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Sylvan Silvassa

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Ancient church: From the time of the Portuguese.
Ancient church: From the time of the Portuguese.

D.B.N. MURTHY

Silva means wood and Silvassa lives up to its name with all the trees in the town.

True to its name “Silva”, meaning wood in Portuguese, all you see is trees. Perhaps this is one state/union territory that boasts of a 42 per cent forest cover. An old world charm lingers as you amble along the streets, enjoying the peace and tranquillity as you savour the sights and sounds of a place steeped in history. However, little remains of its Portuguese legacy.

Some sights

Silvassa is the capital town with about a lakh population. The Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli (D and NH) has a population of about 2.2 lakhs of whom about 62 per cent are tribals. The main tribes are – Dhodhia, Dublas, Kokana and Varlis. They have their own dialect and their distinct culture who celebrate major Hindu festivals. Colourful dances, in which both men and women participate, highlight their centuries old customs and traditions. The major dances are Bhavada, Dhol, Gherria and Tarpa. No marriage, harvest or social function is complete without a foot-tapping folk dance.

The Portuguese had the right to collect revenue from D and NH as per the treaty signed with the Maratha rulers in 1779. Their rule ended when the territory joined the Indian Union after Independence.

Do visit the tribal museum, which though small is well stocked with items they use daily as well as items connected with music and dance. There is a beautiful park with a water fountain. The ancient church of Our Lady of Piety Church is renovated and has links to the time the Portuguese were there. The Town Hall is an impressive red brick building with a tall clock tower and it is a landmark. There still are a few colonial buildings.

There are also the usual routine tourist sights to see like the Vanganga Lake Garden, Hirwavan garden, Piparia, Waeer Sports centre and so on.

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