Andaman and Nicobar Islands

It is an absolute pleasure to spend a few days in the gorgeous Islands of Andaman and Nicobar which are silhouetted against the background of immense blue seas of the Bay of Bengal. These islands showcase some of natures wonders like the mud volcanoes in Baratang, and the Barren Island volcano which is the only active volcano in South Asia. They are also home to a number of aboriginal tribes.

The capital city of Port Blair can be reached through ship and by air from Chennai or Kolkata. Taxis, autos and buses can be used for local travelling, on roads that are relatively clean and not very crowded. Ferries can be taken for trips to other islands and these need to be pre-planned.

A visit to the Andaman and Nicobar islands is incomplete without a visit to the Cellular Jail and the accompanying sound and light show. Havelock Island and Neil Island are famous for their corals viewed through glass boats, scuba diving and snorkelling. Viper Island and Ross Island house the ruins of the old buildings of the British regime and Japanese bunkers that narrate stories better than any history lesson.

Best time to visit: January to April

Languages Spoken: Due to the cosmopolitan nature of these Islands many of the Indian languages are spoken here. Hindi is a common language and a large number of people speak Bengali.

Climate: The Islands have only two seasons. Hot and humid tropical summer lasts from January to April and heavy rains characterise the monsoon months from May to December.
Places of interest: Cellular Jail, Gandhi Park, Water Sports Complex, Wandoor beach, Mini zoo, Corbyns cove, Marina Park, Chatham Saw Mill, Mount Harriet, Chidiyatapu Forest

Islands: Baratang Island, Barren Island, Havelock Island, Neil Island, Ross Island, Viper Island, Cinque Island, Long Island

Museums: Forest museum, Samudrika museum, Anthropological Museum, Fisheries Museum

Andaman & Nicobar – Port Blair

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There were some water sports facilities like scooter which I tried. There is a small rocky island a little inside the water which our driver told is frequented by sea snakes so it is also called as Snake island. From there we went to most prominent attraction of the island which is Cellular jail. The road from Corbyn’s to Cellular jail hugs the coast and gives magnificent views of the sea.

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A beautiful short trip to Andaman…

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Around 07:00 in the evening we reached Port Blair and decided to spend some time on “Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex”. For dinner we found another famous restaurant in Aberdeen Market named “Annapurna”. Annapurna is a pure veg restaurant with wide varieties of North Indian n South Indian dishes. The quality of the food was also very good and the prices were also reasonable. We were so impressed by the food that we decided to make this our permanent stop for Breakfast and Dinner.

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Picture perfect beaches on Jolly Buoy

The Emerald Islands of Andaman and Nicobar

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The view from underwater is breathtaking. Corals, oysters, sea weeds, colored fish  and the surrounding blue water is mesmerizing. Touching endangered species such as corals are  not allowed. The best part of the sea walk actually came when we fed pieces of bread to the  fish. As soon as you hold up the bread pieces, fish of different colors gather around you and it does get a bit ticklish but it is definitely a wonderful experience.  After 20 minutes of  “seawalking”, the divers  escorted us back up to the pontoon. When you climb up, one is likely to experience  the pressure factor again . At the end of it, the whole experience leaves you spellbound and the sparkling blue water always tantalizes you to go back underwater.

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An Ode to Radhanagar Beach

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I had just arrived and a mere look at the beach is what made me fall with it! Let me describe what Radhanagar beach was like. The place was super clean and had a handful of tourists. Radhanagar beach was guarded by police officials who were also responsible for the safety of the tourists. Next to the beach was a famous hotel chain which provided accommodation in beautiful huts made of bamboos and natural products. The place was serene and calm.

The view of the blue sees was amazing and I had never seen such a beautiful shade of water. The sand was perfect and was near to white. Radhanagar beach also had tourist huts made completely of bamboos. Radhanagar beach is not for the ones who are looking for some action. The beach doesn’t have any facilities for snorkelling, scuba diving or boating.

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Hello Havelock!

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The Phoenix Bay Jetty is situated in the city and is home to all merchant vessels which are responsible for trade and commerce. The Jetty is the boarding point for the ones who want to visit Neil or Havelock Islands. We had our tickets in hand which were booked prior by Mr. Ravi (Tour Manager, Contact: 09434261219). The tickets for Havelock Islands are sold out within minutes. It is advisable to ask your agent/tour manger to get the same booked as soon as you land up in the city. There are private as well as government ship operators which provide connections to Neil and Havelock. Being the off season (August) the private operator (called as Makcruzz) was closed down and the only available option a government run ship.

The tag ‘Government’ automatically lowers the standards and gives me a bad impression of what so ever even before I see it. Anyways, the ship that we had to board was called ‘M.V Jollybuoy’. We were booked in the only available option of seating lounge. One needs to spot his vessel and then proceed for boarding. As we stepped inside the ship, we were greeted by the Chief Officer of the ship who also checked our tickets. He later on transferred us to the seating hall. The so called seating hall had three rows and seats faced opposite to each other. It also had a television set which was cleverly hidden in one of the compartments. The hall seemed more like my seamanship class room with lots of safety boards and demonstrative visuals. Good enough! The ship departed right on time at 0630 and that is when I got to know that we can go on the bridge.

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Baratang: A Tribal Treat

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Long back, a group of tourists shot a video of the Jarawas and uploaded the same on the web. According to the United States, this act was not justified and it was classified as hindrance to the tribal life of the Jarawas. The issue was raised out loud and was finally brought up to the Indian Government. After all sought of discussions and panel meetings, the government decided to offer protection to the community. The jungle was then handed over to the police and CCTV cameras were also installed amidst the wild. A convoy system was setup wherein a convoy of vehicles at specific time will be accompanied by the Police officials to cross the jungle from Jirkatang to Baratang and vice versa. The government also banned the use of mobiles and cameras in between the journey. The first convoy had to depart at 0600 hours and we were to go in the same.

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Setting Sail to the Three Islands

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Always remember to carry your ID Card along with you as it is need at almost every tourist spot in the Andamans. The ferries depart every hour and we were to go by the 0930 one. We were not offered any lifejackets and the ferry setup made me worry. Safety was on compromise but yet again one doesn’t have any another option. Recently, a ferry sailing from North Bay to Ross Island sunk and as many as 21 people died. Why can’t we follow safety guidelines rather than waiting for accidents to take place? As soon as the boarding began, I was the first one to step in and occupy the seat ahead of the wheel room.

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Welcome to Andamans!

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The pilot announced “Crew, Ready for takeoff!” The flight from Chennai took off sharp at 0500 hours. It is advisable to opt for a windows seat as on the approach towards the beautiful Islands, one gets a visual treat offered by Andamans.

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Andaman – An unforgettable vacation

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It is my advice, don’t book any package from any travel agent they never give you such accommodation, & still charge heftily. Transport here is not a problem, Auto at quite affordable & ubiquitously available.
Many things here are waiting to explore like tribal’s areas, uninhabited beauty of sand & sea , history related to our freedom fighters , Japanese cruelty, & last but most important adventurous water sports & beautiful corals under the sea.

In Andman now I am ready for many adventures in store for me. As port blair is only connected to main land so you need to check in port blair minimum for last night of tour otherwise in case of bad weather you might miss your flight or cruise, though port blair deserve minimum 3 night stay .

After check in, we took taxi to wandoor (28 km from port Blair) here we got jetty for Joly Buoy Island, a wonder island. It opens for 6 months in a year, red skin island opens for another 6 months. The Islands full of beautiful corals, ideal for snorkeling. A/c taxi charged 1200/- plus jetty charges 540/- per head including one time snorkeling. But you should pay 300 bucks more to trainer if you want good & fruitful snorkeling. You can go chidiya tapu while coming back, taxi would charge 1000/- more, here you can enjoy beautiful beach & awesome sunset, though a national park of animals is also here but it opens only up to 4 o’clock.

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