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Old 15th October 2011, 23:34   #1
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Default Andaman Islands: A trip to cherish forever

Shaheed and Swaraj – these were the names Netaji gave to the Andamans and Nicobars respectively during his visit to the islands. Since I read this, visiting them has always been a fascination. Finally decided to visit them last January (2011).

The planning had started 6 months prior to the actual travel. This was done after reading up tons of online travel guides, reviews and travelogues. In T-BHP, the extremely informative travelogue written by hotstuff (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...tamilnadu.html ('Xing'ing around ! - Andaman & Nicobar and Tamilnadu.)) was very, very helpful.

We didn’t want to face the problems faced by travelers with respect to hotel booking, travel tickets, high rates, etc. especially because my mother would also be traveling with us – this was a trip she had also desired for a long time.
When I was a school-kid , she would tell stories of the tortures faced by our freedom fighters in the feared Cellular Jail and would say that we all needed to visit such shrines and pay respect to the men and women who underwent incredible torture and hardship so that we experience what we don’t even think a second about – freedom!

For mother, this was a pilgrimage and for me it was both – pilgrimage and a chance to experience the pristine waters far off the subcontinent.

Few glances from our experience…

Day 1: Madras - Port Blair
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Day 2, 3 & 4: Havelock Island
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Day 5: M. G. Marine National Park, Wandoor
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Day 6: Ross Island & Port Blair
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Day 7 & 8: Baratang Island
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Day 9: Port Blair - Madras - Bangalore
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Last edited by aryasanyal : 25th October 2011 at 01:05.
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Old 15th October 2011, 23:39   #2
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Default Re: Andaman Islands: A trip to cherish forever

Hi Aryasanyal,

Please complete the travelogue in the assembly line section. We will then move it for public viewing. This ensures that most of the info remains on the first page and does not get lost in the later part of the thread.

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Old 16th October 2011, 20:14   #3
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Default The planning and bookings...

We didn’t want to visit during the peak season – rates would be high, rooms would be full, streets would be crowded – something that we don’t associate with a peaceful trip.
After some compromise, we decided to visit on January 15th. The weather would be good, rates would have scaled down, and crowds – well these days every place is crowded even in off-season!

The itinerary was decided upon after reading up tons of material online and evaluating places to visit that would be within the comfort range of traveling for my mother. Hence, some places that I really wanted to visit were left out in favour of a comfortable trip. Also, just 10 days was less to experience all the places.

But any travel that I’d do next when I visit the islands would include the following, if and as possible -
  • Trek to the summit of Saddle Peak.
  • Visit the Ross and Smith islands.
  • Visit Barren Island – the only active volcano in India.
  • Visit Nicobars - I know this should be possible, even if I have to stay a week at Port Blair to get the permits.
Hotel bookings:

Booking hotels in Port Blair is very tricky as there aren’t many reviews that you can trust. Seems like the hotel owners have mostly filled up the tripadvisor site with self-reviews, and whatever customer reviews are there are all very negative.

We finally decided to stay at the Andaman Residency on the first and last days of our trip, since they had free pick-up and drop from the airport.

This was the only criteria, and believe me, this should be the only criteria if anyone plans to stay there – the rooms are small and shabby. The loos are filthy and the linens look dirty, even if washed. The food at the hotel restaurant is nothing to write home about.
The only positive are the guys who man the front office and room service – they are helpful and responsive.

Hotel choice in Havelock was a no-brainer as we had decided to stay at the Barefoot Resort, and what a great decision it was. Though a bit pricey, but it’s truly worth it.

The other hotel we decided upon in Port Blair for our 3 day long stay in the city was Hotel Shreesh. Now this was a hotel that had no reviews in tripadvisor and was a complete black-box for us. We chanced upon this hotel on the recommended hotels in Port Blair provided by Barefoot, and the decision was good.
The hotel is centrally located, well maintained and has a very good travel desk, manned by a very helpful and informative person. The in-house restaurant is also pretty good – the only glitch is that we had to confirm the breakfast menu the previous night.

We had also decided to spend a night at Baratang Island since we wanted to avoid a huge travel in a single day. We came upon the Dew Dale Resort at Baratang. The resort is beautifully located on the main Andaman Trunk Road and had beautiful cottages. The staff is very helpful and attentive.
I still rue my decision to spend just a single a day/night at Baratang – the resort deserves at least a 2 day stay.

Travel tickets:

Hotel bookings done, now it was time to book travel tickets.

For the Bangalore - Port Blair stretch, we booked the night mail train to Madras and the Kingfisher Red flight from there to Port Blair.

Port Blair to Havelock was a booking that had to be made beforehand as we wanted to avoid the numerous horror stories of getting an agent and bribing to get a seat on the vessel.

We decided on the Makruzz, a catamaran that does the Port Blair-Havelock stretch much faster than the government ferry and is much more comfortable. Problem is they don’t have an online booking system in place as yet.
So, I went to their website, got the telephone number and call them up. The receptionist forwarded my call to a person called Zabeer Khan, a senior person in the booking section.

Mr. Zabeer turned out to be an extremely helpful person and guided us to booking our Makruzz tickets in advance. We transferred the amount to their account via online net transfer and Mr. Zabeer generated soft copies of the tickets and mailed them across to us. Since we were booking nearly a month and a half in advance, we got the best possible seats as we found out later - the 1st row of seats.

Initially, we decided to do the Port Blair – Baratang section in the government bus, but then deferred the decision to the day when we’d be actually traveling as the bus tickets weren’t available in advance.

Last edited by aryasanyal : 19th October 2011 at 23:24.
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Old 19th October 2011, 23:40   #4
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Default Day 0 & 1: Bangalore - Madras - Port Blair

After a hectic day of wrapping up office work and packing up for the trip, we waited for the cab to take us to the railway station.
It's 8 PM but the cab doesn't turn up. I call up the Easy Cabs helpline and inquire.

The guy at the other end puts me on hold, and then tells me that the cab came, called, couldn't get my response and left. Problem is I never got a call - probably a signal issue.

I asked the guy about the purpose of giving my full address. Can't the cab driver come up to my apartment door in case my phone is not reachable?


I hang up, grab the luggage, ask wifey to get our son, and make our way out.

Outside, the usual auto demands Rs. 200/- to go to the station. He comes down till 180. My max is 150.
I hail a running auto and he agrees to drop me for 150.

Some relief finally!

We reach the station around 9:20pm. Have a dinner of South Indian thali at the Dakshin restaurant on platform 1. Around 10:00pm the train pulls into the same platform and our coach is right in front of us.

We board the train and settle down. The train leaves right on time.
We doze off soon.

Next morning, the train reaches Madras Central 20 mins before time. We make our way through the subway to the Park station, get the tickets for the local train to Tirusulam costing Rs.6/head. Dirt cheap for the distance.

30 mins later we reach Tirusulam and are pleasantly surprised to see the well integrated connection (subway) to the airport.

We spend some time killing time. Meanwhile son eats some Maggi (atrociously priced at Rs.60).

The flight leaves on time and reaches Port Blair on time. We meet up with mother and sister within 10 mins of our landing.
Their JetLite flight from Calcutta was also on time. The airport transfer was very smooth and we were in Hotel Andaman Residency in no time.

The hotel rooms are pretty small, and the loos dirty. It's actually visually repelling. I didn't have the heart to use it.
The staff is helpful though and room service, though a bit laid back, is okay.
We cleaned up, had lunch and took some rest.

Later in the evening we took an auto to the Cellular Jail and watched the light & sound in Hindi. It was okayish and didn't impress me much. Could have been much, much better given the strength of the subject matter.

After the show, we walk to the Aberdeen Bazar and had a wonderful dinner at the Lighthouse Residency on the main road. Aman aka Jaffaer is the guy to look for in this place. He makes you feel very special and takes utmost care while serving. The food is a bit pricey though.

Auto rickshaws are infrequent in Port Blair and the fares nearly double after sundown. It was bit late by the time we find an auto to take us back to the hotel.
We hit the sack early - next morning we leave for Havelock Island.

We're off to the islands!
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Graph Island - part of the Labyrinth group of islands south-west of South Andaman.
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More and more islands come into view
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The Andaman Trunk Road just before we touchdown
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Landed safely!
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The Airport terminal from the parking lot.
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The room at Andaman Residency.
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Cellular Jail in the evening.
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This is for all you folks who plan to visit. (Note the timings of the shows and the respective languages on the bottom left.)
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View of the Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex as we walk down to Aberdeen Bazaar from Cellular Jail.
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Last edited by aryasanyal : 20th October 2011 at 00:03.
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Old 20th October 2011, 00:41   #5
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Default Day 2 : Havelock Island

After finishing the complementary breakfast, we check out of Andaman Residency, and take an auto to the Phoenix Bay Jetty.

We find the Makruzz bus waiting at the gate of the Jetty. Boarded that and went to the jetty boarding point. This is a complementary service provided by the cruise operator.

We check in the luggage and get our tickets verified. I want to meet Zabeer Khan, and walk up to the ticket counter asking for him, but he seems to be missing for the day.

The catamaran looks breathtaking. Very well maintained with a shop on board. The seats are great and comfy. We get first row seats offering great views. Some luck with the early ticket bookings!

We pull anchor and are off to Havelock! Since we travel with the wind, there isn't much disturbance on the way. We go past the North Bay Lighthouse (the photo of which adorns the Rs.20 note), and into the wide open sea.
Numerous islands can be seen all around - near and distant. All verdant and green.

After approximately 90 mins of sedate travel, we reach the Havelock Jetty.
The jetty is located on the northern tip of the island, while we need to make our way to the mid-western coast to Radhanagar.

I didn't quite anticipated this, but at the Havelock Jetty it's a mess. Vehicles locking horns to make their way out and travelers running helter skelter searching for their own transport. Since most of the passengers are part of package tours (MakeMyTrip and Yatra), they have their conveyance ready.

But for us, no vehicle wants to go to Barefoot. We walk over to the restaurant run by the Barefoot folks at the jetty and talk to a couple of helpful workers, but even they can't do much about it.

After some more time, we finally convince two auto rickshaws @250/auto to take us to Barefoot. The restaurant guys do come out to help us bargain, but the auto drivers are stubborn. With no other option and time running out, we accept the offer grudgingly.

If I had known, Id have taken the pick-up service offered by the resort. Note for future travelers - don't take this risk.

As we make our way through the narrow 1.5 lane highway of the island we realize how green it is. A large part of the island is under farming and the soil is very fertile. Populated mostly by Bengali settlers, the island has seen dramatic rise in property prices due to the recent tourism boom.
This has resulted in a number of farmers going broke. They sell the land to the hotels, and waste away the money gambling and drinking. And are soon left with no other option as the money runs out.
Familiar tales abound in this far away land as well.

We spend the way chatting with the auto driver about all these and more. About 30 mins later we reach the Radhanagar coast and the autos make their way through a wooded stretch to the resort.
We check in and are escorted to our Nicobari Cottage by the staff.

The resort is set amongst tall trees and is very well laid out. It seems as if it complements the natural surroundings without spoiling it.

The Nicobari Cottage is a double-storeyed structure and is absolutely fine for the five of us, except one thing - it has a single bathroom!

I didn't give it much of a thought while booking but now this seems to be the most critical thing. Everything has to be timed and planned for the next 2 days.

The bus at the Jetty gate.
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MV Makruzz, the catamaran.
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Other ships at the Phoenix Bay Jetty.
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Inside the catamaran.
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The North Bay Lighthouse.
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Up, close...
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First glimpse of the Havelock Jetty.
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Our auto filling up at a pump en route to Barefoot.
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The pathway in Barefoot.
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The Nicobari Cottage
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Bed nicely setup.
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One can laze around here.
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Once inside the cottage, we loosen and clean up quickly and go to the restaurant for some sumptuous lunch. The food though is overpriced but heavenly. The service is very efficient and the staff extremely courteous. No backpacking crowd here, hence the ambiance is rather silent.

Once done with lunch, we walked the narrow wooded path to the Beach No. 7 and what a sight it was!
If the food was heavenly, then this surely must be heaven.

Absolute white sands greets us beyond the woods, and opens up to the wide open blue sea. Words fail to describe the beauty of the place.

We spend the rest of the afternoon playing and frolicking in the sand and water. After watching one of the most beautiful sunsets, we go back to the cottage.

The sand here doesn't stick to the flip-flops and feet like they did in Goa and so cleaning up is much easier and faster.

After an early dinner at the restaurant, we hit the sack. A beautifully spent day comes to an end.

The Beach No. 7, Radhanagar
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Final shot of the day
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Last edited by aryasanyal : 20th October 2011 at 01:39.
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Old 24th October 2011, 22:47   #6
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Default Day 3: Havelock Island

We decide to take it easy today – no hurried trips or packing up food for lunch. Today we simply laze around the beach, soak in the atmosphere and do everything late.

By the time I wake up close to 9:30AM, my sister and mother have already taken a morning walk around the resort and towards the beach.
Aradhya is in the process of being readied for a beach splash.

Waking late is actually a strategic decision by me – given the single bathroom for so many heads. Now I have it all empty waiting for me.

After getting over the morning rituals, I walk down to the restaurant for my breakfast where the whole family is halfway through it.
After finishing breakfast, we make our way to the beach. Mother and Aradhya decide to take a stroll along the shaded pathway along the beach, while the three of us jump into the sea in hot late-morning sun.

Soon, mother and Aradhya are back on the beach. Mother sits down in the shade watching us while Aradhya jumps into the water with us.

I slowly start taking a stroll towards the northern part of the beach, and find this section being pretty rocky. I walk over the rocks and finally stop at a point that I like. The need to stop also arises because it is getting late for lunch.
By now, my sister and Aradhya also join me and they have started collecting all kinds of corals washed ashore, and started playing with them.

This is a beautiful section of the beach where one can easily spend the whole day gazing at the vast emptiness of the horizon or the gentle waves splashing against the rocks or checking out the numerous small beach creatures and birds working through the day.

By 2:00PM we head back to our rooms and take our showers. Then we are ready for a late but sumptuous lunch. Lunch over; we head back to our rooms for a quick siesta.

Around 5:00PM we are back on the beach taking in the spectacular Beach No. 7 sunset for one last time. Tomorrow we head out of the island.

Evening is spent chit-chatting and deciding what to do tomorrow – snorkeling or scuba-diving. Snorkelling wins as folks are not yet prepared to scuba-dive.

After having a quick dinner, we talk about tomorrow morning’s plans at the reception and the guy confirms it.
Today being a full moon night, we want to see the beach. Me and my sister ask the reception if it is safe.

They mentioned watching out for any creatures, the beach is otherwise safe.

We, brother and sister, hold each other's hands tightly and slowly start walking to the beach. The short 5 minute walk seemed agonizing as we are extra cautious for any noise or the slightest sound that we hear - even the sound of wind brushing aside the leaves of the trees.

We reach the beach and what a sight it is to behold!
The moonlight bathes the white beach in it's soft color and the waves are higher than normal.

After spending about 10 minutes on the beach, we walk back to our room and hit the sack early anticipating a early start next day.

Shaded pathway along the beach.
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Playtime on the beach.
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The beautiful beach lined with tall trees.
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The rocky northern part of the beach.
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Hermit crabs all.
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Anyone knows this crab?
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More views of the rocky parts.
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Playing with corals and shells.
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Sand-sculpting by the crabs.
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The reception area of Barefoot@Havelock.
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Last edited by aryasanyal : 24th October 2011 at 23:45.
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Old 25th October 2011, 00:10   #7
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Default Day 4: Havelock Island - Port Blair

We wake up at 5:00AM and get ready to check out of Barefoot.

Have breakfast at 6:00AM, settle the bills and check out around 7:30AM. The reception has arranged for a transfer to the Barefoot Scuba resort on the eastern coast of the island. This is a sister concern that specializes in snorkeling and scuba sessions.

The jeep transfer reaches Barefoot Scuba 30 mins later.

We shove all our luggage into the resort room storing all the diving suits and equipments. Soon we meet Kaustav, our guardian for the day.

A nice affable guy from Bombay, Kaustav has been working here for the past 5.5 months and has been going around diving, snorkelling and helping out folks like us see the wonders of the marine life.

Around 9:00AM we push off towards the Lighthouse diving site for the first snorkeling trip of our lives. Meanwhile, I buy a basic underwater camera from the resort in the hope of capturing something good.

The water is blue and the stretch we travel is the clearest body of water that I have ever seen.
We anchor some feet off the coast and wade our way to the small cove right next to the lighthouse that lends it's name to this site. It seems like a small private beach.
Without wasting time, Kaustav leads my sister and Sonali to the water and teaches them the basics before leading them deeper into the water.

They were soon out of sight and seemed far far away.
Mother, Aradhya and yours truly while away our time on the beach.

Sometime later, my sister and Sonali are back and it is my chance.

The basics are simple, breath from the mouth and the mouth wrapped around the snorkel. Take it easy and keep your wits around you.
And then I enter the mesmerizing world of corals and aqua marine life.

It is amazing to watch the fishes, big and small, and corals, mostly dead due to global warming. I can only imagine what it would have been like had the corals been alive.

After going around for a good 15-20 mins we come back ashore and take lunch. Then it's back to the Barefoot Scuba resort, where we freshen up and have our lunch.

We have asked the Barefoot guys to drop us at the jetty from where shall board the MV Makruzz back to Port Blair.

Around 3:00PM we are dropped at the jetty nd wait for the catamaran to come. Meanwhile, we check-in at the counter and check-in our luggage as well.
After a wait of 30 mins the catamaran arrives and we slowly make our way to the boarding with a heavy heart. We enjoyed this island and would have loved to stay here for some more time, but there are places to visit and things to be seen.

After an uneventful journey back to the Phoenix Bay Jetty, we catch a taxi and arrive at Hotel Shreesh. The hotel is a revelation. Having very low expectations after our earlier stay at Andaman Residency, this was royalty.
Moreover, we got the super-deluxe rooms facing the Junglighat Jetty as the deluxe rooms that we had booked are all occupied.
The view of the jetty and the adjoining cityscape is beautiful.

Dinner over, we retire for the night.

We catch a glimpse of Rajan, the famous swimming elephant of Havelock.
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The lush-green fields of Havelock encircles the road to Barefoot Scuba.
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To snorkel or not to...
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Getting the ride ready.
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We sail off for Lighthouse.
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The crystal clear waters of Lighthouse welcome us.
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MV Makruzz cruises by as I snorkel. Ruins it all because of the muds it stirs up in it's wake.
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Having lunch on a bed of corals.
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Back at Barefoot Scuba.
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All the diving sites near Havelock Island (marked in red and white)
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The basic rooms-on-stilts available at the Barefoot Scuba.
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Sonali ponders in front of the suites available at Barefoot Scuba.
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By the time we returned back, it was low tide at Barefoot Scuba. This is the same point where we boarded the boat to Lighthouse earlier.
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My mother takes a walk along the beach at low-tide.
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The setting sun through the tinted glass of MV Makruzz.
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Last edited by aryasanyal : 25th October 2011 at 01:12.
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Old 25th October 2011, 20:23   #8
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Default Re: Andaman Islands: A trip to cherish forever

Nice travelogue and equally nice pics. im still deciding between A&N and Maldives for next year. Daughter will be two and i want it to be the best of her memory. A&N i can get posted too. maldives might not remain forever as it is slowly sinking (thats what i have been told).
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Old 25th October 2011, 20:40   #9
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Default Re: Andaman Islands: A trip to cherish forever

Beautiful photographs arya. Now I know where my next beach holiday is going to be at.
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Old 25th October 2011, 21:54   #10
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Default Re: Andaman Islands: A trip to cherish forever

I wish I could go here by car!
Spectacular place, you have given the Andamans a must-see feel with those wonderful photos.
I am curious to know - are there elephants in the wild - or was the one you have photographed transplanted from the mainland?
You went in Jan? I have also heard of this "season" to travel to Andamans - but could not figure out why Aug-Sep-Oct are preferred months (after rains?) What was good or bad about January?
Was the place crowded?
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Old 26th October 2011, 01:12   #11
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Default Re: Andaman Islands: A trip to cherish forever

Originally Posted by SX4LOVER View Post
Nice travelogue and equally nice pics. im still deciding between A&N and Maldives for next year. Daughter will be two and i want it to be the best of her memory. A&N i can get posted too. maldives might not remain forever as it is slowly sinking (thats what i have been told).
Thanks for liking this log, SX4LOVER!

You're right on the Maldives part - that place is going under if all the global warming reports are to be believed.
So if that point is the fulcrum of your touring decision, then Maldives should definitely be done before Andamans.

Originally Posted by pranava999 View Post
Beautiful photographs arya. Now I know where my next beach holiday is going to be at.
Thanks a lot, pranava999!
Go there soon before it gets more and more commercialized.

Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
I wish I could go here by car!
Spectacular place, you have given the Andamans a must-see feel with those wonderful photos.
Thanks a ton, sir!
There is a possibility of taking your car by ship isn't it? Once it reaches Port Blair, you can devour the roads till the northern tip of the North Andaman islands. The Andaman Trunk Road should truly be a great drive, with very different river crossings in between, unlike the ones in Kazaa.

Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
I am curious to know - are there elephants in the wild - or was the one you have photographed transplanted from the mainland?
No - elephants are not native to the islands. They have been transplanted from the mainland, mostly from southern India.
Logging is a big industry in the islands and has been ever since the Raj.
These elephants were transplanted primarily to serve the logging industry.
But the one I photographed is special. Read more about it here -

Rajan packs his trunk: World's only swimming bull elephant heads for retirement | Mail Online

Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
You went in Jan? I have also heard of this "season" to travel to Andamans - but could not figure out why Aug-Sep-Oct are preferred months (after rains?) What was good or bad about January?
Was the place crowded?
The "season" is a big factor if you want to travel to the islands and move around comfortably. The islands receive heavy to near torrential rainfall starting end-March till about Oct/Nov.
During these months the most common way to move around the islands - ships - often get canceled, if the sea is too rough, which may result in you being stranded on some island without any way to get back to Port Blair.

Also remember that Port Blair is the only entry/exit point to the islands both by air and by sea. This might have a cascading affect on your travel plans. Flight schedules might go haywire as well.

January was always my preferred month of travel for the following reasons -

1. Weather would be pleasant for the most part. Remember it's never really cold there. The pre-monsoon days would be terribly humid and hot as well.
2. The rainy season, even if stretched, should have subsided by December. Last year it did go on till early December as was told to me by the locals in Havelock.
3. I traveled immediately after the peak season (peak season is Dec 15th - Jan 15th) resulting in me getting cheaper fares and hotel tariffs, even though the climate was nearly the same.
4. Crowds were there, but it wasn't a deluge like other easily accessible places like Goa.
Barefoot@Havelock/ Radhanagar beach was pure bliss on this aspect due to the relative isolation of the beach and also due to the high tariffs of the resort.

I am not sure if Aug-Sep-Oct is a preferred season apart from the Durga Puja/Dussehra celebrating crowd who want to make the best use of the vacations. I wouldn't recommend this season because of the climatic factors listed above.

Last edited by aryasanyal : 26th October 2011 at 01:20.
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Old 26th October 2011, 17:06   #12
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Default Day 5: M.G. Marine National Park, Wandoor

We wake to a very pleasant morning in Port Blair. The sun is bright outside and the view of the Junglighat Jetty is beautiful.
The order for breakfast had already been placed last night, so by the time we reach the restaurant the breakfast is ready. We have also ordered for lunch to be packed as there wouldn't be anything available in Wandoor.

Before proceeding further with the story, I should like to mention highly of the travel desk at Hotel Shreesh manned by a friendly and very helpful Malayali gentleman, Mr. George, who also runs the bar of the hotel.
George had suggested us last night to pack our lunch and that is precisely what we have done.

Our route for the day.
Andaman Islands: A trip to cherish forever-pbwandoor-route.png

The Indica arrived soon after and we are on our way to Wandoor on the western coast of the South Andaman island about 25km from Port Blair.
We take the Andaman Trunk Road (NH 223) out of the city and pass by the airport, Garacharma and Sippighat localities of the city.
At Sippighat we stop at the Bharat Sevashram Sangha, where my mother goes and pays her respects to the Guru Maharaj Swami Pranabanandaji, after which we resume our journey towards Wandoor.

After Sippighat, we reach an intersection where we leave the National Highway and move on to a smaller road towards the left. The fields still bear the looks of the torture of the 2004 Tsunami and we try to understand what a harrowing time it must have been for the people living here.

We reach Wandoor around 9:30AM.

From http://tourism.andaman.nic.in/other.htm -
The Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park at Wandoor is at a distance of 29 Kms. from Port Blair covering an area of 281.5 Sq.Kms. This Marine Park made-up of open sea, creeks and 15 small and large islands, is one of the best found anywhere in the world. Viewing of rare corals and underwater marine life through glass bottom boats,SCUBA diving and Snorkelling are a lifetime experience for anyone.
I hadn't expected this to be the kind of touristy place that I see. Tourists of all hues and ages jostling at the park entry gates, littering the gates with all their food and plastics. The Marine National Park is a strictly-no plastic zone and the bags are thoroughly checked and plastic bags and pouches have to be kept at the gates before proceeding to the boat.

I turn about to see the Wandoor Guest House perched on the top of a hillock next to the entry gate. It is hard to imagine that this guest house was pounded and destroyed by the Tsunami. I shiver at the thought of such a high water level hitting the coast.

The boisterous crowd in the boats are mostly made up of people on conducted tours - MakeMyTrip, Yatra and the likes. Sitting among the noisy, picnic crowd, I try and fix my gaze on the maze of water channels we are passing through. This is the Labyrinth archipelago off the South Andaman coast made up of a large number of small and big islands. Tourists are allowed to two of these - Red Skin and Jolly Buoy - which open alternatively.

We are going to Jolly Buoy.

View of the Junglighat Jetty from our hotel room.
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I zoom in a bit more...
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Having breakfast at the restaurant of Hotel Shreesh.
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On the Andaman Trunk Road.
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The Wandoor Jetty.
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Fishing boats lined up next to the Jetty.
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We start for Jolly Buoy Island.
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Passing through numerous channels of the archipelago.
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Some rocky formations jutting up above water level. Reminder that this whole island chain is basically an underwater ridge.
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Another boat traveling with us finished up it's supply of fuel. Our boat tugs it along, making the journey slower and noisier.
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First sighting of Jolly Buoy Island.
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I zoom into the beach.
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We have reached and find a place in the shade.
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This is a conducted tour organized by the fisherman and boat operators of the local villages, which entitles us to a couple of coupons - one for a glass-bottom boat ride, one for snorkeling, and one for visiting the Jolly Buoy Island.

Our boat drops anchor at some distance from the island, while we are transported to the island in small glass-bottom boats.

Jolly Buoy is a small uninhabited island that is crowded with tourists during the day. There is a beautiful small beach where all the activities take place and remains crowded all through our stay.
I try to explore the island and walk away towards the other side of the island expecting solace. After some walking I find this place -

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Pure bliss and solitude here. No crowds, no noise. After spending some minutes here, I retrace my steps back to where the other folks are. Mobile signals are very feeble here, and I didn't want my folks to get agitated about my disappearance from the scene of action.

I jump into the water for another round of snorkeling - feeling confident now after our Havelock sojourn.
The coral and aquatic life here is much, much richer than the Lighthouse site at Havelock. This is beautiful, truly beautiful.

I wanted to go deeper but the rates for additional snorkeling were atrocious - so I decided against it.
Instead I took a glass-bottom boat ride far out from the island - this is a right choice as it offers my mother and son a chance to see all the creatures we are excited about since our Havelock visit.

Photography is tough through the glass-bottom boats, and I decide to take it easy and spend time enjoying rather than clicking.

We ask the boatman to drop us at our boat instead of the beach. We'd be first on board and it'd afford us the space and time to change and have our lunch before the maddening crowd arrives.
This was again the right decision on hindsight.

Back at the parking, we located our driver and were soon on our way back to the city.

The Jolly Buoy beach.
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Tourists taking in the sand, sun and water.
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My mother and Aradhya are not to be left behind.
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Spot the fishes in the water.
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A sea-cucumber on the corals.
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A Sea anemone.
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A star fish on the corals.
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More corals and fishes.
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The M.L. Beale brought us here.
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Traffic on the Andaman Trunk Road, next to the Airport runway.
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As we enter the city, we ask the driver to take us to the famous Anthropological Museum near the Bengali Club junction.

Last edited by aryasanyal : 26th October 2011 at 17:24.
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Old 26th October 2011, 19:59   #13
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Default Re: Andaman Islands: A trip to cherish forever

Great going Arya. Keep it coming.
It would also help if you ended it with the total budget and phone nos/websites to use.
Am planning a trip in Jan, was still indecisive about the place but your photos have nearly made my mind up :-)
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Old 26th October 2011, 22:36   #14
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Default Re: Andaman Islands: A trip to cherish forever

Originally Posted by jaygeetee View Post
Great going Arya. Keep it coming.
It would also help if you ended it with the total budget and phone nos/websites to use.
Am planning a trip in Jan, was still indecisive about the place but your photos have nearly made my mind up :-)
Thanks jaygeetee!
I shall provide a consolidated list of the basic expenses and the sites that I used to book.
By the way, if you notice I have already provided the website of the hotels in my posting above.

January is a good time to go - all the best for your trip!!

Last edited by aryasanyal : 26th October 2011 at 23:05.
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Old 26th October 2011, 23:06   #15
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Default Re: Andaman Islands: A trip to cherish forever

A great travelogue to this island. Pictures are so nice. I really eager to see the sea where I can see the fishes under water from the ground.You should be appreciated for taking the trouble posting all details and pictures.
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