A beautiful short trip to Andaman…

Hi Friends,

First of all, I would like to thank all who have appreciated me on my first attempt. You can check my first blog here..Landing in Lansdowne

Here I am with my next blog “A beautiful short trip to Andaman…”. I call it short because it was a 3 nights 4 days trip and mind my words this is very less to explore and see the beauty of Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Some Basic information about Andaman:

The Andaman & Nicobar Islands are unique. A paragon of beauty, these islands present a landscape of scenic and picturesque extravaganza, shimmering like emeralds in the Bay of Bengal.

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Andaman highlighted in red

Basic info

Starting the journey:

We were planning to visit Andaman for couple of months as my in laws were coming to our place in the month of October 2014 for a vacation trip. On 19th October, Me, My Wife, and My In-laws departed from Delhi Airport from GoAir flight at 05:30 AM in the morning. Our flight was scheduled to halt at Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata for around 45 Minutes. We enjoyed our time chatting, listening songs and admiring the beautiful views from the window. We landed at Veer Savarkar International Airport, Port Blair by 10:45AM. My brother in law and sister in law were complaining of having pain in their ears.

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Aerial view of Andaman

As we have booked our tour package through an agent, our driver Mr. Karthik was ready to pick us up outside the airport. The hotel where we stayed in Port Blair was “Hotel Hill View”. It is a decent hotel as stay option. You can find many options to stay in Port Blair from Budget stays to Premium Hotels. After taking a small rest, we were ready to explore local visiting sites of Port blair like Corbyn’s Cove Beach, Anthropological Museum and Cellular Jail.

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First we went to visit Zonal Anthropological Museum of Port Blair. A nominal admission fee of Rs 10 per person and Rs 20 for camera is there in the museum. The museum offers a glimpse of the culture of Andaman. Lots of things to see and know about the people of Andaman. The weapons , tools, utensils, etc used by the tribal of Andaman are kept for display. Its an Anthropologists delight.You are not allowed to visit local tribal villages so you can peek into the interesting history of these islands.

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Model of Cellular Jail and other artifacts displayed in the museum

Next on the list was “Corbyn’s Cove Beach”. The Corbyn’s cove beach is very famous and all time visiting place in Andaman Island. It is a beach where you can do water activities such as jet ski ride, banana boat ride and speed boat ride on all the days. It is opened anytime for all the visitors to spend some time with the family and friends. On the whole a nice place for a quick evening visit.

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Corbyn’s Cove Beach

Our Next destination was “Cellular Jail” which depicts the history of Indian freedom struggle. Cellular Jail also known as KALA PANI was a colonial prison in Andaman and Nicobar used by Britishers especially to exile political prisoners. Today, the complex serves as a national memorial monument.

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Front View of Cellular Jail

Just reading through the stories and imagining the plight of the prisoners gave me goose bumps. Hats off to the freedom fighters who survived this place for India.

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Various ways in which prisoners were tortured in British Raj
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View of Cells

For some reason we could not attend the famous “Light and Sound Show” however it is recommended to attend the same as it will brief one on how the struggle for freedom took place. By now we were exhausted and decided to have dinner at one of the famous restaurant in Aberdeen Market named “Ananda”. This one serves both Veg and Non-Veg dishes and the taste was also good but we found it too spicy there. It was so spicy that tears from my sister in law’s eyes started rolling out. Later we brought some sweets and she finished off her meal with it. After having the dinner we called off the day and went to sleep.

Day 2: Visit to Havelock

The plan for the next day was to visit “Havelock Island”. Havelock is accessible by ferry as well as a seaplane service.  There are various Government and Private ferries which operate between Port Blair and Havelock on daily basis and begin to operate at around 6 am. You need to board the ferry from “Phoenix Bay Jetty”. One important thing is to be noted here that you must book your tickets well in advance. In our case the tour agent had already booked our tickets so we did not have to worry about the same. We woke up by 05:00 AM in the morning and were ready to leave. We left Port Blair by 07:00 AM from a ferry named “North Passage”. The seating arrangement was very comfortable and fully AC.

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Leaving Port Blair

After sitting for half an hour, we decided to go up on the deck. It was a two and half hour journey to Havelock and we spent all the time on the deck enjoying the vast sea and soothing sound of waves hitting the craft. It was really an amazing experience to feel the cool air and enjoying the quality time with your life partner.

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We reached Havelock around 09:30 AM and waited the driver for the pick up. Because of some issue he did not show up and we have to wait for another half an hour as our tour operator arranged another driver for us. No matter, it did not spoil our mood as we enjoyed our time there.

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The Plan was to visit Beach No. 7 on the western coast, better known as “Radha Nagar Beach”, one of the most popular beaches on Havelock and was named “Best Beach in Asia” by TIME magazine in 2004. There are other famous beaches also on Havelock but because of the time constraint we were restricted to visit only the best :).

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Entry to Radhanagar Beach

The ride in itself was full of enjoyment as we were passing through fields and after sometime the beautiful forest on both sides. The vehicles need to be parked some 500Mtrs before the entry of the beach. We walked through our way to reach there. Also there are limited option to have food, so you need to place your order for lunch in advance on the roadside small establishments which serves home made food like Aloo-Poori and some seafood dishes. We also ordered and moved ahead.

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A Panoramic view of Radhanagar Beach

As soon as you enter the Beach you will be mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the place. It is indeed without a doubt the best beach you can see in India.It truly is an unforgettable curve of white sand with perfectly colored blue waters, all lined by lush forest and palm tress. It is easy to enjoy this postcard perfect beach – lie down and marvel at the sunset, or go in for a quick swim. Most amazingly the beach remains mostly empty compared to other popular beaches in India.

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From the above images you can see there were hardly 25-30 people present on the beach which means you can enjoy a good leisure time with your family and friends not like other beaches which are noisy and full of public. We enjoyed and played in the water for a good 3-4 hours. Also we got to see many types of small Crabs, fishes and other sea creatures in the vicinity. Many people there were enjoying snorkeling in the clear waters of the beach.

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Me & My wife enjoying in the sea bed

Whenever you visit these kind of places please do not litter and leave anything which ruins the beauty of the place and try to keep the place clean. Less people coming to the beach is also one of the reason why this beach is clean and beautiful. You will not find any establishment on the beach, no water sports activities like boat riding there. It is just you and the gigantic sea.

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Life Guard Watch Tower

Yet we have spent a lot of time at the beach but we were so lost in the beauty of the beach that we were not in the mood to left. But as we have to board the jetty back to port blair the same day, we could not stay there more. So we left around 04:00 PM in the evening and had our lunch. We boarded our ferry around 04:45 PM.

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Sunset from the Deck on return journey

Around 07:00 in the evening we reached Port Blair and decided to spend some time on “Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex”. For dinner we found another famous restaurant in Aberdeen Market named “Annapurna”. Annapurna is a pure veg restaurant with wide varieties of North Indian n South Indian dishes. The quality of the food was also very good and the prices were also reasonable. We were so impressed by the food that we decided to make this our permanent stop for Breakfast and Dinner.

Day 3: Visit to Ross Island and Scuba Diving in North Bay Island

Next day was reserved for a visit to Historic Ross Island and North Bay Island. Ross Island can be reached by a short boat ride from Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex. Ross Island is about 2km east of Port Blair and easiest to access. The island is controlled by the Indian navy, which requires every visitor to sign in on entering. The authorities charge entry fee of Rs. 50 for adults. No entry fee for children up to nine.

Ross

We also took a Motor boat from Water Sports Complex and reached Ross.

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Ready for our turn

There is no human habitation in the island. Yes, it is an island where no settlement is allowed by the authorities. But, a few decades ago, Ross Island was the headquarters of the Indian Penal Settlement for nearly 80 years. It had everything — bazaar, bakery, stores, water treatment plant, church, tennis court, printing press, secretariat, hospital etc. Today, everything has disappeared except some buildings, which housed some of these landmarks.

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Ruins of Power House

From these few pics you can see the ruins of all the establishments which were there in Ross island earlier. These ruins are well protected by mother nature itself in the form of extended tree branches and roots. We overheard one of the guide to a tourist group saying these walls were protected by these tree extensions at the time of tsunami also.

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You can enjoy exploring the island by walking you ways through it. We were lucky to see spotted deer, rabbits, peacock and crab there. One of the deer was so friendly that it was roaming around with the travelers freely. It did not hesitate even when we tried to touch it.

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A beautiful view of the sea from Ross Island

Around 11:00AM we left Ross island and moved to North Bay Island for our next adventure i.e. Scuba Diving.North Bay Island is one among the best locations around Port Blair for Scuba Diving, Sea Walk and Snorkeling activities. Infringed with rich coral reef this island is visited by a lot of travelers each day. You can book these activities through your travel agent, however we decided to book the same on our own after reaching the place. After negotiating we got Scuba diving package for Rs 3000 per person for 5 people as my father in law hesitated going in deep waters and refused to participate.

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Ready, Get, Set, Goooooo

The person whom with we negotiated took us to changing rooms and provided us with Scuba jackets and gears required during the dive. Once we were ready, we were taken to shallow waters by the shore to give some basic training about Scuba diving. Basic signs were taught which we were supposed to use under water as one cannot speak when in water. As we got comfortable with the Scuba gears and signs, we proceeded further to higher depths. A certified diver was present with every single person to take care of the person and to navigate through the beautiful world of the Under water life.

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Swimming with Beautiful fishes

As soon as we entered the deep waters, the world of beautiful fishes, corals was there to welcome us. The experience was awesome and it cannot be expressed in words. To feel the experience you need to go there and try your hands on it yourself. It was like if we were swimming in a big Aquarium. We enjoyed a good 20-30 minutes under water and saw lot many fishes, corals and other things. After the dive, we were also provided with the certificates stating that we had successfully completed the dive.

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You can purchase jewellery made up of real pearls here at North Bay Island at very nominal rates as compare to normal market. After refreshing ourselves and some shopping by my mother in law and wife, we started our journey back to Water Sports Complex, Port Blair. Now we thought of trying our hands on some water sports activities and chose to ride Jet Ski. It was also a thrilling experience with a mix of fear as it was really fast compare to motor boats. There was an assistant on the ski who takes you on the ride, in the middle we also tried our hands on driving jet ski.

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After this session, we moved on and my brother in law saw one small water park kind of establishment built within the sports complex which reminded me of Takeshi’s Castle. He and my sister in law played in that complex for some half and hour while rest of us four relaxed there.

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By now we all were tired and decided to leave. We went back to our hotel for some rest and then had our dinner again at Annapurna Restaurant. Came back and called the day off as next morning we have to catch our flight back to Delhi.

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A pic outside the hotel with Mr. Karthik

Next morning we got ready, had our breakfast at our favourite place and left for the airport. The flight was scheduled to depart at 12:00 in the noon. In return journey also it was scheduled to halt at Kolkata airport for around 45 minutes and then again we took off from there and finally reached Delhi Airport around 05:30PM in the evening. This was a journey we all will never forget for rest of our lives. The memories are still fresh in our mind, specially the experience of Scuba Diving, Jet Ski and visiting one of the most beautiful beaches ever i.e. Radhanagar Beach are awesome. Here I will put an end to the blog but the journey still continues……..

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