Andaman & Nicobar

Once used as settlement for penal punishment, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands today have become a big tourist attraction. Nature lovers throng the island for its clean environment, roads, greenery as well as unpolluted fresh air.

The tropical rain forests and waters of Bay of Bengal are the home to 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.

A marvelous mix of nature's most precious delights, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands are a once in a lifetime holiday experience.

Tips

  • Contact Tourist Information Centers/Tourist Police personnel for any assistance required.
  • Consult life guards before entering the sea.
  • Swim in safe areas only.
  • Foreign nationals are requested to obtain the required permit before entering /soon after landing on the islands.
  • Do not enter the National Parks without permission.
  • Do not take pictures of the airport, government dockyard, defense establishments, naval wharf, Dhanikari Dam and Chatham Saw Mill.
  • Do not take video or film without permit, wherever such permits are required.
  • Do not take video, film or photographs inside Tribal Reserve areas or of the indigenous tribes.
  • Do not carry sea fans and seashells unless specific permits are obtained from the Fisheries Department.
  • Do not swim after consuming liquor.
  • Nudity on beaches and public places is forbidden.
  • Do not light fire in protected areas as it not only destroys forests but also damages wildlife habitat.
  • Person who commits breach of any of the conditions of the Wildlife protections shall be punishable by law.

History

Since pre-historic times, these islands have been the home of aboriginal tribes. The British first settled here in 1789 only to abandon it in 1796. The second settlement was basically a penal settlement, taken up in 1858, after the First War of Indian Independence, followed by the settlement of convicts, some criminal tribes from Central and United Provinces, refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan andSri Lankaas well as ex-servicemen.

A clear history of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands can be had only from a British Survey of these islands conducted in 1777. The islands remained the abode of the Negritos and the Mongoloids respectively, who occupied it for centuries. These islands remained secluded from the mainland till the end of 18th Century when people from the outside world first arrived.

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.

Fun facts

One of the interesting facts of the Andamans is the saltwater crocodiles, a rare reptile group.

Culture

Andaman and Nicobar Islands have an unique culture, where all religions, languages, ethnic groups live in total peace and harmony and hence it is rightly called Mini India. Port Blair has a cosmopolitan character where people of all walks of life live together. All major festivals are celebrated with equal zeal and fervour and attended by all religious groups.

THINGS TO DO

Andaman Water Sports Complex: This unique complex offers all possible aqua-sport facilities like Water-skiing, Sail boats, Windsurfing, Speed Boats etc., and safe water sports like Paddle Boats, Row Boats etc. There is a sea water swimming pool and a change room. There is also a Memorial for the Battle of Aberdeen fought between British and Andamanee aboriginals in 1859. Nearby is an Amusement Park and a children traffic park is adjacent to it.

Snorkeling: One can enjoy the under-water marine life and view the rarest varieties of corals by snorkeling in the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, Carbyn's Cove Tourism Complex, Havelock and other islands on all days from dawn to dusk depending on the weather.

Island Camping: Camps are just the right choice for the nature-lovers who wish to enjoy the sun, sea and the pristine beauty of nature by spending quiet holidays right on the beach. Tents are available on hire at all the Guest Houses at moderate rates.

Scuba Diving: Diving in Andaman waters offer a fascinating world of under-water marine life, varieties of colorful fishes, rarest of the coral reefs in the world, mysterious remains of sunken ships etc. All these can be explored through SCUBA diving.

Trekking: One can go trekking through the nature trail from Mt. Harriet to Madhuban and enjoy the rare forest life, flora and fauna. There are other trekking routes also; Trekking equipment and the tents are available on hire from Andaman Teal House.

Where to stay

Andaman & Nicobar Tourism runs a majority of the hotels on the island.  Tourists visiting the island for diving can get accommodation through the dive shop as they are often associated or operate from a hotel or resort.  The places to stay range from non-air conditioned dormitories to deluxe rooms and cottages between Rs 1,000 and 2,000 a night.


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Where to eat

Seafood is the order of the day. From upscale restaurants in Port Blair to local dhabas on Havelock, fish abounds. Be prepared to pay a little more for good fish and seafood dishes than for standard Indian food, but its well worth it. Basic Indian food is also available, and as cheap as on the mainland in most of the small dhabas. Resort restaurants on Havelock can also whip up a limited set of more or less Western dishes, but the resort restaurants are pretty expensive for Indian standards.

Fresh coconuts are popular and widely available. Alcohol is available in some restaurants in Port Blair and on Havelock Island. There is no Pub culture or even a Dance Club.

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