Andaman and Nicobar Islands

3rd Dec 2013
Photo of Andaman and Nicobar Islands 1/6 by Ashmi
Photo of Andaman and Nicobar Islands 2/6 by Ashmi
Photo of Andaman and Nicobar Islands 3/6 by Ashmi
Photo of Andaman and Nicobar Islands 4/6 by Ashmi
Photo of Andaman and Nicobar Islands 5/6 by Ashmi
Photo of Andaman and Nicobar Islands 6/6 by Ashmi

As you sip your morning coffee at Fortune Bay Resort Island's Mandalay Restaurant fish a twenty rupee note out of your wallet and have a good, long look at it. Look at the view from your table. Look at the note again. Notice anything? Suddenly, the seemingly random illustration of palm trees and a coastline on the red note will make a lot more sense. There really is more to Port Blair than meets the eye. It was once an important base of the British Raj, and was also ruled by the Japanese Briefly during WWII, resulting in a mishmash historical influences. Steeped in history of the anthropological and military kind, it holds its own among other islands that make up the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. Which, like spooky Ross Island, are admittedly also worthy of your attention.

Where to Stay:

  • The Nest
  • TSG Emerald View
  • Fortune Resort Bay Island

Where to Eat & Drink:

  • Mandalay, the multi-cuisine restaurant at Fortune Resort Bay Island offers beautiful views of the sea and makes a nice setting for a romantic meal.
  • The New Light House Restaurant is great for delicious local seafood such as tiger prawns and red snapper.

Children enjoy deer-spotting on Ross Island and the glass-bottomed boat ride to Jolly Buoy.

Carry medications if you're prone to sea sickness.

For an island as sunny as Port Blair, it has its share of dark history. Once a British prison, the Cellular Jail (also known as Kala Pani) and its museum stand as a testament to the police rebels who shaped India's freedom struggle. A walk though its long, whitewashed corridors, past its barred cells (designed for solitary confinement) and through the courtyard (with stark details about the harsh conditions the prisoners were subjected to) will make for an interesting afternoon.

Photo of Andaman Cellular Jail, Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Ashmi

For something a little light on the mind, visit the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. Fifteen islands make up the marine park; a great place to see some of the region's underwater life.

Photo of Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, South Andaman, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Ashmi

A ferry from the Marine Park takes you to Jolly Buoy and the Red Skin Islands, where if the season is right, you can go snorkeling or keep your feet dry and see the coral reefs from the glass-bottomed boat. The island's marine life isn't the only thing that's diverse. The Andamans are home to four Negrito tribes who, anthropologists believe, came here 60,000 years ago from Africa. The Great Andamanese are said to have been resettled on Strait Island, a short distance from Port Blair. Only about a hundred tribesmen of the Onge survive. The Jarawa have recently made contact with the outside world, but remain independent, relying on hunting and gathering for their food needs. The Sentinelese tribe is the only one that remains hostile to contact from the outside world and those who venture too close to their island are known to have had arrows and spears fired at them.

Photo of Jollly Buoy and the Red Skin Islands , Portblair by Ashmi

If you are keen to learn more about the tribes without the hazard of arrows whizzing past, visit the Anthropological Museum. It isn't exactly state-of-the-art, but what it lacks in design, it makes up for in character.

Photo of Anthropological Museum, Phoenix Bay, Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Ashmi

Fit a visit to Ross Island into your itinerary. A small island about a kilometer and a half off the coast of Port Blair, this is where your imagination can stretch its legs. The mysterious island could be George's Kirrin Island from Enid Blyton's 'Famous Five' series, or it could be a place once inhabited by people who left it in a hurry. From a distance, it looks little more than a thicket of trees, but a close inspection will reveal a ghost town of beautiful structures such as the State Ballroom, the Chief Commissioner's House, a church bakery and troop barracks, now in ruins. Once the Administrative Headquarters for the islands as well as the seat of British power, Ross Island was shattered by an earthquake in 1941, forcing its English occupants to move out. Walk through the eerie ruins to startle deer, who bound away across the backdrop of prehistoric trees and azure waters. Take the first boat out to the island so that you can have it to yourself for a while.

Photo of Ross Island, South Andaman, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Ashmi

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