It was time for me to leave Diglipur for my return journey to Port Blair. Still had 3/4 days in hand. One day was kept aside for travel.
From Diglipur bus stand, buses leave for short journeys to Kadamtala, Mayabunder, Rangat, etc. There is hardly a bus two bus for few long journey bus to Port Blair.
Though all my journeys are solo, which has huge advantages, but drawbacks as well. I couldn’t visit Ross and Smith islands from Diglipur because I had gone on weekday and in slack season, so there were no tourist or locals to go to these islands. Had heard, there islands are also exotic and with very less population, these are unpolluted. I couldn’t have afforded entire boat renting cost which was anywhere between INR 3/4000 and was a huge cost for a solo budget backpacker. In that boat renting cost, I would have reached Mumbai. Due to the same reason, I also skipped Baratang’s Limestone caves and small mud volcano point, but with other tourist’s reviews, my repentance was reduced as these attractions are over hyped by tour agents.
With these memories and the host’s hospitality started my return night journey back to Havelock. On return journey, I had planned to take a different route from Rangat which is in Middle Andmans.
An overnight bus dropped me at Rangat in the wee hours at one of the hotel’s doorstep. Everyone was in deep sleep barring me and some dogs who decided to form a welcome party. Still havoc created by their barking sound didn’t wake up anyone and not even a watchman. Rangat bus stand was a km away. With my entourage of barking dogs, walked to the bus stand which welcomed with closed gates. Spent couple of hours at one roadside eatery’s thela (a platform where they serve food to customers).
Rangat is also one of the small towns but a Taluka place of Middle Andmans with small lodges for overnight stays. Rangat is a gateway to Long Islands. Normally Long Island doesn’t feature on Indian tourists itinerary. Few foreigners who doesn’t like crowded places reach Long Island. Rangat also has an interesting story. During second World War II, Japanese ruled A & N. There is a helipad near Rangat and sill people find few packets of WWII around that helipad and none has disclosed packets’ contents. Also in Middle Andamans as well as other parts of Andamans, there are Japanese bunkers of WW II which are yet to be found and opened. One officer of the Japanese Army who had hidden Japanese army’s wealth before surrendering to British at the end of World War II as per local stories and those are yet to be found. The tales are those locals who have found these treasures, but none has records of it. So Andamans is also a Treasure Hunt for explorers, but none has found so far. The reason to believe is around Andmans, there are still many ship wrecks which are yet to be discovered as Andaman is closer to South East Asian countries like Myanmaar, Thailand and Indonesia than India and in ancient time ships used to sail in Andaman and Arabian Sea around these islands.
Long Island, an unexplored within explored.
With one of the best beaches and trekking opportunities in this part of Andmans, sadly is not included on tourist’s Andmans trip plan due to poor road conditions to reach Rangat, but foreign tourists as mentioned who are adventurous and exploratory in nature visit this island. Again, that hopefully will change with Andman Trunk Road work.
From Rangat bus stand, you need to take a local bus or shared jeep to reach Yeratta jetty which takes you to this one of the 500 + islands.
Though the first impression of Long island is not so encouraging with small houses around jetty. A narrow concrete road leads to the only staying facility on Long Island which again was completely let down. This was supposed to be a stay facility of Long Island’s only dive Centre.
Ignoring the stay and island conditions, next day went for a short trek of 1.5 hours to it’s only beach – Lalji Bay with low expectations. After passing through an inclined slope, paddy fields and long descend in a jungle, washed up entire disappointment of Long Island. Here awaited a white sand beach and none other than me as if I own this entire stretch of beach.
Some wooden cottages on the beach wait for tourist and its scarce staff were tucked on its shore like they are alienated from the world.
Long Island was deserted when ‘Kitply’ company moved it’s base to other island after sucking off it’s jungle for making plywood. I couldn’t imagine if they had already finished cutting trees, how the jungle would have been in it’s past glory.
A snorkeling in half km area was disappointing as well. The marine life was polished off by overfishing.
I had planned this backpacking from Havelock Islands – Port Blair –Grand Trunk Road through Middle Andamans – Digglipur – return journey via Rangat and Long Island in such a way that while returning to Havelock, I can take a ferry from Long Island to Havelock directly without going back to Port Blair.
To explore more about Andaman, you visit my blog www.nomadsnomadism.com
Points to note:
1. Ferries to Long Island and from Long Island to Havelock are thrice a week.
2. Busses to Digglipur from Port Blair to Digglipur takes about 10/12 hours and leave only early in the morning, so that it can reach Digglipur by night.
3. This journey is avoidable considering today’s road conditions for those who has back problem and cars without insurance
4. Always keep your Adhar Card or Passport in case foreign nationals ready with you, if inquired by security officials. Though there is no permit needed for Indians. For foreign nationals, there is a special permit needed.
5. If you see any Jarwa tribesman, do not try to offer them food or anything. They are not animals, but are Aboriginal and humans like us.
6. Avoid getting down on the road in Jarwa tribes areas, though they are socialized now and many a times wear clothes. You cannot post tribesman photographs as strict actions are taken if government finds one.
7. You need to travel in convoys only. If your vehicle misses one, you need to wait for the next convoy.