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Dadra and Nagar Haveli District is one of the three districts in union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, western India. It is composed of two separate geographical entities: Nagar Haveli, wedged between Maharashtra and Gujarat, and, 1 km to the northwest, the smaller enclave of Dadra, which is surrounded by Gujarat. Silvassa is the capital of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Unlike the surrounding areas, this was ruled by the Portuguese from 1783 until the mid-20th century.

The area was captured by India in 1954 and administered as Free Dadra and Nagar Haveli before being annexed to India as a union territory, the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli in 1961. The union territory was merged with, Daman and Diu to form new union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu on 26 January 2020.

Pre-Portuguese era

The history of Dadra and Nagar Haveli begins with the defeat of the Koli chieftains of the region by the invading Rajput kings. In the year 1262 a Rajput prince from Rajasthan named Ramsinh established himself as the ruler of Ramnagar, the present-day Dharampur, which consisted of 8 parganas (group of villages) and assumed the title Maharana. Nagar Haveli was one of the parganas, and its capital was Silvassa.

In 1360 Rana Dharamshah I shifted his capital from Nagar Haveli to Nagar Fatehpur.

With the rise of Maratha power, Shivaji viewed Ramnagar as an important locality. He captured the region, but Somshah Rana recaptured it in 1690.

After the Treaty of Vasai (6 May 1739), Vasai and the surrounding territories came under the Maratha rule.

Portuguese era

The Portuguese were granted the area of Nagar Haveli on 10 June 1783 on the basis of Friendship Treaty executed on 17 December 1779 as compensation towards damage to the Portuguese frigate Santana by Maratha Navy in 1772. The treaty allowed the Portuguese to collect revenue from 72 villages in Nagar Haveli. Then, in 1785 the Portuguese purchased Dadra, annexing it to Portuguese India (Estado Português da Índia).

In 1818, the Maratha Empire was defeated by the British in the Third Anglo-Maratha War, and the Portuguese ultimately became the effective rulers of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

Under the Portuguese rule, Dadra and Nagar Haveli were part of the Distrito de Damão (Daman district) of the Estado da Índia (Portuguese State of India). The two territories formed a single concelho (municipality), named “Nagar Haveli”, with its head in Darará until 1885 and, after that, with its head in the town of Silvassa. The local affairs were overseen by an elected câmara municipal (municipal council), with the higher level affairs administrated by the district governor of Daman, who was represented in Nagar Haveli by an administrator.

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