Of all the trips I went till now, Andaman and Nicobar is one of the most memorable experience of my life. What I thought would be the just a perfect escape from the pollution and noice of the city, turned out to be even more than that, thereby elevating my further love for travel and adventure. I can literally pen down enormous pages, detailing my whole week there, but these are the certain highlights that changed my experience altogether.
My visit to cellular jail will always remain the highlight of this trip. Why? Because of its deep rooted history. The history of the cruel pre-independence India. More than being known for its history or as a tourist spot, this place is highly famous for its sad reputation of being a doorway to hell for its occupants. I certainly felt that this place has a mysterious atmosphere surrounding it. Maybe it is because this is one of the places that is associated with death and suffering. There is often a term referred to such places known as ‘Dark tourism’. Being a photography enthusiast, I was only able to capture 10–12 photos (only the places and not people) which according to me are certainly a lot less than usual. You won’t feel enthusiastic or awestruck looking at the construction. The cells were so small and the walls were super thick, leaving room for little to no air ventilation. The Places we were probably standing on was once filled with freedom fighters enduring suffering and ultimately executed/killed.
But as usual, most of the tourists certainly showed their usual behaviour. Some were excited and focused about taking family photos and smiling selfies in front of the jail cells while others were posing for photos behind the jail gates to look cool and funny. I could already see a lot of ‘romantic’ graffitis drawn in the first fewer jail cells itself.
Another beautiful realization I found was the board that consists the names of all the freedom fighters imprisoned. They were not arranged in any certain order. Just simply the names. Looking at that board will remind you how much this country was united at those times. People irrespective of their religion, caste, who shed their blood for the independence we are having right now, which in today’s situation, makes you re-think and question a lot of things.
Summing up my first and unforgettable experience about scuba diving in a simple paragraph is not easy, but I will try. Scuba diving is another way of interacting with nature. It shows how much nature has to offer. One moment you see everything green and misty around you and the next, everything is deep blue. There were times when the fear of going deep into the water held me back, my heart started beating aggressively faster and my ears hurt as I went deep, but in the end, it was all worth it. The world under there is absolutely beautiful, and deserves to be preserved that way, well, even better. Being completely surrounded by silence changes your experience altogether. You will remember every moment you are breathing, staying still and feeling peaceful in that emptiness. Every person can have a different experience in scuba diving. But going through any experience that is out of your comfort zone brings with it numerous life lessons. All those motivational quotes we read about facing our fears will turn out to be relatable and true here. Overall, this was definitely an unforgettable experience and also another tick mark in my bucket list.
LIFE AND PEOPLE:
Being a famous tourist destination, Andaman surely feels like a mini India. You can actually see people from almost all states particularly from the south, and West Bengal, living there. So of course they have no difficulty speaking in other languages. Also I found the people there quite ‘chilled’ in nature. Most of the regions have very weak cell phone signals and not a lot of channels are broadcasted, which weirdly feels good in a way. We had no idea what was happening in and around the country for a week. Not to forget, most of us were literally on a social media break/detox as a result of poor internet connection.
The journey to this place itself was like an adventure. The only way to get to this place is by taking a Ferry, for which you will have to travel by road through dense jungles for a couple of kilometers. The boat ride takes about half an hour. The road travel is done only with a convoy fleet which will require you to be there as early as 3AM in the morning well, for me, midnight. But once you get to see the lush green forests in early morning it will leave you amazed. The mist, different shades of greenery, rays of sunlight, and the silence — a completely different and a peaceful experience altogether. This road travel also comes with a lot of restrictions due to the exclusive Jarawa tribes. This tribe is said to have lived here for over 55,000 years. Activities like Taking photographs, offering them food is a highly punishable offense, possibly for two reasons:
· Being endangered, they are highly vulnerable to diseases
· They deserve to be treated/respected like humans, not like circus animals
But we were told that they often stop these vehicles asking for food and water.or sometimes even taking the belongings of the tourists, which is a result of their life being exposed to the outside world, which forces them to integrate with the so-called civilized world, or steals their livelihood, like poaching and land encroachment.
Sadly, this is the diminished state of most of the tribal communities. Once proud people of the forests and also the first inhabitants of the country, they are now being reduced to begging for food.
Once we reached the place, which is called ‘Baratang’, there was the ferry ride which took about ten minutes or so after which there was another mangrove boat ride in which we got to take a speedboat ride inside the lush mangrove forests.
After this, the trek to the cave begins, which is completely adventurous and everything I dreamed of because until that moment, I only got to watch these kind of journeys in Discovery or Natgeo.
The limestone cave is nothing short of a natural wonder and possibly has existed for millions of years and will continue to exist even after the human race goes extinct. The caves are full of unusual limestone formation but people like to have their own imagination, especially adults and elders, who definitely love to interpret certain shapes as their gods. This cave will surely make you wonder all the beautiful things nature has to offer. Unfortunately we couldn’t spend a lot of time due to the time constraints and the increasing crowd, and that’s my only regret from this trip.
Apart from these, there are numerous experiences like the adventures and soaking in the sun in Neil islands, spending time with deer and tree covered old colonial buildings at Ross island, the sunset at cruise ride, getting to see the living corals and natural bridge at Bharatpur beach, the amazing tea stall that was nothing but a food heaven in port Blair, the warm hospitality of the resorts and several endless memories that I would go on and on about, and still wouldn’t be enough.
Nevertheless, reliving these memories really taught me the importance of travel in one’s life. It can definitely change your perception or idea of living a life. Not to forget, it will definitely make you realize the importance of being associated with nature. Earlier, I had literally made a list of places in other countries that I wanted to go, but after this journey, I am rewriting the list with all of the underrated places in my country that I definitely need to go and appreciate first !