Andaman & Nicobar Islands history dates back to 2200 years. It is believed that the Andaman Island got this name after a Hindu God, Hanuman. Nicobar means land of the people. It is believed that Marco Polo was the first man who visited these islands from West. Andaman and Nicobar Islands were in the dark i.e., unknown to the world until the 18th century. The island groups of Andaman and Nicobar has witnessed the regime of several rulers before Independence. The Marathas, who consumed vast areas of India, captured it in 17th century. Later it became under the control of the British.
The Government of Bengal established a penal colony named Port Blair, in the southeast bay of great Andaman in 1789. It was to honour Lieutenant Archibald Blair of the British East India Company. However, as many people suffered several diseases and succumbed to death, the government had to cease operating it in May 1796.
However, the British rulers had to settle the new Andaman and a prison on urgent basis here to accommodate a lot of new prisoners. So, they neglected the unfavourable climate conditions and began the construction at the renovated Port Blair. The penal colony was originally constructed on Viper Island. Besides the degrading climate conditions here, many prisoners, mostly political prisoners and freedom fighters had to suffer cruel punishment of the rulers during their life imprisonment period. The Cellular Jail was constructed between 1896 and 1906. The jail was used to accommodate Indian freedom fighters in solitary confinement. They hung many prisoners, while others died of starvation and disease. These islands have lots of heart-breaking stories of thousands of freedom fighters in India, who suffered many cruel experiences during their life imprisonment period in the infamous Cellular Jail. An island near Port Blair called the Ross Island was the main island through which the British governed the entire islands.
During the Second World War, Japanese troops conquered the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and their regime remained from 1942 to 1945. The local tribes here started guerrilla activities to drive them out. After independence in 1947, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands became a part of the Indian Union. After the independence, Bengali community came to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as a part of the rehabilitation scheme of the Government of India. It started in 1949 and continued till 1970s. Now, it is one of the seven union territories of India. Even though the local of Andaman and Nicobar Islands had to live under the control of various rulers and to suffer several hardships, they could succeed in maintaining their separated existence by diversifying into distinct territorial, linguistic and cultural groups.
Port Blair, now the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is famous not only as the capital town of Andaman Nicobar Islands, but also the largest town in Andaman district. Port Blair survived the Tsunami and 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake effectively and participated efficiently in the relief efforts in the islands. Besides the Cellular Jail, there are many museums and art galleries in Port Blair that reveals the history and culture of the Island.
Port Blair is home to a commercial airport that serves as a defense base.
It is well-connected in terms of transportation.
Corbyn's Cove Beach, Wandoor Beach, and Mundapahar Beach (near Chidiya Tapu) are the three beaches in Port Blair.
Swimming is only allowed at Corbyn's Cove beach.
The only beach that is closest to the city. The beach is ideal for sunbathing, swimming and chilling. Activities such as Speed Boat Rides and Jet Ski are available here. The beach is open on all days and no entry tickets are required.
Also known as Kalapani, Cellular Jail was built by the British in the 18th century to detain the Indian Freedom Fighters. It is a mute witness to the inhuman treatment meted out to the soldiers of the freedom struggle. The jail was constructed as a seven-wing prison and had a total of 663 cells with one prisoner in each cell. Today, the jail has just three wings others have been damaged and destroyed at various times.
A light and sound show about the anguish of the Indian Freedom Fighters is displayed to the guests, to show how the Indians were treated during the pre-independence period. The museum timings are from 09:00 AM to 01:00 PM & 02:00 PM to 05:00 PM (entry closes at 04:00pm) and the show timings are 05:15 PM, 06:20 PM, 07:25 PM (Timings may vary). The light and sound show is displayed in both Hindi and English. Please note that the jail is closed on Mondays.
Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex:
The one-stop destination for water sport activities the complex also known as the Marina Park offers a panoramic view of sea on one side and the trees on the other and is the perfect place to relax. The boats to North Bay and Ross Islands are available here.
North Bay Island:
Known for the amazing water activities that it offers, the boat to North Bay is to be boarded at the Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex. Activities that the island offers are Sea Walking, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, Glass Bottom Boat Rides, Semi Submarine Ride and Andaman Dolphin. The ferry tickets and the entry tickets are to be pre-purchased. North Bay Island has a variety of food joints available for snacks and lunches for the guests and also has facilities for change of clothing and restrooms. Boat timings are from 08:30 AM to 10:00 AM and the island is closed on Wednesdays. The boats usually cover North Bay Island and Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Island – Ross Island together as a full day trip.
Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Island (Previously Ross Island):
Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Island is the first administrative settlement of the British in the Andaman Islands. Rich in history, you can see the ruins and spot the Japanese bunkers and cannons during their occupancy. Birds and deer can be found roaming around the island. Like the Cellular Jail, there is a light and sound show that is displayed in the evenings for the tourists depicting the history and struggles of the people on the island during the pre-independent era. The boat leaves from Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex and the ferry tickets and the entry tickets are to be pre-purchased. Boats timings are from 08:30 AM to 10:00 AM and the island is closed on Wednesdays.
Run by the Indian Navy, this museum has a wide collection of shells, fossils, corals and a few species of colorful fishes of the sea around the islands. It also provides history, geography, aquatic life and the anthropology of the Andaman Island. The museum is open from 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM and the entry closes at 04:00 PM, the museum is closed on Mondays.
The anthropological museum talks all about the life and culture of the native Andaman tribes. Established in the year 1975, the museum showcases the tools, clothes, handicrafts, art & crafts, pictures, and the other tribal items on display for the tourists. It gives the information about all the 6 tribes who have inhabited this island ages ago and how they still live with little or no contact with the rest of the world. The museum timings are from 09:00 AM to 01:00 PM & 01:30 PM to 04:30 PM and the (entry closes at 04:00 PM) and it is kept closed on Mondays & Government holidays.
The fisheries museum showcases specimens of various aquatic creatures from small fishes to big sharks and whales. A variety of shells, corals and skeletal remains of marine creatures are displayed at the museum. It hosts about 300 species of marine life and the remains are preserved in glass and chemicals. It is advisable not to touch any of the items displayed in the museum. The museum is open from 09:00 AM to 01:00 PM & 02:00 PM to 04:45 PM and the entry closes at 04:00 PM It is closed on all Mondays.
One of the oldest and the largest sawmill in Asia, the Chatham Government Saw Mill established in 1883 has a museum inside the mill which exhibits several decorative Marble, Gurjan, Wooden Furniture and Satin Wood etc. The mill is open from 8 AM to 2 PM and is closed on Sundays. It can be reached via road from Port Blair to Chatham Island.
If you’re looking for the perfect Sunset point, look no further as Chidiyatapu is the perfect place in all the surroundings of Port Blair. About 30kms from the city this is a perfect spot for trekking, bird watching and of course to view the sunset. This place is open on all days but is closed after sunset; also entry tickets are not required
Mount Harriet National Park:
Initially a reserve forest which was later converted into a national park in 1979, it the 2nd highest peak in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Approximately 55 km by road and 15 km by ferry from Port Blair, it has a variety of flora and fauna and Port Blair can be spotted from the peak of this mount. The attraction for which this place is famous is the view of the Light House that is located in North Bay, the picture of a light house on the back of a Twenty Rupees Indian Currency Note is the picture taken from this view point of Mount Harriet. So, the point from where this view is seen, is commonly known as the “20 Rupees view point”.
Located at Wandoor which is about 27Kms from Port Blair, this park is a cluster of about 15 islands which includes the Jolly Buoy Island and the Red Skin Island. These islands are untouched which makes it one of the most immaculate islands in Andamans. The Jolly Buoy & Red Skin Islands are kept open for tourist visits for six months alternatively as for the restoration of the corals. Entry tickets, ferry tickets & permits are needed to be booked in advance. The islands are closed on Mondays and are open from 6 AM to 2 PM. To reach the island you need to go to the Wandoor Jetty via road and take a ferry which takes around 30 minutes.
73kms north of the City of Port Blair is Havelock Island is now known as Swaraj Dweep.
The largest island of Ritchie's Archipelago islands, Swaraj Dweep remains one amongst the most visited Islands in Asia. An exhilarating blend of beaches and water activities, it is a picturesque natural heaven with pristine white sandy beaches, abundant coral reefs and lush green forest.
The island is visited by all type of travelers as it is suitable for guests of all ages. Right from the honeymooners, youngsters, adventure travelers and kids, there are activities present here that is guaranteed to keep everyone engaged.
What makes this island extraordinary is that it is home to the stunning Beach No. 5, Radhanagar Beach which comes under the best beaches in India and the World and gives access to the most amazing sunset view. The island also has the famous Elephant Beach which is where all the water sports activities take place and the beautiful also the beyond beautiful Kalapathar Beach which showcases different colors of the ocean and also is the best sunrise view point of the islands.
Swaraj Dweep has several properties offering accommodations to the tourists. You can choose the hotels as per your budget. There are varied categories of hotels starting from pocket-friendly economy hotels to fancy luxury and elite hotels. Most of them are beach side resorts or have private beaches. Whereas some properties have the swimming pool facilities and a few of them have both pools and beaches.
The best beach in the entire Andaman Islands and ranked the 7th best beach in Asia in 2004, it lies on the western coast of Swaraj Dweep and is away from the city’s noise that makes it calm and a quiet place. The white sand beach lingering across the thick trees and bluish-green waters offers a blissful view. The stunning waters allure people into visiting this beach.
This stunning beach is situated in Swaraj Dweep and it is the most visited beach in the Andaman Archipelago. Once upon a time, there were elephants on the islands they were spotted roaming around on the shores of the beach that is how the beach got its name. Surrounded by coconut and palm trees and sugary white sands the blue water beach attracts tourists in a large number annually. The beach is very famous for the variety of untouched corals and a rich marine life with diverse species. The Elephant beach can be reached in two ways, one way is by taking a boat from the Havelock Island jetty to the beach and the other is by a trek. Most people prefer a boat ride to the Elephant beach. The various activities that can be done here are Sea Walking, Snorkeling, Glass Bottom Boat ride and Jet Ski ride.
A small picturesque beach in the Kalapathar Village, it is a beautiful beach with silky golden sands, blue waters, and lush green trees around. This beach is not a very popular destination and is secluded most of the time because there are no water sport activities that are available. The way towards the beach is a very beautiful one; you can catch glimpses of the stunning coastline. The beach goes just by its name numerous black rocks are present inside the water and on the shore as well. You can take tiny strolls or long walks along the shore and enjoy the marvelous view of the beach.
Things to do at Havelock Island:
One of the many beautiful islands in the Andaman Archipelago, Neil Island is currently known as Shaheed Dweep. The island is located about 37 km by sea route from Port Blair.
The island has spectacular coral reefs, tropical forests, and is worthy of visiting. The people of this island are very friendly and welcoming, you are sure to enjoy yourself in this amazing island. With its laid-back vibe, this hidden gem is a perfect place for you if you are planning for a tranquil trip.
Neil Islands were uninhabited until the 1960s and later people began to settle down in the islands to start a living. The majority of the people living in Neil are mostly refugees from Bangladesh and the rest of them are Indians. Neil Island is thinly populated and the facilities available in Neil are comparatively lesser than what is in Havelock or Port Blair. Even though accommodations of all categories are available here do not expect the facilities like that of five-star properties because this place is developing and almost all of the products are transported from Port Blair. The basic amenities such as transportation, restaurants and accommodations are available. Internet Connectivity is poor compared to the other islands; internet connection will automatically shut down when you reach the island. Basic first aid medical needs and facilities are available but the main health center is located in Port Blair only.
Bharatpur Beach is the most prominent beach and the most visited beach in Shaheed Dweep. It is perfect for leisurely spending your evenings, swimming or coral viewing. Bharatpur beach is the only hub for water sport activities in Shaheed Dweep. It offers you water activities such as Jet Ski, Banana and Speed Boat Rides, Glass-Bottom Boat Rides, Snorkeling and Scuba Diving. There are eateries and food shacks that are set up on the beach and there are proper changing rooms and washroom facilities that are maintained neatly.
Another beautiful beach located 5 km to the South and is at the tip of this island. Admired for its iconic sunrise, the picture will stun you. High tides are a common sight here since the beach is exposed to open sea. This serene and clean beach will amaze you its charm, the shade of the skies changing from orange to lilac is a gorgeous sight that you should not miss. It is a great place for you to introspect and calm yourself down amidst nature.
Laxmanpur Beach is a stunning beach with crystal clear waters. It has the best sunset viewpoint and is located 2 km away from Neil Jetty. This beach is mostly visited for the clear waters and striking sunset view. You cannot go swimming on this beach as the shore is rocky and dead corals are scattered around. The shore is full of colorful dead corals and shells but unfortunately, you are not allowed to take them along with you. This beach closes down after the sunset when it starts getting dark due to the high tides that occur during the night.
A natural bridge structure of dead corals stands beautifully in the Beach no. 2. This attraction is locally called as the Howrah Bridge. The attraction is a natural wonder that was formed by corals over the years and attracts people from all walks of life. The place is best visited when the tides are low for clear visibility.
Things to do at Neil Island: