Andaman & Nicobar – The Emerald Island:
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a group of islands at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, and is a Union Territory. There are 572 islands in the territory covered with lush forests and numerous varieties of flora and fauna. This picturesque island has incredible corals and marine life, transparent turquoise blue water, white sand beaches and a live volcano. These islands still remain virgin in the sense of unpolluted natural beauty and unexplored marine life even after promotion of tourism. Andaman and Nicobar have a tropical climate with humidity about 80% and temperatures varying from 23 – 31 degree Celsius. This tropical island is rich in flora and fauna and is a delight for nature lovers.
Andaman & Nicobar has seen various dynasty i.e. from Chola’s to Maratha’s, then British rule to Japanese Occupation, then again back to British rule and finally an independent state in free India.
Andaman Islands possess rarest varieties of coral reefs and marine life. It will be an incomplete vacation to be at the islands and not experience the marine life. Scuba diving and snorkeling are very famous there and are one of the best activities to perform when in Andaman. There are many snorkeling sites in Andaman i.e. North Bay (very close to Port Blair), Red Skin, Jolly Buoy & other sites in Havelock.
The spots for sightseeing around the islands consist of Historical sites (Cellular Jail-the national memorial, Ross Island, Viper Island, Mount Harriet), Island (Neil Island, Havelock Island, Baratang Island, Rangat, Mayabunder, Diglipur and many more), Beaches (Corbyn’s cove, North Bay, Chidyatapu, Wandoor-Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Radhanagar Beach, Vijaynagar Beach, Elephant Beach, Karmatang Beach, Sitapur Beach, Ram Nagar Beach & Many more), sanctuary & Parks, Water Sports Complex and Museums.
A travel memorabilia
Andaman was always my choice for our honeymoon tour and when I conveyed the same to my wife she was a bit reluctant. But I convinced her and planned the tour well in advance as we have to manage the logistics related to the same. This was our first tour together and we were ecstatic about it. Finally, our tour started from Delhi by an evening flight to Chennai and subsequently an early morning flight from Chennai to Port Blair. The flight was on time and in two hours we reached our destination. By seeing the view of Andaman from the flight itself we were on cloud nine.
We booked a taxi at airport for our full tour and we were lucky enough to get a good guide as well in the driver. So, we were all set to explore the untouched beauty of Andaman. We checked in to our hotel and took a small rest. We already have our wanderlust of Andaman and began our expedition as per our plan.
This island presently houses ruins of old buildings like Ballroom, Chief Commissioner’s house, Government House, Church, Cemetry, Water treatment plant, Hospital, Bakery, Press, Swimming Pool and Troop Barracks, all in dilapidated condition, reminiscent of the old British regime. The island is now under the control of Indian Navy and a small entry fee needs to be paid for the visit. We took a launch from Phoenix Jetty to reach here and it is very near to Port Blair. The boat ride was of around 10 to 15 minutes and from city it is just 2 Km away.
The first look of Ross Island itself gives us the presence of historical footprints. We were amazed to see the colonized set up done by the British regime and also the imprint of Japanese in the form of bunkers. The old buildings and their remains were taken over by the tropical creepers, vines & trees thereby displaying the strength of nature.
After spending some time with ancient time we started our trek on the island. A walk through the small path in the forest consisting of large Andaman Padauk (the state tree) with sea view on one side was an experience in itself. We adored and enjoyed the beauty of the place.
In the first look of Andaman only we fell in love with it. We covered a long distance while trekking and reached the opposite side of the island where a light house was standing tall along with the rocky section on the sea bed.
The devastation done by tsunami was still present there. We spent some time in the tranquil environment of the island and started our journey backward. We reached the jetty and took the last boat scheduled in the evening.
Havelock is the largest island in Andaman and the most popular amongst tourist. It is one of the few places that the administration of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has permitted and encouraged development of tourism, with a focus on promoting eco-tourism. It now has over twenty establishments to choose from, offering everything from the most basic huts to luxuriously furnished cottages.
The next excursion in Andaman was Havelock Island and after the pleasant experience of Ross Island we were very excited. Our guide arranged us the ticket for speed boat in advance and we left early in the morning for boarding at Aberdeen Jetty. We have also done the advance booking for a deluxe cottage at the Dolphin Resort maintained by tourism development department. We have got a bunk in the speed boat for our journey and after boarding we went to our reserved seat. The boat left on scheduled time and for some time we stayed at our bunk but later decided to move up to enjoy the voyage. The moment we reached the deck we were welcomed by cool breeze and the deep blue sea.
The trail on the sea formed by the speed boat was giving a lasting impression. The view of the Ross Island from the boat was marvelous. On our voyage we saw lots of island which primarily looked like uninhabited. On our way we saw fishes coming out and disappearing in the sea as if they are playing with us.
After a journey of two hours the boat was nearing a halt at Neil Island and this place was awesome. We were mesmerized by the untouched and serene beauty of the island.
The boat left from Neil Island and we were on our way to Havelock Island admiring the beauty of island and sea. It took four hours to reach Havelock and after disembarking we registered ourselves with the police. A pick up vehicle was there from the resort. We reached the resort and completed the check in formalities and went to our cottage.
The resort was on a prime location and the sea view from our cottage validates it. We had our food and went for a stroll near our resort. It was amazing to see the different shades of the sea: from light green to dark green & then from turquoise blue to deep blue. The breeze was relentlessly flowing all through the day.
We took a bike on rent to roam around the island and headed for Radhanagar Beach which is the most popular beach on Havelock and was named “Best Beach in Asia” by TIME Magazine in 2004. While riding towards the beach we saw the inside beauty of island and it was as beautiful as its beaches.
The first look of the beach itself said it all, fine white sand, turquoise blue water, neat and clean, and a lot of peace and serenity. We enjoyed there till sunset by walking across the length of the beach, venturing into the sea, and relaxing afterwards.
The locals have arranged outlets for clothes on rent and changing room at nominal prices. Also, it is totally safe to keep the valuables on the beach as there is no fear of theft. We reached our cottage and enjoyed our evening there. A fresh & clear environment under moonlight toppled with clear blue sky with twinkling stars.
Originally we had planned for one day stay only but we prolonged our stay by one more day. Next morning again we visited Radhanagar beach and spent some peaceful time over there and in the evening we headed towards Vijaynagar beach. Apart from the sparkling waters and white sand, Vijaynagar beach had rocky sections on the beach which we bumped into. We saw a herd of elephants as well who were being trained nearby.
We collected a good number of shells from the shore at Havelock Island.
Next day we checked out from the resort and reached the jetty. We went to a small hotel in the market and believe us the local delicacy offered there was awesome specially the fish item. We boarded the ship and this time it was quite a larger one as compared to the one by which we have arrived. We reached Port Blair in the evening with lifelong memories of Havelock Island.