields
  • Lush greenery everywhere
  • No motorable road to reach the island. Konkan Railway passes through the island, but there is no station.
  • Regular ferry services from many places.

Divar is 3 kilometers in width and 5.80 kilometers in length. The island gets its name from the word ‘Dipavati’, which in Konkani language means ‘small island’. Others believe the island’s name comes from Konkani words ‘dev’ and ‘vaddi’, which means ‘place of the Gods’.

History

The locals were mostly Konkani Hindus. It was once a popular Hindu pilgrimage site as many devotees visited the Shree Mahamaya, Ganesh, Dwarkeshwar, and Saptkoteshwar temples on the island. However, the Portuguese destroyed many temples during the religious persecution of 1540. The Hindus fled along with their idols. In its peak during the 12th century, Naroa used to be a small town. It is no more than a village now.

What To See At Divar Island

  1. Saint Mathias Church – 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. There are 8 altars. See its beautiful blue and white façade, and the architecture. There is a small ground beside the church where you can relax.
    Location — Malar village
  2. Our Lady of Piety Church – Also known as Our Lady of Compassion. Built in the 1700s at the site of an ancient Hindu temple destroyed by Muslim rulers during the 15th century. This is the first Christian church in Divar. Beautiful white façade. The original church bell, made of glass, used to break glasses when it rang, so it was replaced. You will get a panoramic view of the island from here.
    Location — Piedade
  3. Kadamba Dynasty Ruins – See the tombs of Kadamba dynasty rulers beside the Piety church of Piedade. The cemetery has a small chapel, where there was an ancient Ganesha temple once. The deity was relocated after the Portuguese destroyed this temple.
  4. Saptkoteshwar Temple – Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Saptkoteshwar, the family God of the Kadamba dynasty rulers. 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. Reconstructed later. But the deity was moved during Portuguese inquisition.
    Location – Naroa
  5. Sao Matia – The Sao Matia village is now called Malar. It is a beautiful settlement stuck in time. A road passes through the middle with tall trees and plenty of greenery everywhere. The Portuguese began their mass conversions here. See the 400 years old Sao Mathias Church.

Festivals At Divar Island

Two popular festivals are held every year at the island –

  1. Bonderam – Carnival on the 4th Saturday of August. The villagers bring out floats. There is a colorful parade.
  2. 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.

How To Reach Divar Island

The only way to reach the island is by a ferry service that is run by the government. There are 4 ferry terminals at Piedade, Navelim, Naroa, and Amboi.

Terminal

Timing

Piedade/ Goltim terminal at south-east between Divar and Old Goa

Between 6 AM and 2.15 PM

Navelim/ St. Pedro terminal. Connects to Ribandar

Between 6.30 AM and 12.45 PM

Naroa terminal in the north

Between 6 AM and 12 AM

Amboi terminal. Connects to Vanxim Island.

Between 6 AM and 11:35 PM


Top 7 Reasons For Visiting Divar Island

  1. To enjoy the lush greenery and nature
  2. See rural Goa, beautiful old colonial homes
  3. Visit the churches and temples
  4. Kayaking through the marshy waters
  5. Fishing, crab catching
  6. Visit the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
  7. To visit Old Goa, which is just across the river



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