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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Andamans - I

Sorry to the regular readers of this blog. I have been busy with two trips in last two months and some family functions due to which I couldn’t get time to update my blog. While the former trip was to Pune- a city in Maharashtra, the latter one was to Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Since the Latter one is as fresh as morning dew in my mind, I would like to write about it first. This was my first trip ever to an Island. If anybody is interested to plan one to this place- I would say plan it ASAP. I’ll help you out with it with whatever information I have gathered about the places to see.

Andaman and Nicobar Isles have 572 Islands out of which only 36 are inhabited. Our halt was at Port Blair and from there we explored various other islands. Going to various pieces of green land with white sand on shores, surrounded by beautiful clear turquoise water was an enchanting affair. We reached Port Blair, the capital of Andaman at around 7.30 am. via Chennai as there is no direct flight from Delhi. 
Our first day was spent in local sight seeing in Port Blair - once famous or infamous as Kalapani, i.e. Black waters. A beautiful place which British exploited as the penalty imprisonment or exile for the Indian political prisoners giving it a mournful and heartbreaking history. Here after sunset the heroic saga of Indian freedom struggles and life of imprisoned is brought alive through light and sound show.
front side of one jail facing the back of another.
Back Side of the Jail
Interior of Cellular Jail
Isolated damp cells behind, The red shade is where the political prisoners were made to work on oil mill..if compare them to ox, an ox had a luxurious standard of living-more humanely treated, better fed, less worked, better kept.... the statue is where the prisoners were caned and the path leads to the gallows as indicated, all in sight, the screams audible everwhere...
 To read More about it visit here:Wiki-cellular Jail

Other Places we covered were- Samudrika Museum- where one finds beautiful Coral collection and marine life and Anthropological museum where one finds valuable information about the islands and the tribes living there.

Our second day visit was to three islands- Ross Island, North Bay Island and Viper Island. Ross Island once used to house British administrative quaters. One can see reminiscents of church, hospital, commissioner's house, swimming pool, graveyard etc, along with the beautiful beaches, birds and animals freely roaming around the ruins of old buildings, giving it an exceptional beauty.

Ross Island 

A lady comes here, by name of Ms Anuradha Rao, a freelance guide. This spirited lady we were told, captivates you with her narrative of events especially the part where she communicates with animals of the island, calling out deers, peacocks, squirrels, ducks and birds by names she's given them and feeding them, and they actually respond. We did not have the good fortune of her presence when we visited, but I would recommend everyone to ask for her whenever they visit.
 North Bay Island Offers water sports activities like sofa ride, jet ski, motor boat, scuba dive, snorkeling. However I would personally advice if one is interested in diving in Andamans, Elephanta Beach in Havelock Island is much better. Though one can find corals, and a few fishes here in North Bay as well, and the rates are cheaper here.

Scuba Diving @ North Bay Island
There was not much to see at viper.  Except for the sunset- the only sunset we saw during our trip (it was cloudy during rest of our stay). Guides take you there strictly for ten minutes whereby you fail to explore the island. One can skip it-recommended.
Sun Set at Viper Island.
Our third Day was scheduled for Baratang Island which included 8 hours long road drive, crossing the grand Andaman Trunk Road, covered with dense forests on both the side, from Port Blair. After crossing two islands passages via ferry boats, came one of the most beautiful part of the journey; mesmerising mangrove creeks on both the sides by boat leading to the Limestone Caves.
Mangrove creek- due to fast moving boats I could manage this blurred version. For the rest of the time I was awstruck and lost in it.
Limestone caves- hard to capture their real beauty!
Shot taken at Baratang

way to the waiting ferry- coming back from Limestone caves

Chameleon -Baratang
 From there we went to a short trip to Mud volcano. It was quite a bit of an anticlimax actually. You might be awed by it only if when it errupts, but pray it doesn't. On our way back through Grand Trunk Road, we caught a glimpse of the Andaman tribal people- the Jarawas. (I would like to write about them in a different post.)
Mud Volcano- Baratang
Hotel used:
Portblair-----------Hotel Hill top International

-For next three days click here: Andamans-II
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