The capital of Andaman and Nicobar- Port Blair offers a relaxing vacation in company of woods, caves, museums and historic remnants and is a window 0f the delightful - a potpourri of culture, history, leisure, luxury, sports and much more…
Port Blair- gateway to the sun, sand and surf of the natural beauty- endowed Andamans. A perfect nirvana for the urban dweller, enveloped in a modicum of the unchanged from times immemorial. Unchanged is the soulful pace of life folded in the wraps of time. Lingering in the air is the decadence of colonial rule, unchanged in the face of time and tides. Unchanged are the remotest heavens of biodiversity far removed from the gnawing realities of urbanization, a visit to this land of the unchanged and unfathomable is an eye-opener and an enchanter.
A smooth landing at veer Savarkar international airport and a two-km drive brings you to the buzzing capital of Andaman and Nicobar, Port Blair. Remnants of the British era cast long shadows on the city streets as well as on the soul while the unparalleled virgin beauty of the beaches wraps you in a fuzzy warmth. Balmy breezes kiss your hair and skin instantly transporting you to happy tropical days to come.
DAY 1: SOMBRE BEGINNINGS AT CELLULAR JAIL
Dig right into the historic flavor of Port Blair with a visit to the Cellular Jail. Built by the British over 14 years and completed in 1906, its imposing walls once housed political prisoners from Indian freedom movement. Tales of struggle and sorrow scream from the 700 solitary confinement cells. Termed as ‘Kala Pani’ literally meaning black water, the site features a revered shrine as a sign of respect and reverence today. The Marine Science Museum, also calls Samudrika, is a peep into the complexities of the Indian Navy. A tribute to the majestic seas and their might, you can feast your eyes on beautiful specimens of colorful corals and scintillating shells. That is your first true feel of the sun and the surf.
As more historical charms await, get ready to hop onto your first island visit of the archipelago, Ross Island. A shared ferry from water sports complex takes you here. They echo of sordid war tales. Less than a square km wide, the island is a time capsule from the British era and Japanese rule of the Andamans with its ruins of a church, Chief Commissioner’s house, a cathedral and the Old Cemetery.
The adventurous ones can explore the lesser frequented backside of the island, an ancient war-zone, with ruins of British barracks, some intact with bunk beds even today. From 1942 to 1945, the Andamans Islands were under Japanese rule.
The Japanese bunkers skittered bout are proof enough that those structures of solid concrete walls once housed soldiers during the wars. Ross Island is like a visit to a war-ridden past. Don’t miss the infotainment- the amazing sound and light show. Yet today, the isles’ rich wildlife has made many of these primeval sights their home.
DAY 2: OF SURF-FILLED COVES AND FRAGRANT GROVES
What is a visit to the Andamans without you inviting the warm salty waters to play with your happy feet, engulfing them with the softness of the sand? Six kilometers away from Port Blair is Corbyn’s Cove. Unleash the adventurer in you by indulging in some action-packed water sports. Or just laze around on the coconut-palm fringed beach with a sun-bask. This is your true escape to oh-so-Andamans.
A lovely walk along a bridge connecting Port Blair with a neighboring island brings you to the Chatham saw Mill, today housing a forest museum. For the museum-minded, the Anthropological Museum and Fishery Museum are great visits in the heart of Port Blair.
A stroll through fragrant spice gardens is the ideal way to spend a romantic evening. Head to Sippighat Agricultural Farm, 14 km west of Port Blair. A spice haven with cultivations of clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper and coconut, the government farm is spread over 80 acres. Guided tours shall leave you more knowledgeable on our daily dose of delicious spice-aromas. End the day sipping martinis at the North Bay Beach on the backdrop of the famous light house that appears in all Rs. 20 notes.
DAY 3: BE BEMUSED AT BARATHANG ISLAND
Pristine island- hopping on your mind? These overnight getaways shall appease the recluse in you. On day three, head straight to Barathang Island, 100 km by road from Port Blair through dense rain forests.
Home to the tribal community of Jarawa’s, Barathang has beautiful beaches, mangrove creeks, mud volcanos and limestone caves. Mind you, a trip to the limestone caves is not one for the faint-hearted! Hitch a boat ride at Nilambur Jetty through narrow mangroves, then hike 1.5 km through verdant tropical forests to arrive at huge intimidating stalactites and stalagmites. Limestone structures shall leave you mesmerized with a plethora of patterns and shadows formed of marine life, shells, skeletons and corals. But remember to take the forest department’s permission and hire a local guide.
The next must visit is Mud Volcano, approachable by road from Nilambur Jetty. A vehicle ride up to Jarawa Creek followed by a short trek of 250 m brings you to this magnificent creation. Natural gases ooze from the ground, harden on the surface resulting in a visual treat- a miniature volcano mud crater.
Care for the bird’s eye view of Port Blair? Catch a ferry and arrive at the summer headquarters of the Chief Commissioner during the British Raj- Mount Harriet. Get an amazing view of Port Blair and the surrounding islands from this vantage point, 365-meter high. From Chatham Jetty in Port Blair in Port Blair, vehicle ferry services are available to Bamboo Flat. From here, it’s a seven-km uphill drive by the side of the sea to Mount Harriet check post. By road, Mount Harriet is a 55km drive from Port Blair. A warning – prior permission from the forest department is required to visit Mount Harriet.
Port Blair is indeed a window to the delightful – a potpourri of culture, history, leisure, luxury, sports and so much more! End your refreshing rendezvous with shopping at Aberdeen Bazaar, teeming with local flavors and artefacts! A must -do to immerse yourself in everything Port- Blair, before you bid a wishful goodbye to this soulful sensation of the seas.