- by Sambit Sil
In January 2008 I took a trip to Andaman Islands with my family. We traveled for about two and a half hours n a flight from Kolkata to Port Blair. Though the sea route is cheaper, but it is time taking and uncomfortable.
As you step out of the Veer Savarkar Airport, the pleasant smell of the sea and the clean air will mesmerize one’s soul.We had already arranged for accommodation and transport with a travel agent.
The hotels in Andaman are pretty good. We stayed at Hotel Sea Shell.We had arrived at Andaman at noon and after lunch and a nap we headed for cellular jail which reminds us the horrifying past of the islands and why it was called ‘Kaala Pani’.
It was used by the British to imprison Indian freedom fighters. It had seven wings earlier but now has only three.I was awestruck by looking at the amazing craftsmanship of the jail and it ached my heart to know that people used to spend their lives in those dark cells. In the evening we attended the light and sound show which describes the history of the jail. By the end of it we were all emotionally drained, after knowing what our freedom fighters had to go through.Next, we visited the Samudrika Navy Maritime Museum where we saw shells and mollusks.
On our way back to the hotel It felt so good away from the busy schedule in Kolkata.On our second day, we went to the three islands-Ross, Viper and North Bay. Ross Island was the headquarters of the British during World War — II. Now what remain are the ruins of a church and the British ship designs. The next stop was Viper Island .Our tour guide said that the name “Viper” was derived from a ship that got wrecked near the island. It also had a jail.
Next, the ferry took us to the North Bay which is full of coral reefs. Hardly any humans lived there. It is largely full of dense mangroves and mounds of coral reefs and shells scattered all over its shores. It is also a major destination for snorkeling. There we experienced a ride in the glass boats.
The food in Andaman was much better than what I expected. But what I noticed was the dishes were fairly above the average price in different Indian states. It also had a fair variety of sea food, such as different fishes, crabs and lobsters.Our third day was spent at the Havelock Islands. It was a pleasure to be surrounded by deserted beaches, crystal clear water and collecting shells from the beaches.On the fourth day we took a car ride from our hotel at dawn to travel through the island where the Jarwa Tribe inhabited. Photography was strictly prohibited as the tribals were not to be exposed to technology to keep them different from the modern humans.
The tribals lived on agriculture and cultivation that was done by themselves. They also didn’t wear any clothes, they used animal skins, thus showing how backdated the tribe is.The next we visited the limestone cave. We took a small boat that took us through a small river having mangroves at both side, the view was so mesmerizing that I fell in love with the Andaman.
When we had reached where the limestone caves were, we had to walk a kilometer in a queue to reach the caves, photography here too was prohibited as it was dark inside the cave and flashlight would dry the limestone, no longer making it a tourist spot.After returning to the hotel we went for a little shopping. The tour ended with this.Back at the Veer Savarkar airport, I promised myself that I would be back soon. Andaman’s beauty can not only be seen, but can be sensed in its calmness and serenity. It is a must visit for anyone looking to experience the sea at its best or just looking to take a couple of days off and relax.
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