|Swimming with the fish in lovely waters of Andaman Sea|
Look at the world map and you may find Andaman & Nicobar islands as a few dots in Bay of Bengal. They appear to be closer to Thailand rather than India. The island of Phuket in Thailand is just 600 km from Port Blair - the Capital of A&N. For those in North India, reaching Thailand was simpler than reaching Port Blair as there was no direct flight and one had to go via Kolkata or Chennai.
I suddenly discovered that there was now a direct Air India flight at 5.30 AM to Port Blair. It was time to take advantage of Diwali break and discover that part of India which is barely visible on map.
Getting up at 3 AM is always a challenge and more so just 2 days before Diwali when we got home at midnight after a pre Diwali dinner. But it was worth taking a direct flight otherwise we would have had to leave an evening earlier for either Chennai or Kolkata, spend a night there and then leave for Andamans the next morning. This is because the flights from and to Port Blair only upto a certain time and only during daylight. This perhaps is the schedule during Covid restrictions.
The other challenge was to spend the time between 9 AM to 2 PM. This is the period between the flight landing and Ferry taking off to the island of Havelock. Port Blair has limited tourism potential so Havelock and Neil islands are preferred by tourists. Once again the ferries are limited nowadays due to Covid restrictions so one has to book well in advance.
The Cellular Jail (Kaala Pani)
We did well to spend much of this time at the infamous Cellular prison which had been constructed by British to break the bodies and spirit of Indian freedom fighters. An hour or so at the prison gives you the feel of how tough the life was for the inmates here and how badly they were treated. Port Blair was then known as Kala Paani and horror stories about the treatment of prisoners by the warden David Barry have been documented by many historians.
|The cells of cellular jail|
Cellular Jail also has an open air 'light & sound' show in the evenings which we were fortunate to see a few days later when we returned from Havelock. It really is worth going for this show as the history comes alive the way it is presented. They have a similar show at Ross island which is a ferry ride away.
|Sound & Light show at the cellular jail|
We also spent some time at Anthropologie museum which showcased the lives of several tribes of the islands including the Jarawas. The other tribes of prominence are the Onge, Shompen, the Great Andamanese, the Sentinelese and the Nicobarese. These tribes still exist.
I had booked Makruzz ferry which runs Catamarans between port Blair, Havelock and Neil islands. Port Blair did have a proper ferry terminal and one has to reach an hour early for check in's and for documentation. Havelock had no Ferry terminal so one has to wait in sun or rain or whatever the weather has in store for you. There are other companies also which run ferries but at this time the services were limited. The government run ferries are of high capacity but very slow. All the ferries were full so please do book the transportation well in advance if you do plan to visit the islands. There are many stories of people missing their flights as transport from an island to Port Blair was not available. It took us around 2 hours to reach Havelock and finally to our hotel at around 5 PM.
The Taj Exotica - Radhanagar Beach
|The view from our room at the Taj. Each chalet was 1600 sq ft|
|Welcome drink at the Taj|
|Soft sand and quietness at Radhanagar beach outside the Taj Exotica|
|Sunset at Radhanagar beach. Really beautiful and serene.|
The Barefoot Resort - Radhanagar
|Our Cottage at Barefoot resort. They had stilted villas also.|
|Path going to the beach from hotel. Imagine how it must be at night.|
The Scuba Diving
|The reverse dive with full equipment|
Life on Havelock Island
|This is kind of greenery you see from the car as you drive around the island|
Restaurants at Havelock
|The restaurant had nice books to read and good food.|
|A lane takes you to the restaurant from here. They provide free pick ups and drops|
|The tandoori jumbo Prawns at Barefoot|
|The Charming Jalakara hotel on top of a hill.|
|Breakfast view from Port Blair ITC Welcome Hotel.|