ANDAMAN & NICOBAR ISLANDS

ANDAMAN & NICOBAR ISLANDS

30

Nov

ANDAMAN & NICOBAR ISLANDS

Posted by: Jyotsana Kaur

About Andaman Island

The Andaman Islands are a cluster of 300 islands in the Bay of Bengal. These mostly virgin islands are known for their white sand beaches. These roughly 300 islands are known for their, white-sand beaches, mangroves, and tropical rainforests. A very healthy Coral reef supports diverse marine life. It is gaining popularity with tourists make for diving and snorkeling experiences. Some remote islands inhabited by Indigenous Andaman Islanders are off-limits to visitors. Port Blair the capital is the gateway to these pristine islands.

                      Viper Island

 Andaman & Nicobar islands also are part of the freedom fight of India & have historically significant landmarks like Cellular Jail, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Island, Viper Island, Hopetown, and Mount Harriet to name a few.

Wood Pigeon is the state Bird, Dugong is the state Animal & Andaman Paduk the state tree. The islands boast of about 96 wildlife sanctuaries & 9 national parks & also a Biosphere Reserve

Best time to visit

                                                       Snorkeling                                                 Scuba Diving                                             Sea Walking

For the spirited, who would enjoy sea sports like snorkeling, swimming & boating, all 12 months is a season. The southwest monsoon hits the islands towards the end of May & the Northeast monsoon in November. The hurricanes & rainstorms are a common phenomenon & often flights are not able to land & tours get canceled. The best season for nature lovers is between May- December. The best time for Divers & Bird watchers is between December – April. A tropical Paradise the islands are popular both with Indian & foreign tourists.

The Indigenous Tribes

The Jarawa Tribes

The Andamanese represent about 10 distinct sub-groups/ tribes & languages – The Jarawa – the jungle, The Onge, The Sentinelese (amongst the most isolated group). The people of Nicobar are unrelated to the Andamanese. The 2 main groups are Nicobari, living throughout the many islands & The Shompen who are found only in the interior of Great Nicobar.

Entry Rules for foreigners

All foreign Nationals require a permit (RAP – Restricted Area Permit) to visit the Andaman Nicobar Islands. The permit is easily available on arrival at Port Blair from the Immigration Authorities for 30 days subject to the availability of a valid visa. This is extendable for another 15 days in certain cases The Restricted Area Permit can also be obtained from the Indian Missions overseas and also from the Foreigners Registration Offices at New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata. There are no such restrictions for an Indian tourist. However, Foreigners will not require RAP for visiting the following 30 Islands in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands viz. (1) East Island (2) North Andaman (3) Smith Island (4) Curfew Island (5) Stewart Island (6) Landfall Island (7) Aves Island (8) Middle Andaman (9) Long Island (10) Strait Island (11) North Passage (12) Baratang (13) South Andaman (14) Swaraj Dweep (15) Shaheed Dweep (16) Flat Bay (17) North Sentinel Island (18) Little Andaman (19) Chowra (20) Tillang Chong Island (21) Teressa (22) Katchal (23)Nancowry (24) Kamorta (25) Pulomilo (26) Great Nicobar (27) Little Nicobar(28) Narcondum Island (29) Interview Island and (30) Viper Island (Day visit only).

Connectivity

           Veer Savarkar Airport

The Veer Savarkar Airport at Port Blair is well connected to major Indian A.ports of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai & Kolkatta. There are also ship services from Chennai, Kolkatta & Vishakhapatnam. Internally the travel between islands is possible by ferries, which are run both by Govt. & private entities. Some islands like Shaheed Dweep, Swaraj Dweep, Diglipur, Hutbay, etc are also connected by helicopter services. For travel within an island, there is a good network of taxis & buses.

 

Sightseeing at Port Blair

                       Ross Island

Ross Island: The island helps us picturise the time of the British Era, the ruins of the buildings of the bakery, printing press, hospital, secretariat, church & cemetery to name a few. Since not maintained by authorities, nature seems to be taking its toll. A boat ride costing Rs. 200 to go to the island & Rs. 30 is the entry fee. Since the island is to be covered within an hour because of the return journey by the boat you arrive in, it may be best to hire rickshaws to ferry up & down the island. An 8 seater could cost as little as Rs. 650. One gets to notice Deer & Peacocks in abundance. You may carry Food & water as one may not get to buy anything.

                        Cellular Jail

Cellular Jail: The jail is the symbol of the struggle in the independence movement of India. Built between 1896 – 1908, the jail is a testimonial to the hundreds of Indians kept prisoners by the British. Today it serves as a national memorial monument. The sound & light show in Hindi is a must watch & tickets are Rs.150 for adult & Rs. 75 for children

                 Jolly Buoy Island

Jolly Buoy Island: A 30-minute boat ride from wandoor Jetty takes you to Jolly Buoy Island. A beautiful pristine island with an abundance of maritime life. There is a vast array & variety of Coral life. A tour in the glass bottom boat is a discovery trip to see thriving marine & coral life. You get to see octopus, a large variety of turtles, starfish, sea cucumber & scores of other fish. You may swim in crystal clear water & experience almost virgin beaches. It is monies worth to spend the 1000 Rs for the full 1-hour view. Other available options are Rs.300 for a 15-minute trip & Rs. 600 for a thirty-minute trip. It is litter-free zone.

                       Chidya Tapu

Chidya Tapu: It is the sunset point & the sun setting over the sea is magical as the ocean slowly turns red. Just experience the moment as you see the magic of nature unfold.

A journey through the tropical forest is a little bumpy & takes around an hour. En-route make a stopover to the bio-diversity park if traveling with children. Also one may see uprooted trees by the tsunami which makes a great photo point. Swimming is allowed in the enclosed area due to the presence of saltwater crocodiles. One can trek from the beach to Munda Pahar for an amazing view from the Top. The place is a half-day must visit on your to see the list. Beach closes at 5 pm.

         Samudrika Marine Museum

 Samudrika Marine Museum: A must-visit for those interested in learning the history of Andamans. It is situated near the Teal house. It is run by the navy & also talks about the environment in relationship to the ocean & marine life The exhibit of the skeleton of the blue whale is jaw-dropping. The entry fee is Rs. 50 for adult & Rs. 25 for a child.

       

                          Corbyn’s Cove

 Corbyn’s Cove: A nice neat & clean beach around 7 km from the fisheries aquarium. It is famous for water sports & thus quite popular with families.

                 North Bay Island

North Bay Island: A 15 minute trip by boat. It is a bit crowded but the nearest for indulging in snorkeling & other water sports activity.

Other popular islands for tourist

Havelock Island

Havelock Island: It is known for its immense natural beauty. White sand beaches with a vast blue Ocean & virgin forest, make it up for a perfect tropical paradise. A honeymooner’s first choice when visiting Andaman’s & is also amongst the largest island. Elephant Beach and Radhanagar Beach of Havelock Island are a must-visit & are thus the most visited beaches. Snorkeling and scuba diving at Havelock with an expert trainer is an experience for the soul. See schools of fish & some of the most colorful & diverse sea creatures. It is an unforgettable journey where you are the closest to nature & its creations. Lots of accommodation options make it possible to accommodate all kind of travelers with all kinds of budget.

                      Neil Island

Neil Island: it is also a very scenic & popular island with tourists.A natural paradise with white sandy beaches and lush green forests. Neil Island can be reached both from Port Blair & Havelock via regular ferry services. Neil Island was inhabited in the late 1960s. Famous for Glass bottom boat rides & very popular with Scuba divers & snorkeling experiences as the water here too is crystal clear. It is also popular with magnificent sunset & sunrise across the ocean.

                                      Mangrove Creeks Baratang Island                         Mud Volcanoes                                          Limestone Caves

               
                                                 

Baratang Island: This island is famous for its secluded beaches, mud volcanoes, limestone caves & mangrove creeks. The journey to the caves through a walk in the tropical forest is both mystical & adventurous. To see the various natural hidden gems one has to often pass through tribal inhabitations, a hair raising experience. As a traveler, you may be able to experience life in its primitive form. The mud volcanoes & famous limestone caves are what makes Bartang a mysterious & most sort after tourist attraction. You can reach Bartang by regular ferry & it is 150kms north of Port Blair.

Minimum days

One needs at least 5 days in Andamans to have a feel of the islands’ Raw and Secluded beauty. Extending it to a week-long vacation allows you the opportunity to cover the closest and most famous tourist spots of Andaman. Complete Package would include sightseeing in Port Blair, Ross Island, North Bay Island, Neil Island, and Havelock Island. Honeymooners usually take a minimum of 7-day Packages.

Shopping

Andaman is best known for its beautiful Pearls. If looking for souvenirs and gifts for family or friends, you can buy handcrafted items made from Fishbone, timber shells, Jute, etc. Spices, Coconut Handicrafts and Nicobari Mats are also very popular with the tourist. The most famous market is the Aberdeen Bazaar in Port Blair.

Food Outlets

 The food at the Andamans is a mix of coastal & north Indian cuisine. Although there is not much known about the tribal food one would normally find a large variety of seafood ranging from crabs, lobsters, variety of fish. The food is generally spicy. Some of the famous restaurants are Full moon café ( Havelock island – multi-cuisine), Annapurna Restaurant (Aberdeen Bazar at Port Blair – Vegan Cuiine),

The Bayview at Sinclairs ( Havelock – multi-cuisine), New Lighthouse Restaurant ( marina Park – port Blair – Sea Food), Amaya Lounge Bar ( Marina Hill – port Blair – seafood). Many such outlets keep coming up & one can always experiment.

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