Boasting of virgin rainforests, luxuriant greenery and an interesting history, the Andaman and Nicobar islands form a stunning tourist destination.
The islands were christened ‘Kaala Pani’ (Black Waters) during India’s struggle for independence. Freedom fighters were incarcerated in mere seven by seven feet chambers in the ‘Cellular Jail’ to live their deaths. Ten decades later, the echoes from the past are brought alive in a moving ‘Light and Sound’ show every evening. It is better to book the tickets in advance to avoid any last minute shin kicking. Other attractions to look out for in Port Blair, the capital city of Andaman and Nicobar, include the marine museum (even if you are not a big fan of marine biology, you will find yourself captivated by the rare and exotic sea creatures), the anthropological museum (a must visit if you have been wondering about your roots) and the Ratnasagar beach. If you happen to be a food freak or a shopaholic, then the local market can prove to be quite an intriguing spot for you.
The Andaman islands are perhaps the receiver of nature’s finest endowments. Blessed with vibrant coral reefs and bewitching limestone caves, the islands also possess the only other mud volcano after Yellow Stone National Park situated in USA.
An archipelago of over 521 islands, only 38 of these are known to be inhabited, by mostly tribal folk. If you are lucky, with the help of a local guide you can also strike up acquaintance with members of the Jarawa tribe.
After Port Blair, your second stop should be the Ross Island. A 20 minute boat ride from the mainland, this place is forever teeming with wildlife. A visit to the Ross Island is always followed with a trip to the nearby North Bay Island. An interesting fact that you will observe, that instead of sand, the beaches are actually made of bits and pieces of washed up coral. Trained divers offer adventure snorkeling for quite a reasonable price. You can also opt for boats with thick magnifying glass as their bottom to make coral-gazing a colourfully dry experience!
The loveliest island of all is perhaps Havelock Island. A four hour cruise from Port Blair (if you are gutsy enough, you can go for a speed boat!), it is advised to dedicate at least two days of your schedule to God’s own heaven. Beautifully designed cottages and resorts are available to turn your stay into a never-to-end wish. The hue changing waters, the immaculately carved beaches of coral dust, the sense of being happily abandoned in nature, make it impossible for you to leave the land without leaving a bit of your soul behind.
The people of Andaman and Nicobar are simple hearted, friendly and full of gratitude. Bengali, Tamil and Hindi are the prevalent languages.
It is wise to carry a raincoat or an umbrella with you as rains here come calling any time of the year. Remember to carry your swimsuits and incase you forget to do so, you can always rent one. Keep your luggage light and have ample cotton clothes in stock. Don’t forget your trekking shoes as well as a pair of floaters. Use liberal amount of sunscreen to prevent unwanted tanning.
Air tickets are best procured from Kolkata and Chennai. There are great andaman tour packages available all year around. The favourable months to tour Andaman and Nicobar are March, April, September and October.
Far flung, obscure. Lost
souls break coastlines. Come unearth.