The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located in the east of the Indian mainland geographically, float in splendid isolation in the Bay of Bengal. Once a hill range extending from Myanmar to Indonesia, these picturesque undulating islands, islets numbering around 572, are covered with dense rain-fed, damp and evergreen forests and endless varieties of exotic flora and fauna. Most of these islands (about 550) are in the Andaman Group, 28 of which are inhabited. The smaller Nicobars, comprise some 22 main islands (10 inhabited). The Andaman and Nicobars are separated by the Ten Degree Channel which is 150 Kms. wide. These islands also boast of freedom fighting days’ historically significant landmarks viz. Cellular Jail, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Island, Viper Island, Hopetown and Mount Harriet. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been declared as two of the 218 endemic bird area of the world. As many as 270 species and sub-species of birds have been reported existing in these islands, 106 of them being endemic. The Andaman Wood Pigeon, Andaman Padauk and Dugong are declared as State Bird, State Tree and State Animal respectively. There are about 96 Wildlife Sanctuaries, nine National Parks and one Biosphere Reserve in the islands. These islands are blessed with the bounties of both south-west and north-east monsoons.
The capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Port Blair no different than any other smaller Indian city. Restaurants, Resorts, Hotels and Shops can be found in plenty. Concentrated towards providing the best facilities to the people travelling to these islands, Port Blair has become the center point for all the tourism activities. People from all over India can be found here, a peaceful place with no conflicts on region and religion- Andaman tourist places
The historic Cellular Jail, earlier known as Kaala paani, was built in an inhospitable environment by the Britishers in the late 18th Century.The structure was built with seven wing prison. Each wing was three storied. The building had a total of 663 cells with one prisoner in each cell. A central tower with seven wings spread across to keep watch on each wing. The idea was to make solitary confinement for prisoners. The prisoners were either the culprits who committed crimes in mainland or some political prisoners who were mainly freedom fighters. One guard could monitor the activities on all the seven wings. The other peculiar feature of the jail was the fact that each wing was confined into its own. Each wing was designed in such a way that the front of one wing faced the back of the other, hence, stopping any communications between the convicts. Sadly, utter solitary confinement was not the only thing that the prisoners were faced with. The brutal beatings, labor and lack of food was enough to break the health and spirit of these prisoners.
Few miles from Port Blair is the Ross Island, once an administrative headquarter for the Britishers, before an earthquake rocked the Island in 1941. The British then left the island and took settlement at Port Blair, since then the Island could never recover from the decay and neglect which had set in. Slowly but steadily the nature took its toll, as banyan trees engulfed the buildings thus replacing the structures created by man. This island makes you nostalgic and takes you back in time when this was an administrative settlement for the Britishers. The Indian Navy has rebuilt some of the old buildings like the bakery and the local stores, from where souvenirs are available.
The island is organized in a good manner, pathways, barricades and proper signs to navigate. Usually, people come here for 2 - 3 hours; however, ideally, it is preferred to be a full day trip. Upon entrance towards your left, ruins of a giant water distillation plant, swimming pool and tennis court. The island still has remains of the famous printing press and secretariat office. Explore the island and you would see ruins of a Church, further more and you would see a graveyard along with names of people who were buried. The FARZAND ALI STORE is famous in this island and is now maintained as a museum. This store has a lot of pictures about the British era and their activities in the past. The island had everything then from church, tennis court, printing press, secretariat, hospital, cemetery, open air theater and much more as if to say Paris in the paoutst. You could walk around the island along the coast line watching the beautiful sea scape, trees, and birds such as Peacocks, Eagles and Parrots. The island has a good population of deers, who are accustomed to see humans. Please do not feed the deers, let nature grow and live on its own without human intervention. This is a policy followed in the Andaman islands. Walk to the back of the island and a beautiful shore and an open sea is a good site to watch. The cool breeze under the shade of the trees would be a refreshing experience. You would be surprised to find out that the British had built up tram lines in Andaman. A Light and Sound show is shown from Monday - Sunday except on Wednesday and Public Holidays. To see this show we have to take 4 pm boat from the water sports complex, after 15 minutes of boat ride we will reach Ross island. The show starts at 5:15 PM . Ross Island light and sound show is all about the historical events which happened during the pre-independent era, how the first administrative settlement was set up and many more insight about the historic events in the islands. The Japanese occupation of the Andaman Islands occurred in 1942 during World War II. Japanese bunkers and Cannon still stand as a memorial in this island. Take a guide and listen to stories of the suffering and the challenges our heroes in the past had faced.
North Bay island is a popular destination in Port Blair. The beach and the snorkeling opportunities in its fringing coral reefs are the closest ones you will find at Port Blair. A ferry (9 am and 2 pm; 30mins) will take you across Aberdeen Jetty and bring you back after 3 hour. The corals at North Bay are rather good and spread over large area. You're very likely to spot many fish, a lobster, or even clams on the coral reef. Snacks and basic meals are available in some shacks on the beach.
This island can be visited along with other island packages. The main and only attraction of this island is the ruin building famous as women’s jail. Viper Island witnessed the untold sufferings the freedom fighters had to undergo. Convicts found guilty of violating the rules of the penal settlement were put in fretters and made to work on the island. This building is located at the top of a small hill. Currently, this trip to Viper Island is operated on demand based upon the number of travellers who are willing to reach this destination.
Havelock Island among the best destination in India, is situated 57 Kms North East of Port Blair. This destination attracts people all across the globe. White sand beaches and turquoise waters surrounding the island is a treat to watch and experience. The best thing about this destination is that it suits every requirements, whether you are looking for a laid back vacation or a fun filled vacation, Havelock Island has everything to offer. Your vacation to the Andaman Islands is not complete until you have visited Havelock Island.
Radhanagar Beach - This beach has been consistently rated as one among the best beaches in Asia. The long stretch of vast open sea in front of you along with white powdery beach is a treat to watch and experience. Often you might sight an Elephant by the beach. Spend your day swimming, making sand houses, taking sun bath etc... Food is available for purchase by the beach. You are not allowed to throw waste/dump on the beach.
Elephant Beach - Another major attraction at the Havelock Island is the Elephant Beach, accessible only through boat or trekking. Though this attraction is not famous for its beach, its among the best location for snorkeling. The reef here starts at 5 feet deep. You may either snorkel by yourself or may hire a guide to help you snorkel at the Elephant Beach. For more information about this trip check Elephant Beach Trip
Scuba Diving - Visit Scuba Diving Andaman Islands Sea Walk - Sea walk can be availed near Elephant Beach. For more info visit Sea Walk Andaman Trekking - Trekking to Elephant Beach Trekking Options in Andaman
Chidia tapu is 30 KM from main city; this place is famous for sunset view and for bird watching. Varieties of birds visit this place. The road passes through forest and small hills up to the Chidia tapu. From Port Blair, the journey would take around one hour to reach Chidia tapu. If you are interested to watch the sunset it is advisable to take an afternoon trip to this place. Remains of trees uprooted during Tsunami in 2004 are still present near the beach. There is no restaurant or food stall available inside the park; however, small hotels are present at the entrance. While traveling to this place sea will be to your left side. On your way you would pass through the Kalapathar, a trail of black rocks and beach. Stop here to take some pictures and proceed to Chidia Tapu.
For adventure lovers Chidia Tapu has a little more to offer. A trekking trail, which passes through forest and beautiful coast line to reach the Munda Pahad(Black Mountain). The trail starts at the shore of Chidiya Tapu beach and moves up passing through dense forest. It’s advisable to take a guide or travel in groups to reach the Munda Pahad. Upon reaching Munda Pahad, an elongated black cliff at the edge of Chidia Tapu with an open sea scape is an amazing site, which most travelers visiting these islands miss. Carry food and water before starting your trek to Munda Pahad. You could also hire a ferry from Chidiyatapu to Rutt Island and even the Cinque Island, another interesting destination for people willing to go of the crowd.
One among the most popular excursion from Port Blair is to Jolly Bouy Island from WANDOOR, 30km southwest to Port Blair. The long white sand beach here is littered with the dry, twisted trunks of trees torn up and flung down by annual cyclones. It is fringed not with palms but by dense forest. You should only snorkel here at high tide, as the corals are easily damaged when the water is shallow.
Visitors can enjoy the under water coral view through snorkelling or glass bottom boat. As a standard trip, while getting down from the ship and transferring to the island through small boats, visitors will be taken through a ride and will be shown these under water corals through glass bottom, snorkelling is usually included in this trip. Though this is only for a very short duration (5 to 10 minutes). People willing to see more of these can hire a boat independently and enjoy. Additional amount has to be paid for each ride for 30 to 45 minutes.
Mount Harriet is the highest peak in the South Andaman archipelago and is named after Harriet Tytler, the second wife of Robert Christopher Tytler, a British soldier, naturalist and photographer, who was appointed officiating Superintendent of the Convict Settlement at Port Blair in the Andamans from April 1862 to February 1864. Mount Harriet, stationed at 55 km by road and 15 km by ferry from Port Blair. Its natural charm and beauty attracts a lot of visitors. The natural flora and fauna could not be matched. The greenery everywhere provides you immense feel that you are in a deep forest. One can have a glimpse of different kinds of birds from this point. From the top of the peak, one can get a magnificent view of the Port Blair city, the Ross Island and the Havelock Island.
Baratang island is located between Middle and South Andaman Islands. Approximately, 110 Kms from Port Blair, Baratang Island is another major attaraction for most of the tourist visiting the islands. What would you expect when you visit a tropical island? Dense Forest, Tribes, Mangroves, boats, beaches, birds, caves, trekking, volcanoes; Baratang has all of these to offer.
Journey to this Island is an adventurous one. Your trip starts early in the morning from Port Blair in a shard vehicle, usually a Government Operated tourist bus. The bus takes its route through the Andaman Grand Trunk road, which connects Port Blair to South, Middle and North Andaman. Soon you would leave the city behind and pass through scarcely populated areas. The jungle along both sides during your travel would be a treat to watch. On your way you would pass through Jirkatang, couple of decade ago people feared to stay or pass through these places because of attacks by the native tribes who usually used to come to these places in search of food. Until recently, government has made efforts to help and protect these tribes after which the attacks on people staying or passing through these places were reduced. After reaching Jirkatang, the bus would take a pit stop for some refreshment and a couple of security personnel would board the bus for safetly of both travelers and tribes. You would now pass through the Jarawa Tribe reserve, the reserve controlled and operated by government for protection of the Jarawas against diseases from which they do not have natural immunity. The government also provides medical aid to these indigenous tribes.
On your way from Jirkatang to Middle Strait you might get an opportunity to see these tribes along the road. It is recommended not to offer any food or take pictures of these tribes during this time. Interacting with them, giving them food or clicking their pictures is strictly prohibited and is a punishable offence. After passing through the tribal reserve you would reach Nilamber Jetty. You would then be transferred to a vehicle ferry, which would take you to the Baratang Island. These ferry can accommodate buses, trucks, cars & bikes. Upon reaching Baratang Jetty you could take a dongi(boat), these boats would take you through dense mangroves to reach the starting point of your journey to reach the Limestone caves. The journey to the cave is a lifetime experience for some. Pass through walkways made by cutting through dense forest and large stones. Inside the cave the temperature is lower than outside. The cave contains beautiful cave formation. Limestone is mostly made up of the mineral calcite (calcium carbonate). Limestone is very soluble, meaning it is easily dissolved. Rain water picks up carbon dioxide in the air and a weak solution of carbonic acid is formed. This water can dissolve limestone over time, creating a cave. Travelers can also plan to visit Parrot Island and Rangat. You would have to stay at Baratang for Parrot Island and should stay at Rangat if you planned to visit Havelock from Rangat.
While returning to Port blair, all vehicles wait at the check post at Baratang jetty. Once all the vehicles have reached the check post, the check post gate will be opened and vehicles can go in groups. The normal time of opening this gate is at 2.00 pm. Security people board front and back vehicles (with rifle). The same forest journey can be experienced till the starting check post towards Port Blair.