Know the amazing history of Dadra & Nagar Haveli


If we visit Dadra & Nagar Haveli, the quiet Union Territory bordering Gujarat, we are impressed by the rapid industrialization. But do we know the amazing history of the former Portuguese-ruled enclave? Read this article to know more.

Dadra & Nagar Haveli is a Union Territory of India located at the western part of the country. Many of us don't know that Dadra and Nagar Haveli are two separate geographical areas. Nagar Haveli is a c-shaped area located near Daman (another Union Territory) bordering Gujarat. On the border between Nagar Haveli and Gujarat, we can see the Madhuban reservoir. Dadra is the smaller part of the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and is located north-west to Nagar Haveli. The area of the Union Territory is around 491 square kilometers and the capital is Silvassa.

Dadra & Nagar Haveli was a Portuguese enclave. But it is really very interesting how Portuguese acquired this piece of land at the first place. It was equally interesting how this territory was liberated from the Portuguese. Let us know about these interesting events.



How did Dadra & Nagar Haveli go to the Portuguese

This area was originally ruled by Koli rulers. These local rulers were ultimately defeated by the Rajput kings. By the second half of the thirteenth century, the Rajput rulers firmly established their rules in the small area. When the Marathas became powerful during the rule of Shivaji Maharaj, they thought this area strategically and commercially important. So, they captured Dadra & Nagar Haveli, but the Rajput rulers re-captured it in 1690. But, after the Treaty of Vasai signed in 1739, Vasai and surrounding areas came under the control of Marathas.

However, in 1772, an interesting episode took place. The commander of Maratha Navy, Janoji Dhulap, confiscated a Portuguese warship named Santana and destroyed it. The Portuguese sent a demand of compensation in the court of Peshwa in Pune. At that time, the Peshwa court was embroiled in the internal quarrel for the throne and due to various other reasons like the First Anglo-Maratha War. Due to the improper advice given to the Peshwa, in 1783 a deal was strict to the effect that the revenue of Nagar Haveli was to be given to the Portuguese as a compensation for sinking the Portuguese ship. After two years, the revenue of Dadra was also decided to be given to the Portuguese. The treaty envisaged that the Portuguese would recover the cost of the sunken ship and then Dadra & Nagar Haveli would return to the Marathas. However, very astonishingly, everybody forgot about the deal and the mighty Maratha empire collapsed in 1818 after the Third Anglo-Maratha War. Dadra & Nagar Haveli remained with the Portuguese till its independence in 1954.

How did Dadra & Nagar Haveli gain independence

We all know that India had to send its Army, Navy and Air Force to liberate Goa from the clutches of the Portuguese in December, 1961. In case of Daman & Diu, India had to send its Naval force and Army to threaten the Portuguese position. But Dadra & Nagar Haveli was liberated comparatively easily much earlier.

On 22nd July, 1954, Waman Desai and Francis Mascarenhas led a group of freedom-fighters, entered into Dadra and occupied the local police station having only three police personnel. Thereafter, the volunteers ended the rule of Portuguese authorities in other villages. Finally, on 2nd August, 1954, Silvassa was liberated. Thus, the Portuguese rule ended in Dadra & Nagar Haveli peacefully.



Final words

Today, if we visit Dadra & Nagar Haveli, we are impressed by the rapid industrialization of the Union Territory. But how many of us remember the remarkable past of this beautiful place, which had been handed over to the Portuguese and simply forgotten?


Article by Partha K.
“Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.” - George Gordon Byron

Follow Partha K. or read 272 articles authored by Partha K.

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