Trip to Andaman was in my mind for several years. Since my daughter has school holidays only during April-May, October and Christmas I had to plan something during that time. The preference was Christmas time as weather would not be great during April-May and October in Andaman. I always found that flight tickets to Port Blair were extremely expensive during Christmas prompting to head to other destinations. This time I ensured that I buy ticket well in advance. When I got cheap flights tickets last February I did not hesitate to do booking evening though it was 10 months in advance.
|At Ross & Smith island, North Andaman|
Ship is another option to reach Andaman but I never liked the prospect of staying put in a ship for 3-4 days. Unlike flight tickets, booking ship is a cumbersome process.
Like my many travels, this trip was also not free from starting trouble. Dense fog at Bengaluru airport delayed our flight by more than two hours. But in my experience the trips are that met with starting trouble are the most memorable ones!!
|Runway of Port Blair airport|
Everyone I interacted was surprised that I had planned the trip for 11 days. “What is there to see for 11 days?” was their question. Most Andaman trips have “packages” of 5-6 days and that was the source of their question. On the other hand, I was feeling that 11 days were grossly insufficient for what I wanted to experience!!
After coming back from Andaman, I felt that I had very little information about that place before. Lot of my understandings was wrong. Here are some facts about Andaman though few of them can be debatable:
- Andaman islands are nearer to Thailand coast than Mainland India
- Northern most part of Andaman is near to Myanmar
- The southernmost of point of India is Indira point (Not Kanyakumari) in Nicobar Islands. It is very close to Indonesia.
- The only active volcano in India is in Andaman.
- Andaman was the only part of India captured by Japanese in World War II
- Tourists are not allowed to travel to Nicobar Islands. Permits are hard to obtain.
- Havelock is an overly hyped place.
- Port Blair is like any other city in India with all modern amenities.
- Crime rate in Andaman is very low. We often heard that no one steals anything kept outside.
- Andaman is filled with settlers from various regions and religions who speak different languages. But all of them are jelled together and live peacefully. I hope it continuous to be so.
- The most isolated tribe in the world “Sentinelese” live in North Sentinel Island. They have no contact with outside world and Indian Government has barred entry into that island.
- There are only about 100 Onge tribes and are concentrated in Little Andaman.
- About 84% of the Andaman is covered by forests.
- The effects of 2004 Tsunami are still seen in many islands.
- The highest point of Andaman Islands (Saddle peak) is at 2400 feet.
- Time magazine listed Radhanagar beach in Havelock as the best beach in Asia in 2004.
- Andaman does not get crowded beyond a point as there are only few flights and ships from Calcutta and Chennai. There is no other way to enter Andaman.
- Less than 1% of tourists visit North Andaman which is amazingly beautiful.
- Twenty rupee note has an image of a Lighthouse in Port Blair.