Andaman & Nicobar

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, one of the seven union territories of India, are a group of islands at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Port Blair is the capital of this territory. It comprises two island groups, the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands, separated by the 10°N parallel, with the Andamans to the north of this latitude, and the Nicobars to the south. The Andaman Sea lies to the east and the Bay of Bengal to the west. The capital of Nicobar Islands is Car Nicobar. There are 572 islands in the territory. Of these, about 34 are permanently inhabited. The highest point is located on North Andaman Island (Saddle Peak at 732 m (2,402 ft)). The Andaman group has 325 islands while the Nicobar group has only 24 islands. Indira Point at the southern tip of the southernmost island, Great Nicobar, is the southernmost point of India and lies only 150 km Sumatra in Indonesia.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a tropical rainforest canopy, made of a mixed flora with elements from Indian, Myanmar, Malaysian and endemic floral strains. This tropical rain forest, despite its isolation from adjacent land masses, is surprisingly rich with a diversity of animal life. The majority of people of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are Hindus, with Christians and Muslims forming a large minority of the population. There are small but significant Sikh minorities. The vulnerable tribal groups identified in Andaman and Nicobar Island are Great Andamanese of Strait Island, Onges of Little Andaman, Jarawas of South and Middle Andaman, Sentinelese of Sentinel Islands, Shompens of Great Nicobar. Tourism, agriculture, fisheries form the basis of the economy here. The climate here is warm and tropical with pleasant sea-breeze throughout the year. The temperature ranges from a minimum of 23 °C to maximum of 28 °C. The best time to visit is November to March.

History: Genetic and cultural studies suggest that the indigenous Andamanese people may have been isolated from other populations since some time during the Middle Paleolithic, which ended 30,000 years ago. Since that time, the Andamanese have diversified into distinct linguistic, cultural and territorial groups. There was evidence of Chola and Maratha empire here before the colonial period. The history of organised European colonisation on the islands began when the Danish settlers of the Danish East India Company arrived in the Nicobar Islands on 12 December 1755. In 1789, the British set up a naval base and penal colony on Chatham Island next to Great Andaman, where now lies the town of Port Blair. During World War II, the islands were practically under Japanese control, under the authority of the Arzi Hukumate Azad Hind of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Bose visited the islands during the war and renamed them as “Shaheed-dweep” (Martyr Island) and “Swaraj-dweep” (Self-rule Island). It became part of the India in 1950 and was declared as a union territory of the nation in 1956.

*(All the above information are from Wikipedia.)

Transport:

Airport: Port Blair airport is connected to Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Visakhapatnam.

Ship: There are five ships that operate between the mainland of India to Port Blair. Chennai, Kolkata and Visakhapatnam are connected PortBlair. The names of the ships are M. V. Nicobar, M. V. Nancowry, M.V. Akbar, M.V. Harshvardhan, M.V. Swaraj Dweep.

Local: Taxis, autos, buses, minibuses are the mode of local transport in Port Blair and other tourist places. Two wheelers are available for hire in most of the places for sightseeing. Ferry services are available to connect the islands.

Tourist Interest:

Within Port Blair:

Cellular Jail: The Cellular Jail, also known as Kala Pani was a colonial prison in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. The prison was used by the British especially to exile political prisoners to the remote archipelago. Many notable dissidents such as Batukeshwar Dutt and Veer Savarkar, among others, were imprisoned here during the struggle for India’s independence. Today, the complex serves as a national memorial monument.

Marina Park and aquarium: Also called Rajib Gandhi Water Sports Complex. The aquarium here has a good collection of marine life, it also displays some endemic species of the region. Near to the aquarium, along the seaside is the amusement park for the children and the adults.

Anthropological Museum: The museum provides an insight into the islands’ indigenous tribal communities. This is an ethnographic museum.

Samudrika (Naval Marine Museum): The museum aims at creating awareness on various aspect of the marine environment. It exhibits a good collection of shells, corals and a few species of colourful fishes found in these islands.

Chatham Saw Mill: One of the oldest and largest saw mills in Asia, built on a tiny island, is connected to Port Blair by a bridge. It is a storehouse of timber like Padauk, Gurjan, Marble, Satinwood etc. The island has the second largest Harbour of these islands, where the Island –mainland ships can berth.

Forest Museum: This museum offers an insight into forestry activities and displays decorative items of woods found in these islands.

Mini Zoo: This small zoo has a beautiful collection of monkeys, a saltwater crocodile, Malayan box turtle and birds like the Andaman dark serpent eagle, white bellied sea eagle, parrots and the ‘near threatened’ Nicobar pigeon.

Carbyn’s Cove Beach: A picturesque sea beach ideal for swimming and sun basking.

Sagarika / Cottage Emporium: It exhibits a spectrum of artifacts made of mother pearls and other sea shells and local wood products miniatures of Nicobarese canoes, palm mats for floors’ tables and furniture are also available here. The only Govt. shopping centre.

Sippighat Horticulture Farm: About 15 km. from Port Blair. Sprawling over an area of 80 acres is a Government farm. Research and Development programmed for the cultivation of spices like cloves nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper etc., and Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants are conducted.

Wandoor: A small village near the southern tip of South Andaman. It has some beautiful beaches and a couple of accommodation options and is a nice place to relax, but it is more known as the gateway to the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. From Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park you will get boats to Jolly Buoy Island.

Chidiya Tapu: This is the small village on the western side of the southern tip of South Andaman. With a green cover along the shore, this place provides a view of the sunset.

Mount Harriet: This is the highest peak of South Andaman. It is located 55kms by road from Port Blair and 15kms by ferry. This is a national park. The place is shown on the reverse side of Rupee 20 note in India. A notable feature 2 kilometres away from the park is Kalapathar, where prisoners used to be pushed down the ravine to their death. Provides a wonderful view of the ocean, lighthouse and other islands. This also has a walking trail through the forest with an excellent opportunity of bird watching.

Rangat, Diglipur and Mayabunder: These places lies on the NH 4. The main attractions in Rangat are the pristine Amrakunj beach, the beautiful rocky Morice Dera beach and the extraordinary experience of a kilometre long mangrove walk in Dhani Nallah. Dhani Nallah beach and Diglipur is also famous for turtle breeding spots. The Aerial Bay jetty in Diglipur offers ferry to the Ross and Smith Islands. Mayabunder is a calm little town to enjoy a peaceful stay.

Read My Stories on my way to Mayabunder.

Other Islands:

Ross Island: Ross Island is one of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, about 2 km east of Port Blair. During the British occupation, this island was the seat of power of the British. One can see remnants of an opulent past in the ruins of the church, swimming pool and the chief commissioner’s residence with its huge gardens and grand ballrooms. There is also a cemetery and a small museum managed by the Indian Navy. The museum has on display a collection of old records.

Read My Journey to Ross Island.

Viper Island: The site of the jail where the British used to imprison convicts and political prisoners. It has the ruins of a gallows atop a hillock. The jail was abandoned when the Cellular Jail was constructed in 1906. Today it is resplendent with scenic beauty and a beautiful tourist destination.

North Bay Island: There are a number of water sports activities here. Sea walk has also been introduced here, which offers an excellent view of the colourful sea life.

Jolly Buoy Islands: It is the favourite tourist destination. This along with the Red Skin Island are located in the Mahatma Gandhi National Park. This island is surrounded by white sand and different shades of green water. The tour includes a ride on glass bottom boats and snorkelling to watch the underwater life. Swimming here is also a wonderful experience as the water is crystal clear and waist deep.

Havelock Island: This island, with beautiful sandy beaches fringed by a green canopy of the rainforest, beckons everyone to enjoy the azure blue sea. Vijaynagar Beach, Radhanagar beach and the Elephant beach are breathtakingly beautiful beaches. Perfect for those who enjoy snorkelling, scuba diving and game fishing.

Neil Island: This beautiful island with lush green forest and sandy beaches is the vegetable bowl of the Andamans. With its very relaxed vibes and long deserted beaches is a place to unwind.

Baratang Island: Is famous for the mud volcano and the Limestone caves. The mangrove walk to reach the limestone cave in an interesting part. Another attraction is the Parrot Island.

Read My Journey to Baratang Island.

Ross and Smith Island: These are two secluded islands far away from the hustle bustle of the city and connected to each other by a thin strip of the sandbar. The clear water is ideal for the coral watching and enjoying the beauty of nature and relaxing under the shades of the trees.

Read My Journey to Ross and Smith Island.

Little Andaman: This low-lying island has widespread rainforest and several rare species of marine turtle. The main attraction here is the Butler Bay, Hut Bay, White Surf Waterfall, Whisper wave waterfall, Kalapathar Beach, Farm Tikkrey, Red Oil Plantation.

Read My Journey to Little Andaman.

Other places of interest are Cinque Island, Science Centre, North Passage Island, Long Island, Rangat, Mayabunder and much more.

Tour Planner:

This tour planner is made on the basis of the location of the destinations. One can make changes as per their interest, convenience and accessibility and duration of the trip.

Day 1: Anthropological Museum, Chatham, Forest Museum, Samudrika, Mini Zoo, Carbyn’s Cove, Marina Park and Aquarium, Sagarika.

Day 2: Ross Island, timing to visit this place is 8: 30 am in the morning to 4: 30 pm in the afternoon. Ferry Services are available from Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex/ Marina Park Jetty at every one hour gap starting from 8: 30 am to 2: 30 pm. Closed on Wednesday. Cellular Jail in the evening.

Day 3: North Bay Island, timing to visit this place is 9 am to 2 pm. Ferry Services are available from the same jetty. Chidiya Tapu in the evening to watch the sunset.

Day 4: Jolly Buoy Island / Red Skin Island, to reach any of these islands people have to come to Wandoor beach. The boats to Jolly buoy island leaves by 9.00am. All the boats leave at the same time and come back together. Prior permit and entry tickets are required to avail this trip. Permits and tickets are available from the Tourist Reception Centre in Port Blair and some limited number of permits are allowed from Wandoor itself. Jolly Buoy Island is a no plastic zone. Even plastic water bottles are not allowed. Thermos bottles are available on a deposit of INR 100, which is refundable after returning the item. Visitors are not allowed to stay on the island after 2 pm. On a return visit the wandoor beach, Sippighat Horticulture Farm.

Day 5 and 6: Havelock Island, government and private ferries operate from Port Blair to Havelock. Ships / Ferry start from Phoenix Bay Jetty in Port Blair at 6 am, 11 am and 2 pm. Speedboats take 2.5 hours while the slower one takes 4 hours to reach Havelock. The one that goes via Neil Island takes an hour more. The private ferry service of M. V. Markruzz offers a faster service reaching the destination in 1.5 hours. Prior booking of tickets is advisable. Tickets are available online or through an agent or the Hotel. There are also helicopter services available from Port Blair to Havelock. The timing changes depending on the season, weather condition and other factors. One can extend another day in the itinerary to cover the Neil Island along with this.

Day 7: Baratang and Limestone Cave: Baratang can be reached through Government Busses, Private Bus or hiring private Bus. One has to start very early to be a part of the first convoy so as to complete the trip in a day. The convoy moves through the Andaman Trunk Road within the forest area where one can even spot Jarawas. Stopping the vehicle, interacting, offering them food or other items, clicking pictures are strictly forbidden. Punishment ranges from fine to imprisonment. On reaching Middle Strait, one has to cross a creek on a vehicle ferry to reach Baratang. Here speed boats are available to take you to the Limestone Caves. From Baratang jetty other vehicles are available on a sharing basis for the Mud Volcano. Parrot Island can be reached by dinghy boat from Baratang Jetty. The speciality of this island is watching the parakeets returning to the island during sunset. One has to make a night halt here to experience this. Upon extending the stay here for two more days one can cover Rangat, Diglipur, Ross and Smith Islands and Mayabunder too.

Day 8: Mt. Harriet, ferry services are available from Chatham Jetty, Port Blair to Bamboo flat to reach here. It is also connected through road via Sippighat and Chouldhari, but this takes more than an hour time.

Day 9 and 10: Little Andaman, ferry services are available depending on the weather condition from Haddo in Port Blair. Since the sinking of a ferry in the Andamans in 2014, ferry schedules to Little Andaman have changed from 2 ferries per day to a system whereby the schedule is released seemingly without regularity from the main ferry office in Port Blair. Helicopter services are also available. Prior application is required to avail this service from the Secretariat office in Port Blair. Little Andaman is a remote place, priority to fly is given to the Islander in cases of any medical or another emergency.

Ferry services are highly dependent on the weather conditions. The tour plan always has a probability of change in such cases.

Hotels: Online booking is advisable for discounts in tariff. Hotels in Port Blair are Hotel Sentinel, Hotel Sinclairs Bay View, Hotel J, Megapode Resort, A. R. Pride Residency, Bay Watch, Blue Sea, Peerless Sarovar Portico, Hotel Shompen, Megapode Nest, Fortune Bay Resort and more.

Hotels in Havelock Island are Barefoot at Havelock, Havelock Island Beach Resort, Dolphin Resort, Silver Sand and more.

Hotels in Baratang are Dew Dale Resort and are few more.

Hotels in Neil Island are Tango Beach Resort, Sea Shell Neil Island and a few.

Hotels in Little Andaman are limited. Blue View Resort, Rainbow Resort are among them.

My Journey.

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