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The Andaman Islands: India Travel

March 13th, 2010

andaman-nicobar-islands.jpgThe Andaman and Nicobar Islands lie in the Bay of Bengal to the southeast of the mainland of India. Formed by a submarine mountain range, these islands are rich in rain forests, mangroves, and local tribal history and culture. With clear blue waters and white sand beaches, the Andaman Islands are a popular destination, and are accessible from Chennai and Kolkata, from where you could choose to fly or take a cruise down to Port Blair, the administrative headquarters. Famous for its 86% forest cover with clean blue waters, the Andamans are perfect for a relaxed holiday. And if you have the adventurous spirit in you, these Islands provide great opportunities for scuba diving as well. The Nicobar Islands in the south are accessible from Port Blair through ferries.

Port Blair is the administrative capital, and urban in its culture, though without the high-rise landscape. Houses are spread over the island, and the place has quite a few resorts and hotels nestled in groves or lined along the beaches. This place has a history of British occupancy, and the Cellular Jail or the Kala Pani (Black Waters), as it was known then, was constructed in 1906 for executing and subjecting Indian rebels and freedom fighters, who were deported here from the mainland of India, to harsh punitive measures. The place has evening light-shows, where one gets quite a peek into the lives of the prisoners back in those times. Many prisoners were forced to work on the Viper Island.

Corbyn’s Cove is a beautiful beach, not too crowded, and perfect for spending some quality time with yourself, your companions, and the sea. The Peerless Resort at Corbyn’s Cove Beach was an experience in itself of staying right on the beach. Calm, peaceful, and hospitable, the place is a good one to stay at, and one can spend most of the time on the beach, oftentimes until late in the night. The Palm Grove Resort is a small place in contrast but is a true Andaman experience, with typically South-Indian/Andaman buffets, thatched roof huts, and groves of plantain and coconut plantations.

Ross Island is one of the most fascinating places one can visit. There are buildings constructed by the British on the island, which was later captured by the Japanese during the Second World War. You alight from the ferry on a rocky shore, and walk toward the buildings. And it fascinates you to see that you cannot separate trees from these buildings since they are growing on top of those buildings, coming out from the foundations and windows. Everywhere you walk, you see an amazing Marquezian worldview, where nature overtakes human endeavor. The island is entirely rocky, though the other side, the opposite of where you got off the ferry, is a pure white sand beach!

Jolly Buoy Island is famous for its reef and coral formations. It is one of the most popular scuba diving spots in the Andamans. For others who might not want to try scuba diving, there are glass bottomed boats. It is a nice picnic spot if you decide to take some snacks with you from the hotel. Havelock Island has white sand beaches and is great for scuba diving. The Chidiya Tapu, Mount Harriet, Long Island (for dolphin spotting), Neil Island, Little Andaman Island, Karmatang Beach (a turtle nestling ground), and the Fisheries Museum are some of the other interesting places.

The Botanical Gardens are also very nice and surely worth a visit for plant lovers. The Anthropological Museum is very informative of the lives of the Negritos from the Andamans and Mongoloids from the Nicobar Islands. It showcases their tribal history and culture. However, even this is not an exhaustive list; there are innumerable things to see in this cluster of islands. Traveling by ferry is much more economical than by road, and the Tourism Office could give you the list of places and timings for the places where ferries ply.

The Andamans are a very friendly tourist spot. People are friendly and a good tourist infrastructure is available, with cruises to Havelock and day safaris to Jolly Buoy and Ross Island. There are all budget hotels, from luxury to economical ones. One thing is certain when you’re in the Andamans — you never can get bored. There is something to do for everyone. For the solitude lover, there are lonely, peaceful spots; for the adventurous, there is scuba diving among many other water sports; for lovers, there are secluded places. For the traveler, there are many places to look around, and for the relaxed, there are enough peaceful spots to choose from. Overall, the Andamans are perfect for any and every kind of holiday.


This article was sent to us by Nidhi Varma, who specializes in literature relating to travel and tourism in India.


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