For a few months now I had been in a dilemma over the destination of my next trip. The shortlisted options at last were Meghalaya and The Andaman and Nicobar islands. After taking a little more time, my conflicted brain gave up and settled for The Andaman islands as I always choose the ocean over mountains. I talked to my agent and got my tickets booked as soon as I could and was trying my best to restrain my excitement. The month was January and I took a direct flight from IGI airport in Delhi to Port Blair. As soon as I got out of the airport my taxi driver was waiting for me waving the sheet with my name on it. Along the way to the hotel, I couldn’t take my eyes off the clean and traffic free roads which is a rare site for anyone from Delhi. Even from the cab the view of the ocean for breathtaking. As soon as I got to the hotel I got ready for my first destination in Port Blair which was none other than the famous Cellular Jail. This jail was built during by the British during their reign in India to imprison most notorious political prisoners. It is mostly know for the extreme tortures that were inflicted on the inmates.
A visit to the Cellular jail can be amazing and disturbing at the same time. For a moment it feels like you can feel the pain the prisoners here went through and empathise with them. The cells are even smaller than one would assume. The cellular jail took almost 20 years in construction, that’s as much as the Taj Mahal, what an irony.
A sound and light show takes place in the evening about the history of the jail and the prisoners. Stories for prisoners, their bravery and the torture they went through are told to the visitors. I know it’s not music to ears but a visit to this great piece of architecture and history of India is a must visit for everyone
So, after my visit to Cellular Jail I decided to relax a bit at the beach. I went to a local beach nearby whose name I still don’t know and I apologise for it. There were jet skies around but they were not taking tourists for a ride as it was almost dark. I spent the evening at the beach and enjoying the sunset.
The following day was reserved for only one destination – The Coral Island. My cab driver took me to the local harbour from where I boarded a ferry at around 11:00 AM. The journey to the island took around 2-3 hours I guess but the view around was beautiful, so the time went by pretty soon.
When we were close to the destination, we had to get off the ferry and get on small boats known as glass boats as there base is made of glass, yes literally. Through the base we could see the fishes underwater and it really was amazing. Though this little ride was free, while dropping us off the boatmen asked if we wanted to go for a longer ride. They were charging around 250 bucks a person. As I was alone and they wouldn’t take a single guy, I had to let it go. Now, It was time to witness nature at its best. I am not exaggerating when I say the view of the sea from this place feels nothing less than heaven. Never had I ever seen the water so blue, so clear and so beautiful. I could just stare at the view all day.
As I was busy appreciating the beauty of this place, I was disturbed by a local who was offering free snorkelling to a depth of 15 feet. So, wasting no time I got up and put on the mask. He put a tube around me, held my hands and took me in the water. Even at 15 feet, I could easily see a lot of fishes and corals, it was beautiful and thrilling at the same time. As we got back, he asked me if I wanted to go to a depth of 30 feet for a charge of 500 bucks. I decided to go and this time he took me to a depth of 30 feet and when I tell you it was one of the best moments of my life, I am not lying. From Tiger Fish to Clown Fish to many more, I saw them all. He went underwater and grabbed a Starfish and put it in my hand, now that’s something you don’t do often. As we came back to the beach, I was on cloud nine. The whole afternoon I just sat on the sand and enjoyed the sun. After around three to four hours it was time to go back and I took one the best memories with me.
After a wonderful day I eagerly waited for the next day.
The next day I was scheduled to visit two famous islands named Ross Island and Northbay Island. Again I took a ferry from the local harbour. On our way to the Ross Island, a guide on the ship was telling us about it. Ross Island was used as a prison by the British where hardcore criminals were sent. We reached there in around an hour or two. Now as soon as we reached there, I found out that there was nothing much for me to see. There were some old small buildings which were prison cells and quarters of officers but that was it. I can’t say everyone would have the same opinion, but it was just not a place for me.
Now this picture spot is probably the best thing about Ross Island according to me. So after staying there for about an hour, we boarded the ferry to head for Northbay Island. After around half an hour we reached Northbay Island. Now this was a place which tickled the traveller in me. The island was full of local handicraft stalls, seafood vendors and cafes. After enjoying fried rice and prawns from a little shop, I spotted a hut which had scuba diving written over it and went straight into it. I met the receptionist and he told me that even if I don’t know how to swim I could go for a dive and that was exactly what I wanted to hear. The charge for a dive was 3500 Rupees and a video recording of the dive was to be included. I paid him up and got dressed up for the dive. I went to the shore and met my instructor Leon who was from London. After learning the basics of diving, it was time to go for the dive. And yes, you are not allowed to go for a dive if you have Asthma, blood pressure or any other chronic disease. So, back to me about to take my first dive, Leon prepped me up with gear and grabbed me by a handle attached to the cylinder I guess. As soon as we entered the water I just got lost into the beauty of the underwater world. No hours of meditation could give me the peace which I was feeling at that moment, I could see many schools of fishes all around me. As I was busy watching the beautiful creatures all around me, Leon took me near a huge stone which had many small fishes all around it. I grabbed the stone and one of their guys took pictures of me there and recorded a video as well which I go later. As we continued, we went deeper and I saw crabs waking on the base of the sea, I saw a blue fish which Leon later told me throws ink when feels threatened. We stayed underwater for around 20 minutes and all I wanted to do after that was keep smiling and think about the world underwater. I took the disc from them containing the video and pictures, I hugged Leon very tightly and then went to sit at the beach and relax. After an hour we went back to the ferry and then to the harbour. I reached the hotel at around 8 pm and thought about the amazing day I had.
The next morning I woke up realising the fact that it was the last day of such a great trip so far. I was supposed to visit the famous Havelock island. I got ready and left for the harbour. This time, it wasn’t a ferry but a cruise which took me to the island. It was one fast and fun filled ride. I went downstairs and sat for while before coming back up to enjoy the fresh air. In about 2 hours we reached Havelock island. As we got there I went straight to RadhaKrishna beach. This beach is one of the best beaches in asia according to official reports and I promise you will totally agree with this fact when you get there. As soon as I set foot on the warm sand, in front of me was the mighty ocean which was not shy of showing its strength. Unlike most of other beaches I had been to so far, the water her had waves as high as around six feet. The water was clean and blue but not calm at all. When I went for a swim or bath or whatever you may call it, the best part was jumping in front of a wave as it arrived. Rather than sitting on the sand, I spent most of my time in the water having fun and enjoying myself like a kid. After two or three hours, I went to the changing area, which was well organised unlike other beaches. There were many places to eat around the area and many foreigner tourists were also present at this island. After having lunch at a small dingy place, I got back to our ride and then back to hotel.
I spent rest of the day packing and thinking about the memories I was taking back with me from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. My flight was early morning the next day and as soon as I came back home, I started sharing my stories to my family members. So, if you are planning to visit the Andaman and Nicobar islands any time soon, don’t give it a second thought as It will be one of the best trips of your life.