Thrissur natives Rathi Anilkumar and her husband Anil Kumar, an Akashvani official, are frequent travellers. Though they have visited the Himalayas and the Leh-Ladakh, their favourite journey was to the pristine Andaman Nicobar Islands. They share their travel experiences with Onmanorama.
As the plane began its descend to the Port Blair airport, the vast blue expanse of the Indian ocean and the green dots of islands caught their attention.
After deboarding from the plane, the couple made way to their place of accommodation. As their car moved along the streets lined with trees, for a split second they wondered if they were back in Kerala. The name boards of Calicut, Wandoor and Manjeri added to the feeling of homecoming. Some of those, who had taken part in the Malabar riots of 1921, were transported to the island. Few of them decided to settle down in this island and named their new settlements after their regions in Kerala.
These journeys act as a reminder to our freedom struggle movement. On the island, the first call for freedom began at a prison. The jail that was constructed in 1906 is familiar to the Malayali crowd, thanks to the Mohanlal-starrer ‘Kalapani’. These narrow cells and dark corridors serve as an eerie reminder to the cruel crimes inflicted on hapless people who fought for the freedom of their land. The prison was equipped to hang three people at the same time.
A light-and-sound show is held in the evenings that narrate the long history of the prison, integral to the freedom struggle.
The British Rose Island
The Rose Island was the administrative headquarters of the British when the Andamans was under the white rulers. The building built by them still stand as testimonials of their architectural skills. Another highlight is a water purification plant in the middle of the sea.
The Baratang Island of volcanoes
Volcanoes, limestone caves and mangrove forests make up the Baratang Island, which is at a distance of 150km from Port Blair. You have to pass through dense forests for two hours. You need to take prior permission to pass through the forest, which is home to the Jarawa tribe.
During the course of the journey, you would not be allowed to stop the vehicle or take photographs. The police vehicles would escort the tourist convoys at both ends. Remember to carry the required food and water.
The couple chanced upon a Jarwa tribe member along with two kids in the dense forest. People of strong physiques, they were out hunting.
You can access the island only through a jankar. It is an adventurous trip. The limestone caves are literally a wonder sculpted by the nature. The limestones in various shapes and sizes look like sculptures in yellow or white.
The journey to the Havelock Island, on board the luxury ship, Makruzz, is an experience in itself. The time taken by normal ships to reach the island is three hours, but Makruzz can cover the same distance in 1.5 hours. This island has one of the most beautiful beaches in Asia, Radhanagar beach. The crystal-clear water lets you catch glimpses of the marine life and the sea bed. There are several beautiful beaches nearby with forests lining the shores.
Facilities are available for scuba diving at a nearby beach. The boat fitted with glass on the floor lets you see the depths of the ocean. You would be able to experience marine life up close. Coral reefs, marine vegetations and huge fish inhabit the waters.
The anthropological museum at Port Blair, Chatham saw mill, mini zoo, and Mahatma Gandhi National Park are other attractions. Several animals, including those facing extinction on the island, can be seen at the mini zoo.
The marine museum at Delanipur offers a lot of information about the marine organisms.
Japan had taken over the land from the British. However, the British won it back during the Second World War.
Even today, you can see a crater that was formed when a bomb was dropped at the Chatham saw mill during the war.