The Group of islands covering a total area of 8,073 sq kilometers, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a union territory of the republic of India. Initially inhabited by multiple groups of indigenous tribes, the island was later used as a penal colony during the British occupation of India. Despite of the horrid reputation during the colonial period, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands this day are one of the most sought after tourist destination of India. The islands are famous for its serene, white sandy beaches characterized by sparkling blue waters. In this article we shall discuss the best places to visit in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
1. Bharatpur Beach
Located at the jetty near the Neil islands, Bharatpur beach is famous for its coral reefs and white shores. The best time to visit these beaches is during mornings and evenings. The morning time is especially good for the people who would like to go snorkeling and enjoy the view of the coral reefs located here. Because of the beauty of the reefs located here, Neil islands are often termed as the coral capital of Andaman. Do not worry if you’re not much of a snorkeling enthusiast, you can enjoy the beach simply by carrying a hammock and a book and enjoy the calm and cool sea breeze and indulge yourself. There are a number of benches for strollers to rest their feet and local vendors who sell coconut water.
2. Cellular Jail
Also known as Kaala Paani (black waters), the cellular jail is perhaps one of the most infamous remnants of India’s struggle for independence. The jail is located at Port Blair and is a recommended place to visit. The construction of the prison started in 1896 and was completed in 1906 and the bricks used in the construction were imported from Burma. The building comprised of 7 wings which were designed in a criss-cross pattern with its center being a tower used by the guards to keep a close watch on the prisoners. The main motive of the establishment of this prison was solitary confinement of the prisoners. The wings were built in a manner that the face of each cell only saw the back of the cell opposite to it. Many freedom fighters were incarcerated in this prison colony including Veer Savarkar and Batukeshwar Dutt. As of today the cellular jail has been transformed into a hospital with 500 beds and 40 doctors who serve the local population.
3. Limestone Caves
Located at the Baratang Island the limestone caves are a must visit site for all the people who are planning their itinerary for the Andaman and nicobar islands. While there is not much to see at the caves except for marveling at this natural wonder, the speed boat journey one takes is totally worth it. The boat ride is covered with a canopy of the forest which is also a home to the indigenous ‘Jarwa’ tribe. However one needs to be careful of the sea crocodiles and should not go near the water. Inside the caves, the stalactites and the stalagmites will immediately gather your attention and the erosion have formed some unique shapes inside the caves. The company of an experienced guide will make the trip more enjoyable as you might get to know some interesting facts about the local tribes and the history of these caves.
4. Marina Park and Aquarium
Located at Port Blair, Marina Park is also known as ‘Samudrika Marine Museum’ and is managed by the Indian navy. The main purpose behind its establishment was to create awareness about the conservation of the aquatic life and resources in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. One can also get detailed knowledge about the group of islands and the social and tribal life they house. The park consists of five sections which are geographical information, archaeology, people information, history of Andaman Islands and marine life. There are also miniature models of the islands displayed here with large tanks which contain natural coral reefs and different kind of aqua flora and fauna which are unique to these islands. The operating hours of this park are from 9.00 am to 12.00 noon and 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm except on Mondays.
5. Radhanagar Beach
Located on the western coast of the Havelock islands, Beach no. 7 is Radhanagar beach. It is one of the most popular beaches in India and is termed as the best beach in Asia by TIME magazine in 2004. The beach is situated around a distance of 12 kilometers from the Havelock islands and is a must visit site. The waters are sparkling blue and devoid of any wave action. There are a huge number of activities that one can do like scuba diving, snorkeling, boating, fishing etc. The beach is especially popular for couples as it is almost vacant and the serene environment adds to the romance. One can also enjoy elephant rides here. The best way to enjoy the beauty of the beach is to take a camera and go on a long stroll and click photographs amidst the white sands and the blue waters, the sunset at this beach is a marvel to behold.
6. Viper Island
The Viper Island gets its name from the snakes that inhabit the island. The islands are famous for the ruins of a jail that precedes the cellular jail or the Kaala paani. The jail was formerly used to incarcerate political prisoners and we can still see the ruins of the gallows at this island. The jail had many notable political prisoners from India’s struggle to independence. The place no matter how notorious it was during the colonial period is a picturesque location which is one of the most important tourist destinations in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
7. The Great Nicobar Island
The largest of the Nicobar Islands in India, the great nicobar island covers an area of 1,045 sq kilometers. The island is however sparsely populated with a population of around 10,000. The area was severely affected by the 2004 tsunami in the Indian ocean resulting in many deaths and was cut off from the outside world for a couple of days. Nevertheless, the great Nicobar island is known widely for its rainforest that houses a diverse wildlife, and is also a part of the World biosphere reserve. The unique location of the island rainforest has made it a home to several unique species of fauna and aqua fauna. The island also contains the indigenous tribe called ‘Shompen’ which is one of the oldest tribes in the world. Wildlife photographers can also visit the Campbell bay which is home to a number of unique fauna including includes Crab-eating macaque, giant robber crab, megapode, and Nicobar pigeon.
Tourist places in Andaman and Nicobar Islands are famous for their relaxing and quaint beaches, a rich reserve of unique flora and fauna. Although it is a tough task to contain all the places you can visit in these island paradise but we have a made a humble attempt to mention the places which we considered are of prime importance and should find a place in every tour itinerary.
Please feel free to share your tour experiences of Andaman and Nicobar Islands (in comments section below).