Imagine lush green forests running for miles and miles with the most exotic flora and fauna inhabiting it. Now add crystal clear, sparkling waters around it. Combine this with the fact that there are unique, indigenous people on this land who are very different from that anywhere else in the world.
What you have is a heady cocktail of beauty, history and adventure. What you have are one of the most mesmerising lands on earth, a group of 572 islands, islets and rocks - The Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Spreading over an arc shaped 800 kilometer long distance, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are removed from the Indian main lands, and maybe that explains why they are so unique and different in their beauty, tranquility and natural richness.
Placed beautifully in the waters of Indian Ocean, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are politically a union territory of the Republic of India. A group of two beautiful and equally enticing sister islands, the Andaman islands and the Nicobar islands, the region is flanked by two of the most known water bodies- the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The Andaman and Nicobar islands have Port Blair as the capital. Another factor which adds to the uniqueness of the place is its low population density; with a population of about 360 thousand spread over 6496 square kilometers.
The Andaman and Nicobar islands are one of the most unpolluted, untouched and pristine lands on earth. As a result of that, they offer many places for sightseeing, all of which stand for scenic beauty, greenery and a majesty only reserved for the nature's best. Some of them are:
Port Blair : Port Blair is not just the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, but it is also a very picturesque albeit small place. The territory brings with itself a number of attractions to experience, such as Haddo, Secretariat Hill, Aberdeen Bazaar and South point.
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park : Located 29 kilometers from Port Blair, this park at Wandoor is one of the best in the world when it comes to seeing underwater corals. It also offers rides, nature trails and water sporting facilities to the tourists, and hence is a place you would remember during your trip to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Chidiya Tapu : 25 kilometers from Port Blair, this place is the southernmost tip of south Andamans. Lush green mangroves, a multitude of words and the enchanting Munda Pahars make it a destination we urge you to please visit!
The Splendid Beaches : The beaches of Andaman and Nicobar islands are home not only to clean sands and delightful trees, but also to those cute little turtles which choose these beaches for nesting. Exotic varieties such as the Leather Back Turtle, Green Sea Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and Olive Ridley Turtle are a common sight on these beaches and are welcome companions for the tourists. Some of the more prominent beaches of the islands include the Corbynâ€™s Cove Tourism Complex, Radhanagar Beach, Harminder Bay Beach, Karmatang Beach and the Ramnagar Beach.
Chatam Island : The island is home to one of the most breathtaking forests you shall ever see. Providing shelter to some of the most exotic and unseen trees, this forest is a mystic world you want to be a part of.
Neil Island : Located 36 kilometers from Port Blair, this jewel from nature is the vegetable bowl of Andamans. You can reach this island by taking a memorable boat ride from Port Blair which runs four times a week.
Long Island : Accessible from the Phoenix Bay Jetty, this island is another heaven of greenery and water. And to add to the mix, you can even find dolphins splashing around the beach sometimes!
Ross Island : This gem of an island is today a property of the Indian Navy, and hence maintained in a very professional manner. Not to be missed during your trip to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands!
Limestone Caves : These intriguing natural wonders are frequented by many a marveled tourist. They can be reached from Baratang Jetty after an hour long sea journey.
Mount Harriet : Located 55 kilometers from Port Blair, this proudly standing Mountain is another place you must visit during your trip to the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Jolly Buoy : If you are looking for scuba diving or snorkeling, this place is the place to be. It only helps that the region also boasts of clear golden sand and the underwater corals.
Madhuban : Only 15 kilometers away from Port Blair, this marvelous place is used as a training area of elephants by the foresters. And when you are done with the great beasts, you can always experience the tranquility of the clear beaches and lush hills here.
The Cellular Jail : This is a massive, 18th century building which also houses a museum now. But the haunting history of this place is that it was used to confine 400 freedom fighters during Indiaâ€™s struggle for independence. You would be able to feel a chilling silence in its corridors and cells as a reminder of the blood and sweat that went into gaining Independence for India. It also underlines the significant role assumed by the Andaman and Nicobar Islands during Indiaâ€™s freedom struggle.
Shopping Opportunities : If you are wondering what you should carry back for your loved ones back home from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, do not forget to pick up some of the articles intricately carved out of coconut shells. The intricacy of the carvings on the shell results in surprisingly good souvenirsâ€™, and we are sure the one you gift is going to love that. Beaded Jewellery is another special thing you can pick up as a sweet reminder of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The Andaman and Nicobar islands, though separated from the Indian main lands geographically, are strongly connected with it. Hence there are sound connecting mechanisms via air and sea.
By Air: The Union Territory has the Veer Savarkar airport, which is strongly linked with the Indian cities of Kolkata and Chennai. So you can always fly to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in a jiffy.
By Sea: A ride on the choppy waters of the Bay of Bengal to reach the islands is a fantastic way of getting into the mood for Andaman and Nicobar islands.
As the Andaman and Nicobar Island are marked by golden sands and clear sea water flanking that, you can just sit and not do anything, yet feel much better and energized.
However, you should surely cover all the major beaches of the state. After all, it is an island, and if you missed beaches, you sure missed something! Also study the exotic and rare Flora and Fauna there. With so many unique species of tree on the island, it presents a perfect opportunity for one to experience rare species one would not find anywhere else on this planet.
And one enjoyable aspect of travelling to and within Andaman and Nicobar islands is that you may just be doing it by sea. So while travelling within any other city involves roads, at Andaman and Nicobar islands, even travelling is a memorable, enjoyable ride across the waters.
Also, do keep aside some time for Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, which shall take you so close to underwater corals, you shall have trouble forgetting them. It also offers you other fun things to do such as water sports and nature trails, so is definitely a place without which your trip to Andaman and Nicobar islands would be incomplete. Another uniquely different type of opportunity you have to explore is to visit a number of smaller islands around you. And with the Andaman and Nicobar Islands being a collection of 572 islands, isles and rocks, there are many of such islands to explore!
The heady mix of beaches, vegetation and sands is enough to fill the heart and create lifelong memories. Neil Island, Ross Island and Long island are just some of the more known examples, while the region houses islands in plenty. With their clear waters, abundant flora and a rich history, you can spend days soaking in the ambience on any of them.
The best time to visit Andaman and Nicobar islands is between Novembers to April as the weather stays mildly pleasant during the months. Be sure not to plan the visit during the months of May to October because of strong rains which lash this region every year.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been home to inhabitants over the last many thousand years. Tribals once ruled over the lands with minimum interference by the mainland visitors. However, with changing times, the indigenous tribals have been pushed to a very restricted and limited area on the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
The region also gained ill-fame during the British Raj, as the British government used the islands as prisons, terming the islands as 'Kaala Paani', sending the most punished convicts here for terrible sentences. The British rule over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands ended when the region was invaded by the Japanese during World War II.
Today, the Andaman and Nicobar islands are officially a Union Territory of the Republic of India. Recently, large parts of the islands were devastated by the tsunami, but quick reconstruction has already happened, reflecting the strong spirit of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Largely tropical in nature, the climate at the Andaman and Nicobar islands is typically hot and humid. There are only two seasons - Rainy Season and the Summer Season. The monsoons last from May to October while the period from January to April is known as the summer season for the islands. While the typical temperatures here range from 21 degree Celsius to 30 degree Celsius, the humidity levels remain very high, close to 80%.