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|14th October 2008, 18:09||#1|
Senior - BHPian
Andamans - An unforgettable trip
The first proper travelogue I'm writing in this forum though I've read so many of them. So here goes...
The plan to go to the Andamans (Nicobar is offlimits unless you get special permission) had been on our minds for a long long time, right from the time when air fares were cheap, Andaman was more pristine and the Tsunami had not yet happened.
So finally we decided its time to go before air fare became more expensive, Andaman got fully commercialized and hopefully no more tsunamis happen !!
The Gang: Two couples, Two SIOK (Single Income One Kid) and one feeling lonely bachelor boy. That's 9 adults and 2 kiddies for those who can't keep tabs.
Actually two of the couples sneaked in ahead of us to Andaman as they wanted to spend quality time together (as couples, not quads!!)
No. of Days: Oct 8th - 12th.
Route: Bangalore to Chennai by car. Chennai - Port Blair by Kingfisher Red.
Need to make distinction with the "Red" as the seats were uncomfortable, only water was free, no IFE and certainly no Mallya's personally chosen airhostesses!!
Flying Time: 2 hours. Departure 4.30 am Arrival 6.30 am.
Since Andaman follows IST but is further away to the East, sunrise is by 5.15 am and sunset by 5.30 pm !!
Day 1: North Bay, Cellular Jail, Corbyn's Cove.
Took a Ferry from the Marine Jetty to North Bay. North Bay is, you know, north of the jetty. Ross Island is just opposite to it. There's a Tsunami Memorial in the Jetty as well.
North Bay: Beautiful little island off Port Blair. Leased out to private racketeers who make money selling coconuts. Lighthouse amongst the coconut grove is in the back of the Indian Rs.20/- note. Met the great entrepreneur Selvam there whom seemed to manage the boat, snorkelling, selling pearls & coconuts. Probably the best snorkelling that I did for he managed to drag 4 of us for almost 40 minutes showing us and explaining different types of corals and fishes to us !!!
North Bay where we did Snorkelling
Ugly face of commercialization !
We headed back to Port Blair and had lunch.
Cellular Jail: We then visited Cellular Jail. One of the better kept government monuments in India. Felt very sad and proud while seeing it. Sad at the countless number of people who gave up their lives in Kala Pani and proud that we withstood all of that to get our much flaunted freedom.
There were originally 7 wings but only 3 remain now. They were built in such a way that no prisoner can see the other and communicate visually.
The view of the wings from the top of the Central Watch Tower. 2 of the wings were destroyed when the Japs took over A&N. After Indian Independence 2 more were demolished by the Indian Government and after protests the remaining were left as memorials.
The Gallows. This used to be an open structure but now has a covering at the top.
These were the four cells in which death row freedom fighters were kept.
One of the punishments was to grind oil using human labour. Probably the most inhumane of all the punishments there.
The view from the top of the Cellular Jail
We left Cellular Jail and drove on to Corbyn's cove. This is the only proper beach near Port Blair. As with all popular beaches, there was a small crowd there watching a couple frolicking happily in the water. :-)
That concluded Day1 site seeing. But we were not done with the day. As said earlier it gets dark by 5.45 pm. So we went back to the hotel, got refreshed and went to an amazing restaurant were we had so much fish that we couldn't possibly walk back. That restaurant was our haunt for the rest of our stay in Port Blair.
Coming up: Havelock Island; Tragedy strikes; Ross Island, Mahatma Gandhi Marine Park.
|14th October 2008, 19:52||#8|
Join Date: Mar 2007
Thanked: 145 Times
Nice trip and pictures.. Definitely one of the places to visit, on my bucket list!
|14th October 2008, 20:39||#10|
Senior - BHPian
Note: I'll update how best to travel to Andaman and what to do there in a separate post. Don't want to mix travel with pleasure you see :-)
Havelock Island is a two and half hour journey by ferry from Port Blair. It lies 57 kms North east of Port Blair. There are ferries connecting to Havelock in the morning and in the afternoon. We caught the 6 am ferry and met Captain Freddie. Nice warm chap who told us stories about shipping!
Port Blair from the Ship
The ferry is an airconditioned one though its better to stand out in the deck and enjoy the sun, sea and the breeze. You can also watch the amazing flying fishes which basically shoot out of the water and skim along the surface for 10's of metres. We were lucky to see a school of common dolphins in the sea as well.
As you can see from the pics, most of the islands are flush with tropical forests. The forests almost overflow into the sea and there are mangrove forests as well.
Spot the flying fish
The ferry left at 6 am and reached Havelock by 8.15. We then checked into the Sea Shells resort.
The view from the resort. Picture Postcard Perfect. Unfortunately you cannot swim in that particular part because of the low level of water and mangroves.
Couldn't think of a better picture than that
Some of my fellow resort mates!! As you can see (stop ogling folks) the water depth is not to great.
We then left for Elephant Beach by boat. Elephant Beach is a beautiful desolated beach (not so desolated the day we went) Gets its name from the elephants that were used to haul timber long back.
We did some snorkelling there as well. The sea was a bit rough that day but there were no waves at all.
Walked along the beach and saw some unusual wildlife alive and washed up dead on shore
Eel dead due to fishing
There were a lot of foreigners doing Scuba diving and Snorkelling. I really envy them for their passion to do such activities.
We were the last to leave the beach and we had the beach to ourselves for quite sometime. It is so beautiful.
Given a choice I would have pitched tent and stayed back there. However they warned me that come night there are enough mosquitoes from the swamps inside the forest to suck a human dry.
Last view of the beach as we left it
I've put in a lot of thought before I start to pen this particular piece. Do I want to keep things simple and talk about the good things in life or let everyone know it is better to be safe than be sorry. Tragedy can strike someone/anyone at anytime anywhere.
As I said earlier my gang fully comprises of my ex-colleagues and their spouses. One of my ex-colleagues inlaws were also in Andaman at the same time. They had arrived earlier and were staying separately. However they also traveled to Havelock the same day as we did but in a separate ferry. We met them in the morning before boarding the ferry and also after we got down in Havelock. From there we went our separate ways.
However when we just got back from Elephant Beach, our tour co-ordinator met us at the jetty with a phone for one of my ex-colleagues. The news was shocking. My ex-colleague brother-in-law had drowned in one of the other beaches about an hour back. My ex-colleague's wife almost fainted on hearing her brother's death. We hurried to the local hospital and found out that three persons had got caught in a freak current and the lifeguards were able to save only two of them. This is the only beach where there are lifeguards !!
This was so tragic that it put us off. However I have to mention the great help extended by everyone in Andamans in relieving the pain and suffering and in getting the body back to the mainland.
Incident happened at around 1 pm. By 4 pm the postmortem was done, the body packed in a coffin with ice, all the formalities completed. The A&N tourism department took care of everything. They delayed the ship for 30 minutes, got tickets for my friend's family and inlaws and were with them till the body was onboard and bound for Port Blair.
Not a single penny was taken. No bribes, no influence nothing !! I shuddered to think at the amount of money we would have to have paid or influence pulled if the same happened in Chennai/Bangalore !!
Tickets rescheduled, airport formalities everything was taken care of by the A&N folks. I thought I was living in a different country!! So refreshing to say something good about our administration !!
Some members in our gang wanted to go back to the resort, but we decided against it and instead we went to Radha Nagar Beach were the incident happened. It was late in the evening when we reached there. This is the only beach in Havelock where there are some small waves. We just sat there quietly contemplating on Mother Nature having taken away someone so young. (He was doing his M.E.).
Radha Nagar Beach (Beach No. 7)
One of the funny things is the villages and beaches are named or rather numbered numerically !!
This ends Day 2 of our trip.
|14th October 2008, 20:59||#11|
Senior - BHPian
That shot was from the deck of the ferry on the way to Havelock. The ferry goes beyond North Bay on its way to Havelock. Having 12X Optical zoom also helps.
Yes the Cellular Jail is also known as Kala Paani. I don't know how I forgot to put that info in !!!
Wish we went when the ticket cost was not even 6K return per person.
Its a place worth visiting and I hope it stays the same way as it is now !
|14th October 2008, 22:22||#12|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2006
Thanked: 1,149 Times
|15th October 2008, 00:59||#14|
Senior - BHPian
It was a package but we didn't take in the usual sights and sounds. We had some inputs from people who had travelled so we picked up the interesting ones.
As I said earlier, I'll have a detailed post on the cost, schedule and what to plan for later.
|15th October 2008, 02:59||#15|
Join Date: Apr 2007
Thanked: 8 Times
Nice travelogue. It is refreshing to see the Andaman beaches. The monuments of Cellular jail reminds me the 'kaala paani'.
Feeling very sad for the tragic event.
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