Travel Bucket List: India – Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu Part 1

A merger between two former Union Territories, the Union Territory of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu was created when the union territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu were merged in January 2020. This makes this Union Territory India’s newest. The territory is made up of four separate geographical entities Dadra, Nagar Haveli, Daman and the island of Diu with all four areas part of Portuguese India with the capital in Velha Goa. The four areas came under Indian administration in the mid-20th century after the annexation of Goa and Daman. The capital city is Daman while Silvassa is the largest city.

Daman and Diu were under Portuguese administration from the 1500s until they came under Indian rule on 19 December 1961, while Dadra and Nagar Haveli were under the Portuguese from 1818 until 1954 and formally became a part of India on 11 August 1961. Dadra and Nagar Haveli was administered as a de facto state, the Free Dadra and Nagar Haveli, before becoming a union territory in 1961 and Daman and Diu were administered as part of the union territory of Goa, Daman and Diu between 1962 and 1987, becoming a separate union territory when Goa was granted statehood. The two union territories were merged to reduce duplication of services and reduce the cost of administration. The town of Daman was chosen to be the capital of the new combined union territory.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu is composed of four distinct areas located in Western India. Dadra is a small enclave within the state of Gujarat. Nagar Haveli is a C shaped enclave located between the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra which contains a counter enclave of Gujarat around the village of Maghval. Daman is an enclave on the coast of Gujarat and Diu is an island off the coast of Gujarat.

Daman is one of the three districts of the union territory on the west coast of India, surrounded by the Valsad district of Gujarat state on the north, east and south and the Arabian Sea to the west. The district has an area of 72 sq km with Daman as the district headquarters and lies at the mouth of the Daman Ganga river. Daman is also famous for its beach, Portuguese colonial architecture, churches, and for the scenic beauty in the twin towns of Nani-Daman and Moti-Daman, which lie opposite each other across the Daman Ganga.

Satrya Kshatrapas under the Kushana emperor seemed to have ruled over Daman during the 1st century. The names of the places, Dahanu, Daman and Pardi, have remained unchanged for the last 2000 years. Rudraman I, grandson of Chastan of the Kadamaka branch of Kshatrapas reconquered a large part of Western India including the seaboard from the river Mahi in Gujarat to Ratnagiri by about 150 AD from Satavahana ruler, Satakarni, and Daman district again passed under the rule of Kshatrapa Vijayasen who seems to have ruled till 249 AD. The district seems to have been subjected to the rule of traikutakas during the 5th century and the Lata Country was ruled by Rashtrakutas of Malkhed in the Deccan directly till 808. By the middle of the 13th century, a Rajput prince Ramsingh alias Ramashah seems to have defeated the Koli chief Nathorat and established himself in the hilly tract at Asheri of Asserseta near Daman about 1262. Daman was occupied by the Portuguese in 1531 and was formally ceded to Portugal in 1539 by the Sultan of Gujarat.

Mirroring the system of administrative division in European Portugal, Daman district was established as an administrative division of the Portuguese State of India in the first half of the 19th century and was made up of the Portuguese territories of Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, headed by a district governor, subordinate to the governor-general of Portuguese India in Goa. The Dadra and Nagar Haveli landlocked parts of the Daman district were occupied by pro-Indian Union forces in 1954. In 1961, Dadra and Nagar Haveli was officially annexed by India, forming a union territory separated from Daman. The rest of the district remained under Portuguese rule until it was annexed by Indian forces on 19 December 1961. From 1961-87, it was a part of the union territory of Goa, Daman and Diu. In 1987, it became a part of the newly formed union territory of Daman and Diu and in January 2020 became part of the new Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.

The House of Bockage was named after the former residence of the Portuguese poet Bockage and is located just near the gate of Daman Fort. The Collector’s Office, once the centre of administration during the Portuguese rule, is an elegant old building depicting the Portuguese gothic style of architecture. Presently, the building houses the Office of the Collector and the District Magistrate of Daman and is situated in the centre of the city. Also known as the Nani Daman Fort, St Jerome Fort has a huge gateway that faces the river. There is a large statue of St. Jerome inside the fort premises. The complex also contains the church of Our Lady of the Sea and a Jain temple and offers a beautiful view of the fish market below and is a pretty and popular tourist attraction. Nani Daman or Little Daman, as the name suggests, is the smaller of the two parts of the city. The region mainly comprises several Gothic-style churches, a Lighthouse, the famous Nani Daman Fort and an old Jain temple featuring 18th-century glass murals and paintings. There is also a local Dubai market that has everything at a very reasonable cost. The Cathedral of Bom Jesus is a popular place built-in 1603, the design, architecture and craftsmanship reflect the passion with which the Portuguese built this cathedral. Formerly a Catholic monastery and a place of worship, the Dominican Monastery is a historic ruin that served as the headquarters of theological studies in the past and has a beautifully engraved floral stone dotting the main altar. The Somnath Mahadev Temple is an old Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Shivalinga is believed to have formed in the 19th century at the request of a monk and is famous for hosting an annual fair that attracts thousands of devotees.

The Jetty Garden, located on the shores of the Daman Ganga river near Moti Daman, is an elegantly designed garden with exotic arrangements of fountains with fun rides available to keep children busy. Located close to the Coast Guard Air Station, the Satya Sagar Udyan is lined with colourful fountains, shrub-skirted promenades and enchanting landscape. There is also a temple in the vicinity of the garden. The Mirasol Lake Garden is a man-made marvel which is a popular tourist attraction. Surrounded by a beautiful lake and two islands connected by a bridge, the garden has boat rides and fountains as well as facilities for other activities. With a water park located just next to it, this lake garden also serves as a location for many film shootings. Devka Beach is massive, picturesque and pretty unspoilt with clean blue waters, well-maintained shores and a special amusement park that houses huge fountains and a play area for children. Jampore Beach is located about 5 km from the Moti Daman Jetty and is famous for its blackish mud-coloured water. Away from the hustle of the city, the beach is breezy and covered with trees and a great place to relax. The Lighthouse at Daman offers magnificent sunset views and is a major landmark of the town, situated inside a fort. The Daman Ganga Tourist Complex is a well-planned and beautifully laid out garden that offers a plethora of services and facilities including a cafeteria, a conference hall for meetings, a health club and a theatre.

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