Red Skin Island:
Red Skin Island is famous for coral reefs and marine life. Snorkeling facility is available on this island. Once again our guide did all the arrangements for us, from getting permit (as it’s an ecologically protected area) for visit to the Red Skin Island to tickets of the ferry. It’s wonderful to see that we had to carry all our belongings in jute bag provided there at the jetty. We boarded the ferry from Wandoor jetty and headed towards Red Skin Island.
It’s amazing to note that every place in Andaman has its own beauty. The number of small islands scattered around the place with its own uniqueness has kept us wandering all the time.
The transition from ferry to the island is done through a glass bottom boat because the ferry can cause damage to the marine life. We boarded the glass bottom boat through which we saw the glimpse of marine life and corals. Finally we were at the island ready for the snorkeling experience. One does not need to know swimming to be able to do snorkeling.
The diver gave us guidance about snorkeling and we were all set with the snorkel on and tube around us. We ventured into the blue waters of the sea and slowly moved ahead deeper into the sea. As we moved ahead deeper into the sea there was deep silence and beneath was a wonderful world of colourful fishes, sea cucumber, corals, star fishes, sea urchins, and many more. It was very astonishing and an unbelievable experience. That one hour experience will remain embedded in our memory for lifetime.
We knew that a wonderful marine world was there but didn’t know that it will be so fascinating. There water was deep blue with silence, with colourful life at the bottom and it all made us believe in our existence.
We came back to Port Blair by afternoon and as per our schedule plan went to the cellular jail.
Cellular Jail, also known as Kala Paani was a colonial prison located in Port Blair. Though the building cannot speak about the horrendous torture meted out to the Indian freedom fighters but it can be sensed by its physical presence. The freedom fighters lodged here were from all over India. Several of such prisoners, spent more than 20 years of their lives in solitary confinements as the jail was designed in such a way that no inmates were able to communicate with each other. The building was subsequently damaged and presently three out seven wings are intact. The jail, now, has been declared as a National Memorial to keep the memory alive about our freedom fighters and their sacrifices.
We visited the museum, art gallery, photo gallery, the jail premises, the cells, and came face to face about the struggle that our freedom fighters had gone through and the pain that they had born.
The Saga of the heroic freedom struggle is brought alive in a moving light and sound show in the evening inside the Cellular jail compound. The feeling cannot be explained in words but we felt deeply thankful to all our freedom fighters.
The next day morning we had planned for the city tour.
The day started with a visit to Samudrika Naval Marine Museum – which is formed to create awareness on various aspects of oceanic environment. This museum has a good collection of shells, corals, butterflies, and a few colourful fishes. It shows the depth of marine life prevalent in sea bed. By looking at some of the collections we were really amazed.
After museum we visited the government emporium where we saw the island crafts including fine wood carvings, shell accessories, cane and bamboo furniture. One of the interesting stuffs available in this emporium was the coconut lampshades. Besides, local items made of wood such as trays, tables and chairs were also available in the emporium. We did some shopping from the emporium and bought the lampshade as well.
Later on we went to a farm that covers a vast stretch cultivated land. Government appoints experts to carry out research and development work on the cultivation of spices. Their aim is to use of the island’s tropical climate to the maximum and grow spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper. The farm grows many other species of plant including tropical cash crops, aloe vera and coconut. After a fascinating visit we went to an old Rubber Plantation. We also saw the process of manufacturing rubber at the plantation. We bought some spices as well from there.
Now we were at the end of our trip and out guide took us to Chidiya Tapu which is not actually an island 30 Km from Port Blair. The road runs through thick jungle overhung with twisting creepers and remote villages. The lush green mangroves, forest cover with numerous chirping birds were a musical delight.
Finally we reached the shore and collected some shell strewn on the beaches. However, the water here is nowhere near as clear as at other beaches in Andaman.
On this beach you can go very far into the sea as it is not deep at shore side. We stayed there and captured a spectacular view of the sunset for which this place is famous.
Although we were through with our Andaman adventure but the memories will remain as fresh as its turquoise blue beaches, island, forest, marine life, corals, fresh air, neatness, cleanliness and many more forever in our heart. We cannot put in words the virgin and serene beauty of the island. It can only be seen and felt by actually visiting there.
Fact files about Andaman & Nicobar Island
How to reach
There are only two ways to reach Port Blair, capital of Andaman & Nicobar Islands – either by Air or by Sea (the way through the sea is not recommended though).
By Air: There are direct daily flights to Port Blair from Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and some flights from Bhubaneshwar on certain days. Flights from Kolkata & Chennai take roughly 2 hours while the one from Delhi takes 5 hours.
By Sea: The ship service is available from Chennai, Visakhapatnam & Kolkata. There are three to four sailings every month from Kolkata and Chennai to Port Blair and vice-versa. There is one sailing for Visakhapatnam in a month. The voyage takes about 3-4 days (50-60 hours ideally) and the ship normally berths at Port Blair for about two to four days.
Accommodation: Accommodation is available at Port Blair the centre point but for other island you need to plan in advance. Havelock Island is the most developed island in Andaman.
Best time to visit: October to May.
Inter-Island Transport: Inter Island transport is done through ferry services provided by Andaman & Nicobar administration as well as private tourist boat. They are operated from Aberdeen Jetty (Water Sports Complex), Port Blair connecting nearby tourist places like Ross Island, Viper Island, North Bay and Harbor cruise etc. and from Wandoor to Jolly Bouy/ Redskin islands.
Ship Schedule: Normally sailing schedules are announced one month in advance for the Mainland – island sector, 5 days in advance for the inter-island (for the southern group of islands i.e. Port Blair – Nicobar, Nancowry, Katchal, Campbell Bay) sector and 3 days in advance for the foreshore sector (Port Blair – Diglipur, Mayabunder, Rangat, Neil, Havelock, and Hut Bay).