Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Andaman and Nicobar Islands shimmer like emeralds in the Bay of Bengal. The dense forest which covers these islands and the innumerable exotic flowers and birds create a highly poetic and romantic atmosphere. Here the white beaches on the edge of a meandering coastline have palm trees that sway to the rhythm of the Sea. The beat of tribal drums haunts the stillness and technicolor fish steer their way through crystal clear water. Cellular Jail built over twelve years from 1896 to 1908 and home to hundreds of freedom fighters whose names are now engraved on the walls of its watch tower, stands as a symbol of colonial oppression, cruelty and untold suffering. Situated in the north-east corner of Port Blair, it is a national memorial now.
The best time to visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands is from early November to mid-May. The climate is pleasant and ideal for sightseeing and enjoying water sports. The summers can be a bit warm and humid to enjoy the beaches. Monsoons are around mid-May till September and are not recommended at all to visit with frequent rains, strong winds and very low visibility underwater.
How to Reach
The islands are well connected by both air and sea with regular flights to Port Blair from Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi. Regular passenger ships are available from Chennai, Kolkata and Vishakhapatnam.
The islands are the most sought-after tourism destination in India. The islands are best known for their palm lined white sand beaches, mangroves and rain forested interiors. The islands offer ample opportunities for water and adventure sports. Some of the key attractions include –
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park: Made-up of open sea, creeks and 15 small and large islands, it is one of the best parks in the world.
The Water Sports Complex: In north-west Port Blair, close to the Cellular Jail, comes alive with the purr of outboard motors. One can rent a water scooter or speedboat, and ride the waves towards Ross Island, or even be launched into the air on a parasail for a fantastic view of the harbor.
Fisheries Museum: Situated near the Water Sports Complex, this fishery museum houses nearly 350 species of marine life, including live coral, sharks, polyps and starfish. Chatham Saw Mill at the north tip of Port Blair, houses Asia’s largest saw mill.
Samudrika Museum: Run by the Navy, this museum is divided into five sections: history of the islands, their geography, people, marine life and archaeology. It houses an impressive display of corals and shells, and a large relief map of the islands’ topography.
Anthropological Museum: It displays tribal essentials and artifacts such as boats, weapons, baskets, clothing, photographs, models and records of exploratory expeditions undertaken over the years.
Forest Museum: offers an insight into forest activities through scale models and displays decorative pieces made of famous woods like Padauk, Marble, Peauma, Gurjan, Satin Wood, etc.
Marina Park: Just adjacent to the Water Sports Complex, it is a new amusement park offering rides for children and adults alike: giant wheels, paratrooper and dragon coaster.
Gandhi Park: Situated at Port Blair, this park has facilities like amusement rides, safe water sports, nature trail around the lake, garden, restaurant and historic remains like Japanese Temple as well as a bunker.
Sippighat Agricultural Farm: Sprawling over an area of 80 acres, this is a Government farm. Research and Development programs for cultivation of spices like cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, coconut and pepper are conducted here.
Mount Harriet: is the highest point near Port Blair and is an ideal place for a picnic or a trek and is a nice spot for sunrises and sunsets.
Chidiya Tapu: is the southernmost tip of South Andaman. The lush green mangroves, forest cover with numerous chirping birds and the Sylvan Sands and Munda Pahar beaches make it an ideal picnic site.
Forest Guesthouse: situated on top of a hillock provides a fabulous view of isolated islands, submerged corals and the breath-taking sunset.
Mini Zoo: Situated at Haddo (Delanipur – Chatham road), houses some of the rare species of endemic birds and animals found in these islands.
Andaman is not just about sightseeing, watersports, adventure and bites of sea-food but also about shopping. One can buy multi-colored seashell stuff and corals. One can grab materials made of shells like jewellery and coconut shell lamps, wooden carved furniture and the like. Sparsely-populated beaches that give way to an ocean brimming with interesting marine life and coral gardens are the reasons to visit the beautiful Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
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