Category Archives: A to Z CHALLENGE 2017

#Reflections – Almost Survived the Second Time

After almost six months of break from blogging, a hectic work schedule, a long travel to work and the daily house hold chores left me with absolutely no hopes of taking up the #AtoZChallenge this year. I personally knew and was sure that even if I did sign up for the challenge I would not complete it and leave it less than half way.  

And then just a week before the #themereveal was made I decided to at least sign up and try doing it as much as I can. As i pen down today my #Reflection post , I am really proud of what I achieved over the last month of the epic blogging challenge that i had signed up for.  I am happy that i could do justice to the place where i am born and brought up Andaman and Nicobar Islands by sharing information about it with the world out there. #AmazingAndamans would always be a special series of posts close to my heart.

Though the numbers were not as good as the last years i am still happy that I managed to sail through all the obstacles. 1378 Views || 798 Visitors || 181 Likes and 184 Comments ❤ ❤ ❤ To check out the complete list of my entries during the challenge click My #AtoZChallenge Blog Posts.
My top fav five from my #atozchallenge are definitely going to be
1. Experience Scuba Diving – this was my first scuba diving experience considering i don’t know swimming
2. Ross Island – my favorite place in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
3. Tsunami – its not everyday that you become part of a natural calamity and something which shook the entire world is altogether a different story
4. Heavenly Havelock – the world famous Havelock island and its Radhanagar beach is a must visit place for any tourist traveling to the islands
5. Planning a trip to Andaman?Must know!if every planning a trip to the islands you need to read my posts with all the tips and suggestions from the island girl herself, trust me you would thank me for this

Key takeaways from the #AtoZChallenge

Having a theme- saved me definitely!
Just a day before the theme reveal day i was going through all the possible topics on which i could manage 26 posts i realized that its easier to write when you are aware of the topic. Since i was recently back from a vacation and the place was my hometown i decided to write about it. Being aware of the content in general reduces half the pressure during the challenge. All you need to do is put it altogether. 
But i do appreciate bloggers who do not have a theme and still finish the challenge cause that must be a whole new level of picking a topic among such wide variety of genres to blog about. Also special mention to my friend Vinay who took inspiration for each post from the comments he received from his readers on the previous day’s post. I mean that is some adventure and kudos to him and he did great.

Framework of your posts
Where variety is widely accepted i think for challenges like these having a similar framework kind of helps both the audience and the blogger himself. Having the basic layout ready for the posts helps even if you don’t schedule all the cosmetic things are at least done and dusted.
I knew what my titles would be, i knew what signature i am supposed to leave considering we didn’t have a linky list this time which i think was not that bad after all as everyone was used to the signature and hyperlink methods that was shared on the a-z page.

Get guest bloggers if it helps
I think guest posts are real good deal if you have someone else also willing to write about the same theme as yours or even for posts that have not signed up with a theme. Last year i remember when i had chosen Emotions as my theme i had about 4 guest bloggers and two of them were non bloggers but loved writing. So i was happy cause i finally made them publish something on my blog and it was very well appreciated. Having guests blog is a good way of networking and bringing a style of writing change on your blog. This time though my topic was about my hometown it made sense to have no guest blogs.

Knowledge gained doing all the research
I am so happy i chose #AmazingAndamans as my theme this year cause there were so much information which was new to me also. I also made sure that what i wrote on my blog was correct and valid information since it would be helping readers out there who are interested in a vacation to the islands. I had to be more conscious of the facts and stats that was going up on my blog. I learnt a lot about the history and tribes of my islands beyond what was known to me.
For a matter of fact i think all travel related blogs hold responsibility of sharing valid information to its readers. Unlike a personal blog , travel blogs are a source of reference to readers and hence its our duty as a blogger to put up correct stuff on the blogs and i am glad i could answer many questions which i have heard over the years from people who want to travel to the islands along with my personal tips.

Social media – saved me!
I think a decent amount of visitors i got on my blog was from the social media accounts that i had. I got a good amount of response from Facebook specially from family and friends who were from Andaman and even the posts was shared on their profiles. Also Instagram and the #hashtags helped me gain lot of followers thereby having a significant increase both in my WordPress blog and Instagram handle.
As there was no linky list, the social media connect on Facebook for the a-z page also turned out to be a huge success. Since bloggers who sure shot posted their blogs as part of the challenge were commenting each day on the posts it made it easier to have track of all the bloggers who were actually participating in it unlike many blogs who would sign up but quit midway when there was a linky list happening.
One challenge that i found here was i would read the blog post of my blogger friends either via Facebook or Instagram when i would be on the go to work and thereby comment there itself or like it making it difficult for me to again go back to their WordPress account and doing the same thing. Did you face this?

Sign up for the challenge along with a group – Blogchatter
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. and this is what i have learnt being part of a community in general be it the a-z community or the Blogchatter brings in a lot of motivation to achieve your goals. Whenever i would think of quitting i would check the daily list on these two sites and would push myself to sit for those two hours post a hectic day to keep up with my resolution of completing the challenge. Even though i missed 7 posts of the 26 i think it was more than 70% and i did a pretty decent job. I really wanted to come up with an eBook which the blogchatter team is encouraging the members to do but am not sure if i really could do that maybe in the coming years i would definitely give it a try to get something published and this has got me thinking for next year’s theme which would do justice to an eBook. For now i think #galfromtheisland would make for a decent travel brochure for people looking to head out to Andaman islands for a vacation and this would be up soon on my blog.

Read, Follow, Comment, Share
Well I can keep iterating this all over again and again that the challenge is all about collaboration and networking. The whole idea of the challenge is to introduce us to other bloggers and to widen our blogging circle through reading and commenting.
I failed at this terribly this year as i could hardly keep up with any of the above said things. I hardly managed to read any new blogs except for a handful ; some salvation would be i ended up reading almost all the posts of few of my blogging friends like Reema, Shalini, Vinay.
During the last years challenge i had made up a plan of action for this years challenge and it was something like this – be prepared with the theme and topics in feb, schedule all posts by march and april would be all about reading, sharing , commenting and you all know how it went down the drain 😦 

My fav picks from the #AtoZChallenge

I am in awe with Reema’s post on 20 something life – i enjoyed every moment of it. As i hit thirty in about two months this series just reminded me of the decade 20 something life of mine. It was a flashback of all the memories, experiences and life lessons in 26 posts and to top it all of every song was just apt and made so much sense as the title of the posts.
Since my theme was travel i was happy to see Shalini’s blog on everything you ever wanted to know about Thailand. I have bookmarked her Thailand series and would have shared it with so many of my friends who are planning for a trip to Thailand. Also her cooking blog was yummy as always 🙂 With all the fav Indian dishes i think it was a perfect mix from chai to coffee, dhokla to rasam.
Vinay’s blog as i mentioned in the above – with all impromptu suggestions from his readers he put up the posts for the challenge.

New bloggers – on my fav list now

Met new bloggers like Soumya from Life of Leo – i really loved her blog and am sad i didn’t find this early but better late than never. Though her theme was all about books which i couldn’t relate much as am not an avid reader but i ended up reading her other work and I love love love her writing style – she is bold in her writing, and i know she hates when called bold 😛 I love her writing style cause she just speaks her mind which is what bloggers should do. If you don’t get what am trying to convey here you should head right to her blog.
Dr Bushra Nausheen’s post on A to Z of Pregnancy turned out to be a very informative post since my sister in law is due in august. The first thing i did was to share the link with her so that she can refer to the posts giving her the correct information from a doc herself.

A huge thank you and big hug to the below people for commenting on my posts so often that i am overwhelmed with joy and really grateful. 
Susanne Kim , Cheryl , Neha , Darla  , Pikakshi  , Bernice , Tina and 
Shinjini . I am going to revisit all of you to makeup for the delay. 

What worked and didn’t for me

Linky list – worked? Yes ! For me – No!
I am more of the To-do list kind it was easier for me when there was a linky list and i could easily search new blogs and check them out. Going through the comments and then navigating to the blogs was kind of challenging for me because i hardly got time to publish my own post so saving those links for future reference kinda thing ended being a tedious task. So for all those bloggers like me who were short in time would have preferred a linky list – are you listening co hosts?

Time zone
Since this challenge was open to all the bloggers in the world, time zone did make a huge impact as there was no linky list. Every day bloggers commented on the link page put up by the co hosts and it worked fine only issue was it took a lot of time to load the page with all the comments and then publish your comment with the particular day’s post. What happened is every time i would see the same set of bloggers comments on the top of the page and others towards the end due to the time zone difference. Having the linky list made it easier to track down the blogs below our own blog all in the same page for reference.

#AtoZChat – missed it!
Just like the linky list i missed the #atozchat which was a great way to come across new bloggers before the challenge even started. With the absence of both linky list and the #atozchat I could manage to read new blogs only when they commented or liked my post and kind of managed to reciprocate to theirs.

This year the Co-hosts have come up with a survey (designed by J. Lenni Dorner) with a certain set of questions which you can answer based on your experience throughout the challenge. I think this was a perfect ending to the challenge cause it really helps the co-host understand what the bloggers experienced and how the community page has helped its audience. I think this should be continued in the future years as well. If you have not yet taken the survey please do, and its open until May 20th. Take the survey here.

Finally a huge shout to all the amazing bloggers i came across this challenge, old and new. For sure i am going to come back and read all the missed posts during the days to follow cause i don’t want to give up on the reading at all. Thank you for all the comments and likes and congratulations for completing this ultimate blog challenge! A huge round of applause for the people behind the scenes from Arlee Bird who started this epic journey years back, all the co hosts and Blogchatter for making sure to post #atoz tips for bloggers throughout the month and for the constant support through mails, tweets etc.
All in all We survived ! We lived ! We conquered !

Until next year…. Live.Love. Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤
This is Sneha, #galfromtheisland signing off 🙂

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 25: Y for Yahoo!!! I belong here

Many have asked me how did my family and I end up in the Islands and as always i have loved to tell them my story 🙂 So here it goes….

My grandfather – mom’s father was deported to the Andaman and Nicobar islands in 1921 as part of the Moplah Movement . He later settled in the islands and had a family of his own, so my mother was born in the islands in May 1953. My dad would be around 20-22 years when he came looking for a job in the islands in the year 1974 as referred by his relatives in Kerala.

Mom and Dad – 1980

Mother grew up and studied hard and took teaching as a profession. While my father took up a central govt job with the Forest department in the islands.Now like any other love story, my parents met through mutual friends fell in love and 10th Feb 1980 they got married. My brother was born in April 1981 and i was born in July 1987. So that’s how we ended up in the islands. 

My first birthday (ignore the clarity)

Growing up in the islands – My home
I never understood what Concrete Jungles were until i moved to the mainland for my engineering. My house had the typical look of a farmhouse, with trees all around. I grew up to see greenery every day when i woke up, i grew up to see the beautiful sunrises and mesmerizing sunsets. I grew up to see the oceans and the sound of air and water. I never ever felt that i am being suffocated with any kind of pollution – air or water or anything you name it. It is not just because mine was an individual house but even my classmates who stayed in gated communities would have felt the same experience as mine while growing up. My house still looks the same with all the trees around and i love it.

Growing up in the islands – My school
I did my schooling from Carmel Senior Secondary School which is the sister school of Mount Carmel and the only Carmel branch which has co-education for both boys and girls. I owe a lot to my school education. The 13 years of my life that i spent in my school has had a major impact on my life. Carmel was is and always be the best school in the islands. Its not just about the best basic education that this institution provides but more so the moral values that my school has taught me to become the person i am today. Anything that I write will not be able to express what i feel for my school.  

The batch of 2006

Be it from being respecting each and every student as an equal, to take part in extra curricular activities, to respect students from rival schools and prove your worth not by words but by actions and bringing home all the prizes in competitions. My school always made sure we celebrated all kinds of festivals with pomp and show, my school made sure we learn about all aspects of life like taking part in social service campaigns, take part in school cabinet selection there by teaching us the importance of law and government etc, my school taught me that all work and no play would make john a dull boy.

Standard IX – Hindi Skit – find me 🙂

The best part about my school are my batch mates with whom i have spent 13 years. Today we are all in different places and busy in our own lives but still we have the unconditional love for each other as we have had growing up in the school.

A mini reunion with school friends in Port Blair back in 2010

Some of my best buddies who have always loved me the same way as they loved me back in school, they do not judge me or expect anything out of me but pure friendship. Thank you Farheen, Vincent, Benoy,Dweependu,Jayant, Kavita ,Mansi, Guha, Vivek, Zahid. There are few friends who never were as close while in school but have always encouraged me in some way or the other like my friend Rajasudha who always has shown her support be in the drawings i publish or the blogs i write.

With friends from senior batch Vishal, Anu, Manish : a reunion in Bangalore

Its’ not just the batch mates that maintain friendship but even the school seniors and juniors who throughout the years have maintained that friendship and always been a support. 
This year my school celebrates its 50th anniversary and am hoping to make a visit to my school in this year. We still have our teachers as friends in our facebook profile and i love that we could all still be in touch.

Growing up in the islands – The people of the islands
The islands are called “Mini India” and it can be truly justified. Various social divisions based on caste,religion, creed, language, region etc is totally non-existent. I never experienced communal riots, i never heard of fights between two different religions. For that matter even incidents of theft, murder, rape was all new to us locals. We would only hear about them in the new channels or the movies and serials. The life is simple in the islands and the habit of dining out and partying is still not common. There is no night life in the islands even though the sun sets by 5 pm, we are used to spending time with family friends and relatives. A picnic by the beach is our weekend getaway.
Unlike the cities elsewhere , people in Andaman and Nicobar Islands tend to know almost everybody they come across in everyday life. If you don’t believe it the next time you meet someone from the islands or you know someone from the island am sure i would know them too somehow, i bet you. Life in the islands is always calm and quiet and festivals or family functions are the places of gathering where everyone meets up. Respecting people for their culture has always been taught to us since the islands have people from all places of India. Also the literacy rate in the islands is about 90.27% and we have always been taught about other states and their cultures.
For me it comes even more naturally to respect other religions since my parents had an inter religion marriage. My dad is a Hindu while my mom was Muslim. So am brought up knowing about both religions and appreciating each culture.

What i miss most about the islands
People – i definitely miss home and all those family friends and relatives. I go once a year since i moved out for my higher studies back in 2006 and all my visit would be catching up with my friends and relatives. I miss all those celebrations of different festivals like Diwali, Eid, Durga puja , Christmas which is all celebrated at a big scale in the islands and everyone is a part of the celebration. I miss home definitely there is nothing to write about it in particular. I miss the morning tea dad has been making us since i have known. I miss the fights with my brother till date and few hours post that sitting and binge watching our fav movie or tv shows. Now even more when my sister in law is expecting and i cannot be with her to spend time ( well i am making up to her by going home for a month in august).
Nature – I miss the sea, i miss the clean air, i miss the beachessssss, i miss the chirping of birds and stars in the night sky. I miss island life.
Lifestyle – i miss the simple lifestyle of the islands. I miss the calmness in the city. Beauty of these islands lies in its simplicity. ❤

Why i cannot go back to the islands
We do not have IT jobs in the islands and that is one reason i cannot go back home. Though there are other jobs like government jobs and teaching but somehow i do not feel right to go back and take up a job for which i have not studied hard. I enjoy working and love my profession. And somehow i feel its the right balance between life in the islands and here in Bangalore. With a loving family who understands and supports my choices i feel blessed.

So yeah that was my story of what the islands means to me. How close are you to your hometown? Do you have a similar life work away from home and miss your growing up years? Please do share would love to read them.

Happy Blogging!!!. Live.Love.Laugh

P.S – and one more day and its a wrap, even though i missed a few posts in between and i always end up publishing the post end of day or the next day i think its okay as long as i can keep up with the challenge. #nostress 🙂

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 21: U for Untouched & Unexplored Tribes of Andaman Islands

In the current times where technology has taken over everything and left no area influenced by its advancements and everything possible just by the touch of a button there are still people residing in these islands who rub wood to light a fire or sharpen the stones and branches to catch a hunt. Yes they still exist and not just few but the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are home to probably the most primitive tribes of the world. Tag along as i talk to you about the Untouched and Unexplored Tribes of these Islands.

The Andamanese and Nicobarese can be split into two broad tribal groups mainly based on their place of origin. The Andaman Islands are home to four ‘Negrito’ tribes where as – the Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa and Sentinelese. Where as the Nicobar Islands are home to two ‘Mongoloid’ tribes – the Shompen and Nicobarese.
The ‘Negrito’ tribes are believed to have arrived in the islands from Africa up to 60,000 years ago.The ‘Mongoloid’ tribes probably came to the islands from the Malay-Burma coast several thousand years ago.These primitive tribes have been living in isolation with each other; that is the reason why language of one tribe is not understood by another.

Great Andamanese :
Great Andamanese inhabit the ‘Strait Island’ located 53 nautical miles from Port Blair towards the east. The Great Andamanese are a Negrito tribe. The Great Andamanese tribe was killed in large numbers by the British during their occupation of the Andaman Islands, There population at that time was estimated to be above 6000. One such event known as the ‘Battle of Aberdeen’ killed thousands of Great Andamanese in a single day. Due to their decreasing population the Andaman and Nicobar Administration decided to colonize the tribes on isolated Strait island.

Memorial in the honor of the Battle of Aberdeen in Port Blair

Their population has grown to a number of 43 at present from a lowest known low of 10 in past. Since Andaman group of Island is very accessible, the culture of Great Andamanese is greatly affected by outside modern world. The popularity of Hindi movies and film-stars is one such example of outside influence. In spite of the all influences they still have retained much of their traditional cultures and customs. They are superstitious, for instance they believe that by chopping palm leaves into the sea water they are able to keep the sea storms away.
The Great Andamanese are good artisans and they are comfortable with both traditional and modern tools. They prepare their own ornaments, baskets, tools and Earthen pots. The ornaments they wear is made up of leaves, barks, and shells which is worn during traditional functions and dances. They have their own system and practice of medicine for instance for chronic back aches they pierce their body with a small piece of glass in a belief that it will drain off the bad blood from the person and thus relieve him/her from the pain. Before the advent of glass pointed stones were used for the purpose of piercing.
The new generation is sent to school and few of the local youth have been absorbed into Govt. jobs in the Island itself.

Courtesy – Abhishek’s blog on Rise and Falls of Great Andamanese

1901 Census figures indicate a total of 625 Great Andamanese with the largest number, 218 from the Jero tribe. In 1921 these figures came down.In 1949 the Forest Department tried to bring them together and settle them at the Bluff island, but because of their nomadic nature and different habits, these Great Andamanese tribes did not stay together for long. In 1969 the A & N Administration offered to help them if they stayed in Strait island. By this time the total number was just 23.

from left to right Neremo and his father Late Nao Junior in 2006

Very soon they all spoke one language which is Jero, with some words from the languages of the other tribes completely assimilated in Jero language. Since then their numbers have increased from 26 (1961 census), 23 (1971), 42 (21 males and 21 females) in the year 1981. The 1991 census shows their population as 47 and in 2001 census the figure is 43 (24 males and 19 females). Post Tsunami, all 43 have been reported safe. The numbers have mostly increased as a result of mixed marriages, since these people are free to mix with the people of the mainland, and have adapted to their way of life, speak Port Blair Hindi, dress like them, eat their kind of food, some of them have contractual jobs with the A&N administration, and it is not surprising at all that the younger generation does not know more than a few words of their language. Some of them do not know any Jero at all since most often they also communicate with each other in Local Andaman Hindi. The younger people like to spend maximum time in Port Blair at “Adi Basera” which is the base camp for the tribal provided by the Andaman & Nicobar administration.

Jarawa tribes were once the most feared tribals among all the aborigines of these Island group till 1995-96. Jarawa’s are ‘Negriod‘ tribes – They are short heighted and dark in colour. The term “Jarawa” is coined by the Great Andamanese people which means “The other People” because Jarawa’s never had friendly relationship with the Great Andamanese.
Jarawa’s live in “protected areas” in Middle Andaman, South Andaman and Interview Island.

Courtesy- Only Tribal

The Jarawas are excellent craftsmen as evidenced by the skill of making various metal tools and arrows. They are fond of red clothes though majority of them are found nude. As for food they are non-vegetarians and they mostly eat pork. It is known that the Jarawas do not kill deers for food.
They were very hostile in past and were known to attack with poisonous arrows. Every year during 1980’s there were numerous reports of villagers and workers been killed by Jarawa arrows. Various human expeditions by contact teams consisting of officials of Tribal welfare and anthropological society were undertaken in past near the interview island, where the team left eatables, red cloth, coconuts and plastic goods as gifts for the Jarawas.

Image source – Telegraph A bus driver giving biscuits to the Jarawa lady while crossing the Andaman Trunk Road

The Jarawa is no longer hostile since 1996 after a injured Jarawa boy named Enmei was treated at G B Pant Hospital at Port Blair. After the incident they have developed the understanding that the other fair skinned humans are not their enemies. With friendly contacts it was learnt that lots of negative details painted about them in past were untrue – few of them being : they eat human flesh, their sweat and saliva is poisonous etc.
As per government policies the entry into their area is forbidden. This is done to avoid their exposure to the outside world to and save them from the diseases from which they don’t have natural immunity and other exploitation that may happen over time. Isolation will also help to retain their ancient culture.  
The Andaman Trunk road passing though the South Andaman, Baratang and Middle Andaman runs deep within the Jarawa protected area. Daily hundreds of vehicles pass through the road thereby providing opportunities for both Jarawas and outsiders to interact with each other.

You can check for more photos of the jarawas from the site –

Initially the travelers gave biscuits, fruits and other eatables to the Jarawa’s and in return Jarawas allowed them to be photographed. Since 2002 when the Baratang Island limestone caves and the Mud volcano were opened for tourists, many tour operators started a practice of selling ‘Jarawa Sighting’ tour packages. Photography inside the Jarawa reserve area or contact with Jarawa is forbidden by law. Andaman and Nicobar police has now set up strict rules and monitoring process while travelling through the Jarawa reserve forest.

The Onge’s are a Negrito tribe residing in Little Andaman. According to 1971 census they were 117 in number which have shown little variation till then. They live at 2 different colonies : ‘ South Bay ‘ and ‘ DugongCreek ‘ in Little Andaman. South Bay is accessible via land route passing through Harminder Bay which is only a few kilometers away from Hutbay (Hutbay is the main market place of Little Andaman). Official permission is required to enter the Onge reserved area. The best vehicle to reach South Bay is a Tractor as there is no defined roadway and route passing through creek.

PC – Andaman tourism dept

Dugong creek is an isolated settlement accessible by sea route. Dugong Creek settlement suffered severe damages in the 2004 Tsunami, although no lives were lost.
While the Onge men go out to the forest for hunting , the women will stay back at home and search the local area for roots and tubers under the soil. They have little interest in cultivation as agriculture was unknown to them before contact with modern world. Few years ago they never boiled their food because the concept of cooking was unknown to them. They use bows and arrows to catch fish along the shallow sea coasts. The fishing line and fishing net is still not popular among them. The local delicacy is honey : The Onges rub some special herbs to avoid the bee stings while they collect the honey from the hives. Hair dressing is done with the help of sea shells as razors and they paint their face / body with white clay.
The Onge children now go to school and they speak Hindi. The Department of agriculture has helped them to raise local crops and huge coconuts plantations. 

Shompen :
Shompen reside in the interiors of Great Nicobar Island (Southern-most piece of land belonging to India). The total population of Shompens is estimated to be 214 whereas during 1901 Census the population recorded was 348. They are of medium height with Mongoloid features. They were believed to be hostile earlier but in recent decades they have not shown any hostility and now have established trade relations with Nicobarese. The main activities of Shompens are hunting, food-gathering (They collect wild yams, roots, fruit, honey and insect larvae) and fishing. They love to hunt pig with their spears and they take help of pet dogs while hunting. They are nomads and wander from place to place within the jungles. They live in self-made huts. They are shy in nature and avoid to interact with others.

PC –

The Shompen are the original inhabitants of the Great Nicobar but later on they were pushed to the interior part of the islands while some theory is the Shompens are an isolated group of primitive Malayans’. The existence of this tribe was first reported by Pastor Rosen, a Danish missionary in 1831 but Admiral Steen Bille was the first person to pay a visit in this area.
The Shompen settlements are generally irregular in shape, and they prefer to build these either on the slopes of the hill or at the bottom of a valley The village is normally situated near some water source.
Shompen males often visit Campbell Bay to barter various products they collect, especially wild honey. Sometimes, they go there to collect ration (they are not dependent on ration) which they bring to their village. Administration provides them free food, utensils, drinking water and medical facilities. A school is present near their area to impart formal as well as non-formal education. Below is a short video by Charles Sagigi

The Sentinelese are ‘Negroid‘ tribe and they inhabit the small North Sentinel Island (North Sentinel – Area: ~60 sq. km.) The sentinel islanders i.e. the Sentinelese because of the geographical separation from other islands have maintained strict isolation from rest of the world. In fact they are currently the only known Primitive people known in the world to live in complete isolation.
They are very hostile to outsiders and do not allow anybody to enter the North Sentinel Island and therefore not much is known about them. The attack with their self made bows and spears, which they otherwise use for fishing and hunting the wild pigs. Their population is an estimated value of about 100 based on the photographs and assessment of the contact teams sent periodically by Andaman and Nicobar administration. The contact teams usually consists of Officials from Directorate of Tribal welfare and anthropological scientists.
In 2006, 2 fishermen who were fishing illegally near the island were were shot by Sentinelese archers. The helicopters which was sent to retrieve the bodies was also greeted by arrows. After the tsunami the government again tried to help them by sending a few employees to the island with gifts but again, the same response followed.
Presently the policy of the Indian government is to leave the Sentinelese alone. Any access to North Sentinel island is strictly forbidden.The Sentinelese people are said to be so hostile that their home has been named the ‘hardest place to visit’ in the world.
The Video below is a documentation of an attempt to contact the Sentinelese (courtesy  Dale Andrews)

Nicobarese :
The Nicobarese have Mongloid features and they are a large population of over 27,000 (2001 census). They are horticulturist and pig-herders inhabiting large permanent villages mostly close to sea shore. They are not divisible into tribes, but there are territorial distinctions. Thus they may be fairly divided into six groups : the people of Car Nicobar, Chowra, Teressa with Bompoka, the Central Group, the Southern Group and the single inland tribe of the Shompen on Great Nicobar (mentioned above)

Typical Nicobari Hut

The differences to be observed is language, customs, manners and physiognomy of the several groups may, with some confidence, be referred to habitat and the physical difficulties of communication. Nicobari Families are patriarchal and as a rule live jointly. This joint family is known as Tuhet. There is no individual ownership, but the Tuhet owns land, coconut and pigs. Love marriage is very common and the age of marriage is sufficiently high. The chief article of food is the coconut, next in importance been Pandanus pulp , fish and rice.

The traditional dance attire of the Nicobarese

They are civilized and live regular lives like us. They go to school and even work in various government jobs in the islands. They also have reserved seats for engineering and medicine courses if they wish to pursue. They are very friendly people and have personal experience knowing them. My mother was posted to the Car Nicobar island where she used to teach the Nicobari kids in school back in 1998-1999.

The Nicobari kids off to school in their uniforms

I am proud to share with you two stories of two individuals from the Nicobarese tribe who have made the islands and India proud – World No 4 cyclist Deorah Herold

Deborah Herold

and Vaseem Iqbal the first tribal person to complete a PhD.  

Vaseem Iqbal

PLEASE DO READ THEIR STORIES, it’s not another story that you would read regularly. Also do share their inspirational stories to the world who still think Andaman is a very backward place. 😛

Government’s Strategy to protect the tribes:   To prevent the primitive tribes from the exploitation by the outsiders the area inhabited by the primitive tribes has been declared as tribal reserve area. Entry into the reserve area without permission is liable for punishment with imprisonment and fine. Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti (AAJVS) , an autonomous body set up in 1976 looks after the welfare of these primitive tribes.
 A research institute ANTRI (Andaman and Nicobar Tribal Research and Training Institute) started functioning at Port Blair (Oct-2013) with an objective of formulation of policies for the tribal integration with the developed society and protection and welfare of PVTG (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups) like Jarawas, Onges, Sentinalese and Shompens.

Growing up in the islands i have had the chance to only see the Nicobarese who are one among us now, the Onges and a Jarawa family who were brought to the main city hospital for some treatment and i happen to be there that time.
The Andaman and Nicobar islands strike the right balance between two extremes of civilization. On one hand the islands are one of the famous tourist destination in the world and on the other it is abode to the most primitive tribes of the world.
In India there are many other tribal settlements but am sure they are not as close to nature like the ones in the islands.Does your state or country have tribal settlement? Comment below and let me know.Happy Blogging!!!Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤



#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 20: T for TSUNAMI | My experience

** Disclaimer : Lengthy Post **

It was a wonderful Sunday, 26th December 2004, a day just after the Christmas. Studying a convent school Christmas was a huge celebration for us in school and after week-long Christmas activities it was time to be back to studies. I was in my 11th standard and had my morning Chemistry tuition. As usual my dad left me at the tuition center and went to the temple as there was some special day (Makaravilaku Pooja). My mother and elder brother were at home and sleeping. Since the day starts pretty early in the islands, my tuition was around 5 am in the morning much better than the 4 am mathematics tuition I went. 

We were in the middle of the class when at about 6 am the plastic chair in which my sir was seated started shaking. Since our sir always used to play pranks on us, we thought this was also another prank and were about to ignore it when the wooden sofa in which we were seated also started shaking terribly. And it just struck us that it’s another earthquake and we all stood up to rush out. Living in Andaman, earthquakes was never new to us, the islands are on the tectonic plates hence earthquake was not something the locals were not aware of. Only thing different about this time’s earthquake was that as we were heading outside the house the tremors were not stopping at all and it was more than just few seconds. We were not even able to walk out properly, the tremors were that bad and somehow we were all out under the open. I even fell down and broke my specs that I was wearing. I think the tremors lasted for at least 5 minutes which was unusual and then it stopped. By that time everyone was outside their houses and shocked as to what had just happened. We were just making sure that everyone was okay. Our sir told us to call our parents and called off the classes. All my close friends stayed in the same area so they all rushed to their houses to see if everything was okay. I gave a ring to my dad and he was also in shock and said he felt the tremors too and is on his way to pick me up.

Car Nicobar beaches destroyed by Tsunami

Dad came and picked me up. Before we left the area he suggested that we go and buy some fresh vegetables from the harbor side market and some sea food. We also went and met one of our relatives whose house was very close to the harbor. They stayed in government quarters and there were major cracks in the floor and walls. We checked on them and went to the market.  Suddenly we heard people talking that the passenger waiting hall at the port broke and fell in the sea, I was very curious to see it and started insisting on my dad that we go have a check. My dad scolded me and was like there would be too much crowd and the police would start chasing off people, so we better hurry up and reach home. He tried to call the landline but it was out-of-order and we assumed it to be because of the tremors. While we were hurrying buying few grocery we suddenly saw the crowd running towards us from the harbor and shouting “paani aa raha hai “ which meant water is coming. All of us around there couldn’t understand what meant by “pani aa raha hai” and the need to run. For the local this only meant the daily water supply that all the houses get and so people running shouting this line was weird. We tried to look a little further and we saw something that I would have never ever thought of or would ever want to see it again.

At about 6.30 am a huge wave almost five times the height of me (am 5”2) coming towards the market area and people running away from it. We couldn’t believe our eyes and all we wanted was to RUN. This was the same wave which hit Chennai and other places in India at about 9.30 am. My dad started the bike and we were riding as fast as possible among the chaos which already had started by this time. I still remember the moment when we were passing by the main road and the parallel street where the water was just flooding in was where my friends stayed. Tears rolled down my eyes because it was too late for us to go warn them and as the corner of my eye could see as far as possible it was water filling up the roads and houses. The only thought running in my dad and my mind was to reach home and be with mom and brother before we breathe our last. Meanwhile tremors kept happening and we were trying to warn as many people on the road shouting “pani aa raha hia” and like us no one was able to figure out what it meant. By the time we reached home mom and brother were standing in the front yard and looking panicked. Many of the coconut trees and other trees were uprooted or fallen down due to the earthquake. We tried explaining what we saw near the harbor and asked mom and brother to pack up anything important and to leave to some higher ground. Our house was near a school ground which was on a pretty higher area we decided to move up there. My mom just took some water bottle changed her night-dress and we headed to the big ground. By the time we reached almost everyone in our locality were also present there. I remember before leaving the house the huge crack on the floor and walls and were not even sure if we would come back alive. We were only happy for the fact that all four of us were together now. Everyone started talking what happened. None of us had ever heard of the natural phenomenon called Tsunami. We kept hearing people here and there as they came to the ground that the water is coming in big height waves and people are being taken into the sea etc. We stayed in the ground a day or two. I am still not able to remember what happened actually. The tremors continued but not like the one in the morning. When things got a little cooled down we came home. Everything was shut, no electricity no landline connection nothing at all. 

In this photo released by the Indian Coast Guard, a view of the North Sentinel Island from which the sea retracted after the Dec. 26 tsunami, and exposed coral reefs, foreground, in India’s Andaman and Nicobar archipelago.

This was my last memory of the tsunami. Thankfully other than the cracks in the house and the trees getting uprooted nothing happened to us or in our area since it was in a heighted place. But as hours went by we started hearing about people whom we know who got wiped off in the tsunami waves, their houses lost, family members lost. So many of my very close people lost lives. My friend Kavita’s dad who was posted in another island survived day one of the tsunami waves but eventually we never head back from him ever again. I remember my mom’s close friend who lost her elder son daughter in law and both the grand children in the tsunami. As days went by we got to know how severe the tsunami was in the islands. Due to lack of connectivity there was a huge communication gap. Once the landlines were up we informed our relatives in Kerala that all of us were fine and nothing happened to us. Then the news channels started showing the tsunami breaking news and even then it was about how badly Chennai was hit and “also Andaman”. 

The world especially India didn’t know how badly the Andaman and specially the Nicobar islands were hit by the Tsunami until the journalist Deepak Chourasia reached the islands. Almost 3 to 4 huge water wave wall swiped the entire island chain to destruction. Cars and other vehicles on the trees, house demolished, and roads filled with water. The entire air force residential area in the Nicobar Island got swept out. The Trinket Island broke into three pieces. The southernmost tip of India – Indira point’s light house was submerged by 4 mts. Many other islands. We kept hearing news of family and friends who lost lives. How bad the damage was and the relief work which started. Every day we would hear the news of someone found in some place, the lucky ones or the bodies of someone found under some building. It was a bad time. I remember since many schools were ruined and teachers lost their lives the public was being brought to Port Blair and all the city school students were sent to the relief camps for teaching them. I think this was about a month or so am not sure. I remember teaching the primary class students and like me many other people had started coming in to help in the relief work.

Reefs visible after the water levels changed

I was lucky to not have faced any personal loss not even materialistic but this event would always remind us of how small we are in front of nature. I remember a girl from my school Almas she was in 5th standard then.

Almas, 5th standard. Resting at her relatives place after being rescued from Nancowrie

Her missing report was being shown all over the news channels. She had lost her dad, her mother her younger sister and everyone from her maternal side in the tsunami. And the relief soldiers found her after some days. When the former President Late Shri A.P.J Abdul Kalam visited the islands few of us from the school were sent to attend the event and he called for this girl and made her sit on his lap and pamper her. It was an emotional scene leaving everyone’s eye wet. 

Locals of Nicobar Island

Andaman and Nicobar Islands survived the 9.2 Richter scale earthquake which triggered the Tsunami. It took the islanders about a year or so to come into regular life but we did. We didn’t lose faith and hope and we didn’t fight over things. We helped each other and stood by each other. We opened our doors for the homeless, we shared whatever we could with the deprived ones.

Loveleena, 4, receives food at a relief camp in Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on Jan 5, 2005.

Well this was my experience of the Tsunami. Just to state some more generic information about one of world’s tragic incident.

  • The western coast of Indonesia was shaken by a 9.2 magnitude earthquake, the fourth biggest in recent times.
  • The damage was felt in 14 countries, and 1.7m were made homeless in the aftermath. It was not one but subsequent Tsunami waves that left so many people homeless
  • It was also the longest earthquake ever recorded, lasting for between eight and ten minutes. Normally, a moderate earthquake might last a few seconds.
  • There was no tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean to detect tsunamis or to warn the hundreds of thousands of people who lived in coastal areas.
  • Banda Aceh is the worst hit, with more than 60 per cent of its buildings destroyed by a wave that was over 30ft high.
  • The gap between the first Tsunami wave and the next was very less which left people surprised and no chance to recover from what happened.
  • The city of Port Blair, got saved because of the Ross island which divided the huge waves to two parts
  • The ancient knowledge of secret signals in the wind and sea combined to save the five indigenous tribes living for centuries in the Andaman and Nicobar islands from the catastrophic tsunami.
  • Katchal Island, part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, was one of the worst affected of the islands having lost some 90 percent of it’s population in the devastation by the tsunami waves.
  • As of today, many tsunami warning systems have been established and whenever there is heavy cyclone, depression or earthquake Tsunami warning is sent out across the island chain to warn people.

Its only during natural calamities when its humanity against nature that brings humans close to each other. And time and again it has been proven that the former always wins.

I dedicate this post to all those who lost their lives all over the world in the 26th December 2004 Tsunami. I also dedicate this post to all the family and friends of the people who lost their lives for whom it was such a big loss. I dedicate this post to all those people who contributed even in the tiniest way possible to support the relief work. God bless all !!!

Happy Blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 18: R for ROSS ISLAND | Remains of History

~~ It feels good to be lost in the right direction ~~

Click by me (sometimes i manage to capture something nice)

Ross Island was discovered by Archibald Blair, a prominent hydrographer of the East India Company and later Governor General of India in the late 18th century. Ross Island once an administrative headquarter of the Britishers is just few miles from the Port Blair before the moved out from here to Port Blair due to the 1941’s earthquake.Until then the Britishers settled in the Ross Island with their families and all the basic amenities like Bakery, Church, Water Distillation plant, Hospital, swimming pool, tennis court etc was made available for the families. 

Water Distillation Unit

This made it easier for the British officers to row down to Port Blair and monitor the construction of the Cellular Jail which is visible from the island. Also, the name of the island was given after Sir Daniel Ross, a known marine survivor of the days.

The port at Ross Island

Currently the Indian Navy has rebuilt some of the remaining structures like the bakery to make these remain for a little more longer in the history. Below is an image of the Church in the 1940’s and now.

The Church back in 1940’s at Ross Island
The Church now

This island has no settlement and only people who are put up here are the Indian Navy for security reasons. Tourists generally come here for 2 to 3 hours considering its one of the must visit place in your Andaman vacation travel, but if ask me it’s a place where you can spend a whole day and still not want to leave it.

Did you notice the peacock?

The best part about this island is you can walk around the coastline and complete one full circle of the island spread over 70 acres:) while witnessing beautiful seascape, trees, birds, peacocks and deer  up close which would be a breathtaking moment as it’s not possible in today’s city life where all you can see is buildings, malls and roads around you.

Shades of blueeeee

Since the island is right in the middle of the sea, one can experience cool wind breeze which is very refreshing.  

The beach is very small in width on the other end, also if you notice every where boards are placed stating not to loiter the place.

One can explore all the remains of the British settlement and this might even surprise you that they had even built up tramlines. There is another theory which says there is a high possibility of a underground sea tunnel which was built from Ross Island to Port Blair. The exit point being under the huge Mahatma Gandhi Statue reading a book in the Gandhi Park. 

The Japanese occupation of the Andaman Islands occurred in 1942 during the WWII. The Japanese bunkers and cannon still stand as a memorial in this island.  
Japanese bunker

A light and sound show similar to the one in Cellular Jail is shown from Monday to Sunday except on Wednesdays and Public Holidays. The show starts at 5.15 pm and one can take the 4 pm boat from the water sports complex in Port Blair and to reach the island after the 15 min boat ride. 

North Bay Island as seen from Ross Island

Note for first timers – Do not expect any water sports activity here or restaurants except for a couple or two small tea shops run by the navy. Do carry your ID card because it would be registered in the log books of the Indian Navy. Because it is a remote island, please carry all essentials. You won’t find a shop.Do not visit the island without a watch on your hand, because you can be mesmerized by the beauty of the island and easily miss your ferry back 🙂 🙂 🙂

Ross Island by far is my favorite place/island ( 😉 ) of all the islands in Andaman and Nicobar and surprisingly this island does not have a beach. Yes! Now you may wonder how come an island does not have a beach  secondly why would a place without a beach be my favorite even though there are other beautiful places like the Radhanagar beach or the Neil Island. And I totally agree, it’s a fair question. 

Aerial image of Ross Island

My top five reasons why I love the Ross Island are  

  1. It’s just 15 to 20 minute boat ride from Port Blair and hence the most visited island. Also it’s called the gateway of Port Blair as its present right in the middle of the open ocean. 
  2. These islands have super friendly deers that come close to you (reminder: Feeding these deers is a punishable offense) 
  3. If lucky you would end up seeing a couple or more peacocks. As a kid when there were not much tourists visiting these islands, I remember looking for peacock feathers fallen on the ground and would always be lucky to get at least one.
    The old printing press


  4. These islands are picturesque even more because of it ruined architecture. The old remains of the British settlement now standing with the support of banyan trees and nature taking over the creation of man engulfing all of it on its own. This island definitely makes you feel nostalgic. 
  5. The best part side of the island is the back side the one which faces to the open ocean. Earlier when people used to visit these islands for picnic they would settle down almost near the port side and have fun but my family always used to walk down to the other side. A 10 minute walk and the other side of these islands is open. Before Tsunami there was a small stretch of beach where we would spread our mats and sit and have fun but post Tsunami, the beach got sinked. It was because of Ross Island that the Capital city, Port Blair was saved from one of history’s tragic earthquake and tsunami, the water waves which were almost 10-15 meters in height got divided into two directions once it hit the Ross Island. The damage done was the submersion of the small peaceful beach on this opposite side I am talking. Now It’s just few rocks and then directly the open ocean. 

So yeah there you go, all the reasons why I love this island. And all my reasons justified in these images you saw so far. I must tell you this is one island when you won’t stop clicking pictures 🙂 

Still not over, hold on few more 😛

Night view of Ross Island from Port Blair – PC : Experience Andamans
The coconut trees
The Banyan trees that engulf the whole island

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

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 16: P for Planning a trip to Andaman? Must know!

Andaman and Nicobar Islands are famous for its pristine blue beaches and white sands and are home to some things which are unique Only to Andamans, yet there is a lack of clarity when one decides to make a trip to these beautiful islands.

It is even more saddening when the Indian people themselves lack knowledge of these islands , you wouldn’t agree but we the people of Andaman have been asked weirdest of weirdest questions for example – Do we wear clothes? Do we speak tribal language? Do we need a passport to go home? Do we have the usual mode of transport within the islands etc etc.

So in today’s post i talk about all those basic questions that arise if one decides to travel to the islands. Hope this helps, if yes please do share this post with your family and friends and other bloggers 🙂 #happytohelp 


I have been asked this question a hundred times whether one needs a passport and especially a visa to travel to the islands which is shocking when a fellow Indian asks this question. Anyways, the answer is NO. Since Andaman and Nicobar Islands also BELONG TO INDIA, one does not need a passport or a visa to visit the islands if you are an Indian National. However for Foreigners (non – Indians), apart from the passport a RAP – Restricted Area Permit is needed to visit the island(s). And this can be easily obtained once you land at the Port Blair airport or the harbour. 


The ideal season to plan your vacation to the islands is from October to May end. The weather remains perfect for an ideal beach vacation and therefore making it the “peak” season as well. Hence plan well in advance, i would suggest at least 3 to 4 months before so that even the flight fares are reasonable and is not stopping you from making a trip to the islands. I have heard many of my friends say why go to the Andaman for the same flight fares one can do a foreign country trip, which i agree. So plan well in advance! unless you are the impromptu kinds 😛

Personal suggestion – go sometime in Feb month, it is kind of the right time where the crowd is also not too much and you get ample time to enjoy all the places. 


Port Blair is actually well connected to major cities in India by air. There are flights extensively from Chennai and Kolkata besides Delhi, Bangalore. The Chennai and Kolkata flights are direct non stop flights while others have a stop or layover. There are about 11 flights from Chennai to Port Blair alone in a day.

One can also chose to travel to the islands via a ship which is a THREE DAY travel. Five ships operate from Chennai, Visakhapatnam and Kolkata to Port Blair which run on schedules (and only cancel if weather conditions are bad specially during monsoons). You can check for the ship schedules from your tour operators if you wish to take this journey. Also to add, do not expect them to be the cruise ships that are shown in movies yet they have basic amenities like theatre, cafeteria, deck canteen, recreation room, swimming pool etc. 


Hmmm.. my honest opinion if you ever plan a trip to the islands please make sure its for a minimum of seven days(trust me even then you would miss out on few places). A week is at least needed to experience all the amazing things these beautiful islands have to offer you. If you do not want to spend so much time then i would suggest a 3 night 4 days trip so that you can go to Havelock and Neil Islands and spend time there after visiting the Cellular Jail and beach in Port Blair on your arrival day.

Recent trip my friends made the plan was – Day 1(arrival day) visit the Cellular Jail, city tour. Day 2 – Ross Island and North Bay , Day 3 – Neil Island stay the night there Day 4 – Havelock, my friends spent three nights there (we could have shortened it and seen the limestone caves but we were too much in love with the beaches of Havelock) Day 7 – Back to Port Blair and city tour Day 8 morning leave islands. 

Sands Marina – Havelock


The Port Blair would offer you stay for all budget criteria but it gets a little tricky when you visit the other islands like Neil and Havelock since the infrastructure is limited. Also the food in restaurants in these islands are a little too pricy since majority of the food supplies like vegetables comes from Port Blair and to Port Blair from Chennai and Kolkata. Transportation costs are charged on food supplies. Even for locals like us, we pay high prices for vegetables and fruits. Thankfully am a sea food lover and fish and sea food is pretty cheap.

Its ideal to book places for stay well in advance to avoid any last minute problems during peak seasons. Also advised is to chose a place which is close to the sea 🙂  HOW TO GO TO HAVELOCK AND NEIL ISLANDS

There are both government and private run ferry services from Port Blair to the Havelock and Neil Islands. Other than the bad weather condition days, the ferry services operate regularly and on time. The tickets are availed from the counter and no online booking is available. If travelling via a tour operator all the inter island transfer fares are included in your package deal and hence you can avoid all the hassles and tassles. The private cruise – Makruzz is very famous these days as it gives you a personalized and luxurious feel. 

Cellular Jail at any cost. Not many places in India exist where you get to feel so close to the struggle of Indian Independence by the freedom fighters. The light and sound show in the evening is an added attraction to your visit to the National Heritage of India

– Whether or not you know swimming, SCUBA DIVING IS A MUST. A lifetime experience, trust me this is coming from someone like me who does not know swimming even though am born and brought up there(which is very embarrassing) and still did my first scuba dive. You can do scuba diving for a nominal fare at North Bay or Havelock. Try Barefoot Scuba or Dive India. They have PADI ceritified divers.

– Other water sport activities like snorkeling, which is usually included in your travel package(if not ask for it), jet ski, banana ride.

– If you know surfing, then few of the beaches in Andaman is perfect for surfing.

Ross Island – this is my favourite island, it does not have a beach but its an island right in the middle of the ocean and is usually called the gateway to Port Blair. There is something really nice about this island 🙂

Havelock and Neil if not any of the above

Limestone cave if you are staying for long or can fit it in your itinerary.

– If you are a sea food lover please try the GOLDEN SPOON road side hotel in Havelock. You would thank me your entire life. If you are up for some fun, try the lobsters and crabs 🙂 yummmm!!!! Highly recommended. Well for the vegetarians, there are quite a few vegetarian hotels in all these islands.

– Do not forget to shop for shells and corals from the Sagarika Emporium in Port Blair which is govt run. You would also find such shops in almost all the beach side.

SOME SPOILERS– If you have been to Goa or Gokarna am sure you would expect something similar in the Andaman islands. But sorry to disappoint you , the Andaman and Nicobar islands is a very calm and quite place. Infact ideal for a digital detox cause in some islands there wont be all the cellphone network providers or wifi other than the hotel’s specific areas. There are no shacks on the beach like the ones you see in Goa. Also there is no night life or party places in Port Blair and other islands. One can stroll through the islands or camp in their resort area.

Also its advisable to be a morning person for the few days of your vacation. The sun rises by almost 5am and sun sets by 4.45 -5pm. Hence the early you rise the more chance to see some really breath taking sunrise by the sea, or you can go for a jog or yoga.

Points to Note

Photography is not allowed when you land at the Port Blair Airport due to security reasons.

Littering the beaches is a punishable offense

Sun screen!!! I am sure everyone gets tanned including someone like me when i go on a trip 😛

– Beaches/Areas where warning signs like Swimming is not allowed needs to be taken seriously. Sometimes there are chances that there is a possible presence of crocodiles and hence its better to avoid such place and not ignore. There have been instances in the past where tourists have not taken these sign boards seriously and lost their lives. Do not spoil your vacation cause of your carelessness.

– The islands are bound to have mosquitoes and other insects hence its highly advisable to carry mosquito repellents.

– For the inter ferry travel, if you suffer from sea sickness, please avoid eating too much or too spicy. There are few medicines which can be taken an hour before the travel so that you do not have sea sickness.

– If you are visiting the islands in a scheduled plan, kindly stick to the timings your travel agent/tour operator mentions, there are chances that due to sudden weather changes the timings could be changed. Always try to book your tickets in advance specially during peak season to avoid any last minute surprise(other than the weather which one cannot control)

Carry your ID proof for booking tickets and inter island travels.

Book your water sports in advance to avoid last minute surprises and high prices.

– If travelling with kids and elderly please provide all necessary instructions to your tour operator well in advance.

BONUS TIP – if travelling by flight, please please please make sure you take the window seat!! You would thank me for sure 🙂 While landing and taking off, the view is mesmerizing (if skies are clear).

In my recent trip, i went home a week earlier and then a week later my friends came. Before getting their boarding tickets this was my first tip to them to book a window seat at any cost.

I generally give up my window seat for fellow tourists who sit along with me just so that they get a chance to see this beauty (i am so used to ❤ )

P.S – lengthy post but i thought since i am from Andamans i should give more inputs rather than make it sound like a Travel website. 😛Happy Blogging!!!. Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤


#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 15: O for Out of the Ordinary|Limestone Caves

When one hears of Andaman and Nicobar Islands the only few things that comes in ones mind are Beaches, Cellular Jail and Water sports. But each and every time these islands prove everyone wrong and leaves one with surprise. One such out of the ordinary phenomenon one can witness are the famous LIMESTONE CAVES, yes the ones which form naturally.

From Know Andamans

Baratang is an island situated in the middle Andaman and probably the gateway to many other amazing places these islands hold. Covered with rain forests and surrounded by the mangroves situated almost in the middle of the island chain at about 100 km from Port Blair are these islands. The thick forests of these islands is the home to the famous JARAWA tribes and have been declared as a protected zone by the government.

With only few attractions open to public the journey to this place in itself will give your adrenaline a rush. From a trip in a police protected convoy through the Jarawa Reserve Forest, then your vehicle being transported on a vehicle ferry, a small boat usually called the dingue ride through the thick mangrove swamps and finally a trek in the jungle to reach the Limestone Caves is an adventure in itself.

Apart from the famous Limestone caves, you can also visit the Parrot islands, the blue beach at Baludera and the only mud volcano in south Asia which i had mentioned in my previous post also.
Visiting Baratang is a unique experience in itself, an enthralling journey that awakens deep-seated feelings of wonder wisdom and Knowledge .

Limestone Caves in Baratang Island
A Limestone in simple science is just calcium carbonate. Limestone cave is a natural cavity that is formed underneath the Earth’s surface that can range from a few meters to many kilometers in length and depth. This is generally formed when water containing dissolved carbon dioxide (carbonic acid) seeps into rock crevices and joints. The carbon dioxide comes from decaying organic matter in the soil, and also directly from the atmosphere. 

inside of the Limestone caves

To brief it up its sedimentary rocks formed under the sea due to compression over a million years which give birth to limestone caves. And such a wonder can be found, half an hour from Baratang. A little boat ride and few miles on a walk will bring you to the enthralling limestone caves. Not only are these historic they are also very beautiful. Visitors would need a good torch to make sure the soak in every detail of this place .The most amazing phenomenon is entering the cave and exploring it. It is also recommended that you wear a good quality shoe and brace yourself, for the caves are slippery and dark.

These caves are said to be ever evolving, the patterns on them keep changing over the years. The ride back on the dinghy boat is very rewarding. For the sight of mangrove trees subdues every thrill and sweeps in a tranquil and serene aura. The tall magnificent trees, which weirdly enough have their roots above the water level is a must watch. These trees grow in saline water and are a rarity in any other place.

Mud Volcano and Jarawa
A mud volcano is formed by any geo-excreted gasses and liquids. This type of volcano is usually found in subduction zones. Most of the gasses that are released from a mud volcano are methane although they also release much smaller quantities of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Generally, the ejections from these volcanoes will be fine solids which are suspended in liquids that can include acidic water. Scientists think there may even be a few on Mars.

From Andaman Tourism website

Astonishingly, the only active mud volcano in the south Asia lies in Baratang. The road to Mud volcano is covered around an hour.

But you will have to pass by the Jarawa creek to get here. The Famous Jarawa creek is a lonely planet in itself.
It is the dwelling place of the oldest tribes found in these islands. The tribes known as Jarawas (more on them on a post i missed 😦 which i would publish soon), are aloof from the civilized world. They are the wonder of the modern world, for they feed on raw pigs, fruits, and vegetables. They don’t speak any language known to general public. Their pitch black skin and red eyes will leave you dazzled in case you happen to meet them.

It is recommended that you do not talk or interact with them, without a guide. These tribes are incapable of comprehending and adopting the modern lifestyle. It is said that they have suffered illness and even death due to the food offered by the tourists.

Parrot Island
The dream destination of any heart is the Parrot Island. The luxurious sight of millions of parrots and parakeets at the sun dawn is not exclusive to any other place in the world. But the only rule is, you must stay the night in Baratang to experience this wonder. 

From the Andaman Tourism Website

It’s at sunset, that, a group of parrots comes and hovers over the skies, then they invite their fellow beings to follow. The heart-stopping sight of thousands of parrots and parakeets together in the crimson sky is beyond real. The golden sky with red-blue birds will steal every beat. This island with its beautiful beach and wondrous wildlife is a must visit.

I never got a chance to visit the Limestone Caves and missed it even this time since we couldn’t extend our vacations. Though i have seen the Jarawas when one of them was brought to the main hospital in the capital and were admitted in a room next to my mother’s. It was back in 2004 when i was in my 10th standard, so got lucky to see them a family.

Content from my friend Vivek’s travel website – Tropical Andamans. Please feel free to reach out to him if you ever plan on a vacation to the islands 🙂 or Barefoot Resorts where my brother Sanjay, is the Operational Manager. #happytohelp ❤ 

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

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 14: N for Nicobar|Neil|North Bay Islands

Hello wonderful people, how are you guys doing? Hope you had a good weekend and celebrations of Easter and the New Year (for the Indian friends)!!! All I could do was rest as i was not keeping well, even missed publishing the post for Saturday 😦 and had almost thought of discontinuing from the challenge but somehow didn’t want to give up half way.

So as a bonus today in my post i talk about three other well known places (or islands) among the chain of 572 islands that make Andaman and Nicobar Islands in total. Hope you have a good read!! 🙂 

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands as you know are a chain of islands big and small and spread in a vertical landscape in the Bay of Bengal. While many islands come under the Andaman district(per say) the remaining fall under the Nicobar district. The islands under this set comprise of some other well known islands like Little Andaman, Nancowry, Camota, Car Nicobar, Katchal, Great Nicobar (which is the largest island) spread over 1648 km2.
The Nicobar islands are believed to have been inhabited for thousand of years and is home Nicobarese tribes. Six indigenous Nicobarese languages are spoken in these islands. The Nicobarese tribe are the civilized and well educated of all other tribes that inhabit the islands. The Nicobar in itself is also an island where the people live a normal living lifestyle unlike any town or village. About a night journey from the capital Port Blair, these islands are no more permitted for tourist visit. The Car Nicobar has an airstrip but is not open for commercial service and is monitored by the Indian Airforce.

a typical Nicobarese hut

I have been to these islands back in 1997-1999 when my mother was posted in the Malacca town as a high school teacher to these islands for two years. I would visit her on my longer school vacation. The main religion followed in these islands is Christianity. On 31st May 2013, UNESCO had declared these islands as World Biosphere Reserve. The Nicobar islands were the worst hit due to the 26th Dec 2004, Tsunami’s 10-15m high water waves. Some islands even broken into two (Teressa island)to three (Trinket)pieces, and coral reefs moved above water. Almost the entire belt of Nicobar islands was moved to as much as 100 feet by the earthquake and tilted. 
The Nicobarese have a very different law and order and marriage system amongst their clan. They have a Captain like any tribe and its under his command the remaining families live. You can read more about them in my future posts on the tribes of Andamans.


The clear waters at North Bay, perfect for snorkelling , sea walk and scuba diving

North Bay island is a popular destination in Port Blair. The beach and the snorkeling opportunities in its fringing coral reefs are the closest ones you will find at Port Blair. A ferry (9 am and 2 pm; 30 mins) will take you across Aberdeen Jetty and bring you back after 3 hour. The corals at North Bay are rather good and spread over large area. You’re very likely to spot many fish, a lobster, or even clams on the coral reef. Snacks and basic meals are available in some shacks on the beach.

This is the same island where my friends and i had gone for scuba diving, you can read about it more on my post My first Scuba Diving Experience

Also its the same island whose image is on the back of the 20 rupee Indian currency 🙂

 When at North Bay, it is time to relax and enjoy. Options such as Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, Sea Walk and many other Sports activities are also available. You can also trek to see the Light House. However, sometimes the light house is closed for outside travelers.


Neil Island around 37 Kms by sea is a good place for Island hopping. With plenty of marine life. Neil Island dwells with lust green surroundings of paddy fields, banana plantations and tropical trees. It occupies an area of 18.9 square kilometres (7.3 sq mi) and Bengali being the widely spoken language.The islands are famous for it’s own Howrah bridge at the Lakshmanpur beach which is a Natural Rock Formation and one of many rare natural phenomenons. It is best seen during a low tide and the walk to the rock is a little tough. (we missed this spot) 

Pristine sandy beaches at Sitpur, Bharatpur and Lakshmanpur are some of the best beaches to explore. A quite heaven for a traveler. The breathtaking view of sea and the lusting greenary in the island is really rejuvenating and enjoyable for enthusiastic travelers. It is worth spending a few days on Neil Islands – also known as the Kitchen garden of Andaman Islands. 

That is a picture of my friends and me waiting at the Neil Island Harbour for our ship to Havelock. Clicked by Sanjay using his go pro

In our seven day trip we halted at the Neil Islands for one night and it was amazing. We went to all the three beaches. The word Neil means blue and it definitely does justice to its name. Watch this video on the Neil Islands and be mesmerized!!!

Let me know if you were awestruck and fell in love with the blue waters … 🙂 Did you Monday Blues get kicked looking at the amazingly beautiful blue waters? (that was a dumb one) 🙂  Neil Island is a must visit tourist destination if you ever plan on visiting the islands and so is North Bay for the water sports activities.  And you know whom to contact 😉

Happy Blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 12: L for Lesser Known Facts

Hello friends, just when you were getting to know about the beautiful Andaman and Nicobar Islands, I thought of giving you some more information that might interest you. 

So here i am , presenting you the LESSER KNOWN FACTS of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Have fun reading about it 🙂 

The widely spoken language in the islands is not Andamanese or Nicobarese, it is Bengali followed by Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. Hindi is majorly spoken in the capital Port Blair but rest of the islands like Havelock, Neil, Diglipur etc locally speak Bengali due to their large number of residents being from Bengal and Bangladesh settlers. 

Commercial fishing is banned in the islands. The only export of sea food that happens is authorized by the island’s administration. 

The 20 rupee note which is a currency in India depicts the scene from Andaman and Nicobar Island’s North Bay. Many tourist make a point to capture this exact click as a memory.  

During World War II , Andaman and Nicobar Islands were the only part of India to come under the Japanese occupation. 

These islands received the first sunrise of the millennium, year 2000 in the Katchal Islands. Many scientists and researches had gathered to capture the first rays of the millennium.

The extremely narrow limestone Alfred Caves are home to Swiftlet birds that make edible nests here. The Baratang islands is famous for the natural limestone caves which is a rare phenomenon and very few places in India are known to have this.

Baratang is also the only place in India with mud volcanoes.
Yes you read it right, just like lava these volcanoes erupt mud from the volcano hole.

“Jal Hans” , is India’s first commercial seaplane that was launched in the Islands and not the seaplanes of Mumbai.  

An aerial view of the damaged coast of Indira Point, India’s southern most point, 600 km (about 375 miles) south of Port Blair, in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago March 1, 2005. 

India’s southernmost point, the Indira Point, subsided by 4.25 metres during the 2004 Tsunami. 

North Sentinel Island is home to one of the most isolated paleolithic tribes of the world. They refrain from any human contact unlike the other tribes of the island Jarawa, Onge, Shompen. Their have been instances where in aerial images of the tribes shooting spear at them. They are thought to be 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.

There you go, some facts about the islands. Happy friday 🙂 and yeah its New Year’s for many of Indian States like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab etc. So happy new year to all of you 🙂 It’s Vishu for me ❤  

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

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 11: K for KAALAPANI (Story of Prison Life)

Kaalapani (derived from Sanskrit words ‘Kal’ which means Time or Death and ‘Pani’ which means Water), was a colonial prison in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. The prison was used by the British especially to exile political prisoners to the remote archipelago. This was the Cellular Jail about which i had spoken in my previous blog. 

Why was it called Kaalapani? – Apart from the tortures the prisoners went through in the Cellular Jail there were many other factors that added to the name of Kaalapani. There was no escape from these islands back then. Even if one managed to escape from the Jail, it was difficult to survive the harsh climate of the islands. Most of the prisoners who tried escaping , died due to diseases like Malaria and ones who survived the nature were killed by the native Tribes of the island. There was no way one could swim and reach anywhere but be deadlocked in these chain of islands.

I would like to share the STORY OF PRISON LIFE from the autobiographies of some of the famous freedom fighters who spent their youth in getting India its freedom.

Extract from the autobiography of Barindra Kumar Ghosh
“The next morning we came out and washed our faces and then had for the first time the darshan of GANJI, otherwise called KANJI. It means boiled rice churned in water – one may say a sort of rice-porridge. We were given each a dabbu full of this dainty…………“The daily ration per meal is as follows—Rice 6 oz, flour for roti 5 oz, dal 2 oz, salt 1 dram, oil ¾ dram and vegetable 8 oz…………….“Each of us was given an iron plate and an iron dish, red with rust and smeared with oil. These could not be cleansed at all. “A half pant, a Kurta and a white cap were provided for each prisoner. But he was not provided with any change for taking bath except a langoti which hardly covered the nudity.“……….The langoti we were given to put on while bathing could not in the least defend any modesty. Thus when we had to change our clothes we were in as helpless a condition as Draupadi in the assembly of the Kauravas. There was no help. We hung our heads low and somehow finished the bathing affair. Then I understood that here there was no such thing as gentleman, not even perhaps such a thing as man. Here were only convicts,”
“After finishing the ‘breakfast’ with the ganji or kanji every prisoner had to commence the work allotted to him which kept him engaged practically the whole of the day with a short break at midday for lunch. The principal work which was also the hardest was connected with coconut.
“To pound the coir and extract fibers out of it, to prepare again ropes out of those fibers to grind dry coconut and also mustard in the machine and bring out oil, to make bulbs for hooks from the shells-these formed the principal items of work for the prisoners,………
“The most difficult work was coir-pounding and oil-grinding………… Each one was given the dry husk of twenty coconuts. The husk had first to be placed on a piece of wood and then to be beaten with a wooden hammer till it became soft. Then the outer skin had to be removed. Then it was dipped in water and moistened and then again one had to pound it. By sheer pounding the entire husk inside dropped off, only the fibers remaining. These fibers had then to be dried in the sun and cleaned. Each one was expected to prepare daily a roll of such fibers weighing one seer” 

Based on autobiographies of Savarkar & Ullaskar Dutt
Oil- grinding was the most difficult work allotted to prisoners in the Cellular Jail. This was the hardest work and caused the death of some, insanity of one and a general strike of the prisoners. It furnishes the most pathetic evidence of callousness bordering on inhumanity on the part of the authorities.
Savarkar, describes it ………. “We were to be yoked like animals to the handle that turned the wheel .Hardly out of bed, we were ordered to wear a strip of cloth, were shut up in our cell and made to turn the wheel of the oil mill. ……….. . The door was opened only when meal was announced. The man came in and served the meal in the pan and went away and the door was shut. If after washing his hands one were to wipe away the perspiration of his body,the jamadar who was the worst of gangsters in the whole lot would go at him with loud abuse. There was no water for washing hands. Drinking water was to be had only by propitiating the jamadar, while you were at kolu; you felt very thirsty. The waterman gave no water except for a consideration which was to palm off to him some tobacco in exchange. If one spoke to jamadar his retort was,” A prisoner is given only two cups of water and you have already consumed three. Whence can I bring you more water? From your father?” we have put down the retort of the jamadar in the most decent language possible. If water could not be had for wash and drink what can be said of water for bathing?

While describing the prison life Ullaskar Dutt narrates-“In our village only oxen are harnessed to the oil presses and even they can not extract more than 16 pounds of mustard –oil in one day. Here, in the Cellular Jail, I was harnessed to the oil mill with two other prisoners and were required to produce eighty pounds of coconut oil by evening. The Jamadars would make us gallop and if our pace slackened, we were beaten mercilessly. We would stumble and fall, and be beaten senseless everyday.”

Such were the hardships that the freedom fighters faced every single minute of their lives spend in the Kaalapani. If you ever get a chance to visit the islands, if not the beaches make sure you visit the Cellular Jail. Feel the unbelievable sacrifices thousands of young men made, in the prime of their lives, for the cause of India’s Independence.

P.S : missed the post for yesterday J ,gonna publish it tomorrow (facepalm 😦 ) and am sure you would love it when published. It’s going to be about the famous Tribes of the islands – JARAWAS

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