Port Blair, The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are not everyone’s choice for a holiday. They are so far away from the mainland that they tend to be ignored by most visitors. However, those who find themselves on the Islands are rewarded with spectacular beaches, pristine coral reefs and the lovely blue sea.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands are part of a string of about 500 tropical islands, which lie scattered halfway between Calcutta and the equator. The existence of these islands was first reported in the 9th century by Arab merchants, who sailed past them on their way to the straits of Sumatra.
Andaman Facts: The first western visitor was Marco Polo. The Marathas took over the islands in the late 17th century. In the early, 18th century, the islands were the base of Maratha admiral Kanhoji Angre, whose navy frequently captured British, Dutch and Portuguese merchant ships. Angre remained undefeated by the combined British / Portuguese naval task force, right up to his death in 1729.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands were finally annexed by the British in the 19th century and used as a penal colony for Indian freedom fighters. The colony was set up by Captain Archibald Blair of the Bombay Marine, who gave his name to the capital of the islands, Port Blair. During World War II the Japanese occupied the islands. After India gained independence in 1947, the islands were incorporated into the Indian Union.
- Main Language(s): English
- Time Zone: GMT + 05:30
- Phone Area Code: 03192
- Population: About 3,50,000
- Airport Distance from City Center: 4 kms
- Taxi Rates from Airport to City: Taxi service available at Rs. 50 per pax to city
Port Blair, is today, the pulse of the islands. Most tourists who visit begin their exploration from here. Port Blair extends around a harbour on the east coast of South Andaman, and is the most heavily populated of all the islands.
The one major landmark in Port Blair is the Cellular Jail. This seven-winged national monument tells tales of the torture of India’s freedom fighters who were imprisoned within its walls. The islands were called Kalapani (islands with black water), because of the blood that tainted its waters.
The Andamans are a paradise for ecologists and ornithologists, with 242 species of birds, 46 species of mammals and 78 species of reptiles some of them rare and almost extinct. These birds and animals live in dense rain forests surrounded by mangroves that seem to become part of the sea.
The islands are also home to some of the oldest tribal communities in the world. Six recognized tribes inhabit the several islands. While members of some of the tribes venture into the city, others keep to their forests, and can be quite hostile.
Climate: The daily temperature in the Andamans does not vary much throughout the year. It usually averages between 23°C to 30°C.
There are two seasons – the wet, or monsoon season, from mid-May to mid-November, and the dry season, from mid-November to mid-May. Rainfall is heavy and, depending on the location, averages 264 to 437 cm annually.
Best Time To Visit: The best time to visit is between November and mid-April.
Andaman Attractions – Places To Visit: The stunning beaches are the major attractions of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. But there are many other tourist attractions waiting for you in this island paradise.
The Cellular Jail
This museum is a reminder of the torture that India’s freedom fighters suffered at the hands of the British. It had more than 600 cells, so prisoners would have absolutely no contact with one another.
Today the Port Blair Cellular Jail is an important tourist spot at Andaman and Nicobar islands.
For a day of swimming, and fun in the sun, Corbyn’s Cove and Jolly Buoy are popular beaches. One can also snorkel and visit the underwater world as long as one wants.
A visit to the Havelock Island is a memorable experience. Its unspoilt and beautiful charm can take you back a hundred years.
Ross Island was once an exclusive preserve of the British who ruled from there for over 50 years. The ruins of bungalows, churches, ballrooms, bakeries, clubs and dungeons, are an interesting and intriguing experience. They relive the glory of early 20th-century colonial life.
Early morning, Ross island is a bird-watcher’s paradise.
The Viper Island contains the dungeons and a natural amphitheater. Another picnic spot, it still has ruins of gallows as reminders of a grim past.
Museum and Zoo
At the Anthropological Museum, Marine Museum, and the Mini Zoo, one can see a panorama of the life of the Paleolithic islanders, a display of marine life with sea crocodiles, dolphins, barracuda, and pearl oysters.
A harbour cruise takes visitors around the South Andaman Island and offers a beautiful view of mangroves, rain forests and other delights of this living museum. There are also cruise trips from mainland to Andaman and Nicobar islands.
The Andamans even have their very own dormant volcano and those who have the courage and stamina to climb to its mouth on Barren Island never forget the sight of the lava inside or the hard lava-like rocks that make the climb a near impossibility.