“With breathtakingly beautiful coastline, lush forested interior, fantastic diving possibilities and a far-flung location, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a perfect place to ramble around or simply chill out on sun-toasted beaches.”
—- Lonely Planet (Introducing Andaman Islands)
Historical and Geographical Intro:
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, usually described by the primitive mangrove forests surrounded by the gleaming turquoise waters and its ivory sand beaches melting under the glorious blazing sunsets with never ending horizons. Adding to the reputation is its remote location, some 1370 km from the Indian mainland, denoting that the islands are geographically more Southeast Asia – just 150 km from Indonesia and 190 km from Myanmar.
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However, what the usual introductions miss out on, is the fact that because of its isolation from Indian shorelines, this archipelago served as a prison for political freedom fighters of India since 1857 (India – then under the rule of the British East India Company).
By 1896, the mounting freedom movements in India, Pakistan and Burma called for the construction of a grueling colonial prison with 693 cells (each measuring 4.5m x 2.7m with a ventilator positioned at a height of 3m) which took nearly 10 years (1896-1906) to be built and the augmented brutal part; the prison was constructed by its future inmates. This prison was named the Cellular Jail which has been even described as “a place of exclusion and isolation within a more broadly constituted remote penal space”. It is situated in Port Blair, the capital of this Union Territory now and 3 wings of the prison and the central tower is part of the National Memorial Monument since February 11, 1979; for paying homage to the brave hearts who did not lose the human spirit and fought till their last dwindling breath for their motherland.
An amazingly beautiful island with such stunningly horrifying history that even the shimmering blue waters could not undo the designation of this place as Kala-Pani (simply meaning black waters).
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Our Andaman And Nicobar Islands Travel snapshot
We visited the Andaman and Nicobar Islands back in October 2012, years after the Tsunami of 2004 and still got stoked by the things it has to offer. We had booked our tour through ANDAMAN ISLAND TRAVELS PVT. LTD. (We took a package for 4-Nights/5-Days as it was a family excursion. They provide these tailor-made tours for the perfect one stop destination with reasonable charges). Hence it was well-organized and premeditated.
As the beauty of this place demands for amazing beaches, Port Blair offers such a palm-fringed scenic beach called the Corbyn’s Cove Beach which on usual days is a perfect destination for swimming and basking under the sun but when we went there, it had a placard of WARNING – Recently Crocodile sighted in this area. Swimming not recommended. Obviously, it disappointed us to some extent but swimming with fishes is a great experience and swimming with crocodiles is a great risk. We respected the warning board and did not take that risk. Although this beach can get you some great shots of its beauty. Port Blair also offers these culture trips through – the Saw Mill, Forest Museum, Anthropological Museum, Naval Marine Museum, Andaman water sports complex and the cottage industries Emporium (Sagarika – for shopping & souvenirs).
We concluded that day with a soft dinner at our hotel – Da Bay Inn, Port Blair.
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a few travel tips:
To understand the history, visit the memorial and do not miss the enthralling heroic saga of the freedom struggle recreated by Light and Sound and picturized to be narrated by an ancient tree which claims to be the only living witness of all that ensued in there.
Another intriguing island (used to be a prison before Cellular Jail), called the Viper Island (nomenclature) has the ruins of a gallows atop a hillock, preserved as the hanging place of an activist named Sher Singh who assassinated Lord Mayo on his visit to the Andaman Islands. He was promised no last wish but he surely got the perfect last view. So one has to let go of the past to actually enjoy that exquisiteness. A lesson I learned on the very first day. A lesson to live by.
The numerous islands in this archipelago give you a reason to discharge your cameras every day. To mention some of the most beautiful islands:
- Ross Island:
The capital for British East India Company in the Andamans prior to the Japanese invasion during World War II in 1942. Just at the dock there is a huge Japanese bunker which marks the significance of this event. Earlier stocked with British residential houses, is now a place for its remains. On the 30th of December 1943, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, chief of the Azad Hind Force, raised the national flag of India for the first time on the Gymkhana ground opposite the club. India still remembers this historic event. This island is also ideal for nature walks amidst sylvan surroundings with constant sightings of deer, peacocks, exotic birds and exquisite trees.
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- North Bay/Coral Island:
The corals have not really survived the Tsunami of 2004 but whatever that remains is a home for a variety of fishes and even a few small octopuses. Which got validated for me with my Scuba-diving experience which took me 40meters below sea-level for a full 45 minutes swim (the Buoyancy Control Device is such neatly designed that one does not even need to know how to swim). Stacked with all kind of water sports and coral viewing activities (Snorkeling, Sea Walk, Scuba-diving, Banana ride, Speed Motor Boat, Glass Bottom Boat, Jet Sky), this is the ideal place to hang out with your family.
- Havelock Island:
Situated at a distance of 57kms from Port Blair, this astonishing landmass is much more well maintained than the capital itself. Lush green interiors surrounded by the 50 shades of blue. This isle serves as one of the most attractive places on earth. We took the A/C Luxurious Catamaran MV Makruzz to travel to this exotic island and stayed at the Symphony Palm Beach Resort by far being the most popular for its splendid beaches and diving. Few of the most beautiful are – Radhanagar Beach, Kalapather Beach and Elephant Beach.
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Andaman And Nicobar Islands Travel Inspiration
To inspire you more, here are some Andaman And Nicobar Islands Travel blogs that you can read:
- Looking to plan your honeymoon at the Andaman And Nicobar Islands, read this post on ‘Why the Emerald Islands of Andaman & Nicobar are a perfect honeymoon destination’ by Aditi Kapoor from travelogueconnect.com.
- Vini & Jose from josestraveltales.com share their colourful photos (featured above) from the places that they visited during their Andaman trip.
- Kartik kannan from katchutravels.com has written a 12 part post , sharing his Andaman And Nicobar Islands Travel story.
- Another useful travel-guide and a set set of 15 travel tips has been compiled by Krupa Nagda from mapcameratravel.com.
With that we come to the end of this post on our Andaman And Nicobar Islands Travel experience and some inspiration. Please let us know your comments below. Before we leave,