There exists some of the worlds last few unspoiled islands in India that matches the imagination of the holidayers dream holiday destination in the sun. One such destination is known as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. For many of us, the idea of a dream holiday conjures up the picture of an island in the sun with pristine white beaches, clear blue seas, gracefully swaying palms and a gentle balmy climate. An idyllic island that is away from it all - unspoiled, unexploited but which still provides all the comforts and facilities of pleasant, leisurely living.
The joy of an Andaman holiday is the sheer beauty of nature and the unique opportunity that visitor have to enjoy it in blissful peace and tranquillity. Dense rain forests are surrounded by thick mangroves that begin in the sea and surround the coastline. Canopies of luxuriant green branches are alive with a chorus of birds and festooned with brilliant tropical flowers, butterflies and orchids. The jungle undergrowth shelters wild cat, green lizards and many varieties of deer. There are 200 species of birds, varied species of mammals and reptiles. No wonder the islands are a paradise for scientists, ecologists, ornithologists, marine experts and nature lovers. The Andaman & Nicobar Island still harbour some of the oldest tribal communities in the world. As visits to Nicobar Islands are restricted for tourists, this article mainly takes you to a tour of Andaman Island.
Port Blair is the gateway to the Andamans both by air and sea and connect Andaman Island with the mainland. The sheer scenic beauty of Port Blair and its surrounding, its people, its tropical climate make Port Blair a round the year destination. But the township is just the beginning of greater delights, and visitors use it as the base to explore the wealth of unspoiled uninhabited little tropical islands that make up this magic land. But first, a tour around Port Blair and the sights it has to offers.
The first stop on Andaman Island and Port Blair is the Cellular Jail. This is the largest and oldest building in Port Blair, a grim reminder of British colonial rule when India’s freedom fighters were herded together with hardened criminals and transported across what came to be called the “Kala Pani (Black Water)” to be imprisoned, the solitary confinement, in its 698 cells. A three-storied prison constructed by the Britishers in 1906 had row upon row of narrow cells, each cell with only a single small ventilator set 3 metres from the floor so that no prisoner could even look out. Dedicated to the nation as a “National Memorial” the Cellular Jail houses a spectacular Sound & Light show both in Hindi & English daily.
Wandoor - It is an hour’s drive from Port Blair town. An ideal spot with a pleasant stretch of beach and crystal clear waters which are popular for snorkeling and diving, offers marvelous opportunity to explore the rich and exotic underwater marine life. Wandoor has been declared a National Marine Park for sea turtles and other marine fauna.
Corbyn’s Cove just about 7km from the centre of Port Blair, is the beach of the town, It protected stretch of white sands, green palms and quiet blue bay providing all the advantages of sun, sea and sand with in easy reach. There is a well organised Beach Resort at Corbyn’s Cove. A twisting road leads up to the top of Mount Harriet not far from Port Blair. This was once the summer resort of the British Chief Commissioners. The drive is pleasant and the views over Port Blair harbour and the surrounding islands.
The topography of the island is best enjoyed on a visits to Chiriya Tapu or Bird Rock at the southernmost tip of South Andaman Island (128 km from Port Blair). Lush Green mangroves surround Chiriya Tapu. Walking along the thickly forested coast, one has the feeling of experiencing an unspoiled tropical rain forest.
The Sippighat Farm 14 km from the town, with its 80 cultivated acres brings together both the indigenous vegetation of the islands as well as the exotics that were introduced into the islands. Coconuts, Cloves, Cinnamon, Pepper and Nutmeg flourish here and are being cultivated commercially. One of the oldest industries of the island is, naturally, connected to the amazing wealth and variety of timber. The Chatham Saw Mill is one of the oldest and probably largest in Asia. A visit to Catham, built on a tiny island which is connected to Port Blair by a bridge, is an interesting experience as visitors can see some of the rare species of tropical timber like the paduk and the marble and satin woods. Visit to Viper Island which was earlier prison for convicts is now a picnic spot. harbour Cruise provide a unique experience of Cruise along the harbour in an ordinary boat leaving from Phoenix Bay Jetty.
One day trip can be organised to uninhabited island like Jolly Buoy, Redskin and Cinque. From Wandoor Boats leave for these island. Cinque Island is one of the best Dive destinations in the Island. It has clear emerald water with a visibility upto 80ft. It offers a terrific variety of marine life including black coral. Havelock Island is located on the island approx 4 hours from the Port Blair Airport by inter island ferry. The Dive centre located on the island offers a wide range of largely unexplored diver sites rich in underwater marine life.
The nearest decompression chamber is at the Naval base in Port Blair. Foreigners are allowed to visit certain islands in the middle, litter and South Andamans. Long Island about 82 km by sea and connected by boat thrice in a week from Port Blair offers an enchanting sea, sun and fun for eco-friendly tourists. Mayabunder about 240 km by road and Rangat 90 km by sea at 170 km in Middle Andaman can be reached by bus from Port Blair. It provide an unpolluted environment with scenic beauty. By road also an important place to visit for those who want to enjoy sun-sea-surf.
How to Reach: By air - Port Blair is connected with Chennai and Calcutta by air. Presently flights are operated by Alliance Air/Indian Airlines and Jet Airways.
By Sea: Regular passenger ship services are available to Port Blair from Chennai, Calcutta and Vishakhapatnam and back. There are 3 to 4 sailings every month from Calcutta and Chennai to Port Blair and vice-versa. There is one sailing from Vishakhapatnam in a month. The voyage takes about 50 to 60 hours and the ship normally berths at Port Blair for about 2 to 4 days.