Union territories are special administrative zones in the Republic of India. They do not have a government of their own. They are operated and controlled by the Central Government of India.
There were nine (9) union territories in India. But from 26th January 2020, Dadra and Nager Haveli and Daman and Diu are to be combined to a single territory, thereby resulting in 8 Union Territories in India.
Among them, Delhi, Puducherry and Jammu & Kashmir have their own legislatures.
Each territory has a capital. The territories are governed by a lieutenant governor appointed by the central government of India. The President of India reserves the right to regulate the affairs of all the union territories except the ones that have a legislature.
1. ANDAMAN & NICOBAR
Andaman and Nicobar is a group of islands, separated by a channel, located in the Indian Ocean. This was the first union territory of India that was established in the year 1956.
The British used these islands to hold prisoners, mainly Indian freedom fighters. The local tribes of Jarwa and Great Andamanese maintain an aloof existence to this day.
The scenic beach of Havelock and Neil Islands and lagoons with crystal clear water invites tourists to have a peaceful, laid-back holiday. Scuba diving is the favorite sport of holidaymakers at Andaman
Chandigarh, though a Union territory, is the capital of both Punjab and Haryana. It has the status of a city and union territory at the same time. It was constituted on November 1, 1966. The state of Haryana lies to the east and the state of Punjab on all the other three sides. The city was designed by a French architect, Le Corbusier. The Secretariat, Legislative Assembly and Capitol complex buildings were built by him.
Chandigarh is known as the green city of India. The famous rock garden featuring sculptures made of stone and recycled material by Nek Chand, the Sukhna Lake, the rose garden and the terraced garden are major attractions of the city.
3. DADRA & NAGAR HAVELI and DAMAN & DIU (Will come into effect on 26th January 2020)
Capital – Daman
From 26th January 2020, Dadra and Nager Haveli and Daman and Diu are to be combined into a single union territory with reference to the legislation passed by the Government of India. This merging came into force in order to reduce administrative cost and duplication of services. Daman is considered to be the new capital of this newly found union territory.
Dadra and Nagar Haveli, located on the west coast of India.
The regions were part of Portuguese India. They were merged with India as a union territory in 1961. Dadra, the smaller region, is in Gujarat. Nagar Haveli lies in between Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The Portuguese heritage, the greenery and the scenic beauty of the land welcome tourists from around the world. The beautiful lake garden Vanganga is located at the entrance to the city.
Daman and Diu , located on the west coast of India.
They were part of Portuguese India even after independence. Daman and Diu became part of the Union Territory of Goa in 1961. Later Goa was handed separate statehood in 1987, thus making Daman and Diu a separate Union Territory.
Daman and Diu have a mixed culture featuring Indian and Portuguese. The territory with its beaches, scenic beauty, forts, and Portuguese churches is a popular tourist destination.
4. NATIONAL CAPITAL TERRITORY OF DELHI
Delhi is a union territory and also the national capital of India. Delhi is governed by its own legislature as like in other states of India. It was awarded the status of union territory in 1956. The territory is bordered by Uttar Pradesh on the east and by Haryana on all other sides.
Old Delhi is synonymous with a history dating back to 1600. The monuments like Qutub Minar, Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Mughal era tombs, and Mughal gardens, Rashtrapati Bhavan, India Gate are places where history comes alive.
5. JAMMU & KASHMIR
The state of Jammu & Kashmir was divided into two union territories – Ladakh and J&K in August 2019. Jammu & Kashmir was denoted as a union territory with a legislature of its own similar to Delhi and Puducherry. The special status provided to the Jammu and Kashmir on basis of Article 370 of the Constitution of India was withdrawn. It would re-constitute the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The act will be effective from October 31, 2019.
The state’s terrain is mostly mountainous. Thorn scrub and grass form the vegetation. Agriculture is done on terraced slopes. Rice is the chief crop. Corn, millet, pulses, barley, wheat, cotton and tobacco are also cultivated in accordance with the seasons. The region is the sole producer of saffron in India.
Jammu & Kashmir, known as the Paradise on earth, is famous for the snow-capped mountains and glaciers. The region abounds in nature’s splendor with lakes, meadows, valleys and evergreen forests. The temples of Amarnath and Vaishno Devi are pilgrim centers. Gulmarg, Shalimar Bagh, Dal Lake, Khardung La pass are the most beautiful places to visit.
Ladakh was classified as a union territory in August 2019 administered by India. Prior to this, Ladakh was a part of the state of Jammu & Kashmir.
The region lies in the northern part of India. Ladakh consists of two districts, Leh and Kargil.
Ladakhi culture is similar to Tibetan culture. The principal language of Ladakhi is the Tibetan language. Ladakhi food is similar to Tibetan food.
Tourism forms a major part of the economy. The Pangong Lake, Magnetic Hill, Zanskar valley, monasteries and Leh Palace are sights to be seen in Ladakh. It is a land of high altitude mountain passes.
Lakshadweep is the smallest of all union territories of india in terms of size and population.
The islands were a part of Madras until it was separated in 1956 and made a union territory.
It was called Laccadive, Minicoy and Aminidvi prior to being renamed Lakshadweep in 1973. The island lies in the sea Laccadive southwest of the Indian mainland.
Coconut palms are the mainstay of the island. Fishing forms a major segment of the economy. Tourism is promoted though with caution to prevent environmental damage.
The archipelago of 36 islands and coral reefs are mostly uninhabited. The largest city is Andrott. The islands of Minicoy, Agatti and Bangaram are famous for their coral reefs, beaches and pristine blue waters.
8. PUDUCHERRY (PONDICHERRY)
Puducherry is located on the southeast coastline of India in the state of Tamil Nadu. Pondicherry was formed out of the former French colonies of Mahe, Pondicherry, Karaikal, and Yanam in the year 1954. These places are now districts under Puducherry.
Also Read: 24 Most Popular National Festivals of India
Puducherry shares most of its culture and language with Tamil Nadu. Farming of rice, pulses, sugarcane, coconuts, and cotton is done. Tourism promotes the town’s quaint French legacy.
Puducherry is often referred to as the Riviera of the East due to the French influence. The Aurobindo Ashram, churches, beaches and seaside promenades promise serenity and tranquility to all travelers.
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