Lying in blue waters of the Bay of Bengal, to the east of the Indian mainland the Andaman and Nicobar islands are the perfect place to spend some relieving times at. The islands are in total a group of 572 near deserted-islands, islets (small islands) and rocks. Large thick greenery covers the forest in abundance. The exotic flora and fauna that resides in the islands are beyond perfect to witness. It is estimated that 86% of the islands’ area is under forest cover. Most of it is the home of animals such as the spotted deer, wild boar, gecko, crab-eating macaque and pythons. But what truly drags tourists from around the world is its stunning white beaches that are also a home of a variety of sea turtles. Adding on its beauty is the diverse and vibrant marine life. The blue waters of the oceans inhabit numerous kinds of sea creatures and colourful corals. Adventure enthusiasts love trying out activities such as scuba diving and fishing. The capital of the Andaman and Nicobar islands is the city of Port Blair that is known to be inhabited by the majority of the population. The population has a diverse range of tribes who are still known to populate the pockets of the archipelago.
The Andamans are famous for its scuba diving sessions. The stunning islands of the Andamans have gained international fame over a larger period of time. Despite the scuba diving sites being a little heavier on the pocket, the experience of discovering the underwater is one of the most incredible experiences in the world. The island has one of the most sparkling and cleanest blue waters that layout the perfect conditions for anyone to go for a dive. Many tourists from different parts of the world choose to drop by the Andamans to get a taste of the Andaman waters. Scuba diving here is possible for both amateurs and masters of the waters. If you wish to scuba dive in the Andamans with a proper certification then the courses here will charge you around eight thousand rupees. But if you want a more personalised experience then be ready to shell some more money out from your pockets. A dive with a professional trainer will last for half an hour only. But if you plan to move ahead to the Island Ross, North Bay, Havelock then it will certainly go high up the metre cost. If you are going with your significant other to the Andaman and Nicobar islands then your budget could range around twelve thousand rupees. The diving certifications are held at the quarries and oceans.
Havelock Island is one of the most popularly stunning islands in the Andaman and Nicobar. With a total area of 113.93 square kilometres, it is regarded as the largest island among the rest. The island has been named after a British General that comprises Ritchie’s Archipelago and a total of five villages. Located in the 57 km north-east of the capital city Port Blair, Havelock island is one of the most heavenly places you will ever get to visit that is stunning with white sand beaches, turquoise blue waters, colourful coral reefs and lush green forests. The beauty of the islands has been graced by two of the most loved beaches, the Radhanagar beach and the Vijaynagar Beach found on the southern shores. Havelock Island is the perfect spot for people who wish to go scuba diving, snorkel or deep-sea diving. The never-ending shores and the blue waters stretch up to miles leaving you with a ground for ample exploration. If you are someone who isn’t looking for an adventurous time at the island then the Elephant beach and Kalapather beach are perfect to enjoy the view of a beautiful sunrise or sunset.
In the year 2004, the TIMES Magazine named the beautiful Radhanagar Beach in the Andaman and Nicobar islands was given the prestigious title of ‘Asia’s Best Beach’. The beach with its stunning white sand and clear blue sky is an absolute must-visit site to visit. The stunning coastline of the Radhanagar Beach stretches up to two kilometres, hence, leading it to be a prime spot for tourists to roam and explore. Just some seven kilometres away from the from here is another popular site, the Vijaynagar Beach. From around 12 kilometres from the main Havelock Island, the beach is just perfect to swiftly move over to around the latter part of the day. Due to its close proximity to the Havelock beach, many tourists love hanging around and exploring the beautiful location. The place is also famous for being the most spectacular spot for trying some water sports out. Hence, you can spend your entire time not just glaring at the skies but also in enjoying activities such as boating, parasailing, and scuba diving. Nearby the beach you will also be able to spot some small eatery stalls and restaurants that offer mouthwatering seafood and beverages.
One of the most popular tourist attractions of the Andaman and Nicobar island includes the Cellular Jail, also known as the Kala Pani. The Kala Pani is an old prison cell located in the capital of the islands, Port Blair. The cell was constructed by the Britishers during their colonial rule in India. The purpose behind its creation was to use it as an exile for political prisoners where they were subjected to many brutal punishments by the Britishers. The construction of the cellular jail began in the year 1896 and was completed in 1906. Many known freedom fighters such as Batukeshwar Dutt, Yogendra Shukla and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar were served behind the bars of its jail. A visit to the Cellular Jail will get you reminiscing the gruelling periods of the Indian history that ended up creating a steer no Indian will ever be able to forget. The jail complex is currently owned by the Government of India and is recognised as the national memorial monument too. The Cellular jail showcases the most terrifying times of Indian history.
Many years ago when cellular jail was constructed, the stunning Viper Island was used as a place by the Britishers to keep the freedom fighters in exile. The remains of the jail that was built in 1867 by the Britishers can still be witnessed today. Apart from its significance in the history pages, the Viper island is known for its magnificent beauty and the serenity the entire place is known to offer. The island gets its name Viper from the vessel in which Lt. Archibald Blair came to Andaman and Nicobar in 1789. Located at a distance of 23.6 kilometres from Port Blair, the island stretches up to 69 acres. With the beautiness of the Viper island combined with significant historical significance and nature in its best form. The island is usually crowded with visitors at most times of the year. To reach the island you will have to board a jetty that takes around ten minutes to land you on Viper Island. The view that you get to witness of the seven points of the harbour is a sheer treat to watch from the jetty. You will also be able to spot the cellular jail and its tower.
FACTS ABOUT ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLANDS
- It is known that the name ‘Andaman’ is derived from the word ‘Hanuman’ who was addressed by the Malays as ‘Handuman’. The latter part of the name, Nicobar is said to be derived from the South Indian term, Nakkavaram. The word Nakkavaram means Land of the Naked that has been indicated in the great Tanjore inscription of AD 1050.
- Many people assume that the widely spoken language of the natives of the Andaman and Nicobar island is Andamanese or Nicobarese. But that is not true. The most widely spoken language for the natives residing on the islands is the Bengali language. Apart from the Bengali, you will also be able to come across people speaking fluently in the Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam language. The Andaman Creole Hindi language is also widely used as a trade language in the Andaman islands.
- Not many people know that Katchal which is a small island located in the Nicobar section was virtually unknown till the Royal Greenwich Laboratory declared that it would be the first inhabited place on earth to catch the rays of the first sunrise of the millennium. In the first postal issue of the year 2000, the India Post issued a memorial stamp that depicted the first sunrise of the millennium at Katchal.
- The Andaman and Nicobar islands house the largest sea turtles in the world. The islands have the country’s best nesting beaches for three species of marine turtles – Hawksbill, Green turtle and the world’s largest sea turtle, the Leatherback also known as the Dermochelys Coriacea. The nesting population of the Leatherback turtles in the Nicobar islands are said to be one of the few colonies that exceed 1,000 individuals in the Indo-Pacific and hence have a huge global significance.
- The North Sentinel Island is a known home to one of the most isolated human populations in the world, the Sentinelese. They are estimated to be around three hundred in number that has dropped off any form of contact with the modern world. Any person who tries to contact the Sentinelese can expect to be greeted by an army of firing arrows. It is said that they have been around for almost sixty thousand years and are the descendants of the first human populations to emerge from Africa.
- The gentle sea cow known as Dugong is the state animal of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Divers can spot Dugongs grazing swiftly and peacefully on seagrass in the warm sea blue coastal waters of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Dugong is also known as the angels of the sea that can be spotted at Ritchie’s archipelago, North Reef, Little Andaman and parts of Nicobar.
- The Pandanus is a densely arranged, wedge-shaped fruit that has an extremely hard woody and fibrous body. The fruit has many narrow and edible seeds that are embedded inside. The fleshy section contains an aromatic pulp that is cooked as a staple food in Nicobar. The stem branches of Pandanus are used in the making of mats and the hard exterior of it is used as a bathing brush.
- For the past four decades, commercial fishing has been banned around the Andaman and Nicobar islands. It has been believed that the fishes die of old age in the waters. The blue waters that surround these islands have a beautiful abundance of dolphins, whales, dugongs, sea turtles, sailfish, sea anemones, and other marine lives.
- Little are tourists aware of the weird phenomenon that the Alfred caves residing in the islands possess. The limestone Alfred Caves of Diglipur, a little town in the North Andaman Island change their shape after every monsoon season due to a chemical process that occurs during its showers. The narrow caves of Alfred are also home to the Swiftlet birds that make nests that are edible. These tiny brown birds are known to use their own saliva and attach its sticky home as a little cup against the rockiest and narrow places on the cave walls. Tourists can also spot the Limestone caves with stalactite formations and can also be seen at Baratang.
- Have you ever experienced a volcano that has mud explosions? In March 1983 at the Nilambur Village in Baratang Island, the very first mud volcano explosion was observed. A mud volcano is formed by the emissions of depressurized pore water and natural gases from the decaying organic matter that lays underground. This is further accompanied by fairly loud explosions and flares of fire. This explosion, in the end, forms a miniature volcano with a rich, creamy mud pound at the top.
How to Reach?
The Andaman and Nicobar islands are connected with India only by sea and air routes. The most convenient airport to take a flight to is located in Port Blair. There are direct flights from Kolkata, Chennai and Visakhapatnam. Flights offering services to the spot include Air India, Jet Airways, GoAir and SpiceJet airlines offer their services here. Connecting flights are also available from Delhi and other cities of India to the Port Blair Airport. There are however no direct international flights available to the place. The airport at Andaman is named Veer Savarkar Airport. It has been dedicated to the great Indian freedom fighter, Veer Savarkar who was unfairly imprisoned at the cellular jail during India’s fight for independence from the Britishers. The distance of the airport at Port Blair, from Andaman and Nicobar Islands is 31 km. It takes approximately 40 minutes to cover this distance by car.