Situated on the foot hills of Western Ghats, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, the Union Territory, not only boasts of rich natural beauty but also of an interesting history. The land, which was ruled by Koli chiefs later came into the hands of Marathas who offered Portuguese the right to collect revenues from here to seal their support to fight Mughals. After Indian liberation the land was still under the control of Portuguese until it was freed in 1954. The Union Territory merged with India in 1961.
Dense forests, magnificent mountain ranges, serene valleys, stunning ranges of flora and fauna, breathtaking rivers – if this is the package you expect on your holiday, head for Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Your expectations will be more than adequately fulfilled. Here are the top 10 places to visit in the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
1. Vanganga Lake Garden
Just 5 kms from the capital city Silvassa, Vanganga Lake Garden is heaven for nature lovers. The very sight of the sprawling 7.58 hectares of ‘picture perfect’ garden with its beautiful lake captivates your soul. The huge lake in the garden has an island at the center, which stands connected to the garden by a bridge reflecting the influence of Japanese architecture. The island gives the garden the name ‘Island Garden’ and more to appease your visual appetite with tall green trees lining the lake and small fountains with scenic lighting arrangements. You can jog, walk or unwind in one of the cottages here that provides you with seating arrangements.
2. Hirwa Van Garden
Yet another spectacular garden in the Union Territory, the only difference being that it is forest made by man. Situated on the Silvassa – Dadra road, the garden is a superb specimen of architecture. Mesmerizing waterfalls, beautiful cascades, small springs, stone walls, arches, lush greenery, colorful flowers, crisscross walkways, in fact, everything about Hirwa Van Garden is amazing. There is a separate play section for children and the play equipments available here keep the children amused when you are lost in tranquility.
3. Dudhni Lake
Located 40 kms away from Silvassa, Dudhni Lake is a vast expanse of water surrounded by small hills. Famously referred to as the ‘Kashmir of the West’, the lake is formed by the waters of Madhuban reservoir. The isolated Dudhni, which is home to the lake, calms your senses. Well, you have entertainments that can make your adrenalin flow. The water sports available here include rowing boats, speed boats, water scooters, kayaks, canoes, jet skis and shikara rides. Trekking through the dense forests and camping on the river side would be a memorable adventure. If you love to have a glimpse of the life of tribals, here is your chanch.
Located on the banks of Madhuban Dam, Kauncha is the perfect destination for nature lovers. Dense forests, spectacular mountain ranges and scenic valleys of Kauncha enchant you while the tribal life make you envy them for the simple and contended life they lead amidst the richness of nature. Feel how it would be like to be a part of the world that does not have technological facilities but can offer you the experience of a lifetime. Adventure seekers can have a whale of a time here rowing boats, skiing and canoeing. For those who love trekking, here is an opportunity to trek, camp and count the stars that gaze from above.
5. Silvassa Vasona Lion Safari
Covering an area of 20 hectares of land, Vasona’s Lion Safari gives you a thrilling experience. After all, is it not exciting to have the opportunity of watching lion in its home rather than the cage where its space and movement are restricted? Lion Safari Park is 9 kms from Silvassa. It has a seven meter high wall to ensure safety. Special vehicles designed to tour the dense land take you inside to have a glimpse of the life of lion, the king of forest.
6. Tribal Cultural Museum
A trip to any destination is never complete without visiting the places that highlight the history of the place and its past and present lifestyle. Tribal Cultural Museum in Dadra and Nagar Haveli give you an insight into the rich cultural heritage of the tribals of the land. The museum has a collection of hunting tools, traditional jewelry and musical instruments used by the tribals. This is also the right place for you to acquire souvenirs to preserve the memories of your visit to Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Handcrafts made by the tribals are exquisite and will serve as an excellent reminder of your tour.
7. Swaminarayan Temple
Located on River Daman Ganga banks, Swaminarayan Temple is a perfect example for architectural splendor. If you have a keen eye for architecture, just a photograph of the temple would trigger your interest to plan a trip to the site regardless of your faith. You will be amazed to find that not a piece of the structure is left without carvings. The spacious garden and the magnificent construction mesmerize visitors.
8. Madhuban Dam
Madhuban Dam, one of the star attractions of Dadra and Nagar Haveli offers excellent facilities to indulge in water sports. Rides in speed boats, passenger boats, water scooters, canoes and aqua bikes attract tourists in great numbers. Water sports apart, the views of the dense forests around are stunning. The site has luxurious tents where you have cooking facilities too.
9. Bindrabin Temple
Also called as Tadkeshwara Temple, Bindrabin Temple, which is dedicated to god Shiva, is situated 18 kms away from Silvassa. The location of the temple in itself is very serene – on Sakartod River banks surrounded by tall trees. The atmosphere relaxes you and you can make yourself more comfortable in one of the three cottages set up by the Department of Silvassa tourism. You can find an eatery too. Children can indulge in the recreational area near the temple.
10. Church of Our Lady of Piety
A reminder of Portuguese rule in the land, Church of Our Lady of Piety was built during 18th century. It is situated opposite Tribal Museum. The stone made church has amazing arches at the outside and well constructed interiors. You can have some peaceful moments for yourself once you are inside.
During my short visit to Dadra and Nagar Haveli, I came to know (as the case is always when you tour any part of the world) that there are more places of interest to visit. If you had been there, I would be glad to have updates from you.