by shalinijena

This morning I woke up with blurry sense of humour. The red and green curtains in my rooms didn’t make any sense. It wasn’t raining outside and the fan wasn’t making sounds. I buried my face back into the pillow, knowing that I am not in Andaman any more, knowing that I am back to my world, back to the daily routine of life. My stay was hardly for a week but I know it will take me more than that to recover from the missing sickness. I miss the ‘small town’ city, I miss the twists and turns of the road, I miss the lined up greenery everywhere, I miss the never ending sea – the dancing of the waves, the chirping of the hiding birds, the nature at its best… I miss Andaman, so much..

People say its the best place for tourists. I don’t know about that, cos there is so much to explore that any number of days fall short. Its not your city where you sit in your car, watching the high rise creations of the man pass by. If you have been at Andaman then the high rise creations of the nature make everything else that was your favourite fall back in a queue. I could stay here forever, might even get mad if I do so – but again, I wouldn’t mind. But then not everybody wants that. What I know that everybody wants and must want – is to visit Andaman. And lo! There goes my five favourite touristy spots for you:

  1. Cellular Jail–You might or might not have heard of this place but when you plan your trip to Andaman, anyone – from the tourist operator to family friends who have already visited will recommend. One reason because, it is historical and second because, there is no other watch-able historical place here.

    I praise
    The gripping story of the jailers and jailed, the torture of the body, the torment of the soul, the tragedy of so many lives during the British rule– is anguish to any heart that is Indian, that has read and forgotten the sacrifices of those thousands of people because of who we live free. Also, it is a constant reminder of the British tenacity which could prosecute such extreme ends of imprisonment for people whose only fault was that they wanted a free country.

    I criticize
    The Light and sound show. I didn’t like it as much because there was nothing new for me to learn. The guide tells everything and more during the tour, while the show is all about drama for the ears which I feel could have been more engaging. Anyway, it’s not really that bad but then I wouldn’t say it’s needed either.

    Some important facts about cellular Jail:

        1. The prison started its construction in 1896 and completed in 1906.
        2. Also known as Kala Pani, the prison was meant for exile and torture of political prisoners in India.
        3. It had seven wings with three floors each and each with 33 cells such that no two wings face each other, thus preventing the prisoners from communicating with one another.
        4. David Barry who was the first jailer of this jail was the pioneer of inhuman treatment where he subjected Indians into torturing Indians.
        5. Back then there was no cement, so the bricks (that too brought from Burma) were joined using Sea powder mixed with chemicals and the men who constructed it were later imprisoned here.To read more about Cellular Jail, click HERE


  2. Jolly Buoy– The tourist guides will probably recommend you to do snorkelling at North Bay Island but I wouldn’t  Jolly Buoy is the best place for such an experience.

    I praise
    The clear blue water near the shore and the corals inside are absolutely amazing. You can walk on the white sand under the water while watching sea anemones moving their soft jelly like fingers, the tiny bright red and white stripped clownfish swimming around and hiding under them. It’s all so brilliantly colourful. The guide pushed me under several times and I touched so many corals of different colours, shapes, patterns, texture and nature (hard or soft). My personal favourite was the clamshell which is as catchy as a peacock’s neck, its bright blue –green hue. It closes by ducking inside when you go closer.

    I criticize
    The toilet. It’s all hatched up nice, but is not maintained as a tourist will expect it to be. Maybe they don’t think it’s all that important since most of the people pee in the sea itself.

    Picture courtesy – click here

    Clam (Pearls worth Rs 5000 are found in these clamshells) – To see more photos clicked by the photographer, click here

    Clownfish and Sea anemone. Picture courtesy – click here

  3. Havelock Island– It’s perhaps the best island of all – a perfect tourist spot. You will have to book a ship (preferably Makruzz) which will take you on a one and half an hour journey to Havelock. There are lines of resorts that face the beach where the beauty, the calmness of all of it is so magically comforting. But these are just the normal beaches am talking about.

    I praise
    The Radhanagar beach. It is truly breath-taking. The water keeps changing its colour from light blue to greenish blue with the change in the direction of the sun rays. While the faraway vastness of the water and the abounding lush green flanking the extreme ends of this sea is so mesmerising, equally fascinating are the tiny white creatures that make concentric patterns all over the white sand. At first, my mother thought, these were the work of ants. On a closer patient look, you will see tiny crabs making those balls of sand expertly with their legs actually in search of microscopic food between each grain of sand.

    I criticize
    Out of the three tiers of the ship: premium, deluxe and royal – the latter two are not really worth it. If you don’t have a good enough reason then it is better that you don’t waste your money there. Also, Havelock is not meant for a one-day stay. We were just plain unlucky because we took the afternoon ship and on the next day’s evening we had depart to port blair. To really enjoy the beauty of this island, you must spend at least 2 days, visit Elephanta beach and make a trip to Neil Island from there too.

    Sand bubbler Crab
    From Wikipedia: When low tide exposes a beach, crabs emerge from their burrows beneath the sand. They begin feeding by collecting sand and quickly sifting it in search of microscopic food (detritus) between each grain, inadvertently cleaning the sand. When the sand is stripped of any nutrition, the crab gathers it into a sphere (or “sand bubble”) and tosses it behind its legs.You can visit their website HERE, for more info. The third picture here is the bottom deck of the Makruzz ship. Its the cheapest and the best.

  4. Baratang – You travel some 100 kms and half the way you stick your face out of the window waiting expectantly for the Jarawas to pop out and bewilder you from somewhere. This is because on the way to Baratang is the Andaman Trunk road, the restricted area where the Jarawatribes live.  They are the one of the four protected tribes of Andaman which live within the forests like animals do. They have absolutely no connection with the outside world, not even with the rest of the Andaman. Cooked food makes them sick, that’s why they hunt and eat raw. Since clothes result in rashes on their skin, they wear nothing. At first you will only be curious, but once you see them – a strong sense of guilt and compassion usually overwhelms the logic behind such survival.

    I praise
    The Limestone cave. Apart from the fact that I could do some mini trekking here, the real beauty of these caves lies in the natural limestone deposits that over the time has taken innumerably interesting shapes. Even the boat ride through the mangrove lush was a treat. If you are an artist, then probably you can let your imaginations flow and make you own fairy tale in its beauty.

    I criticize
    The mud volcano. After taking the boat back from the limestone caves, we were made to sit in a jeep that took us through many twists and turns, back breaking brakes and jerks only to stop in front of a wet and muddy stretch of road. From there we walked some 250 metres in sole-sticking clayey mud and broad stairs to see “the mud volcano”. And what is it? A low mount of cement coloured soil that has a hole in between which is covered with grey semi-solid mud inside that bubbles once in a while. It is one of the 8 mud volcano sites in Andaman and I don’t think it was worth the watch. They should mention that its not really a volcano, but a place to waste your time.

    I got this pic from here.
    Now-a-days tourists are not allowed to photograph them because of a controversy where two foreigners entered their land by illegal means and video graphed the Jarawa women into dancing while luring them with food. How pathetic right? That’s why the government listed down several strict rules against the outsiders and the rest of the locals prohibiting their entry in the Jarawa territory.
    Now its rare to see a Jarawa and am actually glad cos at least they are no more treated like animals in a zoo.
    PS – There are 6 aboriginal tribal groups in Andaman and Nicobar islands, 4 of them are in Andaman – the Great Andamanese, Onges, Jarawas and Sentinalese, all four of Negrito origin and 2 in Nicobar islands – Nicobarese and Shompens.

    Limestone is a sedimentary rock that is formed due to compression of marine life, shells, corals, etc over million of years in the sea bed. Water, seeping through the ground, absorbs carbon dioxide from the soil which react chemically to form carbonic acid, a very weak acid that slowly dissolves the limestone. The mineral is usually redeposited later as stalactites or stalagmites, characteristic formations of a limestone cave.

  5. Game fishing India : There are many museums and other islands that I could have listed. But then, if you are visiting Andaman, then you MUST be a part of this sport. I couldn’t be because there was no time for us to. But I will, someday – for sure! Here you get to do deep sea fishing with experts that use environment friendly catch and release techniques. From Giant Trevally to coral trouts, imagine how wonderful an experience that could be? You can visit their blog HERE to know more about this sport. Lets not miss this one! And if you have done it before, please share your experience! I would love to know (and be jealous).

There is no night life in Andaman and so keep yourself equipped with your pastime stuff (in my case dozens of films) and relax through the evenings after a tiresome day tour. Have a great holiday! Cos I did.