Top 11 Places to Visit in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
1. The Havelock Island
Swaraj Island, formerly Havelock Island, is the one of the largest islands that comprise a chain of islands to the east of Great Andaman in the Andaman Islands The island is 41 km northeast of the capital city, Port Blair. The island belongs to the Ritchie’s Archipelago and is located between Peel Island and Shaheed Island. The island’s current population of 6,351 consists of mainly Bengali settlers. Many of these settlers have Bangladeshi origin as these people were given settlement by the Indian government after the 1971 war between India and Pakistan. There are six villages on this island, they are Govinda Nagar, Vejoy Nagar (inc. Kalapathar), Shyam Nagar, Krishna Nagar, Radha Nagar, and Road between Shyam Nagar and Krishna Nagar.
The Havelock or the Swaraj Island is one of the topmost tourist’s attraction for its silky beaches, buoyant greenary, crystal blue water, rich corals and verdant forests. There are a lot of tourist locations, resorts and hotels to provide the ultimate relaxation in holidays.
Radhanagar Beach on the western coast is one of the most popular beaches on Swaraj Island or Havelock Island and was named “Best Beach in Asia” in 2004. Other notable beaches include Elephant Beach on the northwest coast and Vijay Nagar Beach, Beach №3 and Beach №1 on the east coast. Kalapathar is another famous beach.
The tourists can enjoy various activities on this island, these are sea walk, scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing trips, kayaking and boating.
The island can be reached from Port Blair by government-operated ferries and private cruises. There are helicopter services as well. A local bus connects the jetty and villages on an hourly circuit.
2. Neill Island
Neill Island, officially Shaheed Island, is an island of the Andaman Islands, located in Ritchie’s Archipelago. It belongs to the South Andaman administrative district and is located about 36 km northeast from Port Blair. Neill Island is named after British Brigadier general James Neill, who had fought on the side of the British East Indian company in the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. In December 2018, it was renamed as Shaheed Island as a tribute to Subhas Chandra Bose.
The island belongs to the Ritchie’s Archipelago and is located between Havelock Island and Rose Island. It is a comparatively a flat island, and much of the landmass was deemed suitable for paddy cultivation. Unfortunately, as a result of this, very little forest cover remains at Neil. The island supplies vegetables to the rest of Andaman.
The Neill Island has a less marine diversity, coral reefs, long beaches and alluring greenery. It is a silent island unlike the hustle atmosphere of the Havelock Island. A perfect place to simply relax and chill. One of the major highlights of Neill Island is Neil Kendra, a beautiful curving bay full of white sand. The most endearing feature of this island is its three sand beaches with golden sand and glowing waters, they are the Sitpur, Bharatpur and Lakshmanpur beaches.
The activities that the tourists can enjoy on this island are snorkeling, scuba diving, cycling, swimming, birding and trekking.
Despite its minuscule tourist infrastructure, an increasing number of tourists have chosen to stay at Neill Island instead of neighboring Havelock Island. There are a handful of restaurants and basic beach hotels that cater to international and domestic tourists.
There is a jetty at Neill Kendra, which serves as the only access point of the island. There are regular Government ferry from Port Blair to Neill Island. There are private cruise ships such as Makruzz and Coastal Cruise.
3. Ross Island
Ross Island, officially known as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island, is an island of the Andaman Islands. It belongs to the South Andaman administrative district. The island is situated 3 km east from central Port Blair. Ross island was named after marine surveyor, Daniel Ross. In December 2018, it was renamed as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island as a tribute to Subhas Chandra Bose.
Ross Island has thick forests. To any onlooker it may give the impression that it has no “life” — in the sense that there is no human habitation. Spotted Deer and Peacocks are mostly found in the island and the island is full of palm and coconut trees.
A Marine Sanctuary on the island is considered to be the ideal place for watching the rare collection of coral reefs and colourful fish species. As the island is home to Olive Ridley turtles, tourists come at the right time to watch turtle nesting and it is a rare scene to be watched. At times, the wild elephants inhabited in the forests may come to the outer world.
The activities that the tourists can enjoy on this island are snorkeling, swimming and scuba diving.
4. Limestone caves
Baratang Island is the region where limestone caves are found. To reach Baratang Island, one has to travel via road for almost 100 kms. Limestone is a sedimentary rock formed at the bottom of the sea. It is formed over millions of years when various deposits of marine life, shells, corals and skeletons undergo a natural compression to form unique shapes within the cave. The caves are lined up with stalactites and stalagmites that hold the secret of a million years of Andaman.
The limestone caves are awesomely famous for different reasons. The thick mangrove forests, the enlarged tropical forest canopy, the friendly rivers to take a boat ride and the carvings of nature in the form of mud volcanoes and limestone caves are the principal factors on the island. Tourists love to visit Baratang during their tour of Andaman especially for the glowing structures found in the caves made of limestone which are years old.
The mangrove forests encircling the caves are the real attraction at this place and people are eagerly waiting to take an adventurous boat ride through the mangroves and find the sleeping crocodiles in water.
5. Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is a national park of India near Wandoor on the Andaman Islands. It belongs to the South Andaman administrative district. The park was created on 24 May 1983 under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 to protect marine life such as the corals and nesting sea turtles prevalent in the area. There are 2 major island groups in the park: the Labyrinth Islands and the Twin Islands. The islands are situated 16 km south from Port Blair. The marine park covers 281.5 km² made up of 17 islands and the open sea creeks running through the area. There is a chance for ecotourism on the islands Jolly Buoy and Red Skin The islands belongs to the Rutland Archipelago and are located between Rutland Island and South Andaman Island.
Most of the coral reefs in the park are fringing reefs. The type and composition of vegetation varies from island to island. Most notably there you can see a difference between the tourist islands which suffer more anthropocentric change and others which do not. There are also some islands more isolated or protected from the effects of weather in the Bay of Bengal. Tarmugli, the largest island, is covered with thick mangrove vegetation, sand covered beaches, uprooted trees and sheet rocks. Twin Islands are an important breeding ground for turtles within the park.
6. Cellular Jail
Each of the seven wings had three stories upon completion. There were no dormitories and a total of 696 cells.The Cellular Jail, also known as Kālā Pānī (Hindi for black waters), was a colonial prison in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. The prison was used by the British especially to exile political prisoners to the remote archipelago. Many notable Freedom Fighters such as Batukeshwar Dutt, Yogendra Shukla and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, among others, were imprisoned here during the struggle for India’s independence. Today, the complex serves as a national memorial monument. Although the prison complex itself was constructed between 1896 and 1906, the British had been using the Andaman islands as a prison since the days in the immediate aftermath of the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.
The construction of the prison started in 1896 and was completed in 1906. The original building was a puce-colored brick building.The bricks used to build the building were brought from Burma.The building had seven wings, at the centre of which a tower served as the intersection and was used by guards to keep watch on the inmates; this format was based on Jeremy Bentham’s idea of the Panopticon. The wings radiated from the tower in straight lines, much like the spokes of a bicycle wheel. A large bell was kept in the tower to raise an alarm. Each of the seven wings had three stories upon completion. There were no dormitories and a total of 696 cells.
Another two wings of the jail were demolished after India achieved independence. However, this led to protests from several former prisoners and political leaders who saw it as a way of erasing the tangible evidence of their history. The remaining three wings and the central tower were therefore converted into a National Memorial on 11 February 1979 by then Prime Minister of India Shri.Morarji Desai.
7. Barren Island
Barren Island is an island located in the Andaman Sea, dominated by Barren Volcano, the only confirmed active volcano in South Asia, and the only active volcano along a chain of volcanoes from Sumatra to Myanmar. Along with the rest of the Andaman Islands, it is a part of the Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and lies about 138 km northeast of the territory’s capital, Port Blair.
The first recorded eruption of the volcano dates back to 1787. Since then, the volcano has erupted more than ten times, with the most recent one being in 2017.
This volcanic island stands in the midst of a volcanic belt on the edge of the Indian and Burmese tectonic plates. Narcondam Island is a dormant volcano in the area, apart from volcanic seamounts like Alcock and Sewell. All the historical and recent eruptions (1789 and after) are confined within and around an active polygenetic cinder cone in a 2 km wide caldera that was formed by the Pleistocene collapse of a primitive cone of a stratovolcano. The highest elevation on the island is 353 m (1,158 ft), with most of the primitive volcano underwater (standing on the seafloor 2,250 metres (7,380 ft) below sea level). The island is 3 km in diameter, with a total surface area of 8.34 square km.
True to its name, it has large areas of barren landscape. It is uninhabited by humans, though it has a small population of goats. Also birds, bats like flying foxes and a few rodent species such as rats are known to survive the harsh conditions.
The waters surrounding Barren Island are reputed to be among the world’s top scuba diving destinations. Major attractions here are the crystal clear visibility, Manta Rays, interesting basalt formations, topography of past lava flows and fast growing coral gardens. This dive destination is remote but can be accessed by either a live aboard ship or with scuba-operators based at Havelock Island.
8. Baratang Island
Baratang Island is an island of the Andaman Islands. It belongs to the North and Middle Andaman administrative district, part of the Indian union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The island lies 150 km (93 miles) north of Port Blair. The island belongs to the Great Andaman Chain, and with an area of 242.6 square kilometres it is one of the main islands of the group, a closely set archipelago in the Bay of Bengal.
Beaches, mangrove creeks, limestone caves, and mud volcanoes are some of the physical features. Baratang contains the only known examples of mud volcanoes in India. These mud volcanoes have erupted sporadically, with recent eruptions in 2005 believed to have been associated with the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The locals call this mud volcano jalki. Politically, Baratang Island is part of Rangat Taluk.
The island is dissected by the Andaman Trunk Road to Rangat and Mayabunder. There are 2 ferry crosses: “Bamboo Trikery” Jetty and “Nilambur” Jetty. There are a couple of villages on Baratang, most noted are Adozig and Nilambur.
Baratang has plenty of private accommodations. Forest and PWD guest houses are also available. Visitors should book well in advance for a confirmed reservation. The major attractions are the limestone caves, the Mud volcano, Parrot Island, and Baludera Beach. The Jarawas, also allure many tourists each year. While driving through the dense forests on the Andaman Trunk Road, it is possible to encounter a Jarawa. Boating, trekking, hiking etc are some of the identified activities available on the island.
Diglipur is the largest town of North Andaman Island, in the Andaman Archipelago, India. The city is located on the southern side of Aerial Bay, at 43 metres (141 feet) above sea level, 298 kilometres (185 miles) north of Port Blair. It is crossed by the Kalpong River, the only river of the Andaman islands. Saddle Peak, the highest point in the archipelago, lies about 10 km to the south. Diglipur is also a county (tehsil) of the North and Middle Andaman District of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands union territory. Its area is 884 square km, and its population was 42,877 people as of 2001.
Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam are the major languages spoken in Diglipur. Major Crops of this place are Rice, Coconut, Areca nut, Pulses and vegetables. Diglipur Tehsil can be accessed through all the three mode of transport road, sea and air transport as necessary infrastructures are readily available over here to facilitate these services. Private and Government buses are also rendering daily express service from Port Blair to Diglipur and vice versa. Diglipur is connected by sea transport as well. A jetty at Aerial Bay plays a vital role for the routine boat services from Port Blair to Diglipur and vice versa with three to four trips in a week. Presently, Pawan Hans Helicopters are plying Diglipur-Port Blair and vice versa 4 days in a week.
The city also profits from tourism to nearby attractions in North Andaman, which include the Ross and Smith islands, the Saddle Peak National Park, the beaches at Ram Nagar, Kalipur and Lamiya bay, and mud volcanoes. Ram Nagar beach (15 kilometres away from Kalighat) is famous for sea turtle nesting from December to February. The Chalis Ek Caves (about 20 kilometres due south of Diglipur, near the village of Pathi Level) and the Alfred Caves are a major nesting ground for the edible-nest swiftlet, whose nests are exported to China for bird’s nest soup. The tourist season in North Andaman [Diglipur] is between the months of November and March in a year.
10. Cinque Island
Cinque Island is an uninhabited island of the Andaman Islands. It belongs to the South Andaman administrative district, part of the Indian union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. the island is lying 37 km south from Port Blair. The island belongs to Rutland Archipelago. North Cinque Island and South Cinque Island, 1.5 km to the south, are considered to be a single Cinque Island. North Cinque consists of three rocky Peninsulas connected by sand bars. The sand bar between the south and north peninsulas was broken through in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami but has since reformed.
There was a wildlife station on the island, but it was abandoned after budget cuts at 2011. There is a lighthouse at the top of the tallest hill on the northern part of North Cinque, established 1972, about 2 km from the landing point. The Cinque Islands have been declared a sanctuary as they house an enormous variety of coral reefs, sea weeds, colorful fishes, shells, starfish, sea anemones, salt-water crocodile, turtles and water snakes. The island is a popular destination for underwater diving. It is best known for its coral richness and beach beauty. It was named as one of the most visited locations of Andamans.
11. Viper Island
Viper Island is an island of the Andaman Islands. It belongs to the South Andaman district of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The island lies 4 km west of Port Blair. Viper Island derives its name from the vessel H.M.S. Viper in which Lt. Archibald Blair came to Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 1789.
This small island was the site of the jail where the British used to imprison convicts and political prisoners. It has the ruins of a gallows atop a hillock. The jail was abandoned when the Cellular Jail was constructed in 1906. In any talk about Andaman and its role in the freedom struggle, it is the Cellular Jail that finds frequent mention. But, many years before the Cellular Jail was constructed, it was the jail at Viper Island that was used by the British to inflict the worst form of torture and hardship on those who strove to free the country from the British rule.
The island has some vipers and snakes on it. Viper Island is a serene beautiful tourist destination situated near Port Blair’s harbor, and can be approached in 20 minutes from the Phoenix Bay jetty. The Harbor Cruise, available daily from the jetty, provides an overall view of different points of the harbor and a trip to this haunted Viper Island. This place is visited by number of tourists as it has multiple attractions with historical importance and also has mesmerizing picnic spots with natural picturesque environments.
Boating is the favourite activity done by the tourists coming to Viper Island and strolling along the long beaches would satiate your passion for spending time at a relaxed pace.
Originally published at destination-tourism.weebly.com.