Silvassa City Tour

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Silvassa- Less known capital of Lesser known UT Apr'12

Delhi- Mumbai- Silvassa- Mumbai- Delhi

Lemme start with solving the main query first! The query of 80% people reading this post! ‘Where the is Silvassa?’
Well it’s the capital of Dadra and Nagar Haweli (errrm……pardon..?) which is one of the union territories of Indian republic (I see)….
To be precise, this ex- Portuguese colony is situated on the border of Maharashtra (Thane and Nasik districts) and Gujarat (Valsad district), around 200 km from Mumbai, 8km off Mumbai- Ahmedabad National highway via Bhilad in Gujarat. Closest airport to this place is Surat (180 km) but more comfortable one is Mumbai (200 km), since Surat is connected only through regional flights very few in numbers and also time taking. Closest railway station is Vapi in Gujarat, 20 km away, which falls on Mumbai- Jaipur and Mumbai- New Delhi railway line.
Even though I had lived so close to Silvassa for 22 years, I never actually got opportunity to visit it. But while in Delhi, my work took me there regarding presentation of two architectural competitions organised by the administration of this U.T. in its secretariat. Me and my sir were all set for it!

Day1: An early morning Indigo flight took us to Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji airport. A swift desire car as booked already from Delhi was waiting outside the terminal for us.
Soon on the western express highway, we crossed Dahisar- the last suburb of Mumbai and moved ahead on the now called Mumbai- Ahmedabad national highway. After an hour or so leaving Nalasopara, Vasai, Virarbehind, we actually started travelling through the rural side of Maharashtra in Thane district. It was mid-April, and most of Maharashtra had turned into a hotspot! But for once, the desertish look of my state appealed to my eyes. This big open highway cutting through the hills of western ghats, and the worn out trees still standing tall in scorching heat of April in open desert, made me think of the road rash game in Napa valley which I used to play when I was a kid. Rather much more beautiful than that!
Kamath’s restaurant somewhere on the highway midway to Silvassa, is a must stop for its buffet unlimited south Indian- Maharashtrian breakfast! Having eaten poha, batatawada and sheera after so long, the 22 year old Mumbaikar inside me instantly took over the 2 year old Dilliwalah inside me!
Travelling further ahead, we reached the toll plaza on the border of the two states. As if to give me a complete homely experience without going home, the Chikuwalas came selling their chikus for 10 rupees a dozen! Not to mention, it didn’t take me very long to finish all the chikus which again I was eating almost after a year! …
Bhilad is the first place in Gujarat that comes on the highway after crossing the border. Bhilad is where we halted for a while to get the tourist permit for the car for Gujarat state. While travelling on this highway, one can easily tell when they have entered Gujarat from Maharashtra. The width of the roads suddenly changes to double the size at most of the places of that in M’rashtra. 

Photo of Silvassa City Tour 1/11 by Onkar TendulkarPicture: Tribal Museum, Silvassa

Taking a right under the first flyover after entering Gujarat and travelling further for 8 km got us at the gateway of this Union Territory. A statue of a Warli man playing Tarpa welcomes you to his Dadra and Nagar Haweli.
Even though the territory is said to have completely lost its Portuguese influence today- be it architecture, housing or culture; a drive across the NagarHaweli and a pair of wide open sharp eyes, can easily beg to differ with people saying that.

Photo of Silvassa City Tour 2/11 by Onkar TendulkarPicture: Tribal Museum, Silvassa

After entering Silvassa, we straight away headed to the secretariat as the presentation for first project had already started with the other competitors.
Post our awesome presentation, around 3 pm, we left for Kamath’s ‘Lotus resort’ where we had booked a twin bed room. 

Photo of Silvassa City Tour 3/11 by Onkar TendulkarPicture: Tribal Museum, Silvassa

One of my long lost friends who belonged to Vapi but was in Mumbai for his education and job came to meet me in the hotel room. I was meeting him almost after 2 years. After a while, my friend took me around the city in his car- the first destination being the ‘Tribal museum’.
Tribal museum is a very small building in Silvassa’s main chowk next to its Town hall. Surprisingly the museum didn’t have an entry fee; they only made us write our name and where we had come from. The museum had a neat display of pictures, sculptures, masks, paintings and religious belongings of Warli, Koknas, Gherias- the main tribes of Dadra and NagaHaweli. The museum with its limited but informative exhibits gives an insight into the lives of the tribals here.
Next was the famous Madhuban dam. An upward drive 10 minutes out of the city got us to this view point from where one can get a close view of the massive Madhuban dam.

Photo of Silvassa City Tour 4/11 by Onkar TendulkarPicture: On the way to Madhuban dam, Silvassa

Coming back to Silvassa on the road towards Khanwel at Vasona is the Lion Safari park. A small safari bus takes around the park where a couple of Lions can be spotted. 

Photo of Silvassa City Tour 5/11 by Onkar TendulkarPicture: Madhuban dam, Silvassa

Further ahead on the same road is ‘Satmalia sanctuary’ commonly known as ‘Deer park’This unusual drive in deer park also doesn’t have an entry fee. We took our car inside and drove on the defined clay roads among the dried trees with many deer running all around us. Few of them even came very close thinking we were offering them some food. This was the first time I spotted so many deer of different kinds- some spotted, some plain and some with horns; at one place which was not an enclosed zoo. I must say the park is one of its kinds and extremely well maintained one! At a point inside the park, one can have a view of Madhuban dam again but a little distant one.

Photo of Silvassa City Tour 6/11 by Onkar TendulkarPicture: Deer park, Silvassa

Photo of Silvassa City Tour 7/11 by Onkar TendulkarPicture: Deer park, Silvassa

My friend offered to take me to a place called ‘Dudhni’ which was another 45 minutes driver- according to him, a very beautiful one. The place has water sports facilities along with a garden. This place again offers a view of the entire Madhuban dam and reservoir. (By now, I guessed the life this whole territory revolved around the damn Madhuban dam!) Me not wanting anymore views of the damn and most importantly having no time in hand preferred to head back and spend some time on the banks of River Daman Ganga which flows past the Lotus resort.

Photo of Silvassa City Tour 8/11 by Onkar TendulkarPicture: Deer park, Silvassa

The banks of the river which are now under proposal of developing into a riverfront look very scenic. Quiet enough to come out of the resort and sit on the banks and have some time off for yourself.

Photo of Silvassa City Tour 9/11 by Onkar TendulkarPicture: Damanganga river bank, Silvassa

Photo of Silvassa City Tour 10/11 by Onkar TendulkarPicture: Lotus resort, Silvassa

After bidding my friend goodbye, I came back to the room and joined sir.
With IPL Kolkata- Punjab match running on the TV, and beer and chicken on the menu, I hardly needed anything else to pass this night…..

Photo of Silvassa City Tour 11/11 by Onkar TendulkarPicture: Town Hall, Silvassa

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