By Mr. Prasenjit Sen (LMB)
As Air India Flight started its decent to port blair, piercing the white isolated clouds, jewels of the sea started to show up through the window. My heart pumped up with joy and excitement to see the green dots among the thousand shades of blue. If the tour starts on such a colourful note, it is for sure that the Andaman has much more in store.
Day-01: Port Blair:
Port Blair is the capital city of Andaman and Niccobar islands. It is quite a small city with all facilities close at hand. The main tourist attraction of Port Blair is the cellular jail. The massive jail was constructed by Colonial British Government to exile political prisoners in this remote islands. It is also known as Kala-pani, which actually means water of death (Kal-e-pani). Those who were sent to this jail were not meant to return to the mainland. It is a must visit for everyone travelling to Andamans.
My heart cried upon while visiting the jail and listening to the gruesome atrocities faced by freedom fighters who were locked up here. One can feel how freedom was achieved by sacrifices of innumerable courageous souls. A beautiful show is arranged every evening (6-7 p.m. and 7-8 p.m.) which tells the complete history of cellular Jail with lights and sound effects.
Samudrika Naval museum:
Another attraction of Port Blair is a Samudrika Naval museum of run by Department of fisheries. It is famous for watching numerous types of live fishes, crabs, lobsters, shells as well as different type of skeletons of Corals. Photography is not allowed inside the museum.
Famous for sunset view and bird watching, it is located around 20km from heart of port Blair. The name of the place originated as this place was nesting place of many migratory birds in the past. Enjoying sunset through the calm n serene Munda Pahar beach was a treat to the eyes.
Day-02: Port Blair to Havlock Island:
Our journey started early in the morning to reach Pheonix Bay Jetty by 6:30 a.m. From this jetty, one has to take either government ferry or Private Cruz to Havlock islands. It is better to reserve tickets in advance as there is heavy demand for tickets throughout the season. Our journey commenced at 8:00 a.m. in the morning in the luxurious Makcruzz ferry. It takes normally 2 hours to reach Havlock Islands. Havlock welcomed us with breath-taking view of sky and sea. Our stay was right at Vijaynagar beach and it was truly a Utopian World. White sandy beaches, crystal clear water, lush green mangroves and coconut trees greeted us. We could not restrain ourselves and went straight to bath in the calm sea. Hours passed yet no one was in any mood to return. Sadly, our hotel manager announced lunch, which meant we had to leave the water.
In the evening we went to Radhanagar sea beach, 7th most beautiful beach in Asia according to Times Magazine. Unlike the calm and serene Vijaynagar beach, the vast expanse and huge waves makes it different and attract you to dive into her laps. Soon, the sun began to set in and everything turned golden. This was one the most memorable sunset I have even seen in my life.
Day-03: Port Blair to Neil Island:
After an early morning walk through the white sands and pristine beach, we have packed our bags and set course for Neil Island. The same Makcruzz, after arriving to Havlock from Port Blair, goes to Neil. It is an hour’s journey from Havlock Island. Neil Island is smaller in size than havlock. However, its beauty cannot be measured with its size. Soon after reaching our resort, we left for coral watching through glass bottom boat at bharatpur sea beach. The boat takes you for an out of the world experience. There are so many types of Corals with various shapes and colours. Brain corals, Mountain corals, Jackfriut coral are only some of the names we can remember. I was mesmerised with different types of fishes roaming in herds. Apart from glass bottom boat, one can also go for snorkelling, scooba diving, Jet Ski and many more water sports activities in Neil Island.
In the evening, we went to Lakshmanpur sea beach, famous for a natural bridge like rock formation and sunset. The beach hosts a lot of sea animals like sea cucumbers, shells and live corals. The magnificent sunset from the beach was a treat to watch.
Day 04 and 05: Neil-Port Blair-Diglipur:
Next day we returned to Port Blair to start the longest part of our journey-from South Andaman to North Andaman. It started at 3 a.m. from Port Blair. We crossed a 47 km stretch from Jiraktang to South Creek which is reserved for Jarwa tribes. Jarwa-as everbody know, is a tribal community and one of the very few tribal communities in the world which has still not mingled with modern civilisation. They live in jungle in tree-huts and hunt for their living. However, they are not hostile to civilised human beings, if not disturbed. Taking photographs of them is strictly prohibited. We were lucky to see few of them crossing the path.
After reaching south creek, we crossed a water stream in a ferry and went to see limestone cave at Baratang. It is approximately 9 km speed boat ride through waterways and mangrove forests. The cave, though small, was fascinating. There is sink hole, stalagmite and stalactite structures inside the caves. The sound of water dripping from the walls in the almost dark caves creates an eerie ambience.
From Baratang we went straight to Diglipur crossing kadamtala, Rangat and mayabundar. The journey was quite lengthy and strainous because the road condition was very bad. We reached finally to Diglipur around 8:30 p.m. Super-tired from the exhaustive journey, we somehow finished dinner and went to bed.
Day-06: Diglipur- Ross and Smith Island- Rangat:
One must be wondering why people come that far. What is in store here? The answer we got tomorrow morning when we went for Ross and Smith Island. The speciality of this two island is that they are connected by a narrow strip of sand which surfaces during low tide. During high tide, the strip vanishes and these two become separate. The spectacular island has vast white beaches and crystal clear water. You can see at least 1-2 meter clearly inside water. Bathing with small fishes roaming around your body was an amazing experience.
After enjoying there to our hearts content, we headed back to Rangat. There is one vast mangrove field which leads you to a beach called Dhaninallah. There is another beautiful island-named Long island, which can be accessed through Rangat. However, due to paucity of time, we could not afford to visit the same.
Day-07: Rangat-port blair:
We returned through the same route from Rangat to Port-Blair and reached port Blair by afternoon. Andaman is literally a paradise. It is a must visit place for tourists of all types and I am sure it will take a permanent place in everybody’s heart.
- How to reach: Connected to mainland via Arial route from Kolkata, Chennai, and Vishakhapatnam. Ships are available from Chennai and Kolkata.
- Weather: mostly very hot and humid in daytime with occasional rains and pleasant after sunset.
- Best time to visit: October to March. However, please look into weather updates before you venture.
- The islands are connected by ferries which has to be booked in advance due to high demand during the peak season. If one is going for a family trip, it is better to go through a travel agency who takes care of all those bookings.
- Stay options are not much apart from those available in Port Blair. So, book in advance.
- Top 5 must visit places in Andaman: Cellular Jail, Samudrika Naval Musuem, Bijaynagar and Radhanagar beach at Havlock Island, Neil Island for Coral viewing and water sports activities, Ross and Smith Island at Diglipur.