SOUTH ANDAMAN: PORT BLAIR AND AROUND:
South Andaman is today the most heavily populated of the Andaman Islands, particularly around the capital, Port Blair. Foreign tourists can only visit its southern reaches western shores at Wandoor, 35-km southwest of Port Blair. With one's own transport it's easy to find one's way along the narrow bumpy roads that connect small villages, weaving through forests and coconut fields, and skirting the swamps and rocky outcrops that form the coastline. Port Blair, a characterless cluster of tin-roofed buildings tumbling towards the sea in the north, east and west and petering into fields and forests in the suit, merits only a short stay.
Location: Andaman Islands
Famous For: Capital of Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Main Attractions: Cellular Jail, Ross Island, and Viper Island, Andaman's Water Sports Complex
Best Time To Visit: October to May
Mayabunder Kalighat Chennai - 1190 Km
Calcutta - 1255 Km Vishakapatnam - 1200 Km
Once the seat of British power and capital of Andaman Islands, it stands now as a ruin of the bygone days with the old structure almost in debris. A small museum named 'Smritika' holds photographs and the other antiques of the British’s relevant to these islands.
The British’s used to harbour convicts here. The first jail was constructed here which was abandoned after the construction of Cellular Jail. It has a gallows atop a hillock, where condemned prisoners were hanged. Sher Ali, who killed Lord Mayo, the Viceroy of India in 1872, was also hanged here. Andaman Water Sports Complex: This is a unique sports complex of its kind. Facilities for safe water sports and adventure water sports such as Water Skiing, Water Scooters, Gemini Boats, Parasailing, Sailboats, Wind Surfers, Speedboats and Glass Bottom Boats for Coral/ Shipwreck Viewing, etc. are available here. Saline water swimming pool, promenade for morning/evening walk, change room & Food Plaza are available near to the complex. There is a memorial built to commemorate the battle of Aberdeen, fought between the British and Andamanese aborigines in May 1859 in which many Andamanese died.
Corbyn's Cove, the coconut palm fringed beach, ideal for sun basking, is 7-kms away from port Blair town. Facilities like hotel, restaurant and bar, changing room etc., are available near to the beach. Historical remains like Japanese bunkers can be seen here. Snake Island situated nearby is famous for Scuba Diving.
The Chatham Saw Mill, one of the oldest and largest mills in Asia, is built on a tiny island connected to Port Blair by a bridge. It is a storehouse of timber like Padauk, Gurjan, Marble, Satin Wood, etc. This island has the second largest wharf of these islands, where island mainland ships can berth. The island is near the Haddo wharf, which is the largest wharf in the islands.
This Park, right on the seashore near to the water sports complex, has amusements rides, children's traffic park and toy train. A suitable place for spending the evenings.
This beautiful park near to the Raj Niwas has facilities like amusement rides, safe water sports, and nature trail around the lake, garden, restaurant and historic remains like Japanese temple as well as a bunker.
This museum at Phoenix Bay depicts the life of the Paleolithic Islanders. It also houses the models of the aborigines and their tools.
SAMUDRIKA (NAVAL MARINE MUSEUM):
Situated opposite to Andaman teal house, Delanipur this museum is meant to create awareness on various aspects of oceanic environment. A good collection of shells, corals and a few species of colourful fishes found in these islands are on display.
Zoological Survey Of India Museum:
Situated near to Andaman teal house, this museum and research library exhibit a good variety of sponges, corals, butterflies, centipedes etc., Situated at Haddo, this museum offers and insight into forest activities through scale models and displays decorative pieces made of famous woods like Padauk, Marble, Peauma, Gurjan, Satin Wood, etc.
Situated at Haddo (Delanipur - Chatham Road), it houses some of the rare species of endemic birds and animals found n these islands.
AQUARIUM (FISHERIES MUSEUM):
Situated near Andaman water sports complex, it exhibits species of marine life peculiar to the islands and found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean and the Bay of Bengal.
Cellular Jail Port Blair's only firm reminder of its gloomy past, the sturdy brick Cellular Jail, overlooks the sea from a small rise in the northeast of town. Built between 1896 and 1905, its tiny solitary cells were quite different and far worse than the dormitories in other prison blocks erected earlier. Only three of the seven wings that originally radiated from the central tower now remain. Visitors can peer into the cells (3m by 3.5m), and imagine the grim condition under which the prisoners existed. The Sound ad Light show outlines the history of the prison, and a small museum by the entrance gate exhibits lists of convicts, photographs and grim torture devices.
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Wandoor (29-km. By Road From Port Blair)
This park is made up of open sea, creeks and fifteen small and large islands covering an area of 281.5-sq-kms. One can see mangrove forests along the creeks and magnificent tropical forests, beautiful beaches, fascinating coral reefs and schools of ornamental fish and marine life. Wandoor is the base to visit the islands in this park like Jolly Buoy and redskin. Glass bottom boats help to take a closer look at the coral colonies. A perfect place for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling.
Cinque Islands (39-km. By Sea From Port Blair):
Declared as a sanctuary, these are enchanting islands with rare corals and under water marine life and tropical rain forest. There is a beautiful sand bar joining the north Cinque and South Cinque Islands. Private boat services are also available to this island and are suitable for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling.
Mount Harriet (55-km, By Road 55-km/15-km By Ferry And Road From Port Blair)
One can take a ferry service from the Chatnam wharf to Bamboo flat. From there one can take a vehicle to Mt Harriet, which is 365m. A natural trail takes to the top and one can have a comfortable stay at the forest guesthouse. Towards the north are the Mt. Harriet National Park and Madhuban. One can watch the elephants being trained to carry logs over here.
Chidiya Tapu (25-km. By Road From Port Blair):
Chidiya Tapu is the southern most tip of South Andaman Island. The lush green mangroves, forest cover with numerous chirping birds and the sylvan sands and Munda Pahar beaches make it an ideal picnic site. One can witness breathtaking sunsets over here.
Sippighat Farm (14-km. By Road From Port Blair):
This farm sprawling over an area of 80 acres, conducts research and development programs for cultivation of spices like Cloves, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Coconut and Pepper. Research and demonstration farm of the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CAIR) is nearby.
Collinpur (36-km. By Road From Port Blair):
Situated near to Tirur, this place has a beautiful sandy beach with shallow water. Suitable for swimming, sun basking and viewing sunset.
Madhuban (75-kms. By Road/20-kms By Ferry And Road From Port Blair):
Madhuban is a trekking area on northeastern side of Mount Harriet in South Andaman Island. Exotic beach, endemic birds, animals, butterflies, and elephant lumbering are the most interesting part of the trek.
Neil Island (36-km. By Sea From Port Blair):
This beautiful island with lush green forest and sandy beaches is the vegetable bowl of Andamans. Connected by boat from Port Blair four days a week, it provides an ideal holiday for Eco friendly tourists. Hawabill nest guesthouse of the Directorate of Tourism provides comfortable accommodation here. One can feel the sincerity and serenity of village life here. Beautiful beaches at Lakshmanpur, Bharatpur, Sitapur and the natural bridge formations on the seashore are the attractions.
Havelock Island (50-kms. By Sea From Port Blair - Via Neil Island 62-km):
This island, near to Neil Island, offers beautiful sandy beaches and lush green forest. Radhanagar Beach, 12-km from the jetty on the western side of the island, is one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the islands. One can enjoy quite holidays in the lap of Mother Nature over here.
North Passage Island (70-km. By Sea From Port Blair):
Famous for Merk Bay - Coral white sandy, shallow beach suitable for Snorkeling, Swimming and Sun Basking. The sea around the island is famous for playful Dolphins. The island is not connected by regular boat services. One has to hire boats from Long Island or Eratta Jetty - Rangat to reach Merk Bay. It's a suitable for a day visit to enjoy the glorious solitude.
Long Island (82-kms. By Sea From Port Blair):
Connected by boat four times a week from Phoenix Bay Jetty, this island offers an excellent sandy beach at Lalaji Bay, unpolluted environment and evergreen forests. Dolphin convoys frequent the sea around the island. Lalaji Bay, 6-km away from the boat jetty, is accessible by 15 minutes journey in Doonghies or trekking through the forest. Island camping (tent accommodation) is available seasonally over here.
Baratang Island (100-km. By Road From Port Blair):
This island between South and Middle Andamans has a beautiful beach. Andaman trunk road to Rangat and Mayabunder goes through this island. Mud volcanoes can also be seen in this island. Mud volcano is a hole or vent in the ground that gives off volcanic gases.
Rangat (170-km. By road and 90-km. By Sea):
One can enjoy the quiet village life and solitude of virgin nature here. You can also breathe unpolluted air, a rare commodity for the city dweller. Cutbert bay beach is a turtle nesting ground. One can view the nesting of turtles during December - February season.
Mayabunder (242-km. By Road and 157-km. By Sea):
Situated in the northern part of Middle Andaman Island, Mayabunder offers excellent scenic beauty and beautiful beaches. Inhabited by the settlers from Burma, East Pakistan and ex-convicts, Mayabunder has a distinct culture. Beach at Avis Island, Karmatang Beach and mangrove-lined creeks are some of the main attractions over here.
Diglipur (290-km By Road/185-km. By Sea):
Situated in North Andaman Island, Diglipur provides a rare experience for Eco friendly tourists. It is famous for its oranges, rice and marine life. Saddle peak the highest point in the islands is nearby. Kalpong, the only river of Andaman flows from here.
Barren Island (139-km. By Sea From Port Blair):
This is the only active volcano in India. Erupted twice in recent past, once in 1991 and again in 1994-95, after remaining dormant for about 177 years. This island, about 3-km in diameter, has a big crater of the volcano, about half kilometer away from the shore. Special boats can visit Barren Island and the visit is restricted to on board vessels only. Landing ashore is not allowed.
Little Andaman Island (120-km. By Sea From Port Blair):
Little Andaman Island offers a perfect mix of white sandy beaches bewitching waterfalls, boating through the creeks, exciting elephant safari, elephant safari, elephant lumbering, elephant calls training, surfing etc. All the places of tourist interest are approachable by the road, leading northwards from the Hubby by Jetty.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: fights serve Port Blair, on South Andaman, from Calcutta (Kolkata) (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) and Chennai (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Sea: It's also possible to get to Port Blair by ship. The principle sailings leave Calcutta (Kolkata) and Chennai every one of two weeks, and Vishakapatnam once every month or so. Tourists arriving by plane can pick up the permit necessary to visit the islands on arrival at Port Blair airport; passengers travelling on a ship should obtain on at a Foreigners' Registration Office before leaving India.
Walking is tiring and time-consuming in hilly Port Blair, even taking into account the minimal amount of sightseeing the place offers, making transport essential. Yellow-top taxis gather opposite the bus stand and they all have meters. They are the best option one can have for a trip from the center of town to Corbyn's Cove. No rickshaws, auto-or otherwise, operates on the island.
Local buses run in frequently from the bus stand in central Port Blair to Wandoor and Chirya Tapu, and can be used for day-trips, though it's best to rely on one's own transport to get around South Andaman. Bicycles can be rented from Aberdeen Bazaar, but the roads to the coasts are most easily covered on a Vespa or Motorcycle, both available for rent. The petrol pump is on the crossroads west of the bus stand, and there's another on the road towards the airport. Fill up before one leaves town, as gas is hard to come by elsewhere.
The Ramshackle Airport is 4-km south of town at Lamba line. Entry permits are issued to foreigners from the counter in the corner of the arrival hall while the baggage is being transferred. Taxis are on hand for the trip into town.
Road names are not used much in Port Blair, with most establishments addressing themselves simply by their local area. The name of the busiest and most central area is Aberdeen Bazaar, where one will find the Superintendent of Police (for permit extensions), the SCI office for Onward Bookings by Sea, and the State Bank of India.