The first thing that greets you, as you near Andaman’s is the clear blue waters that surround a scattering of emerald green islands. It looks like something out of a movie and the sheer colour play brings harmony.As the plane started its descent, I could feel the stress melting away. I knew at that instant that this was going to be a memorable trip, and I was bang on!
We were in two minds while deciding on Andaman’s. 1) We were travelling as a family and weren’t sure if it was a good destination for a family trip 2)The travel to nearby islands was either by jetty or boats and we were apprehensive about that as well as my MIL get’s sea-sick and we had two small kids under 5 and we had no idea about their seafaring skills. Surprisingly, there weren’t many blogs or travel information related to Andaman back in 2013 and those that were available were usually from adventure travellers or lone travellers, however, we had this itch to go to Andaman’s and we decided to take a leap of faith.
I hadn’t been to many islands so that itself was exciting. The bird-eye view that I saw of the Andaman islands was mesmerising. I fell in love with the place even before we landed. We had booked with an online travel agency and they were there to receive us at the airport. Once we had settled into the hotel at Port Blair, we decided to explore the city and were told that there are a few museums and city parks that we must see apart from the Cellular jail. As we weren’t much of a museum group, we decided to skip that and in the evening headed for the Cellular Jail instead.
Port Blair – Cellular Jail
Port Blair is by far the biggest city in Andaman’s. It is a typical city that is comparable to a small town in Goa or Kerala. Because of its closeness to Bengal, and also the fact that Bangladeshi refugees were allowed to stay here after the 1970 war, there is an influence of Bengali Culture.We are Non-Bengali’s, and we never faced any problems when it came to food or language. In those terms, Andaman’s is a perfect touristy place.
We reached Cellular Jail and took the tickets. We were informed that the sound and light show was not to be missed. The sound and light show traces the origin of the Cellular Jail, how it came into existence, the many atrocities that took place there and the struggle of prisoners, namely Veer Savarkar or Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. The narration and the show left us teary eyed. Later we went around the prison museum, the work shed, Veer Savarkar’s cell and a museum dedicated to India’s Freedom Struggle. It chronicles India’s Freedom struggle, even before 1857 till 1947. Walking through those hallways you come to a central column which has the names of our freedom fighters who were lodged in these prisons. The long list, coupled with the thought of brutalities that they experienced here is enough to bring tears to anyone’s eyes. Cellular Jail is a moving experience. It reminds us that the freedom we enjoy today did not come cheap.
Next day, we went to Ross Island. Ross Island was the British settlement that looked after the administration of Andamans and handled the Cellular Jail. It was a fully functioning facility with a canteen, bakery, residences, church, water purifier and a club. Today, however, it is a different story, what remains are only the ruins of a thriving community. Ross Islands is today under the Indian Navy. It is open to public for visitations. We took a jetty from Water Sports Complex in Port Blair and reached Ross within 30 minutes. The ruins of yesteryears are beautified by the quietness of the place and the numerous friendly deer and peacocks that habitat the place today. It is a great reminder of a bygone era.
This is one of the small islands that we visited. It is habited and there are boat rides at fixed times that take you to Port Blair and Havelock. I loved it for the simple island life that it offers. The hotel that we stayed in had cycles and bikes on rent, using which one could explore the island. There aren’t many attractions that one can see in Neil island so those wishing to look for adventure can skip it. We went to the beach in the evening to watch the sunset. It was the most laid back one day that we enjoyed in our trip.
Havelock is the fun island. Radha nagar beach, rated one of the best beaches in Asia is in Havelock and Elephant Beach offers all the water sports that you can think of! Add to it the clear blue waters, silver sands and a perfect sunny weather and you have the best beach holiday ever! We spent a whole day on Elephant island enjoying the various water sports. There is something called as the Under Sea Water walk. If you can take it, it shouldn’t be missed. The best thing is that you don’t need to know swimming to do this. Walking on the sea-bed and seeing first hand the corals, fishes and other aquatic beauties was a great experience for me. In the evening, we headed to Radha nagar beach to watch the sunset. The pristine, long beach looks like a painting. As the sun sets, the sun rays play over the soft waves making them look magical. The beach is long and never seems crowded. It was quiet even if there were dozens of people around. You can play in the waters or take a long soul searching walk along the beach, it’s perfect for everything.
Andamans was an enriching experience for me. A journey that helps you connect with yourself and people around you. A must visit for all those who are tired of the city bustle or wish to have a romantic soulful trip. This World Tourism Day, I wish everyone has Andaman’s on their bucket list.