I had heard a lot about Andaman and Nicobar islands, about its natural beauty and clean beaches from a large number of friends but got a chance to visit when I was posted at Kolkata in the year 2009. It was a short trip lasting only for 3 days from 7th Feb to 9th Feb 2009 but the memories are still fresh as ever.
Our journey started from Kolkata to Port Blair on 7th morning. We stayed in Fortune Bay Resort Island, that is part of the Welcome group. It was the best property at that time with the best location. In fact the photograph of a lighthouse on a hill on 20 Rupee Indian currency note was shot from this property.
In the resort, I came across a number of nests of red whiskered bulbuls. When a staff member was crossing the path near a nesting site, I observed one bulbul hit his head to keep him away as her chicks were very young.
What is the attraction at Andaman and Nicobar islands? Why do people come to these islands?
Crystal clear waters, deserted beaches, fascinating and wonderful underwater life and tropical rain forests are the main attraction of this place. In other words we can just say sea and lush green forests with unimaginable fauna and flora. There are 572 lush green islands that are home to myriad varieties of vegetation and hundreds of species of marine life birds and animals. Radha beach at the Havelock Island figures amongst the 10 most beautiful beaches of the world. Of course tourists are not allowed to visit all the islands.
In fact most of us had heard about “Kalapani” during our childhood. During the British rule in India people who defied their rule were sent to Cellular jail at Port Blair and were forced to spend their entire life there. Even if they tried to escape they couldn’t, as there was no means of transport. The Cellular jail now has been converted into a National Monument, where light and sound program held in the evening is worth seeing. One should also not miss the natural beauty surrounding it that can be enjoyed from the top of the same.
Apart from cellular jail and some islands, we also visited the “Chidiya Tapu “about 25 km from Port Blair that is known for its pristine beauty and birds. In fact I was so impressed with the place that I went again next morning. This is supposedly the best place to see sunset in Port Blair. Vibrant colors’ of water, rooted trees on the beach as well as partly submerged in seawater during sun set is definitely an experience worth having.
Next thing on our itinerary was Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. After a long ride on the water scooter, we boarded the glass-bottomed boat where we could see the corals as well sea life at the seabed. This was our first such experience. We also visited The Saddle Peak and Mount Harriet National Park.
How many of us know that out of little over more than 600 wildlife national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in India more than 100 are found in Andaman and Nicobar islands. These islands constitute 9 national parks, more than 100 wildlife sanctuaries and one biosphere reserve. This place definitely ranks very high on any nature lover’s list as one can explore the biodiversity both on the surface as well as under the waters.
After knowing all these I decided to visit the place again for a month but could not do till now as many other parks in the vicinity of Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai compelled me to look for other species. I intend to visit Andaman and Nicobar islands in near future again to see and photograph, as some species are endemic to this region and not found anywhere else in the world.
As this place is equidistant from Chennai and Kolkata you will find many people from these two areas. Most of the islands were affected by Tsunami on 26th December 2004.The effect can be seen even now. As salty water entered into the agricultural fields, they became uncultivable.
It is high time that we must start appreciating and visiting such places of our country. According to me this place is no less than a heaven.