To the east of the Indian mainland, in the blues of the Bay of Bengal, floats the splendid archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The erstwhile ‘Kalapani’, translated as ‘black waters’ from back in the day when the islands were the graveyards of martyrs, has now transformed into one of India’s best tourist spots. Forever scarred by the atrocities of the British regime, the islands retain an exciting aura that satiates the young adventure junkie in us all.Once a hill range extending form Myanmar to Indonesia, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands today are a group of 572 near deserted islets (small islands). The majestic forests, and the sun beaming on exotic flora and fauna take your breath away. More than 86% of the islands’ area is forest cover which is home to animals like the spotted deer, wild boar, gecko crab-eating macaque and pythons. The glistening white beaches are nesting homes to turtles.The jewel in the crown, however, is the marine life. The elegance of the crystal clear, blue waters, incredible corals, and the myriad creatures that inhabit the ocean leave you spellbound. Exploring the marine life first-hand through activities like scuba diving and fishing guarantee an enriching experience of coming an inch closer to nature.The capital city of Port Blair houses majority of the mainland settlers on the island today. Prior to the colonial rule, however, the islands were home to indigenous tribes, some of who still populate pockets of the archipelago.Tourist infrastructure development has been on the rise over the year, citing rising tourism, but the islands still remain virgin with untouched natural beauty and unexplored marine life.
The Cellular jail, declared a National Memorial, is located at Port Blair which had stood as a mute witness to the most brutal and barbaric atrocities meted out to national freedom fighters, who were incarcerated in this jail. The jail, completed in the year 1906 acquired the name ‘Cellular’ because it was entirely made up of individual cells for solitary confinement. It originally was a seven-block structure with three stories and a central tower acting as its fulcrum comprising of honeycomb like corridors. This jail, now a place of pilgrimage for all freedom-loving people draws everyone down memory lane to the years of freedom struggle.
The Sound and Light show in the Cellular Jail narrates the saga of the Indian freedom struggle, brought alive through sound and light effect of the brutal and barbaric atrocities piled on the freedom fighters deported to these islands and incarcerated in the small cells of this jail. This show is very popular among the tourists visiting these islands. Timing: Hindi show all days from 6:00 pm to 7:15 pm except Monday, Wednesday & Friday. English show starts at 7:15 pm.
This water sports complex is the first of its kind in India that offers all possible aqua-sports facilities including safe water sports and Adventure water sports within one water sports complex. In the safe water sports complex paddle-boats, row-boats, glass-bottom and bumper boats are available. In the adventure sport front, Jet Ski, parasailing, banana boats, speed boats are offered. The Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex houses a memorial of the ‘Battle of Aberdeen’ fought between the Britishers and the Andamanese aboriginals in 1859.
The Chatham saw mill is one of the oldest saw mills in Asia.It was set up in 1883 with the primary objective to meet the local requirements of saw and timber for the constructional works. It is owned by the state government. It is a store house of timber varieties like, Padauk, Gurjan, Marble, Satin wood etc. The Chatham Island has the second largest wharf of these islands where island-mainland ships can berth. Within the saw mill compound is a museum showcasing the various timber wealth of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The museum offers an insight in to forest activities through scale models and display decorative pieces made of Padauk, Marble, Peauma, Gurjan, Satin wood etc. Closed on Sundays and Industrial Holidays.
The Mini Zoo is situated at Haddo (Delanipur – Chatham road) which houses some of the endemic birds and animals of these islands. Closed on Mondays.
Located at Haddo, this museum is run by the Forest Department of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. It displays a variety of artifacts made out of timber including paeuma, oak, gurjan, paduak & satin-wood.
Samudrika Naval Marine Museum is a museum situated in Port Blair in India . The museum is run by the Indian Navy. This museum aims to generate awareness about the environment in the ocean and the marine life. The museum has five sections presenting history of Andaman Islands, Geographical information, people of Andaman, Archaeology and Marine life.
Chidiya Tapu, also known as “Sunset Point” and “Bird Island,” is one of the best places to see the sunset in Port Blair, the main hub of the Andaman Islands. The beach is located on the furthest Southern tip of South Andaman Island 25 kms South of Port Blair and takes about 45 minutes to get there by car.
This Emporium exhibits a spectrum of artefacts made of mother pearl, sea shells, coconut shells and local wood products. Miniatures of Nicobari canoes, palm mats for floors, tables, furniture etc. are exhibited which are also for sale. It is closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.
The Science Centre, situated five kms from Port Blair town, has an ‘Andaman and Nicobar Islands Gallery’ with interactive exhibits depicting genesis of the islands, volcanic activities, science of oceans, Fun Science gallery, modern technology gallery, Taramandal (Portable planetarium), and an in-house butterfly pen. It is closed on all Mondays and Public Holidays.
One can visit Madhuban from Mount Harriet by trekking through the jungle approximately covering 16 Kms. Exotic endemic birds, butterflies are interesting sights of this wilderness trek. Incidentally, the three points i.e. Mount Harriet and North Bay on the north of Port Blair and Ross Island on the east of Port Blair is the natural gateway for ships entering to berth at the Haddo and Chatham Wharf and Phoenix Bay Jetty.
This Govt. agricultural farm is located 14 kms west of Port Blair covering over an area of 80 acres, cultivate spices like clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, coconut etc.
The Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park at Wandoor is at a distance of 29 Kms from Port Blair and covers an area of 281.5 Sqr. Kms. This Marine Park comprises of open sea, creeks and 15 small and large islands, which is one of the best found anywhere in the world. Viewing of rare corals and underwater marine life through glass bottom boats, scuba diving and snorkelling are a life time experience. Private ferry operators arrange conducted tour to the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park from Wandoor. One needs to take permit, issued by the Forest Department and the boat ticket from the boat operators which are available at the Reception Counter of Directorate of Tourism from a Single Window before proceeding to Wandoor. Tourists are allowed to spend two and half hours in Jolly Buoy Island or Red Skin Island as a part of conducted tours. Generally, from December to May tourists are taken to Jolly Buoy Island and from May to November to Red Skin Island. It is advised to take packed lunch and water fillings before proceeding to the Marine National Park. Regular bus services are also available from Bus Terminus to Wandoor. It remains closed on Mondays.
This small island, less than a square kilometer stands right across Port Blair. This island served as the capital to the Britishers from 1858 to 1941 when the Japanese occupied it and converted it to a ‘POW site’. This island homes the ruins of the church, Chief Commissioner’s house, the Cathedral and graveyard of the Britishers and few other important landmarks which today is hugged by wild wines and huge roots and trunks of century old trees which are very evocative of the ruins and remains. To reach Ross Island, private ferries are available from Aberdeen Jetty except on Wednesday.
This island derives its name from the vessel ‘Viper’ in which Lt. Archibald Blair came to these islands in 1768 with the purpose of establishing a penal settlement. The vessel, it is believed, met with an accident and its wreckage was abandoned near the island. Gallows built on the top of the hillock, visible to all prisoners in the island, signified death. The jail at Viper, where prisoners deported from the mainland and confined, was built by the Britishers under the supervision of Major Fort. Private ferries operate to Viper Island during Harbour cruise from Aberdeen Jetty every day at 3.00 PM.
The Anthropological museum in Port Blair started in the year 1975-76, is an ethnographic museum.This one will give you an insider’s view on the diverse tribal past of the region. The tribes of Andamans are considered to be the oldest in the world, and this museum brings relics and fragments of long-gone times for the present and future generations. Get ready to be bowled over by the Jarawa chest guard, shamanic sculptures and more. It lets you step back into the time of the Jarawas, the Sentinelese, the Onges, the Nicobarese and the Shompens.This museum is closed on Thursdays .
This museum is situated adjacent to the Rajiv Gandhi Water Sport Complex, Port Blair, which exhibits species of marine life endemic to the islands and found in the Indo-Pacific and the Bay of Bengal. It is closed on Mondays/Public Holidays/Second Saturdays.
Situated near Andaman Teal House, this museum exhibits several varieties of sponges, corals, butterflies, centipedes etc. It is open on all working days except Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays.
Corbyn’s Cove beach- the coconut-palm fringed beach, six kilometers away from Port Blair town is ideal for swimming and sun-basking. Facilities like hotel, restaurant, bar, changing room, adventure water-sports are available here. Historical remains like Japanese Bunkers can be seen on the way to this beach. The Snake Island situated just across the beach is popular for scuba diving. The Waves Restaurant & Beer Bar run by Tourism department provides delightful cuisine at reasonable rates in a soothing ambience on the beach.
North Bay beach which is north of Port Blair provides snorkelling opportunities around its fringing coral reefs. Private ferry service takes one from Aberdeen Jetty across North Bay and brings back after a three hour stay. The corals at North Bay are spread over a large area. During snorkeling one can spot many species of fish, often lobsters and even clams on the coral reef. Sea walk is the latest addition of facilities there to watch under water life.
MundaPahar beach is 2.75 Kms from Chidiyatappu bus stop and is preferred for swimming. Frequent bus services are available from Port Blair bus terminus to Chidiyatappu- the southernmost tip of South Andaman Island. It is situated at a distance of 28 Kms from Port Blair Bus stand. It is famous for bird watching, sunset view, panoramic scenic beauties, and many colours of oceanic view. The biological park at Chidiyatappu is the added attraction.
About 29 Kms. west of Port Blair is the famous Wandoor beach known for scenic beauty and is very popular amongst tourists. The range of the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is just across Wandoor Beach. To visit the Marine National Park, boats are available from Wandoor Jetty.
This beach situated near Tirur, 36 Kms away from Port Blair has a beautiful sandy beach with shallow water which is ideally suitable for swimming, sun-basking and sunset viewing.
Mount Harriet, 55 Kms by road/ 15 Kms by ferry and trek was the summer headquarters of the Chief Commissioner during British Raj. This place is ideal for fascinating overview of the nearby islands and the sea. It is the highest peak in the South Andamans (365 mts. high). At Mount Harriet, there is a Forest Guest House where tourists can take rest and refresh themselves.
Baratang, less commonly known as Baratang Island, (coordinates: 12°07′N 92°47′E) is an island in the Andaman Islands, India, with an area of approximately 238 square kilometres (92 sq mi). It is one of the main islands of the Great Andaman group, a closely set archipelago in the Bay of Bengal, adjoining the Andaman Sea. Middle Andaman is to its north, and South Andaman to the south. The islands of Ritchie’s Archipelago lie some 20 kilometres (12 mi) to the east. Port Blair, the capital of the Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is located approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) to the south.Baratang contains the only known examples of mud volcanoes in India. These mud volcanoes have erupted sporadically, with recent eruptions in 2005 believed to have been associated with the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The previous major eruption recorded was on 18 February 2003. The locals call this mud volcano jalki.There are other volcanoes in the area. The Barren Island volcano which is the only active volcano in South Asia and the Narcondum volcano which is considered to be a potentially active volcano.
Neil Island 36 Kms by sea from Port Blair.This beautiful island with lush green forests and silver sandy beaches is connected by boat daily from Port Blair, which provides an ideal holiday for eco-friendly tourists. One can feel the serenity of village life here. The beaches at Laxmanpur, Bharatpur and Sitapur and Natural Bridge formation on the sea-shore are fascinating. It offers snorkelling and scuba diving as aqua activities.
Havelock Island 50 Kms by sea from Port Blair via Neil Island 62 Kms.This island, with beautiful sandy beaches fringed with green canopy of the rain-fed forests beckons everyone to enjoy the frolic and fun at the azure sea. Vijay Nagar beach, 5 Kms away from the Jetty on the eastern side and elephant beach, 10 Kms from the Jetty, including trekking through the forest on the north western part of the island are other breathtaking beaches. The Tourism Department organises Island Camping, with tented accommodation, during the tourist season at Radha Nagar beach. One can enjoy the stay right on the seashore by listening to lulls of the solacing sea in this camp.
Havelock is connected by daily speed boat services from Port Blair. Dolphin Resort, run by the Directorate of Tourism, provides comfortable accommodation at Havelock. Private Hotels also offer excellent accommodation facilities there. Snorkeling and scuba diving facilities are offered by Scuba Dive Centre Operators seasonally. Accommodation at Dolphin Resort and Island Camping can be made from the Reception Counter of Directorate of Tourism on all working days during office hours.
Radha Nagar Beach lies on the south coast of Havelock Island. It is about 12 kilometers from the Islands ferry pier. Radha Nagar is a Grade A beach of outstanding quality. This beach is also rated as the best beach in Asia by TIME Magazine. It has an overall length of two kilometers and an average width of 30 to 40 meters. The sand is white and very fine in grain. The beach has a gentle gradient of around 1:20 and continues out into the sea as a sandy bottom for over 100 meters.
Vijaynagar Beach, Havelock, is a long stretch of sand on the east coast of the Island, punctuated occasionally by rock section. Most of the beach is lined by mahua trees, whose trunks grow along the ground for many feet before they begin to climb vertically. These trees have lent a distinct character to the sea front and provide shade, close to the water. Vijaynagar Beach is perfect for long walks along the sea. Dolphin Resort is run by the Tourism Department and many other hotels are also located on this beach.
This beach is another ideal site for snorkeling. It has a rich coral reef formation and amazing underwater marine life. One can reach Elephant beach by small cruise boat from Havelock Jetty in about 40 minutes. By road one can go up to the Forest Camp which is 8 Kms from the Jetty towards Radhanagar side and from there by walk to the Elephant beach which will take another 40 minutes. Private ferry operators organize tours to Elephant beach from Havelock.
Long Island 102 Kms. by sea from Port Blair.Connected with Port Blair by boat four times a week, this island offers an exquisite sandy beach at Lalaji Bay with unpolluted environment and evergreen forests. The sea around the island is frequented by Dolphins. Lalaji Bay beach six kilometers away from the Jetty is accessible by 15 minutes journey by engine dinghies. One can also trek through the dense forests. To reach Long Island by boat one has options from Rangat / Yeratta Jetty / Uttara Jetty near Baratang Island.
Rangat 170 Kms. by road and 90 Kms by sea from Port Blair. One is exposed to the quiet village life at Rangat, Middle Andaman Island. You can also breathe unpolluted air, a rare availability for the city dweller. Amkunj Beach, 15 Kms. away from Rangat Bazar/ jetty towards Mayabunder and Curtbert Bay beach, 20 Kms. away from the Rangat Bazar jetty towards Mayabunder are the beaches near Rangat. Curtbert Bay is a Turtle- Nesting ground. One can view the nesting of turtle during December-February period. Hawks Bill Nest a Guest House, managed by the Directorate of Tourism is near Curtbert Bay beach. From here one can visit Mayabunder and Diglipur also.
Mayabunder 240 Kms by road from Port Blair.Situated in the Northern part of Middle Andaman Islands, Mayabunder offers excellent scenic beauty, mangrove creeks and beautiful beaches. Beaches at Avis Island (30 minutes boat journey from Mayabunder), and Karmatang (13 Kms) are fascinating.
Barren Island 139 Kms by sea from Port Blair.The only active volcano in India is located in Barren Island. The volcano erupted once in 1991 and again in 1994-95, after remaining dormant for about 177 years. This island is about three kilometers in diameter and has a big crater of the volcano, about half a kilometer away from the shore. The island can be visited by chartering boats/seaplane and with the permission of Forest Department. Foreign nationals are restricted to be onboard the vessel only and landing ashore is not allowed.
Cinque Island 26 Kms by sea from port Blair.A sanctuary with rare corals and under-water marine life, Cinque Island has fine sandy-beach and sand–bar connecting North and South Cinque Islands and tropical rain-forest. There is no scheduled ferry service to Cinque Island. Chartered boats of permitted category are allowed from Port Blair and Wandoor. To visit, one may contact private boat operators in Port Blair to hire a boat with due permission from the Forest Department.
Little Andaman Island 125 Kms by sea from Port Blair, located south to south Andaman, has varied attractions in store for the tourists. There are two water falls in the islands, both in the midst of the ever green rain forest. White Surf Water Falls is 6.5 kms from Hutbay Jetty. One can enjoy Elephant Safari through the forests. The other water fall – Whisper Wave is 20 kms away from the Jetty. Journey to Whisper Wave includes four kilometers of trekking through the forest.Butler Bay, a beautiful beach is 14 Kms. from Hutbay Jetty and the beach is ideal for basking, snorkeling and surfing. Tourist huts are available on the sea-front for stay. Boating through creek near the beach is exciting. Netaji Nagar beach 11 Kms from Hutbay Jetty and Harminder Bay beach are other beautiful beaches in the island. One can witness elephant lumbering operation and elephant calves training inside the forest.
Little Andaman is also famous for its Red-oil palm plantation, which spreads over an area of sixteen hundred hectares. There is a palm oil extraction factory inside the plantation which can be visited while travelling between the White Surf Waterfall and Butler Bay beach. The Onges and Nicobarese-two of the aboriginal tribes of the islands and settlers from other places reside in this island. Entry to tribal area is restricted. Hut bay is the entry and exit point for the tourists. Ferry services are available every day from Port Blair and the journey takes seven to nine hours. Regular seaplane services are also available from Port Blair.