Spread across a total area of 8,073 sq kilometers, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were once a home to many indigenous tribes and now-a-days known as one of the most exotic tourist destinations of India. These islands earned a ghastly status during the colonial rule in India, when the freedom fighters were sent to these islands. The immaculate natural beauty of these islands presents a contrasting image against the days of British occupation of India, when these serene islands were developed into a penal colony. After the exodus of British from India, this archipelago caught the attention of travellers and gradually emerged as one of the most sought-after destinations in India. Situated at the confluence of Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal – these islands are popular destinations for the lovers of water sports and natural wonders. The serene beaches of these islands are characterised by their pearl-white sand and sparkling blue waters – most importantly, the weather stays temperate during the most of the time in a year. So, let’s talk about the main attractions of these islands:
Cellular Jail, Port Blair
Once a notorious British prison, which was also known as Kaali Paani (black waters), the Cellular Jail was turned into a National Memorial after Indian earned independence and now, this building has emerged as the top tourist attraction of these islands. Located at Port Blair, it took ten years to construct this massive jail, which was initially used in 1906, when it had more than 20 wings – some of them were destroyed during the WWII. The current building has 7 wings with each block constructed on a criss-cross pattern with a watch tower in the middle, which was used to keep an eye on the prisoners in those days. Some of its part has been transformed into a hospital, which serves the locals here. Each day a sound-and-light show is held here in the central ground to showcase the history and heritage of the jail in details.
Limestone Caves, Baratang Island
These natural Limestone Caves in Baratang Island are one of the main attractions of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These marvellous natural spectacles are created over the millions of years. Located in an uninhabitable part of the island, these caves have been in their natural state since the time immemorial. The route to these caves goes through a dense forest and tribal reserves, which showcase the fascinating marks of the pre-historic times. One can also spot sun-bathing crocodiles in these caves, which contain the stalactites and the stalagmites, constantly transforming into some haunting shapes due to natural erosion.
Bharatpur Beach, Neil Island
Hugely popular for its white shores and coral reefs, the Bharatpur beach is located at the jetty near the Neil Islands, also referred as the coral capital of Andaman. This place is frequented by many snorkeling enthusiasts and marine life explorers. Leisure travellers can also enjoy the coral viewing here by hiring a glass bottom boat or indulge in some adventurous activities like scuba diving and swimming.
Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island
Radhanagar beach is located on the western coast of the Havelock islands. Because of its serene ambiance, sparkling blue waters and natural beauty, this beach was extolled as “Asia’s Best Beach” in 2004 by the TIME Magazine. The placid waters of this beach do not receive any wave action, which makes them perfect for enjoying various activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving and boating etc. The overall setting of this beach is complimented by white sands, blue waters and serene ambiance that make it a splendid destination.
Marina Park, Port Blair
This place is a must-visit site for all those who want to know about the aquatic life of these islands. Managed by the Indian navy, it is also known as ‘Samudrika Marine Museum’ – this park is solely developed to create awareness among people about the aquatic life and its related aspects. There are large tanks inside the park, which are filled with coral reefs and various sorts of aqua flora and fauna, which are found on these islands.
The Great Nicobar Island, Nicobar
Covering an area of 1,045 sq kilometers, this is the largest among the Nicobar Islands. It is a massive island with a sparse population of around 10,000 inhabitants, which apparently contributes in the sustenance of its rain-forest – a treasure trove of a diverse wildlife. Due to its exotic location, this island supports a wide variety of aquatic fauna. It is also a home to one of the oldest tribes in the world, know as “Shompen.” Some of the unique fauna of this place is comprised of robber crab, Nicobar pigeon and crab-hunter macaque.
Mount Harriet National Park, Port Blair
There are about nine national parks in Andaman and Mount Harriet National Park is considered as the most beautiful one. It also has the second highest peak in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. One can enjoy some awe-inspiring views of the sunrise from its trek, which is about 16 kilometers long – from Madhuban to Mount Harriet. Visitors can behold the stunning views of its exotic flora and birds, while striding along its verdant trail.
Viper Island, Andaman
As the name suggests, the Viper Island is known for the variety of snakes, which are found in every corner of this island. There are ruins of a jail, part of the cellular jail on this island, which was used to incarcerate the Indian freedom fighters. The dreadful remnants of gallows and other modes of punishment are still present on this island. This jail had many renowned political prisoners during India’s struggle to Independence. Now, this place is known for its picturesque location.
Corbyn’s Cove Beach, Port Blair
It is the nearest beach from Port Blair, which is blessed with immense natural beauty. Brimming with the verdant palm groves, there are various restaurants and bars in this area which make it a favourite tourist hub in Andaman. Visitors come here to enjoy various water sports such as scuba diving, jet skiing, glass bottom cruises and snorkeling. It is also close to the Cellular Jail, one of the most popular heritage destinations of Andaman and Nicobar islands.