Port Blair, the capital town of Andaman and Nicobar with nice small museums is a cluster of tin-roofed buildings tumbling towards the sea in the north, east and west and petering into fields and forests in the south. The beaches have white sand and coral reef and unpolluted sparkling clear water.
The rare flora and fauna, underwater marine life and corals, with crystal clear water and mangrove-lined creeks with unpolluted fresh air attract any nature-lover, who seek absolute peace and tranquility in the lap of mother nature.
The history of Port Blair is linked with the history of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. But the first settlement by the British took place in 1789. The second settlement was basically a penal settlement, taken up in 1858, after the First War of Independence.
The Cellular Jail was built to penalize Indian Freedom fighters. The penal settlement was the beginning of the agonizing story of the massive and awful Jail at Viper Island followed by the Cellular Jail.
People of all faiths - Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs etc., and of all languages like Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Nicobari etc., live together in complete peace and harmony. Inter-religion and inter-regional marriages are common. This amazing racial and cultural mix is correctly described as Mini-India.
Port Blair, the capital town of this Union Territory is situated about 1200 km from the East Coast of the mainland.
Port Blair is well connected with Chennai, Calcutta and Car Nicobar. And there are ships sailing from Calcutta, Chennai and Visakhapatnam. But the journey from Visakhapatnam is very erratic.
A railway does not connect the islands with the mainland but there is a railway out-agency at the Secretariat.
Port Blair is the main centre. To access the island from the main land one has to come to the capital, Port Blair first and then go to other islands taking the local transport available. Air and sea connect it.
The climate is warm and salubrious in summer and cool and sunny in winter.
Now converted into a national memorial, Cellular Jail was built to penalize Indian Freedom fighters. Located at Port Blair, it is a mute witness to the tortures meted out to the freedom fighters, which were incarcerated in this Jail. The Jail acquired the name, cellular because it is entirely made up of individual cells for the solitary confinement of the prisoners. A small museum by the entrance gate exhibits lists of convicts, photographs and grim torture devices. This jail consists of seven wings radiating from a central tower. The penal settlement established here by the British after the First War of Independence in 1857 was the beginning of the agonizing story of the massive and awful Jail at Viper Island followed by the Cellular Jail. The Jail now a place of pilgrimage for all freedom loving people has been preserved as a shrine to pay homage to those who were executed and killed here while detention.
Just 29 kms from Port Blair is this stunningly beautiful group of islands. The 15 islands form the part of the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park. If on a tour from Port Blair, Jolly Buoy and Red skin islands are also visited. Mangrove creeks, tropical rainforest and the reef enhance the scenic beauty of the islands, which support almost 50 varieties of corals. There are number of good beaches on Wandoor but watch for the strong currents. Do not venture on the coral reefs as they might get damaged. In fact many have already been damaged. The marine park of Wandoor includes the uninhabited North and South Cinque. Cinque islands are among the most beautiful islands in the Andamans. It is surrounded by pristine coral reefs. Here only day trips are allowed and permission has to taken from the forest department.
Once the administrative headquarters of the British this place is deserted today. Where once manicured lawns occupied space and umbrellas adorned the poolside daily services were held in the Church but now forest & under growths has taken over. Peacocks and dears roam here. The place is in ruins and very sad but it is worth giving a look. A look at the small museum will give one an idea what this place must have looked in those days.
Seven kms from the town of Port Blair, it is one of the most magnificent beaches in Andaman's. Nearby is the Snake Island surrounded by coral reef. Though the water is very tempting is advisable not to swim in these water, as the current is very strong.
It is 45 kms from Port Blair. This island is full of Bengali settlers. The main attraction of these islands is not the picturesque white sand beaches or turquoise waters or the coral reefs but the Dolphins, Turtles and very large fishes attract most of the tourists.
This beautiful Park at Port Blair has facilities like children's park, amusement park, Entertainment Park, deer and Bird Park, water sports, nature trail, lake, garden, restaurant and Japanese temple, as well as a bunker. The erstwhile Dilthaman Tank, which was the only source of drinking water to Port Blair has been developed into Gandhi Park in an unbelievably short time of 13 days.
These predominantly Bengali populated islands are 40 kms from Port Blair and offers good beaches for snorkeling. Though some of the corals have been damaged, nevertheless it is a very scenic spot to be. Here the beach is numbered and beach number 1 has some lovely hammocks under trees, which are very popular among the campers. There is also fresh water well. One can watch very large fish from these islands. But it becomes difficult to cross the corals to the sea during the low tides.
Water Sports Complex- A unique sports complex in India in its own kind, it has facilities for safe Water Sports such as Rowing Boats, Paddle Boats, Kayaks, Aqua-cycle, Aqua-glide, Bumper boats, etc., and Adventure water sports such as Water-skiing, Water scooters, Gemini boats. MINI ZOO & FOREST MUSEUM - Port Blair has a small Zoo which houses some of the rare and extinct species which are found nowhere in the world including the Nicobar Pigeon and the Andaman Pig. Many crocodiles were bred here and are now in wild waters among the dense mangrove forests. MT. HARRIET & MADHUBAN - One can take a ferry service from the Chatnam wharf to Bamboo flat. From there one can take a vehicle to Mt Harriet which is 365 m. A natural trail takes to the top and one can have a comfortable stay at the forest guest house. MT. SAMUDRIKA NAVAL MARITIME MUSEUM - This is an excellent primer if your are heading off to more remote islands. It has a superlative shell collection and informative displays on various aspects of local marine biology. The exhibits in the Anthropological Museum, devoted to the Andaman and Nicobar.
CHIRIYA TAPU - A tiny fishing village with beaches and mangroves, Chiriya Tapu is 30 kms. from Port Blair. From Chiriya Tapu there is a beach, which is well known for snorkeling.