Amazing Andaman: Port Blair
Amazing Andaman: Port Blair
South Andaman, a place to lose yourself. One of my dream locations, which came true in Dec 2013.
"Turquoise blue waters, white sandy beaches, mangrove forests, corals, in paradise for a week!!"
Andaman and Nicobar Islands are surrounded by Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia is a Union territory of India.
The group of Islands comprises of 572 islands with total area of 8,249 km2 (3,185 sq mi), out of which only 34 islands are permanently inhabited, rest are mostly covered with thick forests. These islands are very thinly populated with about 380,000 as per 2012, with more than half living in Port Blair, the capital of Andaman & Nicobar Islands and part of South Andaman Island. The other big islands in terms of inhabitants include, Middle Andaman Island, North Andaman Island, Little Andaman and Car Nicobar. The largest Islands in area are Middle Andaman Island, North Andaman Island, South Andaman, Great Nicobar and Little Andaman. Most spoken language is Bengali, other prominent ones are Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Nicobarese, along with English.
Although Nicobar Islands are closed for tourists, Andaman Islands have a lot to explore. There are a number of distinctive, beautiful and Virgin Islands to explore, below is a list of best beaches/islands in Andaman.
Top 10 beaches/Islands of Andaman:
2. Jolly Buoy Island
3. Laxmanpur Beach, Neil Island
4. Elephanta Beach, Havelock
5. Ross & Smith Island
6. Bharatpur Beach, Neil island
7. Kaala Pathar Beach, Havelock
8. North Cinque Island
9. Butler Bay beach, Little Andaman
10. Vijayanagar Beach, Havelock
|Satellite view of Jolly Buoy Island|
|Satellite view of Ross and Smith Island|
|Satellite view of Twin Islands|
Some of the other popular destinations include the
2. Ross Island
3. Limestone caves and mangroves of Baratang Island
4. Howrah Bridge, Neil Island
5. Samudrika Marine Museum, Port Blair
Top 10 things to do in Andaman:
2. Sea walk in Elephanta beach
3. Sunbath in Radhanagar beach
4. Sunset and long romantic walk at Laxmanpur beach
5. Snorkeling in Neil island or North bay
6. Glass Bottom boat ride in Neil island
7. Exploring Neil Island on a bicycle
8. Hiring a boat for a day trip to virgin islands like North Cinque Island or Parrot Island
9. Shopping at Aberdeen bazaar
10. Jet Ski ride in Bharatpur Beach
We were on a 6 days/5 night’s planned trip. The only airport of the Andaman is located in its capital city, Port Blair.
Since Jolly Buoy needed prior permissions and we were on peak season in the mid of December 2013, so didn’t included this in our itinerary.
Although the islands like Little Andaman, Ross & Smith Island, and North Cinque Island were one of the most beautiful islands in Andaman, and also one of the least explored, so we didn’t wanted to be the first few to explore them. Another significant destination was Baratang, to which you’ve to drive through the tribal area and sail through the dense mangrove forests, so we had to skip this from our list, as it would be a long and tiring journey.
After about a month of research on the islands, we finally came up with a plan, with
Port Blair on day 1,
Neil on day 2 & 3,
Havelock on day 3 & 4,
Ross Island-North Bay on day 5,
Shopping on day 6.
Everything went on as we planned, except with a tiresome day 5 at North Bay and Viper Island.
Before I take you to my experience here are the top things to shop before you tour Andamans,
Top 10 things to buy before you start your Andaman journey,
2. Necessary medicines
3. Flip-flops or hawai chappals
4. Short pants
6. Mosquito repellent cream
8. Waterproof bags or covers for your valuable gadgets and wallet
9. Sun glasses
10. Wet wipes
The flight from Chennai took off in the morning and after had a delightful breakfast on board, in about two hour time the captain of the flight announced that we are nearing the Andaman islands and we glanced through the window to get an amazing view of the islands.
|Above the Heavenly Clouds and the blue sky above, view from the Flight|
We landed at the Veer Savarkar Airport, named in the memory of the freedom fighter Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. We were taken to our Hotel which we had booked at Hotel Megapode, it was about 15mins drive from the airport. Having had the lunch started to Samudrika Marine Museum.
Samudrika Marine Museum:
What else can be the best place to start your journey? As it gives you the information about the marine life and the islands of the Andaman. There is also a shop here for sale of marine stuffs. This museum has various models of corals, shells and marine life. They also have an aquarium which is worth a glance. You require at least one hour, to glance through the entire museum.
Cellular Jail and the Sound & Light Show:
Our guide cum driver took us for the next attraction of the day, the Cellular jail, also known as Kala Pani (Black Water). This was mainly the Prison for Indian political prisoners or freedom fighters, at present serves as national memorial monument. The construction of the prison started in 1896 and was completed in 1906. Many of the freedom fighters including the Savarkar brothers were kept in prison in these cells. Originally had planned for seven wings, with three stories each. All seven wings in straight lines radiated from the central tower, and each of these wings had the cells facing the back of the cell in the opposite wing, to keep the prisoners isolated from each other. There were also many protests against the inhuman treatment from the British on the prisoners. The government decided to expel the political prisoners from the Cellular Jail in 1937-38. Later in 1942 the Japanese invaded the Islands and drove away the British and the jail was used for British prisoners, during which Subhas Chandra Bose had visited the cellular jail. After the end of the World War II in 1945, British resumed the control over the Islands, and later after the independence of India two of the wings were demolished and later Hospital was constructed at the site, and the remaining three wings are left as National Memorial.
|Cellular Jail Museum|
Some details about visiting the Cellular Jail:
Open on: all days except Mondays
Entry hours: 09:00 to 12:00 hrs. And 13:00 to 16:15 hrs.
Sound & Light Show timings: 6.00 pm - 6.55 pm & 7.15 pm - 8.10 pm
It is quite difficult to get the tickets due to heavy crowds, so we had left this job to the local agents. Today it hosts a Museum depicting the freedom struggle which gives lot of information about the movement. It is required to reserve at least 1-2 hrs for seeing the museum completely. After the museum we went inside one of the wing of the Cellular jail which was opened for the tourists. Just before the sun set the guards start vacating the Cellular jail and after coming out of the building, we were seated on the chairs arranged in front of the Jail for a sound and light show. The show was about an hour and was very much instructive in depicting the freedom struggle associated with the Andaman Islands.
|Typical view of the Cellular jail Corridors|
Having reminded the freedom struggle and how the freedom fighters were ill-treated in these Jail and showing my gratitude to the freedom fighters, we ended up our first day in the Andaman Islands. We went back to our hotel which was about 4km away, and about 15min drive.
|The Cellular jail wings as see from the central watch Tower|
|Backside of the cellular jail wing|
The rooms at Megapode were reasonably priced and had a picturesque view from its restaurant of the Phoenix Bay Jetty and the sea. Also the sunrise can be enjoyed from here. Due to its remote location, the rooms had insects, so bamboo cottages are not preferred. The food was good here, and they had an option for both Buffet and la carte.
|Phoenix Bay as seen from Megapode Resort|
|Picturesque view from the Megapode restaurant|