Andaman & Nicobar Islands
A clear history of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands can be had only from a British Survey of these islands conducted in 1777. The Andaman & Nicobar Islands remained the abode of the Negritos and the Mongoloids respectively, who occupied the Islands for centuries. These islands remained secluded from the mainland till the end of the 18th Century when people from the outside world first arrived. The history of these islands could be divided into four broad periods the period of seclusion and piratical disturbances
a) the British regime - a period of foreign intrusion and settlement
b) the Japanese regime
c) and the Post-Independence period.
In the Second Century, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were located in the maps prepared by the great Greek astronomer, mathematician and geographer, Claudius Ptolemaeus, which possibly is the earliest reference to these islands. The early history of Nicobar is not well known although these islands were familiar to traders in ancient times, the islands being situated close to the trade route to the Far East. Though little is known about Portuguese activities in these islands, it is evident that the Portuguese missionaries started preaching Christianity among the islanders. The Nicobarese language also reflects a few Portuguese words.
The British Regime
The history of the British in the Andaman and Nicobar islands began in 1788 when Lord Cornwallis, the then Governor General of India, thought of colonizing the islands and instructed Lt. Archibald Blair and Lt. R.H.Colebrook of the Royal Navy to Survey the islands and submit a report on their suitability for a British Colony. According to the recommendation of these two officers the first British settlement was founded in 1789 on Chatham Island, near Port Cornwallis (Now Port Blair). After the Great Revolt in 1857, the British Government thought of establishing a penal settlement here. In March 1858, the first penal settlement was established, with 200 prisoners, mostly rebels from the Indian Army. Initially the convicts were kept in a jail at Viper island, which is about 15 minutes boat ride from Port Blair. The island had a jail, gallows, Kutcheri, Doctor's residence, etc. Subsequently, this Jail was abandoned and the Cellular Jail at Port Blair was constructed. During the time of successive Superintendents, E.H.Man, General Steward, and Col. Cadell, the number of convicts increased and they were subjected to inhuman tortures at the hands of the British jailors. The foundation of the famous Cellular Jail was laid in 1896. The building was completed in 1906. Many changes, both in policy and practice, took place during Colonel Ferrar's time, which, inter alia, included concession to the convicts, mainland visit, etc.
The Japanese Regime
World War II brought another series of changes in the life of the Andamans. During the War, the Japanese occupied Andamans on March 21, 1942 and kept the region under their effective control till October 8,1945. Initially the Japanese behaved cordially towards the locals, but became harsh and suspicious after instances came to their notice of some locals maintaining contacts with the British. As a result a large number of innocent people were killed. One such place where the massacre occured is Humfreygunj. But one good result of the Japanese occupation was making the Andamans self-sufficient, at least in food production. The naval blockade created an acute food crisis and the Japanese compelled the local people to bring more land under cultivation. They also constructed roads. Netaji Subash Chandra Bose arrived in Port Blair on December 29, 1943 and was given a ceremonial welcome. He hoisted the National Flag at Port Blair on 30th Dec. 1943 for the first time during the British regime in India. On October 8, 1945, the Japanese surrendered to the South East Asia Command at Port Blair. The Government quickly restored normalcy in the area and started rehabilitation work.
The Post Independence Regime
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands together with the rest of India, became Independent on August 15th, 1947. The Bengalis are the major population group which came to the Andamans after Independence. They came as 'settlers' under the Government rehabilitaion scheme, whcih started as early as 1949 and continued till the 1970s. All these groups migrated to the Andamans from different districts of East Pakistan ( now Bangladesh). The Bengalis are primarily distributed in the different villages of North, Middle and South Andamans. The rehabilitated settlers of Great Nicobar are the Ex-servicemen. Ex-servicemen were rehabilated according to the rules of the District Soldier, Sailor, Airmen Board, formerly known as the Ex-servemen Association and the Indian Ex-servicemen League. The first batch of Ex-servicemen came to the island in 1969. Others, from different parts of the mainland followed in 1970,1974,1977,1979 and 1980. These settlers include among others, Punjabis, Marathis, Malyalis and Tamilians. New rules and legislation were enacted and a Chief Commissioner directly nominated by the President of India headed the islands. On November 12, 1982, the post of Chief Commissioner was elevated to the rank of Lt. Governor. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands now send one elected representative to the Lok Sabha.
The Andaman & Nicobar Islands are a veritable Garden of Eden and a naturalist's heaven. The clean environment, roads, greenery as well as unpolluted fresh air attract all nature lovers. The tropical rain forests and waters of Bay of Bengal are the home of a vast collection of plant, animal and marine life. Topographically the islands are hilly in places fringed with coconut palm, covered with tropical jungle and interspersed with flat stretches of crescent shaped beaches. Adventure tourism like trekking, Island camping, snorkeling, SCUBA diving etc. and other water sports are the real attractions. A marvelous mix of nature's most precious delights, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands are a once in a lifetime holiday experience.
An island in Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, it offers a breath taking underwater view of coral and marine life. It is an ideal place for snorkeling , sea bathing and basking on the sun kissed beach.
The lure of underwater coral gardens and unspoiled beaches specially a sand bar joining two islands are irresistible. Super place for SCUBA diving, swimming, fishing and Camping.
Red Skin Island
Another island in Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park has a nice beach and offers spectacular view of corals and marine life.
About 38 Kms. from Port Blair, this island provides idyllic resort in the lap of virgin beach and unpolluted environment. Camping facility is available near Radhanagar beach. A guesthouse of Tourism Department "Dolphin Resort" is available for the tourists.
At a distance of about 135 Kms. from Port Blair is the land of volcano, Barren Island, the only active volcano in India. The Island, about 3 Kms. has a big crater of the volcano, rising abruptly from the sea, about 1/2 Km. from the shore and is about 150 fathoms deep. Can be visited on board vessels.
Once the seat of British power and capital of these Islands, it stands now as a ruin of the bygone days with the old structure almost in debris. A small museum named 'Smritika' holds photographs and the other antiques of the Britishers relevant to these islands.
The Britishers used to harbour convicts here. The first jail was constructed here which was abandoned after the construction of Cellular Jail. It has a gallows atop a hillock, where condemned prisoners were hanged. Sher Ali, who killed Lord Mayo, the Viceroy of India in 1872, was also hanged here.
It has a Saw Mill lying on the tiny island connected by a bridge over a stretch of sea-water. This Saw Mill is one of the biggest and oldest in Asia. The main mainland -Island harbour is also here. The other harbour is Haddo, which is nearby.
Sandy beaches of these islands are famous for turtle nesting. Important species of
turtles include: Leather Back Turtle, Green Sea Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and Olive Ridley Turtle. Water Monitor Lizard, Salt Water Crocodiles, Reticulate Python etc. are also
Corbyn's Cove Tourism Complex
One of the most picturesque sea-beaches, it is ideal for sea bathing and sun-basking. The Waves Restaurant, The Peerless Resort nearby and the Hornbill Nest Guest House at a stone's throw, provide a kaleidoscopic view of the blue water front.
Radhanagar and Vijaynagar Beach in Havelock are real exposures of unpolluted nature for an environment lover. Vijaynagar beach is just infront of Dolphin Yatri Niwas and Radhanagar beach is 7km away from Dolphin Yatri Niwas.
Harminder Bay Beach
These beautiful beaches are situated at Hut Bay island at a distance of 100kms from Port Blair and are connected by Inter Islands shipping services.
Karmatang beach, at turtle nesting ground is being developed as tourist complex. Situated at Mayabunder, northern part of Middle Andaman, 240 kms by road and 136 kms by boat from Port Blair.
A sandy beach situated at Diglipur Island. It is connected by two daily boat services from Mayabunder and from Port Blair twice a week.
Places of Interest in Andaman
Neil Island (36 kms. from Port Blair)
This beautiful island with lush green forest and sandy beaches is the vegetable bowl of Andamans. Connected by boat from Port Blair four days a week, it provides an ideal holiday for eco-friendly tourists. Hawabill Nest guesthouse of the Directorate of Tourism is situated here (Tel: 82630). One can feel the sincerity and serenity of village life here. Beautiful beaches at Laxmanpur, Bharatpur, Sitapur and the bridge formation on the sea-shore (Howra bridge) are the attractions.
Long Island (82 kms. from Port Blair)
Connected by boat four times a week from Phoenix Bay Jetty, this island offers an excellent sandy beach at Lalaji Bay, unpolluted environment and evergreen forests. The sea around the island is frequented by dolphin convoys. Lalaji bay, 6 kms. away from the boat jetty, is accessible by 15 minutes journey in dinghies or trekking through the forest. Directorate of Tourism offers island camping during season.
Rangat (170 kms. by road and 90 kms. by sea)
One can enjoy the quiet village life and solitude of virgin nature here. You can also breathe unpolluted air, a rare commodity for the city dweller. Cutbert Bay beach (20 kms. away from Rangat bazar/jetty) is a turtle nesting ground. One can view the nesting of turtles during December – February season. Hawksbill Nest, guest house of the Directorate of Tourism, is near to the Cutbert bay beach and Turtle sanctuary. Panchavati waterfall and Amkunj beach are on the way to Cutbert bay. One can go to Mayabunder and Diglipur from here.
Mayabunder (242 kms. by road/136 kms. by sea)
Situated in the northern part of Middle Andaman, Mayabunder offers excellent scenic beauty and beautiful beaches. Inhabited by the settlers from Burma, East Pakistan and ex-convicts, Mayabunder has a distinct culture. Beach at Avis Island (30 minutes boat journey from Mayabunder), Karmatang beach (13 kms.) and mangrove lined creeks are the attractions. Karmatang beach is also a turtle nesting ground. One can view nesting of turtles during December-February season. Swiftlet Nest guest house of the Directorate of Tourism (Tel: 73495) is very near to the Karmatang beach. One can go to Kalighat (for Diglipur) by boat from here.
Diglipur (290 kms by road/180 kms. by sea)
Situated in North Andaman Island, Diglipur provides a rare experience for eco-friendly tourists. It is famous for its oranges, rice and marine life. Saddle Peak, 732 metres, the highest point in the islands is nearby. Kalpong, the only river of Andaman flows from here. The first hydroelectric project of the islands is coming upon this river. One who comes by road from Port Blair has to take a boat from Mayabunder to Kalighat and from there journey by road to Diglipur (25 kms.), and from there to Kalipur (18 kms.) for viewing, Kalipur and Lamiya bay beaches. Directorate of Tourism provides comfortable accommodation at Turtle Resort, Kalipur. The Water Sports Centre is near by. Those who want to go for trekking to Saddle Peak can collect trekking equipments on hire from Turtle Resort and start trekking from Kalipur. Ram Nagar beach (15 kms. away from Kalighat) is famous for Turtle nesting during December – February season. One who comes by boat from Port Blair will reach Aerial bay jetty, which is very near to places like Diglipur and Kalipur.
Ross and Smith, the twin islands joined by a bewitching sand bar, is 30 minutes away from Aerial bay jetty or Kalipur water sports centre. Directorate of Tourism offers island camping at Smith island during the tourist season. One can feel the innocent beauty of village life everywhere in Diglipur. One who prefers to be away from the hustle and humdrum of urban life must come here to enjoy unhurried holidays. Saddle peak is popular for trekking/nature trail through the evergreen rain forest. Kalighat is connected by daily two boat services from Mayabunder. Port Blair – Diglipur (Aerial bay jetty) boat services are available twice a week.
Little Andaman Island (120 kms. by sea)
This island has a beautiful beach at Butler Bay, a waterfall and plantation of oil palms. Apart from this there are several sandy beaches all along the coastline of the island. The break water at Hut Bay offers an excellent view to the tourists. Little Andaman is the vegetable bowl for the Nicobar group of islands. The Onge tribals live in this island, so do Nicobarese apart from settlers from erstwhile East Pakistan and other places. However entry to tribal areas is restricted. Journey 8 hrs. by sea from Port Blair towards south.