#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 09: I FOR ISLANDS AND THE INDEPENDENCE STRUGGLE

Content Courtesy – Andaman Tourism

I realized that as am doing my study on the Andaman Islands there are quite a few things which even i was not aware 🙂 Something to be mentioned in the #ReflectionPost 🙂 For instance, 

The Chinese knew of the Andaman & Nicobar  Islands over a 1000 years ago and called it the ‘Yeng-t-omag’.  The Andaman & Nicobar Islands also find a place in the first map of the world drawn by Ptolemy, the Roman geographer during the 2nd Century. He called it ‘Angdaman islands (Islands of good fortune). During the 6th C entury I’T Sing, a Buddhistmonk, named it ‘Lo-jen – kuo’ (Land of the Naked). Two Arab travelers during  the 8th Century referred to these  islands  as ‘Lakhabalus or Najabulus ‘(Land of the Naked). The great traveller Marco Polo called it ‘Angamanian’.

The Andaman & Nicobar Islands remained the abode of the Negritos and the Mongoloids,  for centuries.

pit created by japanese during WWII

The history of these islands could be divided into 4 broad periods:

a)  the period of seclusion
b) the British regime 
c) the Japanese regime
d) and the Post-Independence period.

and.nic.in

The modern history of Andaman & Nicobar Islands can be traced back to 1789 when the Governor General of British India commissioned a survey of these Islands by Lt Archibald Blair, who conducted the first  topo-cum-hydrographical survey and reported suitability for human settlement. Immediately thereafter, in 1790 the first settlement  was  established at Port  Blair (then Port Cornwallis) in the present day Chatham Island by bringing Criminals from undivided India. However, high mortality due to malaria and frequent attacks by aborigines forced the settlement to be shifted to a new port in North Andaman during 1792.  However, due to natural calamities, the British left the Andman & Nicobar Islands by 1796.

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. The missionaries entered the Nicobar group of Islands in 17th century. 

In 1756,  the Dutch colonised Nancowry group of Islands and stayed there up to 1787. After several unsuccessful attempts to build up a colony in Nancowry, the Dutch Government ultimately handed over Nicobar group of Islands to the British, who took possession in 1869.

It was in 1857, after India’s First War of Independence, that a penal colony was attempted at Port Blair with an initial lot of 200 freedom fighter who, for the first time, attempted to over throw British rule in India. The Britishers established their colony in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for the second time in 1858.During this colonization the British Officials and soldiers settled in large groups.
The Britishers sent the convicts from India and Burma to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. They separated the Indians who fought for the country’s independence and were sent to these islands by ships. They were chained and were sent into the dense forests to fell the trees and clear the lands. They were allotted stipulated time and were ordered to complete the works within the stipulated time. The prisoners who protested were hanged to death.

The number of freedom fighters increased to 773 within 3 months.The famous “Battle of Aberdeen” between civilized men and Stone Age aborigines of Andamans was fought on 14th May 1859 at Aberdeen Bazaar. During 1869 – 70 many Wahabi Movement activists who rose against the British rule were deported from the Central and United Provinces of undivided India to Andaman.  One amongst them was Mohd. Sher Ali Khan (a Pathan),who assassinated Lord Mayo, the Viceroy and Governor General of India on 08 February  1872 at Hope Town Jetty.  Later,in the same year, Sher Ali Khan was executed in Viper Island by the British.

The first Prison and Hangman’s Noose were built at a small island named Viper. There were no sufficient cells to prison the convicts at Viper Island. Therefore, on 13 September 1893, the British Government of India, ordered the construction of Cellular jail to accommodate 600 prisoners. Prior to construction of the Cellular Jail, male convicts were held on Viper Island and women convicts at South Point.

Then occurred the great uprising of moplahs, the Moplah Rebellion during 1921 (my grandfather, mom’s dad happen to come during this time to the Islands) About 1400 Moplahs mosly from Muslim dominated districts of Ernad, Walluvanad and Calicut of Kerala were sent to Andamans with their families for rebelling against the British rule.

During World War 2 ,  the British abandoned these Islands in a haste due to  advancing Japanese Forces, allowing Japanese occupation of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Japanese brutally ruled the territory for 4 years from 1942 to 1945.(i have heard sad stories from my parents about this who learnt it from their parents) During this period, Japanese built heavy Military infrastructure in  these  Islands. 

Port Blair harbour was used as a forward surveillance base for Sea planes of the Japanese forces. A few months after the Japanese occupation, allied forces succeeded in blocking Sea lanes threatening the Island population to the brink of starvation. Japanese successfully averted the disaster through enforced intensive community of farming of tubers like tapioca and sweet potato. Extensive road network expansion was also undertaken at that time for connecting Port Blair outlying villages and cultivate land. 

On  7th  October 1945, the  Armada carrying 116 Indian infantry brigade of South East Asian allied Land force under the command of Brigadier A.J. Solomon surrounded Port Blair, compelling about 20,000 Japanese soldiers to surrender on 9th  October 1945.

With the advent of Indian Independence on 15th August 1947, these islands were merged with the Indian main stream.

Happy Blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 08: for Heavenly HAVELOCK Islands

“At the beach, life is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides, and follow the sun.” – Anonymous 

Named after the British general, Sir Henry Havelock who had served in India these islands are the most famous of the entire 572 island group. Situated at a distance of about 57 kms from the capital Port Blair and to east of great Andamans, this beautiful island is spread over 113.93 km2.

With more than one beach(also termed as beach 1 which includes the port to beach 8) to its name these islands are definitely an Escapist’s hood.  Havelock is an amazing experience. Right from the seaplane to kayaking and white sandy beaches. It has multiple joy of adventure and beauty wrapped in itself.  

Radhanagar beach 

If Sun Sand and Sea is an idea of your perfect vacation then the Radhanagar beach is the place to be, for it holds the honor of Asia’s best and World’s 7th best beach and 6th best in terms of bluest water. Yes you heard it right, Asia’s best beach ❤ ❤ ❤ It is a 3 km long stretch of pristine white sand covered beach. The warm crystal blue water and the white sand is the hallmark of these places. Radhanagar beach is also very popular with surfers as the beach tends to have gigantic waves during the surfing season. 

When you don’t feel like getting out of the sea

Kalapathar beach

PC : Andaman Tourism Department

Kalapathar beach is a remote beach about 10kms from havelock jetty.The beach is accessible by road and is famous with couples and nature lovers.It is picture perfect and far less crowded than Radhanagar beach. For the ones who prefer spending some lonely time in natures wilderness this is the perfect spot.  Also you can trek down to this amazing lagoon which is known to very few. Check out the video captured from a drone of this secret lagoon.

The Elephant beach 

PC : Nelson bhaiya

The Elephant beach is stunningly beautiful and looks straight out of a postcard. You would definitely end up using the hashtag “#nofilter” because no filter would do justice to the beauty of the images one would capture. The beach is not accessible by road and the only way to reach the elephant beach is by hiring a speed boat or dinge from Havelock jetty. Elephant beach is ideal for water-sports activities because it’s crystal clear waters .Water sports activities like jet ski, scuba diving, snorkeling and underwater sea-walk are conducted at the beach.

Apart from all this, it is well known for its most loved resident  RAJAN  – the legendary elephant that swims 

The Andamans draw thousands of people to its pristine shores year after year. Among the many treasures you uncover on the islands, blue waves and sun-kissed beaches are just the tip of the iceberg. Just take a walk towards the beautiful Beach No. 7 and you’ll find the fantastic elephant, Rajan, waiting to welcome you. But how did an elephant make its way to the Andamans? 

Once upon a time, an elephant named Rajan lived in the thick jungles of Karnataka, where he was surrounded by tall trees, wild animals and birds. Rajan loved the jungle and everything that came with it. One fine day, Rajan was relocated from the jungle and sent to a land that was surrounded by water. He adapted to his new surroundings and discovered the joy of swimming by taking regular dips in the ocean. Since then, he has been basking on the white sandy beaches of the magnificent Andaman Islands. 

On the island, Barefoot at Havelock took him in with open arms. As the only rainforest seaside resort in Asia, Barefoot had left no stone unturned to make the environment a wonderful home for the majestic animal. Once when a temple in the southern Indian state of Kerala offered his then owner a sizable amount for Rajan, the resort decided to pay the eye-popping sum of around Rs 25 lakhs to keep the beloved pachyderm. Rajan loved to meet his admirers and greets them with a thunderous trumpet. Guests could even opt to bathe their four-legged friend at the holiday resort on request.  

https://www.instagram.com/p/gWhMlrrNv2/

Rajan was an exceptionally skilled swimmer and had been seen going against the tide on a few occasions. The diving elephant was one among the last few left of its kind on our planet. He had been featured in commercials all over the world and has even appeared in Hollywood movies like 2006 Hollywood movie THE FALL and other famous websites like the Huffington Post. And that’s exactly why Rajan was the most loved resident of Beach No. 7.  

Sadly Rajan took his last breath sometime in the intervening night of July 31 and Aug 01 when he was about 66 years old. Rajan’s body lies deep within the forests of his adopted home where it will lay undisturbed after 66 years of a truly unconventional life.  

Besides these three beaches, the Havelock islands have few other beaches which are open to public like the Vijayanagar beach and some which are yet to be explored. And how do you reach this paradise on earth? 

Well the two hour distance to Havelock Islands can be taken either via a govt ferry or the famous Makruzz which is a favorite among tourists. While the govt ferry does four rounds a day, the Makruzz does only two trips one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  

Thats the inside of the Makruzz, from our last day way back to Port Blair

Seaplane Ride  

If you thought we were done with the attractions of Havelock, then the answer is “not yet”. Brace yourself, for the Seaplane Ride. Havelock has its own commercial seaplane service named “Jal Hans”. Jal Hans is India’s first commercial seaplane service. The airline is jointly owned by Pawan Hans, India’s largest helicopter services provider and the Union territory of Andaman Islands and is run on an equal Revenue sharing basis. Seaplane is a must ride. The beauty of flying over the shimmering sea blue water is something you cannot afford to miss. 

Radhanagar beach is also famous for the beautiful sunset it offers to the travel lovers. Below is another time lapse video recorded by my friend Saketh and Sanjay during our vacation. I remember the only time we came out of the water was to have food and play some cards for about an hour, and again we were into the water. In our seven day vacation, we chose to stay three days in Havelock. 

 If ever you plan on visiting the Andaman islands, please make sure you stay a minimum of two to three days. And now you know whom to contact in case you need any help 🙂 😀 

 

Happy Blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤ 

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 07: G for GEOGRAPHICAL IMPORTANCE

This could be a sensitive topic that I am discussing today as part of the #AtoZChallenge and hence it was much needed that i do a thorough reading of all the facts behind it. All the details have been taken from the and.nic.in website and other Indian defense forums. It’s about

Geographical Importance of Andaman and Nicobar Islands 

As you know in the Bay of Bengal, far removed from the mainland, lie the 572 islands of Andaman and Nicobar, which form India’s southeast border. While the northernmost part of the archipelago is only 22 nautical miles away from Myanmar, the southernmost point, called the Indira Point, is a mere 90 nautical miles from Indonesia. These islands dominate the Bay of Bengal and the Six Degree and Ten Degree channels which more than 60,000 commercial vessels traverse each year.

Operators on Navy’s Boeing P-81 search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.  Source – Wikipedia

Among the nine major bottlenecks that control entry to this region are the Malacca Strait and the Six Degree Channel. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands lie in this strategically important zone, meaning that India with its growing naval capabilities could play a significant role in controlling access . 

India’s Navy chief, Admiral R K Dhowan recently acknowledged that the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a “very very important aspect” of India’s security, acting as extended arms of the country. Dhowan said that India needed to deploy naval assets to the islands for surveillance in important sea lines of communication.

The Indian Ocean has become an important aspect in China’s foreign policy, as it links Chinese sea lines of communications (SLOCs) to African and Middle Eastern energy as well as European trade routes. The Indian Ocean region (IOR) contains China’s most important SLOCs: as much as 75 percent of China’s oil imports (more than 6 million barrels daily) come from the Middle East and Africa. This maritime presence is supplemented by Chinese investments in port facilities that ring the IOR. Chinese scholars view the Indian Ocean as an area of potential rivalry between India and China, according to naval scholar Toshi Yoshihara.

The growing influence of China in the IOR is already causing concern in India. If India fails to use its geographic advantages in the region, it will face an emboldened PLAN. The geostrategic position of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands makes them central to any Indian response to rising Chinese influence in the IOR. Strengthening capabilities in this area would force the PLAN to shift its focus from the Western Pacific to the Indian Ocean, which could tax Chinese forces and attention. China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean is assured; but India’s role is still emerging. Fortifying the Andaman-Nicobar Islands would be the first step toward a more robust Indian Ocean strategy

As of now to maintain the security of the country and the islands has the only Andaman and Nicobar Command. It is the only tri-service command of the Indian Armed Forces based at Port Blair. It was created in 2001 to safeguard India’s interests. As of 2014, the command includes 15 ships of the Indian Navy, two Navy Sea bases, four Air Force and Naval Air bases and two Army brigades. 

Coco Islands

Andaman Islands were occupied by East India Company in 18th century. Later they established a panel colony on Andaman and coconuts from Coco islands were mainly food for it. But due to improper governance, British transferred Coco islands to the government of lower Burma and eventually they became a part of British Burma. Later in 1937, when Burma was separated from India, they remained Burmese territory. In 1948, when Burma got Independence, they became part of newly formed union of Burma.

Considering the location of these islands, they are highly strategic for India, China and Burma. From the beginning, China had an eye on these islands in order to monitor India’s naval and other significant activities in Indian ocean. Coco islands were allegedly leased to China in 1994. However, the government of China and Myanmar denied this. In order to monitor Indian naval activities especially in the crucial point in shipping routes between the Bay of Bengal and the Strait of Malacca, China supposedly established a signal intelligence (SIGINT) station on COCO island in 1992.

I hope the Indian Administration works more strictly towards increasing its security and tighten all possible loopholes that could cause any foreign entity to harm the Indian Defense system. 

This is the information i could gather from various sources, hope it is of some help to you all to understand these islands are more than just a tourist destination. It is strategically important to the country. 

Happy blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 06: F for Flora and Fauna

Flora of the Islands
These Islands are blessed with a unique’ luxuriant evergreen tropical rain forest canopy, sheltering a mixed germ palms bank, comprising of Indian, Myanmarese, Malaysian and endemic floral strain. So far, about 2200,varieties of plants have been recorded out of which 200 are endemic and 1300 do not occur in mainland India. 

The Mangroves of Andaman and Nicobar Islands PC – Saketh

“The South Andaman forests have a profuse growth of epiphytic vegetation, mostly ferns and orchids. The Middle Andamans harbours mostly moist deciduous forests. North Andamans is characterized by the wet evergreen type, with plenty of woody climbers. The north Nicobar Islands (including Car Nicobar and Battimalv) are marked by the complete absence of evergreen forests, while such forests form the dominant vegetation in the central and southern islands of the Nicobar group. Grasslands occur only in the Nicobars, and while deciduous forests are common in the Andamans, they are almost absent in the Nicobars”. 

This atypical forest coverage is made-up of twelve types namely.

(1) Giant evergreen forest
(2) Andamans tropical evergreen forest
(3) Southern hilltop tropical evergreen forest
(4) Cane brakes
(5) Wet bamboo brakes
(6) Andamans semi-evergreen forest
(7) Andamans moist deciduous forest
(8) Andamans secondary moist deciduous forest
(9) Littoral forest
(10) Mangrove forest
(11) Brackish water mixed forest
(12) Submontane hill valley swamp forest.
The present forest coverage is claimed to be 86.2% of the total land area.

Sunlight beams finding it way through the dense forests PC – Nelson Raju

Andaman Forest is abound in plethora of timber species numbering 200 or more, out of which about 30 varieties are considered to be commercial. Major commercial timber species are Gurjan (Dipterocarpus spp.) and Padauk (Pterocarpus dalbergioides). Ornamental wood such as (1) Marble Wood (Diospyros marmorata) (2) Padauk (Pterocarpus dalbergioides), (3) Silver Grey (a special formation of wood in white chuglam) (4) Chooi (Sageraea elliptical and (5) Kokko (Albizzia lebbeck) are noted for their pronounced grain formation.  Padauk being steadier than teak is widely used for furniture making. With its abundance in the islands, its called the State Tree of the islands. Burr and the Buttress formation in Andaman Padauk are World famous for their exceptionally unique charm and figuring. Largest piece of Buttress known from Andaman was a dining table of 13’x 7′. The largest piece of Burr was again a dining table to seat eight persons at a time. The holy Rudraksha (Elaeocarps sphaericus) and aromatic Dhoop/Resin trees also occur here. There is one Rudraksha tree near my uncle’s home 🙂 

You can find almost all the tropical fruits in these islands like any other tropical region but there is one rare fruit which is found and eaten in the Nicobar islands the Pandunus or Nicobar Breadfruit 

Pandanus is a densely arranged, wedge-shaped fruit that has an immensely hard, woody and fibrous body in which several narrow, edible seeds are embedded. Each section has a fleshy base that contains an aromatic pulp that, after cooking, is a staple food in Nicobar. An economically important plant in the islands, the stem branches of Pandanus are used in construction, the leaves used for weaving mats and the hard exterior of the fruit is used as a bathing brush.

Fauna of the Islands
This tropical rain forest despite its isolation from adjacent land masses is surprisingly enriched with many animals. I have already introduced you to the State Animal in my previous post – the Dugong Similarly we have the State Bird of the islands which is the Wood Pigeon,
the pigeon being endemic to these islands lives in the dense evergreen forests.

About 50 varieties of forest mammals are found to occur in A&N Islands, most of them are understood to be brought in from outside and are now considered endemic due to their prolonged insular adaptation. Apart from these there are some famous birds and species endemic to the islands alone like the below 

The Hornbill birds are found only in the Narcondam island, which is also famous for having the inactive volcano.

from online birds database

The Megapode bird or the mound bird is known for laying eggs in holes in the ground or in mounds of rotting vegetable matter and leaving them to be incubated by heat from the Sun or volcanic action. Mound birds are also called mound builders, incubator birds, or megapodes. 

The Robber Crab (Birgus Latro), also called the Coconut Crab, is the largest land-living arthropod in the world. They generally live on land, but at nights climb up the coconut trees and carve a hole into the tender coconuts to eat the soft kernel. In South Asia, the highest numbers of these huge crabs are found in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. They can be spotted on the South Sentinel Island as well as on some islands in Nicobar. Apart from these there are wide variety of other crabs which are found in these islands. They are also one of the favorite delicacies the locals love. (i love eating crabs too <3, not this one for sure).

Also found in abundance specially in the Ross Islands are the Deer and Peacock 

 

The happy land of butterflies 
With about 225 species, the A&N Islands house some of the larger and most spectacular butterflies of the world. Ten species are endemic to these Islands. Mount Harriet National Park is one of the richest areas of butterfly and moth diversity on these Islands. Thousands of butterflies flock to the Andaman Island every year. I.e Andaman is a proud host to butterflies that migrate to the islands. Even postal stamps have been issued in honor of this phenomenon 

The Amazing Marine Life of Andamans
If Dugong was the only herbivore mammal under water that is found in the Andaman islands, there are many more amazing marine life that is still majorly unexplored.
Dermocheleys Coriacea, the largest sea turtles in the world nest in the Andaman islands. They are huge in size and thousands of them flock to the Andamans every year. Additionally, even the Olive Ridely turtles come to the Andamans and use it as their nesting ground.
In fact the Kalipur beach in Diglipur is the only place in the world that boasts of nesting by four types of sea turtles viz., Leatherback turtle, Olive Ridley, Green Turtles and HawksBill.

Quick info – if you ever take a ship to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (yes we do have ships that take 3 days from Chennai, Visakhapatnam and Kolkata to reach the islands), about an hour before you reach the harbour you would be lucky to find group of dolphins giving you company till the ship reaches the port. Below is one such capture by a APS director Rathnam. I can personally vouch cause i have seen them when my family used to travel by ships during summer vacations. 

With an abundance of sea creatures, the islands staple source of food is also the sea. From crabs, to shrimps and lobsters , there are over a hundred variety of fishes that are eaten by the locals. Some people are also known to have sea urchins and sea cucumbers which are now available only in the interior islands.

Some of the well known aquatic animals of Andamans are the Humphead Parrotfish, Whitebanded Shrimp, Peacock Mantis, Giant Moray , Manta Ray. 

Since the islands are surrounded by water from all around its obvious to have an amazing variety of shells and corals. Snorkeling and Scuba diving water activities are a great means to explore the corals.  
As always ending the post with some additional info. Check out the below video(highly insist) which was captured by my friend  Saketh and Sanjay  from our recent trip to Andamans . 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQwiQpfArnE/?taken-by=vsakethreddy


And this work that the crabs do, result in such patterns that one would find by the beach. It was amazing to see the crabs working. All thanks to technology and smart end phones 😛 

I realize my posts are turning out to be really lengthy 😦 but this is the most edited form that i could publish. Still had many more pics and content to write 🙂 Hope you guys are having fun, let me know.. i really wana know 🙂

Also i would be replying back to all the comments that i have not yet replied over this weekend. Since i do not schedule my posts i hardly get time after i am done with writing the post. Apologies 😦 

Happy blogging!! Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤ 

Disclaimer – the pics are taken from the flora and fauna databases and content of factual data from the and.nic.in islands administrative website. Also the images are clicked by my friend Saketh and Nelson (majority of them).

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY05: E For Experience Scuba Diving | My first

PC @monsieur.lopez

Disclaimer – Long Post 🙂

I remember it was the summer vacation i was in my first standard and my brother and all the other elder cousins were playing in the river which ran behind my uncle’s home back in Kollam, Kerala. I was the only girl in my paternal side then and i was insisting in going to the water as well. And since none of the cousins wanted to take my responsibility of taking care of me i was just watching them and crying non stop.
Finally my uncle agreed to take me to the water as well. I still remember this crystal clear (i have a sharp memory 🙂 ) my grandmother gave me a piece of advice, she said “When you go into the water remember and the water level reaches your chin, do not take a sudden breath or else you would always be scared of getting into water” . And i finally was in the river playing with my cousins . 

PC – dad 🙂

Post that whenever we used to go to the beach in Andamans’ i would not be scared to get into water, i would go right up till my chin while am standing straight in water (whatever the height that would be) and jump when the waves would hit me. 

Only regret I COULD NEVER MANAGE TO LEARN SWIMMING 😦  I know i know me being from the islands its shameful and embarrassing to not know swimming but the thing was there never was a swimming pool kind of facility for my parents to send me for classes. If i had to learn swimming it would be going to the beach and my dad teaching me which was not really practical. I was too busy enjoying my dance classes and taking part in other literary competitions. Beaches only meant picnics, getting into water to take bath and just play even though i would always regret not knowing how to swim specially when i saw my other friends getting into the sea and swimming or even the swimming pool for a matter. My job would be to sit by the side and hand them food and drinks when needed.

Years went by , I’ll be 30 this July and i hate to say this but i don’t know swimming even now 😦 (hoping to learn this summer..which is already here). But one thing was always on my bucket list SCUBA DIVING. It became even more an adventure that i wanted to fulfill anyhow when i had learnt you don’t really need to know swimming to do scuba diving(thanks to Zoya Akhtar and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara). There always is a way if you really want to do something in life 😛

Scuba diving became a popular water sport in the last few years in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and whenever i went home for a vacation it would be just a week or two and mostly i would be home and catching up with family friends and relatives. There was no possibility of me going to the beach and take up diving.  

I had not given up hope and had to do scuba diving before my 30th birthday and finally it happened, yes my first ever scuba diving experience and i don’t have words to describe how beautiful that feeling is. It was exactly the #ZindagiNaMilegiDobara moment when Hrithik Roshan takes his first dive and the poem in the background, it was exactly that. Click here to watch 

And it happened

On 12th Feb 2017 i did my first scuba diving. All thanks to my friends who joined me in a week long vacation to Andamans and i decided to join them as well as a tourist and see more of my beautiful hometown. We were doing the scuba diving through the BAREFOOTSCUBA. Barefoot Scuba is the first and only PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Resort in the Andaman Islands established in 2004 I knew them personally since it was part of the Barefoot Resorts whose Operational Manager is my brother and also the diving instructors were known to me. My dive instructor was Bunty bhaiya (the one in the first pic and in the video you cant watch below). Other than these also there are Scuba Dive Operators like the Dive India, Andaman Bubbles Scuba Diving .

The Training and the Dive

The 45 minute scuba diving session included 15 minutes of training and then 30 minutes of dive of up to 13-14 meters underwater. For a non swimmer like me 14 meters is a big deal 🙂 We chose the North Bay islands for scuba diving unlike the Havelock where generally tourists do the scuba diving. One because we knew them personally and second the rush is less in North Bay compared to Havelock, so the divers too are not in a hurry. 

Thats after the training all set to go for the dive

To start with the training we were told all the hand gestures that we would be using underwater like Ok, not okay , up, down, nose block, ear pain, water getting into the mouth etc. Then you are made to practice to breathe through your mouth wearing the scuba gears. Trust me this is the most difficult part, i had a tough time to get used to breathing through the mouth.

Then the moment arrived, once the trainers checked for all the precautions and revised us through the hand gestures they pulled us along with them inside water. Ideally its one instructor with two people but i got to go alone with Bunty bhaiya, perks of being an islander. I didn’t even realize and i was already underwater. It was beautiful, calm and quiet, it was a different world all together. The only sound i could hear was my heart beat and the sound of me breathing in and out.

PC – Bunty bhaiya’s friend while we were diving

I saw some small fishes of different colors, corals, also managed to see a sea cucumber and a sea urchin (which was not new to me, had seen them before also) . It was so beautiful that i stopped breathing in between and suddenly my ears started paining. I think i came up above water twice in the 30 minute dive. I did want to see the Nemo but i couldn’t but i have heard people telling they saw the Nemo, below is one such pic my friend Saketh clicked.

Time flies underwater, before i could get the whole hang of it thirty minutes was up and time for me to say bye to the amazing marine life. I feel so proud to be from Andaman not that i was not before but after the dive i get the whole idea of why people enjoy diving so much and travel all the way to these islands for diving and snorkeling.

As always, leaving you all with few more pics clicked by Saketh : 

 Here is my scuba diving video to give you a sneak peek of what the underwater life looks like. The BarefootScuba makes sure your memories are captured forever. Also they give us a certificate once we finish our dive which is pretty good 

Watch till the end to see the fishes 🙂 (or skip to 1:06)

I am determined to go for even more scuba diving sessions once i learn swimming so that i can become better than my first one in terms of breathing and not letting the claustrophobia hit me which has always stopped me from learning swimming.

Andaman as a Scuba diving destination

The azure waters surrounding the Andaman Islands make it a treasure trove to dive into and snorkel around.

Pristine dive spots and enchanting fish life have ensured that the Andamans are now considered as a diving hot spot and divers from all around the world make their way to these islands simply to scuba dive. Irrespective of whether you can swim or not – as long as you are at least 8 years old, you too can try your hand at diving and get addicted for life!

One can also take up advanced level certification and become a certified diver. Many folks from all over the world actually come to Andaman to take up the diving certifications. 

You can also check out some instagrammers who are based in Andamans and their profiles are a treat to watch. @tara.oceanista and @nelson_raju

Have you done scuba diving? Where and how was your experience? Is it on your bucket list, if yes then some serious advice – PLEASE DO IT.  Don’t think about it even for a second, the moment you get a chance just do it. Let me know if you liked this post (i know this was a long long one).

Happy blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤

 

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY04: D FOR DUGONG

Have you ever heard of this word Dugong? Any guesses you want to make before you start reading… let me tell you, this is definitely not a place in Andaman(if that helps) . …….. Alright lets not bother you too much and reveal the mystery. Dugong is a medium sized marine animal which is also called the Sea Cow or Sea Pig which happens to be the State Animal of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 

The word “dugong” derives from the Tagalog term dugong which was in turn adopted from the Malay duyung, both meaning “lady of the sea”. 

  • The Dugong is the only strictly marine herbivorous mammal
    It mainly survives on sea grass and other aquatic vegetation
  • Dugong is distributed in shallow tropical waters in Indo-Pacific Region.
  • The animal is about three-metre length and weighs about 400 kg.
    The dugong has a fusiform body with no dorsal fin or hind limbs. The forelimbs or flippers are paddle-like.
  • The dugong is easily distinguished from the manatees by its fluked, dolphin-like tail, but also possesses a unique skull and teeth. Its snout is sharply downturned, an adaptation for feeding in benthic seagrass communities. The molar teeth are simple and peg-like
  • The dugong is hunted for its meat and oil.
  • The IUCN lists the dugong as a species vulnerable to extinction, while the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species limits or bans the trade of derived products
  • It has a long lifespan of 70 years or more, and slow rate of reproduction, one of the major reasons for dugongs more vulnerable to extinction
  • In India Dugong is reported from Gulf of Kutch, Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Within A&N Islands Dugong has been reported from Ritchie”s Archipelago, North Reef, Little Andaman and parts of Nicobars

    PC – Nelson Raju

Personally I have never seen one in real back home except for the pictures and its model in the museum.

There you go, a new information (if you didn’t know about it earlier) to be added as part of #atozchallenge 🙂 . What is your State/Country animal?  Ever heard about Dugong before, let me know in the comments if your place also has some endangered species like these.

Happy Blogging !!! Live.Love.Laugh !!!

 

 

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY03: C FOR CELLULAR JAIL

We yield to none in our love, admiration and respect for the Buddha-the Dharma-the Sangha. They are all ours. Their glories are ours and ours their failures.”  – Vinayak Damodar Savarkar 

Cellular Jail in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India, stands as a dark reminiscence of the British rule in the Indian subcontinent. This most dreaded and grueling colonial prison situated in the remote archipelago was used by the British particularly to exile Indian political prisoners. Isolated from the mainland, this jail, also referred as Kala Pani (where Kala means death or time and Pani means water in Sanskrit) 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. 

The jail is now open to public viewing as a National Memorial, and its museum gives one a glimpse of years of India’s struggle for freedom.

Foundation & History of the Jail

Although the Andaman Islands were used by the British as a prison soon after the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (the Sepoy Mutiny), the foundation of this jail was laid in 1896. The result of what was considered India’s First War of Independence however went in favor of the British who suppressed the revolt executing many rebels and transferring the rest to Andaman for lifetime exile.

The rebels in hundreds were sent to the island where they remained under the custody of jailer David Barry and military doctor Major James Pattison Walker. 238 prisoners who tried to escape the jail in March 1868 were caught in April of whom 87 were hanged. More and more patriots who raised voice against the colonial rule were convicted and deported here from British-controlled India and Burma. 

The prisoners dreaded the waters of Andamans and being isolated from the mainland there were no way out for them to escape. The island became an apt place for the British to punish the freedom fighters. The prisoners were chained and made to work in constructing buildings, prisons and harbour facilities in pursuit of colonising Andaman for the British. With the upsurge of Indian independence movement in the late 19th century, several prisoners were sent to Andaman that necessitated for a higher security prison.

Sir Charles James Lyall, home secretary in the governance of the British Raj and A. S. Lethbridge, a surgeon in the British administration suggested introduction of a “penal stage” in the transportation sentence given to a prisoner so that the prisoner face harsh treatment for a certain period after deportation to the Andamans. This led to construction of the Cellular Jail, work of which commenced in 1896 and finished in 1906.

The current day view , clicked on 11th Feb 2017 PC : Saketh

In 1942 the Japanese overpowered the British in the Andaman Islands driving them out of the islands. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose visited Andaman during this time. Following the end of the ‘Second World War’, in 1945 the British regained control of the islands. 

Design of the Cellular Jail

The building of the Cellular Jail originally had seven straight wings each connected to a tower in the middle giving the whole construction a look of something like a bicycle wheel with each wing attached with the centre tower like a spoke of the wheel. This design was based on English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham’s concept of the Panopticon. Puce coloured bricks were brought from Burma to construct the building. The tower in the centre that formed the point of intersection of all the seven wings served as a watch point for the guards of the jail to keep vigil on prisoners. It had a large bell for raising alarm.

The wings, each of which had three storeys, were constructed in such manner that the front of one wing faces the back of another so that one inmate in a wing cannot see or communicate with another inmate in any of the adjacent wings. Even the cells in a wing were in a row so that inmates in the same wing also cannot communicate or see each other. Each cell housed only one prisoner ensuring minimal chance of communication among inmates thus isolating them from each other. This feature of solitary confinement in individual cells earned the jail its name, “Cellular”. There were a total of 693 cells, each measuring 4.5 m by 2.7 m with a ventilator located at a height of 3 m. There were no dormitories in the jail.

Life in the 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. 

Additional information: 

Visit Timing & Entrance Fee

It remains open on all days excepting national holidays. Entry fee per person is Rs. 30/-. Other charges include Rs. 200/- for still camera, Rs. 1000/- for video camera and Rs. 10,000/- for film shooting per day with prior permission. 

Light & Sound Show

It regularly holds Light & Sound (Son-et-Lumiere) shows on India’s freedom struggle in Hindi and English excepting on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The price of ticket for the light and sound show is Rs. 50/- per adult. 


Wana know more?  – There is a movie called Kalapani which shows the struggle of the prisoners of these Jail who fought for the freedom we have today. 

Also you can watch this documentary on the Cellular Jail (it is in English ) to have a real feel of this place that would send shivers down the spine. 

Happy Blogging 🙂 I hope everyone is having a good time !!!

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY02: B FOR BEACHES BEACHES BEACHES

The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of ocean on a beach     – Henry Beston 

Why would  one not fall in love at first sight when you look at the clear blue waters of Andaman and Nicobar islands. With about 572 islands, almost every island is surrounded by beach what more can you ask for? Ever done a beach-hopping ?? 😉 And even though these beaches are flocked by so many tourists you can always find an isolated corner for one to relax and rewind. Shimmering stretch of water, every hue of blues and greens ever seen hitting the pure white sand? Anything that I say would not do justice to the beauty of these pristine beaches. No wonder they are called the “Emerald Islands” by travelers.

Before I talk about the famous beaches, I would want to really mention this point here that all the beaches in Andaman and Nicobar Islands are neat and clean. It’s a punishable offense if one found throwing garbage or littering the beaches. Apart from the govt officials the residents and shopkeepers by the beach side take charge in maintaining the beaches clean and beautiful. 

Since there are a lot of beaches that are worth mentioning I ll stick to few and exclude the most famous ones being Radhanagar (which I have mentioned in my earlier post as well) and few others on this island like the Elephant and Kalapathar in Havelock island along with the beaches Sitapur, Laxmanpur and Bharatpur in Neil Island definitely hold an important place so individual posts for them. 🙂 so don’t forget to check out my future posts for alphabets N and R for the same. 

Corbyn’s Cove

Courtesy -andamantourism.in

This is the most famous beach in the Capital of the islands – Port Blair. The crescent shaped coconut palm fringed Corbyn’s cove is ideal for swimming, water sports (my advice save the water sports for other beaches) and just relaxing. Tourists come here mostly on day 1 of their itinerary after completing the light and sound show at Cellular Jail or vice versa depending on your arrival and if you have a day stop in Port Blair.

The 8 km drive from the city center to the beach itself would make you realize that how clean the air is and without any pollution and passes several Japanese WWII bunkers along the way will give you a peek in history these islands hold. This definitely is a go to beach for the people of the islands here. My first time was when I was in kindergarten and had gone for school picnic 🙂

The Waves Restaurant, The Peerless Sarovar Portico Resort and the Hornbill Nest Guest House are at a stone’s throw from the beachfront.

Chidiyatapu

The beach name means Birds Island which literally holds good as you can see for over 3000 kinds of birds flocking to these islands during sunset and hence this beach is famous as the Sunset Point. To be true the sunsets in many of the beaches is a treat to the eyes. But being this being the more famous one to the Port Blair island since it is just 15 kms from the city. It’s also one of the popular picnic spot for the locals and for the honeymoon couples as well because of the romantic allure.

For adventure lovers Chidiyatapu has a little more to offer. A trekking trail, which passes through forest and beautiful coast line to reach the Munda Pahad(Black Mountain). The trail starts at the shore of Chidiyatapu beach and moves up passing through dense forest. It’s advisable to take a guide or travel in groups to reach the Munda Pahad. Upon reaching Munda Pahad, an elongated black cliff at the edge of Chidiyatapu with an open seascape is an amazing site, which most travelers visiting these islands miss.

Jolly Buoy

clicked by a friend

Jolly Buoy Island is one the most popular tourists attractions in the vicinity of Port Blair. This beautiful and scenic island is situated 15 miles from Wandoor jetty, which is part of Mahatma Gandhi National Park. Wandoor beach is 30 kilometers from Port Blair by road, and from there it will take a one hour boat ride (15 miles) to Jolly Buoy Island. The journey is an unforgettable experience that takes you through a luxuriant forest surrounded by clear, immaculate sea water.

The name Jolly Buoy is an apt description of this delightful island with its spotless, shimmering white sands and turquoise-blue clear waters masterfully adorned by vibrant corals. It is one of only two islands (together with Red Skin Island) that are open to tourists within Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. Jolly Buoy is a veritable diver’s paradise. Because of limitations on the number of visitors at any one time, Jolly Buoy Island is still in pristine condition. This means visitors are treated to an atmosphere like that of a private beach. It is gloriously rich in corals and has an amazing variety of fauna. The underwater marine environment with its brilliantly-colored fishes will leave you awestruck.

It is famous for its glass bottom boats available which will give you a panoramic view of the fauna and flora underneath.

The lonely planet describes the beaches of Andaman’s as – With its breathtakingly beautiful coastline, lush forested interior, fantastic diving possibilities and far-flung location, the Andaman Islands are a perfect place to ramble around or simply chill out on sun-toasted beaches.

Wandoor

The Wandoor beach is yet another popular beach for the tourists and the locals. The beach is about half an hour drive from the city and is close to the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. The park was created 24 May 1983 under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 to protect marine life such as the corals and nesting sea turtles prevalent in the area.

There are 2 major island groups in the park: the Labyrinth Islands and the Twin Islands. The islands are situated 16 km (10 mi) south from Port Blair. The marine park covers 281.5 km² made up of 17 islands and the open sea creeks running through the area. There is a chance for ecotourism on the islands Jolly Buoy and Red Skin. The islands belongs to the Rutland Archipelago and are located between Rutland Island and South Andaman Island.

Few more clicks 🙂 

Other notable beaches in the islands are  – Lalaji Bay, Casurina and Ram Nagar beach in Diglipur which is about 300 kms from Port Blair. The Ram Nagar beach is famous for its sea turtle nesting grounds from Dec to Feb 

All I can think of as I end this post is this beautiful quote ❤

Disclaimer: I am not into photography so all the images that I upload are clicked by my friends or would leave a link to their insta profiles. Also some amazing folks work in Andaman’s as diving instructors and their profiles are treat to the eyes. If you want to drop by and have a look at more pictures. Also an amount of information are taken from the and.nic.in website of Andaman and Nicobar administration and other travel sites of my friends for more accurate and factual data. 

Happy Blogging 🙂 I hope everyone is having a good time !!!

#AtoZChallenge Day01: A for Amazing Andamans

Andaman and Nicobar Islands is a tourist destination for the travel junkies a once in a lifetime experiences, for the Indians (not trying to offend anyone here) they are just a group of islands in the Bay of Bengal, another Union Territory and for rest of the world some land in the world map. But there is MUCH MORE to these beautiful islands.

Over the years i have read many travel blogs where people have penned down their experiences and memories of these islands and am sure you can do that too if you want to know about this place. So, i decided why not being born and brought up in these islands i should take you on a tour to these islands with me. So if you are ready and excited, hop on!!!


ANDAMAN & NICOBAR ISLANDS are a group of picturesque Islands, big and small, inhabited and uninhabited, a total of 572 islands, islets and rocks lying in the South Eastern Part of the Bay of Bengal.They lie along an arc in long and narrow broken chain, approximately North-South over a distance nearly 800 kms. It is logical to presume a former land connection form Cape Negris at South part of Burma to Achin Head (Cape Pedro) in Andalas (Sumatra).

Administration: The two island groups Andaman and Nicobar are divided by a 10 degree channel. The capital being Port Blair which falls in the Andaman group of islands. The administration is directly governed by the Central Govt in New Delhi under the Governor . Being located in a very strategic location which is important for the security of the country it hosts the Andaman and Nicobar Command, the only tri-service geographical command of the Indian Armed Forces.

Natives: Apart from the strategic geographical location it also is the home to the only known Paleolithic people, the Sentinelese peopel who have no contact with the outside world including the people residing in the islands. There are about seven native tribes to these islands which is just one of the other faces to these islands.

Presence in the world history: Besides the beautiful blue clear waters, mesmerizing beaches which is delight to the photographers eye the islands have witnessed the most dreadful of times in history – the Indian Independence Struggle for Freedom. Once known as the Kalapani the word itself used to send down shivers to the prisoners back in the 1900’s. Rules by many of dynasties like the Cholas, Marathas followed by Danish colonial and Britishers until the set up the World Famous Cellular Jail which was where the prisoners were tortured to death as part of the penal colony settlement for the convicts. 

The islands were under control by the Japanese during the World War II During the independence of both India (1947) and Burma (1948), the departing British announced their intention to resettle all Anglo-Indians and Anglo-Burmese on these islands to form their own nation, although this never materialized. It became part of India in 1950 and was declared as a union territory of the nation in 1956.

The islands have also been witness to one of the most dreaded nature’s fury – the 2004 December TSUNAMI. Just half an hour away from the epicenter of the earthquake in Sumatra, Indonesia the islands were devastated by the 33ft high water walls there by killing almost over 10000 islanders and leaving more than half the population homeless. The worst affected were the Nicobar and Katchal islands along with Indira point(the southern most tip of India). While locals and tourist of the islands suffered the greatest casualties from the tsunami, most of the aboriginal people survived because oral traditions passed down from generations ago warned them to evacuate from large waves that follow large earthquakes.

With all this to its history these islands is one of the most well known tourist destinations for Indian travellers and in the world. The beaches in these islands are one of the worlds best and one among them the Radhanagar beach has been rated as Asia’s best beach and the World’s 8th best beach by the Trip Advisor. The tropical rainforest canopy helps in the growth of some unexplored flora and fauna of the world. The amazing marine life makes even the non swimmers take a deep dive during the scuba to see it from their own eyes.

Radhanagar beach Courtesy – makemytrip

Well well can’t just write everything here cause this blog post alone would be too short to accommodate all the amazing things these amazing islands have to tell you. So all this and more in the next chapter s of the #AtoZChallenge 🙂 

From a recent trip Feb 2017 with my friends who had come down to visit these islands. An awesome one week trip. This is on the beaches of Neil Island

 

 

Today is also a special day as its my brother Sanjay’s birthday!!! Here is my fav pic of the two of us then and now and a message to him

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Growing up as a kid wouldn’t have been a happy memory if it was not you by my side to fight and play. Thank you for always showing me the right path, standing up for me in front of mom and dad and sharing my share of scolding and beatings.For making sure am not hurt by anyone or anything, for keeping your calm and being strong in front of me the entire time when mom passed away so that i don’t cry..for deciding to move back home so that i can continue my career here in Bangalore and many other moments. I have memories with you that would always make me want to be born as your little sister again and again ❤ ❤ ❤
You have been my strength all this while and shall forever be. I know you would do anything in this world to make me happy. I love you. Hope you have the best birthday brother Be the coolest Sanjay that everyone knows you for. To the most handsome man i have known, the one with most warmest heart and the strongest man who always stands up for his loved ones and beyond. I love you and i miss you tons. Loads of hugs and kisses to the most charming brother one can have.

Wishing all the participants the very best! Let the games begin and celebrate the joy of Blogging 🙂 

Live.Love.Laugh and Keep Blogging!!!