“Blue seas, virgin islands and colonial past”
Replete with turquoise blue water beaches and a bit of history, Andaman & Nicobar Islands is a little slice of paradise tucked around 1,400 km away from the east coast of India. Port Blair, the capital has a major airport and seaport and is connected with the rest of the country and with various tourist islands via multiple daily ferries. Havelock and Neil Islands are popular among tourists for their white sandy beaches and great diving options.
The union territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands comprises a total of 572 islands, only 37 of which are inhabited and a few are open to tourists. Havelock Island is one of the largest and the most popular islands of all of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Travelers typically spend multiple nights in Havelock and Neil Islands that offer some great resorts.
Port Blair is generally used as a base city to catch ferries to nearby islands. However, tourists also spend a day or two here to explore the town and nearby beaches. People also take day trips to Ross Island and North Bay Island or to Jolly Buoy island from Port Blair.
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“Pristine White Sand Shores”
Awarded with the title of ‘Asia’s Best Beach’ by the TIMES magazine in 2004, Radhanagar Beach in Havelock Island with its turquoise blue waters and powdery white sands lives up to the moniker. Its vast shores of endless white grains stretch across 2 kilometres, making it a prime attraction of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Food stalls and vendors can be seen on the fringes of the shore, keeping travellers refreshed with the provision of fresh and delicious seafood as well as beverages. You can also book beach beds, parasols, and umbrellas while they spend hours merely lounging at this exquisite wonderland. Radhanagar Beach Andaman is just adjacent to Elephant beach, so you may find mahouts taking out their elephants for a joyride to the tourists. The beach is also secure with patrolling lifeguards ready for rescue.
The Cellular Jail, also known as ‘Kala Pani’ is an old colonial prison situated in Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar islands. Constructed by the Britishers during their colonial rule in India, the jail was used particularly to exile Indian political prisoners. It was used to house many notable freedom fighters such as Batukeshwar Dutt, Yogendra Shukla and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
The jail complex is now owned by the Government of India and it is recognised as the national memorial monument that showcases the life of prisoners during the British era. Cellular Jail stands as a prominent tourist attraction in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands where visitors can learn about its history and also enjoy a light show held in memory of all the prisoners who were imprisoned here.
Today, the Cellular Jail is a solemn reminder of all the struggles the Indian freedom fighters undertook while fighting for independence, and is an integral part of India’s history.
Located just 2 kilometres east of Port Blair is Ross Island (now known as Netaji Subhash Bose Island); an island which was once the administrative headquarters of the British, but today is only an uninhabited island. Following an earthquake that hit Ross Island in the year 1941, the British left the island and shifted their settlement to Port Blair.
At first sight of the island, it is tough to believe that this abandoned place was once the seat of British power and housed everything from a bazaar, a church, stores, bakery, a water treatment plant, tennis court, printing press, secretariat, hospital, cemetery and other vital institutions.
Today, everything has disappeared except a few buildings, which housed some of these landmarks. The Indian Navy has managed to rebuild some old buildings, such as the local stores and the bakery, to provide the visitors with a feel of the bygone era. Souvenirs can also be purchased from these shops.
With its brilliant coral reefs and alluring cyan waters, the Elephant beach is one of the locations that add to the beach paradise reputation of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These waters are a prime destination for tourists wishing to engage in water sports like snorkelling, swimming, banana boat rides, speed boats and diving. There are two ways to reach Elephant Beach: Take a ferry from Havelock Jetty to Elephant Beach (1000 INR per person) or trek for half an hour with a guide (INR 500). The trek starts at a distance of 2km from Radhanagar Beach.
For those who are here to relax, the beach offers some exciting food and drink options while one lounges leisurely on the sands. One could also engage in other adventurous activities like bird-watching, trekking and kayaking. As this area is famous for its coral reefs, sea walking is a major activity undertaken by almost every visitor to this beach, making this one of the best beaches of India.