Andaman gave me more than expected. Seeing local tribals, some of the prettiest beaches and above all, so much of our national history during freedom struggle, heroic and heart-breaking stories of freedom fighters which definitely deserve much more visibility. Here I begin…
During one of my term breaks at b-school, my parents and I went on a family holiday to Andaman for 6 days. This being a cluster of islands, I pictured this place as serene and disconnected from the world where I could lie back on the beach and take a break from the frenzy life at college. Within one day, we confirmed the plan and made all the bookings. My first view of the islands from plane was mesmerizing.
Aerial view of the islands
I thought Andaman was another pretty island. I vaguely knew that this has been served as one of the main prisons during freedom movement. When we went to Viper Island which served as open jail during freedom movement, I had goosebumps listening to the punishment meted out to the freedom fighters there.
Viper Island – The open jail
Depicting the prison life @ Andaman Jail
The guide there told us that the prisoners were tied to chains with their hands or feet tied to each other. This island is known for plenty of vipers (snakes), hence the name. Those prisoners were left on the island in open (there were no prison cells) awaiting fatal bite by vipers. If they managed to escape, there were dengue causing mosquitos in the island and man-eaters in the adjacent if the prisoners managed to escape. Some tough ones who managed to survive all these were hanged on the island.
Life at Andaman jail in Port Blair was even worse. The punishment here was called Kala Pani punishment. Once they were sent here, there was no going back for them. Unable to bear the punishment, many prisoners have died, or gone insane. Some of them died even due to force feeding.
After hearing these stories, I was moved. This still on my mind, on the way back to the island to Port Blair, I saw this sign of India map with the words “I love India” above it. I never felt more patriotic.
“I Love India”
Then we went to Ross Island. I was fascinated by two reasons mainly – 1. It served as British administrative centre in those days and also a famous picnic spot, thanks to the beautiful beaches, presence of diverse flora & fauna. 2. During world war II, Japanese invaded this island and built an underground tunnel around the island. My dad & I walked the entire island and explored the path through the whole length of this tunnel. It was a major eureka moment!
In Port Blair, we stayed at Rose Valley, a peaceful resort. We got it a good deal as we went in September, which is off-season. Now this place has the best food ever, especially the fish biryani! I was perpetually eating when I was in the resort.
But the best part was Havelock Island. We stayed in a resort with a private access to the beach. In the early morning, my dad & I went to the beach to collect pebbles. In the evening, my mom, dad & I used to hangout there. This beach has a swing tied from a tree branch & facing the ocean. Do I need to say more?
We covered a couple more beaches, did scuba-diving, saw the tribals – we did not know that so many surprises were in store.
Radhanagar beach on Havelock Island is rated as 7th best beach in the world. With this water colour & view, wouldn’t you agree?
Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island
The people we met there are simple & sincere – our cab drivers, hotel staff, boat staff & a few locals. In Port Blair, they do not have movie theatres, happening hangout places or high-speed internet. They watch movies on their TV channels, play with friends in-person & do some work at home or outside to pass their time. They are blissfully unaware of what they do not have compared to the urban main lands of India (except for Chennai, where they get almost all of their supplies from) & enjoy their life!
I want to go to this place and spend some time there, eating all the food and enjoying those heavenly beaches.