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Old 8th January 2016, 20:57   #1
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Default ...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands

Dear Bhpians,

This is my first ever travelogue on Team-BHP. Kindly bear with me while the travelogue is being completed, as it will be quiet an exhaustive one. I will be covering almost all of the Andaman archipelago to include Northern, Middle, Southern Andaman and three to four most popular islands around it. I would be narrating almost all small and big details of the 10 odd day long trip. Sorry for the picture quality, as half the pictures are taken with a basic DSLR camera and other half from an iPhone 6. I would be more than happy to answer all the queries while making of this thread.

First, a pic of all the travellers on this holiday - from left to right: My daughter Iyanah, wife Sonika, dear friends Shruti & Anmol and myself:
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4529.jpg

Prelude:
It was 7th of December when it all started to conceive. Anmol and his wife Shruti had plans to go to Andaman at the end of the month and had set their itinerary. I was keen on going there too, but the lack of flights during this "ON" season, no confirmation of leave and sky-rocketing prices of places to stay in Andaman led me to think of other alternatives.

One of those days, I was sitting in my office, when boss called me up to inform that he has a slot for me to go on leave from 13th December till 24th December, as nothing big is scheduled to come up during these dates. It came as a breather from otherwise hectic working and training schedules. Since I am a govt employee, I immediately started to explore options I could take for LTC (Leave Travel Concession) which is applicable once in a slot of two years. LTC takes care of your up and down travel by taxi, bus, train, and air, but not the stay.

Options considered:

1. Srinagar, Gulmarg and Sonmarg
For
  • Wife and daughter have not been to Himalayas since a long time.
  • Fresh snowfall at the start of the season is always better then pollution-smoked one.
  • I could have pleasure to drive my 4x4 Fortuner on one of these snow trails.
Against
  • Daughter is around 2.5 years and too young for fast-dipping temperatures in the high Himalayas.
2. Bikaner and Jaisalmer
For
  • I could have driven to these places and indulged in off-roading.
  • Temperature would not have been too low.
Against
  • Since I was posted there sometime back and lived in Bikaner for around 3 years, my wife was of the opinion that she’s done with brown coloured terrain for the next 5-7 years at least.
3. Goa
For
  • Nearest happening beach location to indulge in water sports.
Against
  • Unlikely to have peaceful environment due to proximity of Christmas and New Year.
4. Andaman Islands
For
  • It was on cards since very long.
  • Company of Anmol and Shruti.
Against
  • Absolutely nothing.
When a lot of things were being mulled, pros and cons were being considered, we were lucky enough to have Shruti’s uncle (Mr. Sinha) who came to our rescue. He is currently heading the Forest Department of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and was kind enough to include me and Sonika in the current itinerary of Anmol and Shruti. The final itinerary of Anmol and Shruti was like this:

17.12.2015 Arrival at Port Blair. Visit Samudrika, Anthropological Museum and Cellular Jail from 11:00 am to 01:00 pm. Visit Marina Park and Corbyn's Cove Beach at 04:00 pm. Watch light and sound program at Cellular Jail from 05:00 pm to 06:00 pm. Night stay at Port Blair.

18.12.2015 Departure from Port Blair at 07:00 am by boat. Arrival at Havelock at 09:00 am. Stay at Forest Rest House, Havelock. Visit Radhanagar Beach and Elephant Beach. Stay at Havelock.

19.12.2015 Local visits in Havelock and night halt in Havelock.

20.12.2015 Departure from Havelock at 03:00 pm. Arrival at Port Blair at 05:15 pm. Go to Wandoor for night halt (45-minute drive).

21.12.2015 Visit Jolly Buoy (part of Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park) and Museum (09:00 am to 11:00 am). Departure from Wandoor at 11:00 am. Arrival at Port Blair at 11:45 am. Check-in at Port Blair. Visit Viper Island and North Bay from 12:00 pm to 03:00 pm. Visit Ross Island and watch light and sound show from 04:00 pm to 07:00 pm. Night stay at Port Blair.

22.12.2015 Departure from Port Blair 07:00 am for catching 09:00 am convoy from Jiratang. Arrival at Baratang at 10:30 am. Visit Lime Stone Cave and Mud Volcano. Lunch at Baratang. Departure from Baratang at 02:30 pm. Arrival at Mayabunder at 07:00 pm. Night stay at Mayabunder.

23.12.2015 Local visits at Mayabunder from 09:00 am to 11:00 am. Departure from Mayabunder at 11:00 am. Arrival at Diglipur at 01:00 pm. Visit Ross and Smith Island in the afternoon. Stay at Diglipur.

24.12.2015 Departure from Diglipur at 07:00 am. Arrival at Chidiyatapu at 07:00 pm. Night stay Chidiyatapu.

25.12.2015 Departure from Chidiyatapu at 10:00 am. Arrival at Port Blair at 10:45 am. Visit Mount Harriet for lunch and come back to Port Blair. Night stay at Port Blair.

26.12.2015 Departure from Port Blair in the morning for Neil Island and night stay at Neil Island.

27.12.2015 Catch first boat for Port Blair and reach there by 11:00 am. Local visits. Night stay in Port Blair.

28.12.2015 Departure from Port Blair for Delhi at 12:15 pm.

I was included in the abovementioned itinerary from 17th to 24th as my leave was ending on the 24th. As it is always said, nothing goes as planned when you really want to make it happen. This time, it came from my uncle who was against my happiness, yes I am talking about uncle Murphy . I got our flight booked from Port Blair to Delhi for 24th considering its proximity to Christmas day. As soon as I opened the Air India website for booking, the tickets for Delhi - Port Blair axis were all booked (LTC is only applicable when you travel via Air India, so I could not book any other flight). Finally, I could manage a flight via Chennai for 15th December. The only problem for 15th was that my itinerary and staying options were going for a toss.

But, this new changed schedule also gave me an opportunity to visit all those important places which I was missing from the itinerary of Anmol and Shruti mentioned above. Tickets booked, new itinerary chalked out and we were ready to go. My new itinerary looked like this now:-

15.12.2015 Arrival at Port Blair, Visit Chidiyatapu (including zoo and Munda Pahar Beach)

16.12.2015 Take a ferry to Neil islands and back

17.12.2015 In Port Blair. Visit Samudrika, Anthropological Museum and Cellular Jail from 11:00 am to 01:00 pm. Visit Joggers Park and Corbyn's Cove Beach at 04:00 pm. Watch light and sound program at Cellular Jail from 05:00 pm to 06:00 pm. Night stay at Port Blair.

18.12.2015 Departure from Port Blair at 07:00 am by boat. Arrival at Havelock at 09:00 am. Stay at Forest Rest House, Havelock. Visit Radhanagar Beach and Elephant Beach. Stay at Havelock

19.12.2015 Local visits in Havelock and night halt in Havelock.

20.12.2015 Departure from Havelock at 03:00 pm. Arrival at Port Blair at 05:15 pm. Go to Wandoor for night halt (45-minute drive).

21.12.2015 Visit Jolly Buoy (part of Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park) and Museum (09:00 am to 11:00 am). Departure Wandoor at 11:00 am. Arrival Port Blair at 11:45 am. Check in at Port Blair. Visit Ross Island and watch light and sound show from 04:00 pm to 07:00 pm. Night stay at Port Blair.

22.12.2015 Departure from Port Blair 07:00 am for catching 09:00 am convoy from Jiratang. Arrival at Baratang at 10:30 am. Visit Lime Stone Cave and Mud Volcano. Lunch at Baratang. Departure from Baratang at 02:30 pm. Arrival at Mayabunder at 07:00 pm. Night stay at Mayabunder.

23.12.2015 Local visits at Mayabunder from 09:00 am to 11:00 am. Departure for Port Blair.

24.12.2015 Take a flight back to Delhi.

As part of the preparation for indulging in basic water sports, I considered buying my own snorkel kit and brought one worth Rs 749 from Amazon. It was one thing worth buying and had toughened glasses on it. It turned out to be of better quality than the ones that local guys make you snorkel around in shallow waters, worth Rs 450 per person.

Snorkel brought from Amazon India:
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-snorkel.jpg


Day D-1(14th Dec)


Me and Sonika, along with our daughter, boarded the Shatabdi Express from Jalandhar to New Delhi in the evening at around 1800 hours. The train takes precisely 5 hours to reach New Delhi railway station. We got ourselves booked in the Chair Car category and started our journey towards the capital city. One thing I wish to mention here is that the Shatabdi used to be a train worth the journey, offering good comfort. Even after outsourcing the food part of it, the basic luxuries of the train are gone with the passage of time and no one bothers to clean the windows or for that matter, the seats.

The train covered the distance at good speed and we were able to reach New Delhi at the right time even after the fog and wintery weather. I reached my home at Delhi and retired for the day.

D Day (15th Dec)

Our flight was scheduled from IGI, T-3 at 2050 hours. We reached the airport in time and got our boarding passes. I had two different tickets for Port Blair (one from Delhi to Chennai - 2050 hours to 2330 hours, another one from Chennai to Port Blair - 0530 hours to 0730 hours, both Air India). I requested the attendant at the Air India counter to auto-transfer the baggage to our connecting flight on the Chennai-Port Blair route. He did the same, but requested us to collect the boarding passes for the next flight from Chennai itself, as he had a long queue of passengers to attend to.

I considered it to be a genuine request, but later had a terrible time at Chennai airport. To add to my woos, I could not even sleep properly for the Delhi- Chennai flight duration as the 'push button' to recline the seat was broken. I reported the matter to the flight attendant and her pre-rehearsed and most followed word "SORRY" came out in no time. Chennai airport closes all its Air India operations from 2300 hours to 0330 hours. I reached Chennai at around 2330 hours, but could only check in after 0330 hours. Mosquitoes sucked us up dry in those 4 hours .

Broken button, all thanks to motherly care of Air India:
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4428.jpg

Landing at Chennai airport, I was greeted by a text message from Air India that my next flight has been delayed by one more hour. Nonetheless, Chennai airport greeted us with a nice sight.

A warm welcome by Natraj:
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4435.jpg

Muscleman's greetings:
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4436.jpg

I reached Port Blair one hour behind the schedule. The outside temperature was 28 degrees. I booked a taxi from the airport to our place of stay. Our stay for the initial 2 days was a military guestroom in Birchgunj area. Taxi services are quiet costly - an air-conditioned taxi for as small a distance as 8 kms will cost no less than Rs. 500.

Some pictures of the cloudy day en route:
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4442.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4443.jpg

One more thing worth mentioning in Andaman, was the discipline of the people on the roads. For the entire duration of my stay, I did not see a single two-wheeler rider without a helmet or a four-wheeler driver not wearing a seat belt. Kudos to the traffic police and the sense of responsibility among the locals. The same thing was being followed on other islets too.

Reference pics for the disciplined souls of Port Blair:
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4444.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 14th January 2016 at 11:53. Reason: Spacing
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Old 8th January 2016, 21:47   #2
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Default re: ...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands

Chidiyatapu

Took rest till afternoon, got hold of the same taxi guy and visited Chidiyatapu. Contrary to the the name, Chidiyatapu neither has too many of sparrows nor it is an island. Chidiyatapu has two attractions, Biological park (under expansion) and Munda Pahar beach. Drive from Birchgunj to Chidiyatapu took around half an hour. It was one scenic drive to and fro with ocean on one hand and lush green villages on another hand.

View from my room:
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4445.jpg


For reference, direction from Birchgunj to Chidiyatapu (taken from Google Maps):
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-chidiya.jpg


Mundapahar beach
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-anoth.jpg



The scenic drive to Chidiyatapu

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0966.jpg


...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0967.jpg


Biological Park, Chidiyatapu

The biological park consisted of total 06 animals and birds, yes you read it right only 02 animals, 02 reptiles and 02 birds. Contrary to quantity of fauna, the park had hundreds of varieties of flora. I couldn’t click too much of the pictures of plants and trees but completed all six variety of animals . Some pictures of the biological park:


Skull of Whale at the entrance of Biological park

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4446.jpg



Entrance of the Biological Park

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4448.jpg



Layout of the Park

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0075.jpg



For the desi smokers

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0056.jpg



Salt water Crocodile

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0058.jpg



Monitor Lizard

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0063.jpg


Andaman dark serpent Eagle
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0070.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0072.jpg



White bellied sea Eagle
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0077.jpg



Spotted deer

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0081.jpg



Munda Pahar Beach


Against the popular comments about beauty of this beach, I found it overrated in terms of beauty. This beach was in easyreach of everyone around therefore flocked by local hawkers, small time tea sellers. The beach was otherwise clean but I won’t term it as a proper beach, maybe because I had been to much better beaches in Andaman during my stay than Munda Pahar beach.
2004 tsunami had a terrible effect on this beach also, we found large number of uprooted trees which were littered everywhere but the forest department had made a good activity area for kids to play around.


Entrance to Munda Pahar beach

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4450.jpg



General beauty around

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4454.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4455.jpg
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Old 8th January 2016, 23:24   #3
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Day D+1 (16th Dec)

Neil Island


Neil Island is situated towards north east of Port Blair in Andaman sea. It has following places of interest:
o Bharatpur beach
o Sitapur beach
o Laxmanpur beach
o Natural Reef bridge


Neil Island: Reference Google maps

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-asa.jpg


This was the day for our scheduled visit to Neil Island. While on the way to jetty site we came across the Port Blair airport's runway. Weird thing to notice was that we could spot barriers on the runway also, they block the local traffic to trespass the runway while flight landings and takeoffs which was allowed otherwise.

Runway as seen from the Joggers park
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4456.jpg


Govt ferry Ranichanga
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4458.jpg


Liked the name of this one; please zoom in and read the 'hindi name'
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4461.jpg


Waves generated by Ranichanga
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4462.jpg


Reflections
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0140.jpg


Lonely Light house
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0141.jpg


Front Deck
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0143.jpg





Neil island is around 2 hrs. by ferry from Port Blair. Neil island is located next to Havelock island at a distance of 20 minutes in terms of time from Havelock. We were already booked in semi-luxury cruze named Makruzz on our journey from Port Blair to Havelock wherein you aren’t allowed to go on deck at all. We wanted to feel the journey real close therefore booked in govt ferry named RANICHANGA for this journey from Port Blair to Neil islands and back. This ferry is as big as Makruzz in terms of size less the luxury part of that. It costed us Rs 650 per person to and fro, Makruzz costs around Rs 2600 per person same distance. Rs 650 per person in Ranichanga was for seating, it also offers tickets worth half the price for travelling without reserved seat. We reached Neil island after an awesome journey of 2 hrs., we could go on to the upper deck, see the captain’s cabin, feel the gush of air from main deck, observe the white waves generated by ferry. It was a great experience in all, I would now let the picture do the talking. One more thing worth mentioning here for future travellers is that if u wish to visit Neil islands other than Havelock islands, it is better to plan Neil from Havelock rather than from Port Blair.



Neil island is a small and clean island with a diameter between two farthest points on land to be around 7 odd kms. It is far away from the hustle and bustle of Havelock. It is not visited by tourists who travel Andaman for 4-5 days, it is not a mandatory place to be visited but certainly comes amongst the recommended places. There are a few good restaurants to have your meals if you are going to Neils for a day trip. We reached Neil by early morning ferry which starts from Port Blair at 0630 hrs. and reaches Neil at around 0830 hrs. We had a return ferry that was scheduled to start from Neil at around 1530 hrs. As soon as we reached Neil, booked a taxi for whole day tour costing to Rs 500. While looking for a good place to have breakfast we happened to reach Sea Shell restaurant. Breakfast buffet costs you around Rs 300 per person less the taxes, we found the meal to be decent and did enjoy it. The taxi driver was acting as a local guide too and took us to all the places of interest and kept on briefing like a pro.

If you are travelling as a couple or with friends, it is recommended to take a bicycle to roam around and savior the beauty. We booked a car as we were accompanied by my small daughter.

Life boat on-board
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0149.jpg

Ah! 14 Knots of bliss
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4464.jpg



Some random island
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0151.jpg

Shades of blue
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0153.jpg


Neil from a distance
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0157.jpg

Neil harbour
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0158.jpg

Welcome board
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0161.jpg

Some random shots
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0170.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0174.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0166.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0178.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0179.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0177.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0189.jpg


While low tide; view from the same beach
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4471.jpg


Natural Bridge
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4465.jpg

Hermit crab
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0180.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0182.jpg





In the evening, took the same ferry back, reached Birchgunj and retired for the day. Next day was supposed to be a good day as we were expecting Anmol and Shruti to reach Andaman who finally MANAGED to reach after their flight got cancelled. Shruti could intimidate Air India staff to make alternate arrangement for their flight .

Last edited by naveendagar : 11th January 2016 at 12:19.
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Old 9th January 2016, 00:01   #4
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Day D+2 (17th Dec)

Samudrika Naval Museum


We had plans as per itinerary and started the day from Naval museum. Naval museum is one nicely maintained museum with a huge variety of coral reefs, fishes and they also runs a documentary about the marine life from which one can gain a vast knowledge of marine life flourishing in those islands. Fee for entering the museum is Rs 40 per person. Following pictures are from naval museum:

Museum Entrance
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-1-entrance.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-2-entrance.jpg


Bat fish
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-bat-fish.jpg


Clown Fish
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-clown.jpg


Lion Fish
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-lion-fish.jpg


Parrot Fish
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-parrot.jpg


Reef Lobster
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-reef-lobster.jpg


Sea Urchin
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-sea-urchins.jpg


Star fish
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-star-fish.jpg


Stone fish
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-stone-fish.jpg


Barren islands
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-barren.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-barren-2.jpg


Corals
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-coral-1.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-coral-2.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-coral-3.jpg


Daughter with a Jarawa kid
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-daughter.jpg


Jarawas and their Boat
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-jarawa-1.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-jarawa-2.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-jarawa-boat.jpg


Whale Carcass
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-whale-carcass.jpg


Kinds of timbers in Andamans
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-timbers.jpg


Turtle shell
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4510.jpg


Random clicks of sea shells
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4508.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4509.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4511.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4512.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4513.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4517.jpg


Found this pasted behind one of the local cab
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4521.jpg

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Old 9th January 2016, 20:18   #5
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Cellular jail

Next, we reached the most popular tourist site in whole of Andaman i.e. Cellular jail. The Cellular Jail was also known as Kala Pani. The prison was known to house many notable Indian activists during the struggle for India's independence. The Cellular Jail is one of the murkiest chapters in the history of the colonial rule in India. The construction of the prison started in 1896 and was completed in 1906. But the history of using the Andaman island as a prison dates back to the Indian rebellion of 1857. The bricks used to build the building were brought from Burma, known today as Myanmar. The penal settlement established in Andaman by the British after the First War of Independence in 1857 was the beginning of the agonizing story of freedom fighters in the massive and awful jails at Viper Island followed by the Cellular Jail. The patriots who raised their voice against the British Raj were sent to this Jail, where many perished (history sourced from Internet)
It was contrary to other tourist places of India where tourist flock here and there at their own whims and fancies. Everyone around was listening closely to the guides and were walking in discipline as if were awestruck in respect towards the freedom fighters who were lodged up in that jail. At most of the places you are choked of your voice just by visualizing the history.


Anmol very closely watching the photo gallery
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0251.jpg


Locks and Keys used in Jail
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0252.jpg


Utensils provided to the prisoners
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0253.jpg


Rings and uniforms of political prisoners
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0254.jpg


Uniforms of officials
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0255.jpg


Scale model of "then" Cellular jail, japenese destroyed four wings & only three left now.
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0256.jpg


The Guide
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0257.jpg


One of the wings
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0258.jpg


One of the mode of punishment
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0259.jpg


Swatantra Jyoti
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0260.jpg


Gallows for the Condemned
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0261.jpg

Work Shed
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0262.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0265.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0267.jpg

...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0268.jpg

Cell of freedom fighter Veer Savarkar, Port Blair airport is named after him only
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_0269.jpg









The visit was the cellular jail was later continued by light and sound show wherein the visitors are prohibited to click photographs with flash. It wasn’t up to the expectations which it required, they had installed big lamps in corridors and covered them with different colored cellophane paper and were being turned on and off along with vocal briefing.

Light and Sound show (only one taken, that too without flash)
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4524.jpg


Recommended place to see the light and sound show in Andaman is the show at Ross island which I will cover subsequently in the travelogue. One word for Ross islands light and sound show was “AWESOME”, more on that later.

We also visited the water sports complex there in Port Blair between the Cellular jail visit and the Light and sound show. The sea was very rough that day, water sports activities were closed. We weren’t too disappointed as we had lots of such activities planned in the days ahead. Also was present at water sport complex the Tsunami memorial, in memory of those who lost their lives in 2004. Had nice dinner at sea dragon restaurant and retired for the day.

Tsunami Memorial
...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands-img_4523.jpg
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Old 10th January 2016, 22:11   #6
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Default re: ...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands

Day D+3 (18th Dec)

This day, our ferry was supposed to leave Port Blair at 1330 hrs, therefore we had almost half the day until 1230 hrs. (you have to check in at least half an hour before the schedule time of Makruzz ferry). The other day Shruti’s uncle (who got our itinerary approved) suggested us to try our hands on Scuba at Chidiyatapu rather than Havelock and other places. It was one good decision we took on the entire trip, as “re”-scheduled we reached Chidiyatapu at around 0630 hrs. in the morning and were warmly received by Mr. Nigel and his friends there. They have one joint venture in the name of Dive India (www.diveindia.com), they are not too much into tourist scuba but runs basic, advance and instructor courses at that place. We were nicely briefed by one Mr. Rahul about diving, discipline while at sea, Do’s and Don’ts. We were allotted the gear to include Buoyancy Control Device (BCD, a typical suit), boots, foot flaps, and surviving apparatus. We were taken by a small boat to one speed boat that was docked a little bit off the coast as the sea was shallow there. The speed boat took us around 500-600 mtr inside where the depth allows tourist diving (=12 mtrs max). We were again made to do some more activities like hand signals rehearsals and things to do in emergency situations.

Our dive suit deflated and here we go underwater to experience our first ever dip inside sea, MAN it cannot be expressed in words. There is altogether a different world down there, so many of the fishes busy in their daily chores. I was even lucky to spot a Stingray, clown fish, parrot fish and lion fish. The dip was scheduled for duration of one hour, it was worth spending that time underwater with your heart thumping like a Harley silencer for first two minutes then it was lubed to refinement automatically. Those guys charged us around Rs. 2500 per person for one hour duration. I can very proudly say and recommend to all future visitors to undergo scuba at Chidiyatapu rather than those highly overrated and overpriced places like Havelock and Elephant beach. Silly thing what we did in enthusiasm was we forgot to info Nigel to get ourselves clicked while underwater.

The waters where we took the dip
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Getting ready
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Ready to go....
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Some pics before and after the dip

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Finally a day well spent and we rushed to catch our ferry for Havelock, we had already stuffed our vehicle with luggage, reached ferry site around 45 mins from scheduled time, got our luggage checked in for loading in luggage bay (Baggage check in ‘stunt’ is only performed for onwards journey to Havelock but not the other way around, could not find a reason for so). Reached Havelock after a journey of around 2 hrs. One more thing worth mentioning here is that me and my wife found the journey of govt boat ‘Ranichanga’ much more comfortable then of Makruzz, other than the air-conditioned thingie, because the latter being a catamaran was wobbling too much while sailing.

Makruzz Catamaran docked at jetty
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Makruzz from inside
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Havelock
Got out of the boat and headed straight away to the forest guest house. The forest guest house was built next to the beach, one can sit in the open verandah and sip coffee with a lovely view right in front of his eyes. Got settled down, had freshened up and headed for the secluded forest guest house beach. Swimming was allowed on the said beach as the depth was not too much but gradual. One can enter water and walk towards the sea for a distance of around 150 mtr with water till waist level. In the late evening, while during the low tide it was an amazing view to see the receding water and the water almost went back by around 200 mtrs leaving behind a number of Dead Sea mammals.



The Forest guest house and some random pics..

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Day D+4 (19th Dec)
We were slotted to go to elephant beach today for water sports activities. All the water sports activities can only be performed at Elephant beach as the beach around main Havelock port is frequently visited by small and medium sized passenger ferries. We were informed that the only way one can reach Elephant beach is via small self-propelled beach, which wasn’t the case, later while roaming around in Havelock we came to know the truth that it is also accessible via land route. All you have to do is reach a particular spot on the way to Radhanagar beach and trek through the forest for around 1.5 odd kms. Anyways, the small boat costed Rs 750 per couple (return journey plus one round of snorkeling). If you are a group of four or higher you have the liberty to hire a boat in the same money for yourself only. We got hold of the boat name ‘Sea Horse’ and it took around 25 odd minutes to reach Elephant beach and the boat is hired for a duration of 3 hrs. only.



Elephant beach
Elephant beach was one clean and beautiful beach, maybe because everyone (tourists as well as locals) are allowed to access that beach from 0900 hrs. to 1500 hrs. only. Reached there mounted on ‘Sea horse’ and enjoyed the beach for sometimes before taking the dip for snorkeling. Things we noticed here is that you are not allowed to go to snorkeling alone, as one might stand on live corals and destroy them, one guide will only take one tourist as he won’t be able to pull two person all by himself, even if one is good swimmer he has to take a floater in deep waters. You are allowed to go in shallow water if you want to experience snorkeling all by yourself. The view even in shallow water was breathtaking. My recommendation here is that indulge in snorkeling as soon as you reach Elephant beach to view the best clean blue water and large variety of fishes. We could observe high tide after around an hour and a half and with more and more waves coming in, the clarity of the fishes and corals decreases tremendously. One can even watch clown fish and the parrot fish in shallow waters in Elephant beach. It is still my recommended place to undergo snorkeling, other the snorkeling other water sports activities are Water jet scooter ride( you aren’t allowed to drive one), banana ride and water sliding boat for a couple which again is pulled by jet scooter.

Clean and clear water at Elephant beach
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Havelock jetty, boats ready to go to Elephant beach

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BACK to HAVELOCK
Reached back Havelock by 1500 hrs., hired two scooters for roaming around on the two more leftover beaches in Havelock. While going to the rest house came across one restaurant called “Something Different”, gave it a try as we were damn hungry after so much of snorkeling and swimming at Elephant beach. As soon as we entered, as the name suggests, we came across a very nice sight inside the restaurant (which actual was facing sea too).
It was an open restaurant with tables either too high from normal ones or too low. We sat on a table made for six which was too low. We were astonished by the warm welcome we received from the waiters and the care takers. We were ushered to our chosen table by one very nice gentleman. Later we came to know that he was Mr. Akshay, the owner who is son of a retd naval officer. As per him he once came to visit Havelock, fall in love with the place and got settled there with his small but ‘something different’ venture. The dished were also nicely cooked and presented; taste was out of the world. Mrs. Akshay was also forthcoming in receiving the guests alike and it was nice to meet their small daughter too. An afternoon well spent and the place is highly recommended too.

A pic with Mr Akshay and the something different table mat (nice idea though)

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We drove towards radhanagar beach, coveted most beautiful beach in Asia. It takes one around half an hour to reach Radhanagar beach and the road to this beach passes through a very beautiful and kind of dense forest. We came across a number of small hamlets which added to the scenic drive. Once you reach Radhanagar beach two and four wheeler parking area is around 400 mtr short of actual beach to keep hawkers and food items away. You won’t find even a single hawker on the beach actual. We could hear waves roaring down the beach from the parking area itself. As soon as we reached the beach, lo and behold, “love at first sight” is the sentence. Crystal clear blue water, white sand, you can see beach on both sides of the entrance till where eyes can see. Magnificent and well maintained beach, swimming is allowed on the beach, you can also spot a number of life guards roaming on the beach and keeping an eye on the nerds. Exactly at 1700 hrs., whistle blows from all life guards in sync and the beach closes for venturing in the water. You can still stay on the beach till 2000 hrs. and watch the beautiful sunset. We missed the sunset in actuals as that day was little cloudy but still managed to get some clicks. We came back around 1930 hrs. as it started raining cats and dogs.

Some pics taken at THE Radhanagar beach


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Day D+5 (20th Dec)
Our ferry was supposed to leave Havelock for Port Blair at 1430 hrs., we still had a good amount of time to spend till afternoon. The bug of not getting underwater pics clicked during scuba diving at Chidiyatapu was biting us off every single moment and that day it just tore the skin apart. We started looking for cheaper options, only for the sake of getting underwater pics, for our fond memories. While riding the scooter leisurely we came across a scuba shop named Eco-Divers, met this guy, Mr Sanjay (later came to know that his wife is also a BHPian) who was an instructor. The things were tied up for underwater photography in Rs 1500 per person with 45 mins of scuba and ultra HD photos from GoPro camera. Deal stuck and here we go to soothe the bitten skin. Ventured again into the sea, since the sea was on high tide, picture did not come that good and not that bad too. There were two instructors who took us turn by turn in pairs. It came out to be a nice and right decision and we came back happy.

Eco Dive contact card

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The rate list
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Mr Sanjay, the Instructor
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Mr Crabby
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Underwater pics coming really soon as soon as Anmol joins back..


After the dive we precisely had an hour and half to have lunch and catch the ferry back to Port Blair. We still had one beach with the name “Kala Pathar” left to visit, none of us wanted to leave that beach and go back as all of us knew it won’t be that easy to come back to Andaman again in near future. Without losing any more minute, we headed straight to kala pathar beach, it was a scenic drive of around 20 minutes one way. As soon as we reached that beach we thanked our goodness that we did not miss such crystal clear water. Stayed there precisely for 10 minutes and left back. The warning sign displayed at the beach suggested “NO SWIMMING” in capitals, the depth at this beach was too much to venture into.

Kala Pathar beach..
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Came back happy, had south-indian lunch at the jetty only and climbed back in to Makruzz for a ‘sea-saw’ ride. This time the sea was little more rough and there was a lineup at the washroom for sea sick people, I am sure the cleaners had a real tough time that day to ensure complete cleanliness.

Last edited by naveendagar : 11th January 2016 at 10:48.
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Old 11th January 2016, 11:35   #7
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WANDOOR

As soon as we reached Port Blair our cab driver, Senthil was waiting on the jetty to pick us up and drop at wandoor forest guest house. It was already dark therefore not much to write about the roads we travelled, but Senthil showed us the places which were completely destroyed in 2004 Tsunami. The water of tsunami was still logged in the places where the destruction was more. It was disheartening to see old houses and property still submerged in that water. Wandoor is famous for its marine museum and also is the place to go to Jolly Buoy island for snorkeling. Enjoyed the sea facing view and moon lit night at forest guest house, retired for the day after having dinner.


The forest rest house at wandoor
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Day D+6 (21th Dec)
Woke up early again to catch the ferry for Jolly Buoy, early morning ferry leaves by 0800 hrs. Rush for Jolly Buoy is not too much but still we could count around 100 odd people jostling to get into ferries. Jolly Buoy islands is not for the travellers who are in Andaman for a duration of around 4-5 days, as there are more beautiful places to see around. Jolly Buoy is famous for its snorkeling venue. We were lucky that Shruti’s uncle managed a forest dept boat for us to reach early and cherish the crystal clear water and the magnificent view of the sea life. The water was actually equivalent to the color one see in Pangong Tso lake in high Himalayas. Other than the snorkeling we also had the chance to ride glass bottom boat and see the marine life in deep waters which is out of bound for snorkeling.



On the way to Jolly Buoy
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Some random pics of beauty at Jolly Buoy

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Came back by late afternoon and straightaway went to Mahatma Gandhi marine museum and gathered the opportunity of the general knowledge about the sea life of Andaman archipelago which finally ended up with a projected documentary movie.


Entrance to MGMNP..
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Landscapes and Key marine and terrestrial habitats
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Some replicas
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A little brief about Corals
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Hypothetical Aquarium for knowledge purposes
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Kinds of Mammals in the picture right above, LED's were programmed to glow with press of these buttons to glow at appropriate place

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Came back to the guest house, had late lunch and left for Ross islands Light and Sound show. Senthil, being a perfect driver took lots of shortcut, as he was a locality, and made as reach the jetty just in time before the last ferry was scheduled to leave for Ross islands. Rushed to jetty and mounted the ferry. Ross island is only at a distance of around one kilometer and the boat took around 15 minute to reach there as the sea was rough. Ross island was a clean and a well-kept island with max end to end distance of around one km. The island boasted of large number of peacock and spotted deer which were roaming freely among the tourists looking for food items. The Ross island has a remarkable history dated back to 18th century and can be seen in the ruins and cemetery there. The visit culminated with light and sound show which was the best show I have ever seen in my life. I recommend the Ross island to be a must go place. The sound system, projection and the story build up in the voice of ‘Gulzar’ was out of the world. Did not click any pic as we did not wanted to disturb others, one can find it on Youtube. We came back to Port Blair by 2000hrs, mounted the cab and headed for Mount Harriet.


Some pics of the famous Ross island
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Mt Harriet
Mt Harriet is the highest feature in Andaman island, it is also famous for getting featured into Indian Rs. 20 currency note. The view from Mt Harriet cannot be expressed in words, one is standing on a view point on the forward edge of Mt Harriet and overlooking the sea. The sea can be seen as far as the eyes can see. For ref the actual picture and the picture of Rs 20 currency note is uploaded for reference purpose. (Net reference: http://www.journeythroughnature.com/...he-rs-20-note/)

Some pics of Forest rest house at Mt Harriet.

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Picture of Rs 20 note and the scenery therein (pics taken from net as i did not had Rs 20 note handy when we were there )
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Did enjoy the evening away from the hustle bustle of Port Blair city, the way to mount Harriet was closed for special repairs. Since we had the nod from forest dept as well, so no problems faced. The forest guest house is located at the top most feature and the way to top passes through very dense forest. It finally was a night well spent in lap of nature.




Day D+7 (22th Dec)

Baratang

Woke up again early in the morning as today was the day we were supposed to be in Baratang. Baratang is famous for natural limestone caves and mud volcano.
Also the way passes through the only protected forest are in whole of India. The forest area in between Jiratang and Baratang is a protected area and is resided by the Jarawa tribesmen. Jarawas are still staying in that forest in the same state as humans used to live in primeval years.

Internet reference for further knowledge. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jarawa_(Andaman_Islands)





Jarawas are also known to attack other persons trying to trespass through that reserved forest. To avoid such conflicts, all vehicles passing through that forest are required to follow convoy timings which is trice a day. First convoy leaves at 0900 hrs. and last convoy at 1430 hrs. down convoy also following the same pattern, with the difference of half an hour i.e. first convoy leaves at 0930 hrs. and last convoy at 1500 hrs.
We reached Jiratang at around 0815hrs, got ourselves and the vehicle enrolled into the convoy. One has to fill a form with all your credentials like permanent address and residence proof etc. it is also been warned that photography or videography is strictly prohibited. At the designated time the convoy starts moving with everyone on lookout to spot Jarawas.
The funny thing I noticed while in convoy was that inspite of the threat the convoy was being led by a dare devil policeman riding a ‘motorcycle’ and the police gypsy with 2-3 policemen tailing the convoy. I was like ‘come on’ dude, at least don’t make the mockery of convoy rules. We did spot two of the Jarawas with face decorated with clay I think and were wearing jeans, T-shirts and were carrying bow. On close interaction with the cab driver we came to know that all facilities are being extended to these tribesmen like clothes, food grains and medical facilities. We also spotted an Ambulance standing in the mid-way which was deputed to carry serious cases direct to civil hospital in port Blair. The driver also mentioned that if by any chance one could not spot the tribesmen while in convoy, the easiest way is to reach civil hospital port Blair and spot them in Jarawa ward.


Since, it was prohibited to click pic while in convoy we did not click any pics, the following pics are taken from the Internet.


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Back to Baratang
We were received warmly in forest rest house in Baratang where we had one of the best home cooked food with recipes even unknown to us, but we really relished the food.

Last edited by naveendagar : 11th January 2016 at 11:39.
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Old 11th January 2016, 12:16   #8
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Limestone caves
After the sumptuous lunch we were accommodated in an open boat capable of carrying six persons at a time. We headed to the Lime stone caves, the distance in terms of time was close to 30- 35 minutes. We were lucky to spot one wild salt water crocodile which was basking on one of the bank in the afternoon. We requested the boat operator to halt for a while at a sufficient far location not to disturb the croc. We reached the bank of the place from where the walk for limestone caves starts. Caves were at a walking distance of around 1.5 kms, passing through mangrove forest for first 500 mtrs and then through local fields. As soon as one enters the caves the view is amazing and is worth every step one took to reach there.



A salt water crocodile basking in sunshine
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Mangroves on the way
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A brief on limestone caves
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Entrance to the caves
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Some shots from inside the caves

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Headed back to Baratang jetty location after taking the tour, it is recommended to take a guide while taking the tour in the caves.
Till such time we reached the jetty, the driver has already crossed the river using the ferry. As soon as we reached the jetty we also took one of the passenger ferry and crossed over. The ferries are govt operated with a rapid succession of every 15 minutes. The charges for crossing four wheeler is Rs 100 and for humans is Rs 7 per person.

Mud Volcano
After crossing over to the other side we headed to Mud volcano, which the driver recommended not going, but on our insistence we carried on. After reaching the site the view was neither the mud nor any volcano. The place was littered with everything possible a tourist can carry, to our horror even someone had the courage to litter the used diaper bang on the spot. The ‘said’ volcano was enclosed by wooden bamboos from all sides and there was hardly any mud flowing from those volcanoes.

The info board was like this only, sorry to strain your neck
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Mud flowing out of the volcano

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Destination of the day was Mayabunder, where we were allotted rooms for the night. This was the last place of mine and my wifes visit. Anmol and Shruti were supposed to carry on further to Diglipur to spot the Turtle nesting season and we were supposed to head back to Port Blair for our flight on 24th. We came across a very beautiful location while on way to Mayabunder i.e. Moricedera picnic spot. It was also one nice spot to see the sunset and well maintained location too.



Day D+8 (23th Dec)

We woke up late that day and bid adieu to Anmol and Shruti for their onwards journey along with wishes to spot turtles nests and started back towards port Blair from where we took our flight back home the next day i.e. on 24th. The travelogue related to the visit of Anmol and Shruti for their onward journey will be uploaded shortly…..
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Old 12th January 2016, 10:07   #9
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 12th January 2016, 11:28   #10
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Default Re: ...and a Man went to Andaman! Holiday in the Andaman Islands

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Dear Bhpians, this is my first ever travelogue on Team-BHP. Kindly bear with me while the travelogue is being completed as it will be quiet an exhaustive travelogue. I will be covering almost whole of the Andaman archipelago to include Northern, Middle, Southern Andaman and three to four most popular islands around it. I would be narrating almost all small and big details of the 10 odd days long trip. Sorry for the picture quality as half the pictures are taken with a basic DSLR camera and other half from iphone6. I would be more than happy to answer all the queries while making of this thread.
Congratulations on your maiden travelogue. Hope to have many more from your end on the forum. As for the travelogue here, It's Wonderful...I was discussing over where to plan our first trip as a couple with my better half a few days back and had zeroed-in on Andaman and then this travelogue. This travelogue couldn't have come at a better time for me. Provides me much needed information on the places to visit and the individuals to be contacted for my planned diving adventure. Thanks allot...

Rated a well deserved 5 stars.

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Old 12th January 2016, 20:04   #11
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Congratulations on your maiden travelogue. Hope to have many more from your end on the forum. As for the travelogue here, It's Wonderful...I was discussing over where to plan our first trip as a couple with my better half a few days back and had zeroed-in on Andaman and then this travelogue. This travelogue couldn't have come at a better time for me. Provides me much needed information on the places to visit and the individuals to be contacted for my planned diving adventure. Thanks allot...

Rated a well deserved 5 stars.
Thank you so much for your kind words Vinodh_Gowda. You guys have chosen one of the best place to go in this season, the 'ON' season and the sky high prices of flights and accommodations ends by 15th of Jan. You will hardly notice any major difference in weather conditions till mid feb, its just the mindset. Please mail or msg me if i can be of any help for your preparations or during your holidays there. Thank you once again.
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Old 13th January 2016, 14:29   #12
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Naveendagar, a lovey travelogue! I liked the detailing and reference pictures giving a lovely experience in reading through in one go! Few pictures like Kala Pathar, Elephant beach are worth to be screen savers! Underwater pictures may even add more colors to it….let it come soon.
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Old 13th January 2016, 18:18   #13
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Nice travelogue. That " A/C no hand signal" thingie, is required by law.

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Old 13th January 2016, 19:59   #14
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Naveendagar, a lovey travelogue! I liked the detailing and reference pictures giving a lovely experience in reading through in one go! Few pictures like Kala Pathar, Elephant beach are worth to be screen savers! Underwater pictures may even add more colors to it….let it come soon.
Thank you somuch LoneRidder for the appreciation. Your words meant a lot, underwater pictures too are coming really soon.
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Old 13th January 2016, 20:33   #15
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Originally Posted by crdi View Post
Nice travelogue. That " A/C no hand signal" thingie, is required by law.
Thanks crdi, Ah! I didn't knew about that. Just asking out of curiosity, how does it contribute to traffic behaviour???
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