A never ending expanse of blue green water, gentle waves lapping the shore, warm sand beneath my feet, I could have lived in that heaven forever. The Andaman and Nicobar island , a perfect tourist destination, seem like heaven on earth. Consisting of more than 432 islands of which only 36 are inhabited, the islands present an alluring image.
The Islands have surprisingly varied terrains from hills to even rivers and plains surrounded by pristine beaches. Strolling down the capital’s streets, I realized the place was almost like a “mini India”, flaunting colonies called ‘Jharkhand basti’ and ‘Punjab chowk’.
The islands have come a long way from being referred to as the official “hell on Earth-Kaala paani ” to turning into a world famous tourist spot. Post tsunami, Andamans remains scarcely populated, but as picturesque as ever. The tour is easily affordable to defence folks like us because of location of defence establishments in Port Blair where the journey commences. Apart from the beaches, the main attraction of the town is the Cellular jail. One is sure to get pangs of patriotism after getting an idea of what our freedom fighters went through. A few kilometers away from Port Bair, is Ross Island. This was the cantonment (which resembles any modern day Indian cantt) of British officials taking care of the jail.
Andamans is home to many ancient tribes. Tragically, most have gone extinct or are on the verge of extinction. Only the Nicobarese thrive mainly because they have urbanized. The Jarawas and Senitelese remain largely untouched by civilization and remain protected from tourists. However if one is lucky, Jarawas could be spotted while one is driving through their reserves.
In the midst of tons of beaches, Radhenagar beach stands out. It has been declared as the third most beautiful beach in the world. The place also boasts of vivid underwater flora and fauna like corals and fish which one can witness while snorkeling or through fibre glass boats (for non swimmers)!
The adventure of Andaman does not end at night fall. I am sure none would feel short of exhilaration spending time in solitude on a moonlit beach with sands of time slipping through one’s toes.
It was in the Andaman’s that I understood the true meaning of Lord Byron’s words
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar,
I love not man the less, but nature more .
[Image courtesy: http://www.wayfaring.info/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/andaman_beauties_8.jpg]