Resettlement of Kashmiri pandits purely political issue: KPOs
More than 60 women, 31 boys kidnapped by militants in Nigeria: local official

Why my visit to Andaman Islands was serene yet disturbing

The Island definitely had a haunted look and feel about it, with its deep seated creeper roots and the terrible history.

andaman-main

It was one of the most beautiful landings I had seen, and I knew it then that the turquoise beaches of Andaman Islands will be an experience I will cherish for life.

Bird-eye view of the Andaman Islands. (Source: Divya Goyal) Bird-eye view of the Andaman Islands. (Source: Divya Goyal)

The pilot (lucky for us) was in no hurry to land and gave a plenty of time to get a birds-eye view of the many tiny islands that comprise Andaman. Though from the top there was not much difference, with the clear blue water spacing islands with green reflection on the periphery of the shores. The scene was inviting me for a quick dip into the sea, but I had to wait for two days to have my time at the beach.

Bird-eye view of the Andaman Islands. (Source: Divya Goyal) Bird-eye view of the Andaman Islands. (Source: Divya Goyal)

Soon after I landed in Port Blair, I was taken to the city’s main tourist attraction – The Cellular Jail (Kala Pani). The place was imbued with the essence of patriotism of the early freedom fighters and I was overwhelmed by the same. The infamous jail was the residence of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar for almost 50 years.

A model of the Cellular Jail. (Source: Divya Goyal) A model of the Cellular Jail. (Source: Divya Goyal)

The Cellular Jail housed many freedom fighters and various cruel jailers, as was informed in the light and sound show later that evening. The solemn architecture of the jail comprised 7 wings with a tower at the centre serving as the intersection, where the guards kept a watch on the inmates. The wings radiated from the tower like the spokes of a wheel, designed such that the face of a cell in a spoke saw the back of cells in another spoke. This meant absolute solitary confinement. Two of the wings are currently used as a hospital in the Island.

There were three ways of shackling the prisoners at the jail depending on the kind of ‘leniency’ they could ‘earn’ with their behaviour. The shackles obviously restricted the movement of the prisoners. (Source: Divya Goyal) There were three ways of shackling the prisoners at the jail depending on the kind of ‘leniency’ they could ‘earn’ with their behaviour. The shackles obviously restricted the movement of the prisoners. (Source: Divya Goyal)

The other areas of the Jail compound were developed to narrate the day to day activities of the inmates. The environment of the Cellular Jail and the burden of its history was only one of the places where the sense of sorrow would engulf the visitor on the Island. In the past Andaman Islands were used to imprison the exiled freedom fighters. And therefore there were few more places in the nearby Islands, such as the Ross Island, among others, which reopened the dark chapter of our brave fighters in the struggle for independence.

On display in Cellular Jail: A model of the daily activities of the inmates which included oil-grinding, among other work in the jail compound. The prisoners were substituted in place of bullocks and had to grind 30 lbs coconut oil or 10 lbs of mustard oil was extracted on a daily basis. Should the inmates fail to yield the day’s work, they were subjected to a horrific whiplash session. (Source: Divya Goyal) On display in Cellular Jail: A model of the daily activities of the inmates which included oil-grinding, among other work in the jail compound. The prisoners were substituted in place of bullocks and had to grind 30 lbs coconut oil or 10 lbs of mustard oil was extracted on a daily basis. Should the inmates fail to yield the day’s work, they were subjected to a horrific whiplash session. (Source: Divya Goyal)

The Ross Island is littered with the opulent treasure trove of its yesteryear inhabitants. The creepers now embrace what is left of a grand ballroom, hospital, bakery, water treatment boilers, press and a swimming pool. At the time of Andaman’s penal era, this island was the seat of ‘British power’.

The ruins of buildings at the Ross Islan. (Source: Divya Goyal) The ruins of buildings at the Ross Islan. (Source: Divya Goyal)

The Island definitely had a haunted look and feel about it, with its deep seated creeper roots and the terrible history. The locals also informed that had it not been for the Ross Island, Andaman would have faced a worse situation in the 2004 Tsunami. The Island, stood strong, saving Andaman from a worse fate that year.

The Island was also home to handsome peacocks. (Source: Divya Goyal) The Island was also home to handsome peacocks. (Source: Divya Goyal)

The next day, I made my way to the Havelock Island, the largest pearl in the string of Andaman Islands. And it was a pearl in its very essence. The Island is home to the second largest beach in Asia – Radhanagar beach, which was also voted as the best beach by reputed magazine in 2004.

The beach is indeed unlike any other beach in India. The sand was soft as if the ocean has extended its best rug for its guests. The water pristine and clear – much like it was as it appeared from the top.

As I took a dip in the cool water of the Indian Ocean on the Radhanagar beach, for the first time in days, I let go the deep history that had engulfed my psyche. The Radhanagar beach offers privacy to visitors looking for uninterrupted solitude. The cool air brushed by the ocean and the mangrove forests that formed a picturesque background for the beach was my perfect spot for meditation.

It was in fact the lush green backdrop of the beach which had made it so extraordinary. As the sun set on the horizon of the, now, deep blue sea, the Radhanagar beach radiated sheen I have never seen before. The beach wore a hypnotic mantle that deepened its impact as the sea gulped the dull red ball of light.

The next I toured other famous beaches of the Havelock Island – The Elephanta beach and the Vijaynagar beach. These beaches had their own beauty and charisma. While the former was a rather rocky beach, the later was a miniature version of Radhanagar beach.

At the beaches one could indulge in water activities such as deep sea walking and underwater diving. The underwater species was not the only fascinating sight, a tryst with the phenomenal corals of the undersea is also a must for any visitor.

The seas saga of Andaman Islands was such that could never be enough. And even as I boarded my flight back, I yearned for a last long look at the serene sight of the mystic sea of the Andaman Islands.

Do you like this story