Ever seen paintings with tall mountains, deep blue sea and lush, thick canopies? The islands of Andaman and Nicobar are those painting brought to life. From nature lovers to travel enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies, these islands have something for all.
The Andaman Islands are situated in the Bay of Bengal with India to its west and Myanmar towards the north east. The islands belong to the Indian subcontinent, and are situated 1,760 km away from the mainland. Andaman has 325 islands which cover an area of 6,408 km2.
If one takes into account the islets and reefs in this archipelago to be a part of Andaman, it amounts to 572 islands in total. Out of these islands only 38 are inhabited, of them 26 are in the Andamans and 12 in the Nicobar group of islands. These groups of islands are blessed with tropical winds, humid weather and no winters.
For very obvious reasons Andaman is a hub for aquaholics. Where the shores of Havelock boom with scuba diving and snorkeling, the beaches of Neil are tranquil and perfect to sip on a drink and get a tan.
These islands thrive on diversity. From people to flora and fauna, it is a land to spot sea cows and corals. It is not only rich in nature but also in history. Standing erect and strong, the Andaman islands have seen a transition from its brutal past to its flourishing present.
Kala Pani ( Black Waters in Hindi):
The cellular Jail, also known as Kala Pani is located in the capital city of Port Blair. It was a political prison after the Sepoy Mutiny. It got its name from the torrential waters of the Bay of Bengal. Surrounded by heavily armed guards on one end and the sea on the other, the prisoners here had no way of escape. This prison is now a memorial to remember our ancestors. The evening light and sound show is its highlight, echoing the voices of the past.
Now an uninhabited island in the Southern district, this archipelago once had a hospital and sanatorium. It's only residents now are deers and rabbits. This island is 3 km east from downtown Port Blair. The ruins of the hospital and sanatorium, covered in moss is the perfect setting to shoot a horror film. The light and sound show is screened on the ruins of a bakery, revisiting the islands in its darker days.
Known as the tourist hub, Havelock is the place for adventure enthusiasts. Named after British general Sir Henry Havelock, it is the largest of the islands and comprises of a cluster of islets to the east of the Greater Andamans. It is 41 km northeast of Port Blair. Beaches in Radhanagar are the perfect places to click those pinterest shots and Elephant beach is the place for water sports. Fun introductions with nemo's family, corals and other marvels of the water world can be experienced here. Local islanders give you a glimpse of the marine life by taking you Snorkelling. One of the best places to go deep sea diving, the island has plenty of diving schools, including PADI and Dive India. Sea walks are also available if you are not the heavy gear kind.
If inner peace and calm is more your thing, then Neil is the place for you. With serenity in the air, it has the best beaches. It is located 36 km northeast of Port Blair. The most breathtaking sunsets can be seen in Lakshman nagar beach. The beach in Bharatpur is the place for snorkelling and taking a boat into the sea. These boats have a glass under belly which magnifies and shows you the world below. This island is also famous for its Natural Arch. It is a naturally formed Archway made of rocks, situated by the sea shore. Neil island is a wonderful place to take a walk along the shore, collecting shells or just relaxing with a tender coconut in one had and steaming pakodas in the other.
The capital city of the Andaman islands is always buzzing with people. It was named after Archibald Blair, who was a naval surveyor for the East India Company. It is the local administrative subdivision of the islands, the headquarters of the district of South Andamans and home to India’s Tri Command Defence services. Port Blair is also home to the FDA (floating dock navy), which can carry large number of vessels in it. It is the only place close to being called a town in the islands of Andaman with diverse population. “Samudrika” is a marine museum. This museum gives you the marine life of the Andamans in a nutshell and and also gives a brief introduction to the tribes inhabiting the islands. The magnificence of the moon and stars can be admired on a night stroll down Corbyn’s cove.
The archipelago is home to four indigenous tribes, the Jarawas, the Greater Andamanese, the Onge and the Sentinelese. Most of these tribes still live a primitive life and do not interact with other islanders.
Travelling to the islands of Andaman is not as long as you would think. Flights from Chennai and Kolkata fly frequently to Port Blair and cruises are also available (Flights To Andaman | Save Up to 1,000 On Bookings | MakeMyTrip.com , Cruise To Andaman: Fares & Ferries From Kol, Chennai, Vizag).
Andaman and Nicobar is a place where you can relax, reflect and really appreciate life. A place to visit again and again.
By Minnal Paranan.