Andamans From the Lens of Minna Francis

I, with a bunch of enthustiast travellers went to Andamans for the first time. We had only read about Andamans and also just heard a lot of stories about this place, of course good ones, and some of the historic parts really did bring tears in our eyes, but we were yet to experience this all.


Why I chose Andamans as my next dream destination, was something that I still couldn’t find an answer to and after finishing this trip I found my answers. We all have different reasons to select a dream destination, and everytime I go out, I find a completely different reason for myself, Traveling alone makes you kick out of the bubble of self created own comfort zone and start thinking of the impossible—which can lead to more intense travel experiences. Travelling alone also helps you build your own self confidence and you become more aware of your inner self. But why you should come to Andamans, is something that you need to figure out. You want to run away from the rest of the world, or are just looking for some inner peace and quiet atmosphere from the rush and hush of city life or You want to gift yourself a beautiful holiday for your birthday, just like I did.. Yes readers, I gifted myself this holiday on my birthday, because I love the beautiful landscapes, beaches and sunsets. When I saw pictures of Andamans on the Internet, I instantly fell in love with this place, the pristine beaches and serenity these islands have to offer. I had thought of gifting this holiday to myself on my birthday. So the three of us, a set of 2 Co – Voyagers set off to explore these islands.

Day 1 : Port Blair : The capital city of the Andaman Islands, Port Blair is your entryway to the rich expanse of beauty and serenity that the islands have to offer. Explore its many historic museums, discover the flora and fauna and the rich marine life or simply take a stroll at the Marina Park to enjoy the sweet sea breeze. Walk past the Japanese bunkers, indulge in water sports, discover the island’s high peaks, and get familiarized with the land’s rich culture and diversity. Port Blair is the best introduction to the Andaman Islands that one could hope for.

Port Blair Historical Tour

The name Andaman is presumed to be derived from Hanuman, who was known to the Malays as Handuman. The name Nicobar seems to be a corruption of the South Indian term ‘Nakkavaram’ (Land of the Naked) as indicated in the great Tanjore inscription of AD 1050. And Britishers found it that this was the best place to create a jail as it was covered with only waters and no inmates could escape.


Port Blair is your entryway to know about the history and colonial past of the islands. The Cellular Jail or better known as “Kaala Paani” is the definitive beginning of this journey, followed by a trip to the fascinating Ross Island with the sound and light show. The Cellular Jail was built by Britishers and it took them 10 gruelling years to build it – 1896 – 1906, and this was again built by Indians under the supervision of Britishers. This was the most dreaded and gruelling colonial prison situated in the remote location and was used by the British particularly to exile Indian political prisoners. Isolated from the mainland, this jail, witnessed the most atrocious punishments imposed on prisoners. India’s struggle for independence saw imminent freedom fighters like Batukeshwar Dutt and Veer Savarkar being incarcerated in this jail. Notable freedom fighters confined in the jail included Batukeshwar Dutt, Diwan Singh Kalepani, Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi, and the Savarkar brothers - Babarao Savarkar and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar among others. Being in solitary confinement the Savarkar brothers were unaware of each other’s presence in the same jail for two years. Many freedom fighters in the jail went through inhuman and unimaginable tortures, the very thought of which brings chills down the spines. The jail drew attention when its inmates observed hunger strikes in the early 1930s. Bhagat Singh’s associate in the freedom movement, Mahavir Singh went on a hunger strike in protest of such cruel treatment but died when authorities tried to feed him milk forcibly which went to his lungs. His body was thrown into the sea. In 1937-38 following intervention by Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore the government decided on repatriating the freedom fighters. The jail is now open to public viewing as a National Memorial, and its museum gives one a chilling down your spine glimpse of years of India’s struggle for freedom. I am sure you will come out crying when you know the plight of our Indians what they encountered and how they endured so much pain. A trip down our history showed us the value of breathing and living in an independent country, which most of us tend to forget and the umpteen countless sacrifices that our freedom fighters made so that you and me can live and breathe in fresh air, which we are constantly polluting.


Corbyn’s Cove beach is a local favourite, we spent some good time on that beach and saw the sun set. However the best sunset can be seen only from Lakshampur Beach in Neil, but alas!!! Rain Gods and clouds made it difficult for us to see that awesome view.

History of Rs. 20 Currency : The Ross Island was the erstwhile British headquarter for the most of the Andaman Islands from 1858 till it was rocked by an earthquake in 1941. In 1941, the Japanese converted the site into POW camp, and built war installations, remnants of which can still be seen. Now under the control of Indian Navy, the island with its jungle-clad colonial ruins and creepy World War II tunnels, is a popular tourist spot.


Ross Island found its place in the Rs. 20 currency. And this was well explained to us by our guide. This is something which we weren’t even aware of. So for me it was knowledge enrichment.

Havelock Island (new official name: Swaraj Dweep)

The most popular island among tourists, is located about 70 km north of the capital city, Port Blair. Swaraj Dweep (Havelock Island) has white sandy beaches, blue waters, and some of the best diving in the continent. Havelock Island has well-justified fame for being a wonderland for travellers. Laze around on its secluded beaches, or explore its dense and serene mangroves; swim among exotic corals while you indulge in scuba diving or go out there and explore the wilderness on long jungle treks – Havelock has it all!

We had taken a cruise from Port Blair to reach Havelock Island and reached within 45 minutes. Try for either Makruz or Green Ocean. Our first stop in Havelock was Thanks to the pristine beaches and crystal clear waters, Havelock is the most visited island in the Andamans.

Jarawa Tribals: In parts of South and Middle Andaman Islands, the nomadic Jarawas are a protected tribe whose population ranges between 250-400 individuals. Any attempt to interact with the isolated tribe, who themselves shun contact with outsiders, is deemed illegal.

Scuba Diving: This place is a shallow water haven for snorkelers. All thanks to an impressive number of Scuba divers who have educated the locals on the importance of reef conservation, the reefs here are increasing, unlike most islands where reefs are drastically decreasing. One can reach here either by a speedboat ride or by a short 1.8 km trek through the beautiful mangrove forest to reach.

Elephanta beach: This trek is usually guided by a professional guides and takes about 30-45 minutes to complete. Water sports are also conducted at this beach. Alas we had to give it a pass as it was raining very heavily in Havelock and Elephanta Beach is closed when it starts raining.

Neil: Neil Island is one of India’s Andaman Islands, in the Bay of Bengal. Bharatpur Beach has coral reefs teeming with tropical fish. Laxmanpur Beach is known for its sunset views. Howrah Bridge is a natural rock formation accessible at low tide. We saw a rock arch, a natural wonder made by the caresses of the ocean. Neil Island is famous for its unexploited coral reefs, magnificent biodiversity, white sandy beaches and its greenery i.e. covered with beautiful tropical forest and vegetation. Thus making Neil Island the tourism hot spot in Andamans.


North Sentinel Island is home to one of the most isolated tribes of the world

North Sentinel Island is home to one of the most isolated human populations in the world. The Sentinelese, thought to number around 300, have rebuffed all contacts with the modern world and fire their arrows at anyone who comes within range. They are thought to have directly descended from the first human populations to emerge from Africa, and have probably lived in the Andaman Islands for up to 60,000 years. It is completely banned area for us and nobody can venture out there.

Offbeat activities and Boat rides: Port Blair offers offbeat water activities like Glass Bottom Boat Ride and Semi-Submarine Ride that let you come face-to-face with the marine world without having to enter the water at all. Port Blair the water is really very clear and you should do your water sports activities here itself. These activities range from Rs. 1850 to Rs. 3500 maximum. And for the ones who are going there for the first time, it’s a must to be done.

Souvenir Shopping: Shopping in Andaman is often limited to Port Blair. Small shops dot the main roads in several areas, offering trinkets made of bamboo, seashells and the local mahua wood. Sagarika is the largest government-run handicraft store in Andaman. We did most of our shopping from Port Blair only.


This trip has taught me more about LIFE than all the school and college books I ever read or laid my hands on. Being in tune with nature and the calmness that was bestowed, has showed me the wonders of inner peace and the value of the fact that there is a beautiful world out there to explore rather than living a life caged in an office with a cellphone. God has gifted us this precious nature with beautiful jungles, the ocean and the diverse animals and fish which we should protect and learn from them. Life isn’t only about internet, fighting amongst ourselves, parties but about living and enjoying nature. Andamans is a place which one must surely visit to see the true beauty of nature and to find some peace in today’s world. The beaches and the mountains showed us the true beauty and value of nature. We were constantly flooded with all the beauty which kept us away from our cellphones and communications from the outside world. Finally I found my reason to going to Andamans. We live in a hasty world full of stress, caged by our cellphones and doing the same 0900 – 1800 hrs job on a daily basis. Sometimes I truly feel that I have lost my peace of mind in this glittery modern world. I realised I was blinded by the technology and had forgotton all about the wonders of mother nature that have existed for so many centuries. This was truly one of my best trips.

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