The States Reorganisation Commission in 1956, recognised some regions which were either not a part of India during independence or they were too small to fit the model of a state. Such areas were marked as a different category - the union territory.
The Government of India and Union territories form a part of the skeletal structure of the Republic of India. The Union territories are under direct administrative rule of the central government with its centre at the national capital city of Delhi.
The President of India notionally administers the Government of India and Union territories and delegates the practical aspects of his or her administrative responsibilities to an Administrator (Lieutenant Governor) appointed explicitly for a specific Union territory. The Administrator of each Union territory has a functional responsibility independent of his peer Administrators in other Union territories. The Union territories are further subdivided into smaller administrative blocks for effective governance. Villages form the smallest area of administration. Each village has a representative administrative Gram Panchayat. A Gram Panchayat may have administrative control of several villages.
The list of Union territories included in the Republic of India Constitution is:
1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
This group of islands lie between Latitude 6° and 14° north and Longitude 92° and 94° east with an area measuring 8,249 sq km. Being the tropical coast, the climate is humid. The original inhabitants were tribal who lived in the forests and survived on fishing and hunting.
Now agriculture and other industries flourish there.
Paddy is cultivated as the main food crop, while Coconut and Areca nut are the cash crops. Field crops, like, pulses, oilseeds and vegetable, are also grown along with different kinds of fruits such as banana, mango, orange, papaya, pineapple and sapota.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands Integrated Development Corporation has spread its wings in the field of Tourism, Fisheries, and Industries to promote Small Scale industries into Fish/Prawn processing activity, shells and wood-based handicrafts, rice-milling, furniture-making, etc.
A&N Administration runs the Motor Transport Department and operates about 205 buses mainly in rural areas through 13 stations.
There are 96 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 9 National Parks and 1 Biosphere Reserve in these Islands.
A tourist paradise, Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been recognised as an eco-friendly destination. Cellular Jail, Ross Island and Havelock Island find regular visitors.
The lush evergreen rain forests, beautiful silver sandy beaches, serpentine mangrove-lines creeks, marine life abounding in rare species of plants, animals, corals, etc., provide tremendous scope for enjoying nature. Beach resorts, adventure water sports, trekking, Island camping, Nature trail, Scuba Diving, etc. are added attractions for travellers here.
The islands are well connected to the mainland by air and sea. Indian Regular passenger ship service from Chennai, Kolkata and Vishakhapatnam and Airlines services from Kolkata and Chennai are available.
2. Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu
Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu combined into a single union territory from January 26, 2020, as per legislation passed by the Government of India. This merger of these four areas was proposed to reduce administrative costs and duplication of services. Daman is the capital of this new union territory.
Dadra and Nagar Haveli was a Portuguese ruled territory, and it was liberated on August 2, 1954. From 1954 till 1961, it functioned almost independently by "Free Dadra and Nagar Haveli Administration". On August 11, 1961, the territory was merged with the Indian Union and since then, is being administered as a Union Territory by the Government of India. Gujarat and Maharashtra surround the 491 sq km area of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
The land has been developed for cultivation with paddy being the major crop along with Nagli and other hill millets. Mango, Chiku and Banana, etc., are also produced while 40 per cent of the total geographical area is covered with dense forests. Since the last few years, sugarcane cultivation has been taken up in a big way.
Several irrigation schemes such as the Damnganga Reservoir Project, check dams and irrigation wells have also been completed in the region. UT Administration had commenced rural electrification work also, and now the electricity department is in a position to provide electricity to all villages.
High priority has been assigned to tourism; and to attract tourists some traditional and modern cultural activities are organised every year like the celebration of Tarpa Festival, Kite festival, World Tourism day, etc. Some places like Tadekeshwar Shiva Mandir, Bindrabin, Deer Park at Khanvel, Vanganga Lake and Island Garden, Dadra, Vanvihar Udhyan Mini Zoo, Bal Udhyan, Tribal Museum, and Hirvavan Garden at Silvassa are much-visited tourist spots.
The region of Dadra and Nagar Haveli depends heavily on Maharashtra and Gujarat road network as it can be accessed only after crossing these two States from Mumbai. Widening of roads has been taken up to meet the requirement of increasing vehicular traffic. Vapi, the nearest railway station, is linked on the rail route from Mumbai to Ahmadabad. Vapi is 18 km from Silvassa. Mumbai is the nearest airport.
The region of Daman and Diu of the union territory was the stronghold of the Chowda Rajputs during the 8th and 13th century. After that, the territory was ruled by the Muslim Emperors for 200 years. The 16th century marked the arrival of Portuguese in Goa, and they ruled this beautiful place and the surrounding area for over 450 years.
After being released from the Portuguese regime, it was made an integral part of India in 1961. Diu, Daman and Goa together formed one political unit. Post statehood being conferred on Goa, Daman and Diu received the status of Union territory in 1978. Daman and Diu are two separate areas divided by the Arabian Sea and are about 600 km away from each other.
Lying about 170 km away from Mumbai, Daman, at the mouth of the Daman Ganga River, lies sandwiched between Gujarat and Maharashtra. It is bound by Valsad district of Gujarat and the Arabian Sea. Clear blue sea, rustic beaches, picturesque villages and relics from its Portuguese past attract tourists. Favourable months for visiting Daman include February, March, April, May, October, November and December. Top sights in Daman are the Dominican Monastery, Jetty Garden, Jampore beach, Pargola Garden, Mirasol Water Park, Nani Daman. Diu is an island situated slightly off the coast of Kathiawad near the Port of Veraval in Gujarat and is approx. 768 km away from Daman. It has a coastal line of 21 km and is connected to the mainland via two bridges. Surrounding it are Gir-Somnath, Amreli District of Gujarat and the Arabian Sea. The climate of Diu usually is pleasant throughout the year. A portion of Diu District is on the mainland and is called Ghoghla, a small part known as Simbor lies in Gujarat almost 25 km from Diu.
As per mythological belief, Diu was ruled by a 'Daitya' (Demon-king) called Jallandhar, married to Vrinda (commonly known as tulsi/Basil) and was beheaded by Lord Vishnu with his Sudarshan-Chakra. Diu was known as 'Jallandhar Ksshetra' during Satyug, as per the Gazetteer of Goa, Daman and Diu. In fact, the temple of Jallandhar forms a significant tourist attraction of Diu as a famous ancestral relic of the Demon-king.
Main attractions of Diu include Diu Fort, St Paul's Church, Church of St Francis of Assisi and the St Thomas Church. The three beaches - Nagoa, Ghoghla and Jallandhar, are ideal places to unwind. On the Nagoa and Ghoghla beach, water sports activities like water scooter and parasailing can be enjoyed. Evening boat cruises and the unique Hoka Palm trees are also appreciated.
In Daman and Diu, Gujarati, Hindi, English are commonly spoken, but a good number of older people speak Portuguese too.
Important field and garden crops include paddy, ragi, bajra, jowar, groundnut, pulses and beans, wheat, banana, sapota, mango, chickoo, coconut and sugarcane. Tourism, along with Salt and fishing industries, contributes to the economy of the region.
There is no railway link with Daman and Diu. The Nearest railway station from Daman is Vapi on the western railway on Mumbai-Delhi route. Local buses, taxis and tongas ply to Daman from there. Nani Daman area has the nearest domestic airport and has regular flights to Mumbai and Baroda. Mumbai International Airport is the nearest international airport.
The nearest railway station from Diu is Delvada at a distance of 9 km, on meter-gauge. But important trains are linked with Veraval about 90 km from Diu. Diu is connected by direct flights from Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and various other parts of the country.
Lakshadweep lie about 280 km to 480 km off the coast of Kerala between Latitude 8° and 12° 3' North and longitude 71° and 74° East. This group of 27 coral islands lie scattered in the Arabian Sea and consist of atolls, reefs and submerged sandbanks. Only 11 of these are inhabited.
Little is known about the early history of these islands. Islanders were initially believed to be Hindus (Amini, Andrott, Kavaratti, and Agatti), converted to Islam under the influence of Arab traders. But Archaeological sites unearthed show evidence of Buddhist settlements dating 6th or 7th century.
To avert Portuguese domination, the Islanders, who were probably independent till 16th century, sought the assistance of Raja of Chirakal who later established his authority on the islands. Later acceded by Tipu Sultan and the East India Company, the Islands in 1956 were constituted into a single territory and have since been directly administered as a Union Territory of India. In 1973, the Laccadives, Minicoy and Amindivi group of islands were renamed as Lakshadweep.
Lakshadweep stands first in coconut production and Lakshadweep Coconut, the only major crop, is branded as an organic product having the highest oil content in the world (72 per cent). The sea surrounding the islands is highly productive, and fishing is another major activity. The government promoted Coconut fibre extraction and fibre curling units make products like coir yarn and mats.
Motor Vessels, inter-island ferries and Cargo Vessels provide connectivity between the islands and service tourists enhancing their experience of travelling. Besides these, the administration operates two helicopters for connectivity during monsoon and for the evacuation of serious patients 'from and to' the islands Kavaratti and the mainland. Helicopter connectivity is also available for passengers and tourists between Kavaratti and Agatti/Bangaram.
In support of the precious heritage and an extremely fragile ecosystem, Union Territory of Lakshadweep promotes tourism consciously to avoid pressure on the ecological environment; their motto being 'admire and not exploit natural beauty'.
Former French establishments Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam, which lay scattered in South India comprise the 479 sq km area of the UT of Puducherry. It is bounded by Tamil Nadu and Bay of Bengal; and merged with the Indian Union in 1954 after being under French rule for 138 years.
About 80% of the cultivated area is irrigated, paddy being the predominant crop followed by pulses, groundnut and chillies. Crops like coconut, areca nut, condiments and spices are grown in the Mahe region.
The union territory is home to a lot of small and medium scale industries which design, manufacture and market wood, leather, rubber and plastic products. There are pharmaceutical, metal, paper, cotton, food industries also.
The nearest airport is Chennai. Direct trains from Vellore to Puducherry can be taken. The fastest way to reach Puducherry from Vellore is by taxi which takes about 3hours.
This charming Indian town's uniqueness lies in its skilful town planning and Franco Tamil architecture. Unique handicrafts in leather pottery, hand-made paper, incense and antique colonial furniture are influenced by East and West cultures. The Ashram of the great seer, poet and prophet of Indian spirituality, Sri Aurobindo, attracts people from all over the world.
The area was part of the erstwhile Ambala district of the large and prosperous Punjab Province. Post partition, when Lahore went to Pakistan, Indian Punjab was left without a capital. Chandigarh was declared the capital city. As Chandigarh was the shared capital city of both Haryana and Punjab, it was declared a union territory of India in 1966.
The city has a prehistoric past. The modern city exists on a wide lake as evident from the aquatic and amphibian fossil remains of found. The area was also a part of the Harappan civilisation—the region experiences cold dry winter, hot summer and tropical rains.
Chandigarh is a well-planned town, a representation of modern architecture. The brainchild of the French Architect, Le Corbusier; it nestles in a picturesque setting in the foothills of Shivalik hills. The name of the city is derived from the 'Chandi Temple' located in the vicinity.
One unique feature in the layout of Chandigarh is its roads, intersecting at right angles, the city's vertical roads run northeast/southwest, and the horizontal roads run northwest/southeast. Tree plantation, landscaping, and green open spaces held high priority and were an integral part of the city's Master Plan. Over 22 species of evergreen trees and 26 different types of flowering trees have been planted along the roads, in residential areas, in parking areas, in the city parks and shopping complexes too.
Chandigarh has limited land for cultivation and agriculture, and whatever there is, is being gradually acquired for the expansion of the city. The main crop of food grain is wheat and irrigation is through deep-bore tube-wells.
The administration is developing Industrial Areas and also working on energy conservation through the Solar Lighting initiative, with a target that all street lights in the villages would be replaced with solar-based street lights.
For sports promotion, various facilities of international standards and the latest ground equipment have been provided to trainees and sports academies.
Mass Rapid Transport System was planned for the city. The project was scrapped in 2017 due to viability.
Bean shaped Sukhna Lake is a major tourist attraction. The unique Rock Garden, creation of Nek Chand, built with municipal waste is another tourist attraction. It expresses the importance of balancing industrial development and sound environmental practices.
6. New Delhi
Delhi finds prominent reference and evidence of continuous inhabitation since at least the 6th century BC right from the times of the epic Mahabharata. Its control passed from one ruler or dynasty to another - the Mauryas, Pallavas, Guptas and then during the 13th to 15th centuries to the Turk and Afghan. Finally, after the Mughals in the 16th century in the latter half of the 18th century and early 19th century, Delhi was ruled by the British. After the British capital was shifted from Kolkata in 1911, Delhi became the centre of all activities. It was made a Union Territory in 1956.
Wheat, bajra, jowar, gram and maise form the major food crops. However, the emphasis has now shifted to more remunerative options like vegetables and fruit crops, dairy, poultry-farming, floriculture, etc.
Delhi is the largest commercial centre as well as the largest centre of small industries in northern India. Manufacturing units for a wide variety of items like television, tape recorders, light engineering machines, automobile parts, sports goods, bicycles and PVC goods including footwear textiles, fertilisers, medicines, hosiery, leather goods, software, etc. add to the economy of Delhi.
Delhi is well connected by air, rail and roads with all parts of India.
Indira Gandhi International Airport (earlier known as Palam airport) caters to both Domestic and International flights to and from New Delhi. Before IGI, Safdarjung Airport used to be the primary airport for Delhi, but it is closed to civilian traffic now. Hindon Airbase which is close to Delhi, exclusively serves the Indian Air Force flights.
Old Delhi Railway station, New Delhi Railway Station, Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station, Anand Vihar Terminal Railway Station, Sarai Rohilla Railway Station and Delhi Shahdara Junction Railway Station share the load of Railway traffic in Delhi.
Inter-state bus terminals at Kashmere Gate, Sarai Kale Khan and Anand Vihar connect Delhi to all the states of the country.
Keeping in view the rising vehicular pollution and chaotic traffic condition Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) was started in Delhi. The metro rail project, successfully running in many corridors, uses state-of-the-art modern technology providing affordable, fast better connectivity to the commuters between Delhi and NCR (National Capital Region).
Being a cosmopolitan city, Delhi is the absolute combination of tradition and modernity, with the world-class metro trains, shopping malls, airport as well as religious places, monuments and heritage sites. All major festivals of India are celebrated here. Some tourism festivals and fairs have become regular annual events organised by Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation.
Humayun's Tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its stunning architecture, is the first garden-tomb in the Indian subcontinent.
Lal Quila or the Red Fort, the official seat of Mughal rule from 1648 onwards, constructed using red sandstone, is an architectural marvel of the Mughal era. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.
Jama Masjid, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan between 1644 and 1656, the mosque has three huge entry gates. Made of red sandstone and white marble, its courtyard has the capacity to seat 25,000 people at one time.
Agrasen ki Baoli is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India. This a 60 meter long and 15-meter wide historical step well is on Halley Road, New Delhi.
Qutab Minar, this minaret 234 feet is the tallest individual tower in the world and is a perfect display of Mughal architectural brilliance.
Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple, sits deftly on the banks of River Yamuna, with its jaw-dropping architecture showcasing Hinduism and its age-old culture.
India Gate, the war memorial, is dedicated to the 82,000 soldiers, both Indian and British, who died during the First World War and the Third Anglo-Afghan War. It houses the Amar Jawan Jyoti symbolising the souls of the eternal, immortal soldiers.
Lotus Temple is a Baha'i House of Worship and is open to all.
Jantar Mantar built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur is an observatory consisting of 13 architectural astronomy instruments. Its main purpose was to predict the movement and timings of the sun, moon and planets.
Lodhi Gardens, spanning over 90 acres, this beautiful garden is draped in emerald green grass with tombs of the Lodhis, an Afghan dynasty - Tomb of Mohammed Shah, Sikandar Lodi, Shisha Gumbad and Bara Gumbad. The site is now protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Laxminarayan Mandir (Birla Mandir), Tughlaqabad Fort, Tomb of Safdarjang, Purana Qila, and National Zoological Park or Delhi Zoo, Hauz Khas Village and deer Park, Nizammudin Dargah and Nizammudin ki Baoli, ISKCON temple, Rashtrapati Bhawan, Gurudwara Sis Ganj and Bangla Sahib Gurudwara and loads of other must-see places abound in Delhi.
7. Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir is a region administered by India as a union territory as per the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 of the Parliament of India. The act contains the provisions to re-constitute the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Indian-administered union territories called Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, on October 31 2019. A bill for the act was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on August 5, 2019, by Home Minister Amit Shah and was passed on the same day. The Lok Sabha then passed it on August 6, 2019, and it received the President's assent on August 9 2019.
The region of Jammu and Kashmir lies to the north of the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab and the west of Ladakh, administered by India as a union territory as well.
Jammu and Kashmir is the second largest (after Ladakh) and second most populous (after NCT Delhi) union territory of India.
Jammu and Kashmir has many picturesque several valleys such as the Kashmir Valley, Chenab Valley, Sindh Valley and Lidder Valley. The Kashmir valley is one of the top tourist destinations of India, some major tourist attractions in Jammu and Kashmir are Srinagar, the Mughal Gardens, Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Patnitop and Jammu. Every year, thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit holy shrines of Vaishno Devi and Amarnath. Gulmarg, one of the most popular ski resort destinations in India, is also home to the world's highest green golf course.
Jammu and Kashmir is also famous for its flower gardens, apple farms, dry fruits market and more. It attracts tourists for its unique handicrafts and the world-famous Kashmiri Shawls.
Ladakh is a region administered by India as a union territory and was formed at the same time when J&K was reconstituted as a UT. Until 2019, Ladakh was a region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In August 2019, the Parliament of India passed an act by which Ladakh became a union territory on 31 October 2019. It is bordered by China (Tibet) to the east, the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh to the south, Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan to the west, and the southwest corner of Xinjiang across the Karakoram Pass in the far north. It extends from the Siachen Glacier in the Karakoram range to the north to the main Great Himalayas to the south.
The government of India has been boosting tourism in the region since 1974. The largest town in Ladakh is Leh, followed by Kargil, each of which headquarters a district. The main populated areas are the river valleys and the pastoral Changpa nomads on the mountain slopes. The principal crops are barley and wheat besides rice. Ladakh is one of the most sparsely populated regions in India and its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet. Ladakh is by far the largest and the second least populous union territory of India.
There is an airport in Leh, Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, from which there are daily flights to Delhi and weekly flights to Srinagar and Jammu. Two airstrips at Daulat Beg Oldie and Fukche are also present for military transport. The airport at Kargil, Kargil Airport, is used by the Indian Army.
The UTs have the option to form their respective governments with Legislative and elected members and a chief minister. Still, the power of such governments is lesser than the state governments.
Among the Union Territories listed above, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Puducherry have their own Legislative Assemblies and cabinet led by Chief Ministers. These two territories have more democratic powers than the other five territories wherein an Administrator nominated by the President of India is handling the administration.
The President is the Constitutional Head of the Executive of the Indian Republic, and the Union territories are under the direct administrative jurisdiction of the President. The President has his or her offices in the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
Last Updated on: May 22, 2020