We don't talk enough about India's Union Territories. Well, we do talk about Delhi's rich heritage, Andaman and Nicobar Islands' pristine beaches and a passing mention of Puducherry's French quarters. What about the rest? India has, in total, seven Union Territories--Delhi (National Capital Territory of Delhi), Puducherry, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Out of seven, Delhi and Puducherry have their own legislatures while the other five are without one. Union Territories are not states and are governed directly by the Central Government. But enough of the Civics class, let's find out what makes these Union Territories special. Here are seven unique things about our country's seven Union Territories.
HOHO Bus, Delhi
It doesn't matter whether you are new to Delhi or have been here for sometime now but have never gone to visit the city's famous monuments and market places. It's never too late. Popularly known as Delhi Darshan, sightseeing in Delhi isn't an easy one, with harsh weather conditions and traffic. Delhi Metro can take you around Delhi but then comes the problem of looking for local transportation like autorickshaws, cycle rickshaws and local buses. Ola and Uber services are just going to kill your time. Instead, give the HOHO buses a chances. They are probably your best shot at having a guided tour of Delhi. We are talking about Delhi’s official Hop On Hop Off sightseeing bus service. The bus service covers 28 tourist destinations in Delhi, including local food experience and shopping too. HOHO buses ply every 45 minutes so there's no need to rush to catch the bus. Reach HOHO Centre in Baba Kharak Singh Marg, nearest metro is Rajiv Chowk Metro Station (Gate no 7). There are one-day and two-day tours available and you can book them here. Here is a list of HOHO pick up points.
Rock Garden, Chandigarh
Nek Chand Saini mastered the art of making something out of scraps. He built a garden out of industrial and home waste that we now know as the famous Rock Garden. Located near Sukhna Lake, the garden is spread across 40 acres. The walls, paths, sculptures, they are all made of broken bottles, glasses, bangles, pots, elctrical sockets and even bathroom tiles. Back in the day, in 1957, any construction work in this very plot was a crime, but Nek Chand did it anyway and he successfully hid his project till the authorities found it in 1975. His project, once almost demolished, is now one of the most visited site in Chandigarh.
There is a place in Puducherry, filled with silence, peace and tranquility. It is Auroville's Matrimandir; Matrimandir Inner Chamber to be precise. It is not a tourist spot and visitors are expected to maintain the decorum of the place. The shaded walk from the entrance to the viewing area is approximately 1km one way. For those who do not wish to walk the distance, there are electric shuttles. People come here to meditate in the Matrimandir Inner Chamber. If you wish to experience that kind of silence for few precious minutes then you need to make the appointment a day in advance, in person. If you just want to visit the place and not do meditation, that is okay too. The 1km walk one way, is very pleasant. Entire path is a shaded one and the temperature inside the campus is way cooler than what you experience outside. Give it a try. For more information, check here.
Warli, Dadra and Nagar Haveli
This union territory sits snug between Gujarat and Maharashtra and is probably one of the least popular destination. The capital city of Silvassa is pretty good though. Majority of the land is covered by vegetation, a green paradise is you may. There is Tribal Museum in Silvassa that deserves some attention for its great collection of traditional tribal masks, jewellery and hunting tools. Tribal art is big here and Warli painting is something you may want to bring back home as a souvenir. The Warlis, the largest tribal group in the UT, consider Dadra and Nagar Haveli as their home. The Warlis worship the Sun and the Moon and their deities find home in tree groves. Fascinating!
Naida Caves, Daman and Diu
Daman and Diu are divided by the Gulf of Khambhat. If you havn't been to Daman and Diu, maybe it's time you plan. Out of many beautiful reasons to visit, Naida cave system is one. Located near Jalandhar Beach, Naida Caves are spectacular natural rock formations. The labyrinthine structure is beautiful in the early hours of the morning when the sun hits the orange rocks.
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Andaman and Nicobar Islands
The group of islands is no stranger to travellers. With a total of 572 islands, Andaman and Nicobar Islands sits between the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. This union territory is special because it is also home to the Sentinelese people, the only tribe of people who remain uncontacted. Don't visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands hoping to meet the Sentinelese people, but for its pristine beautiful beaches and marine wildlife. Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is worth a visit. The marine park is located near Wandoor on the Andaman Islands. The park was created to protect marine life such as corals and sea turtles. Also, when in Andamans, do go for scuba diving and snorkelling. The underwater world is as beautiful as they come.
First thing first: you'll need permit to get to Lakshadweep. Lakshadweep, located in the Laccadive Sea, consists of 36 atolls and coral reefs. Kavaratti island is the capital and is one of the most developed in the region. Lakshadweep is the smallest Union Territory of India with just 32 sq km in size. With total twelve atolls, coral reefs and 39 islands, Lakshadweep is pretty much unexplored as compared to the rest of the union territories in India.