Andaman Tourist Map
An island is where life starts. Every island is a reflection of how life evolves. Made from bed of volcanic rocks islands like those in Andaman harbour million years of geology, history and marine life which the tribes discuss in their tradition. That’s why you see bigger and larger species in islands than in the mainland. It’s an ecological hotspot. This is what draws people and academics all alike. Visiting Andamans is like visiting a subdued version of the Galapagos Islands.
Knowing this, I ventured on my island journey last December with my parents. While they were on their touristic pursuit I was there to discover.
Back then the tourist map of Andaman and Nicobar islands wasn’t something I had in mind as I thought I would get it on the internet and travel. But it proved otherwise.
Getting To the Island
An Arthur Conan Doyle fan and Sherlock addict I had thought of the tribes of the land many a time. Afterall who could forget Tonga from ‘The Sign of Four’. The popular story was based on the real life story of Jack Andaman – a little Andamanese boy who was captured by the British and brought to Calcutta. But he perished soon.
Much of Andaman remains mired in such stories set amidst a fragile ecological reality and I was to explore both. With this intention I landed in Port Blair on a bright sunny touristy December Sunday for a 7 day Andaman trip on a budget.
But getting to Andaman is one thing and manoeuvring through it is a different thing altogether. There are various information available over the internet which paints a different picture from reality. So, getting an Andaman and nicobar islands map and knowing the landscape is the first step of deciding on a tour.
Different kinds of Andaman Islands maps are available on the internet and in popular places. However none of them is concrete. First you must take a look at an ecological Andaman offline map to know the ecological aspect of it. The Andaman Trunk Road runs straight all over North, South Andaman, Middle Andaman and Baratang. You would be traveling along this road to visit places on this island and then take a 2-3hours cruise to other popular islands like Neil and Havelock.
This Andaman offline map given in author Pankaj Sekhsaria’s book “The Last Wave” shows that
Most of the popular tourist destinations are displayed on the tourist maps of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, available in popular tourist spots. But it’s not enough to move with this information alone.
Using Andamans Maps
An interesting Andaman and Nicobar Islands Map brochure caught my mother’s attention on our first day in Andaman. She caught hold of a map from Go2Andaman which had well articulated information regarding
- popular routes and trails
- public transport points,
- Spots for adventure sports
- ATM and money exchange centers
- Cab numbers, airline helplines
- Helpline numbers and police emergency contacts and
- even areas to look for valuable shopping.
This Andaman offline map even traced out some less traveled destinations.
What I did, was to use all this information and map out my 7 day trail on a hand drawn map. I went on marking places with dates on that Andaman and Nicobar Islands map as I traveled.
Day 1: Cellular Jail & Flag Hoisting Point
The first day served as an introduction to Andaman and we began on our previously outlined visit to the cellular jail and the flag point in Port Blair where Subhas Chandra Bose hoisted the Indian National Flag. It was the first mark of Independence, the first time our own flag was hoisted on our territory. A proper visit of the cellular jail requires a few hours if not an entire day and certainly you don’t want to miss the light and sound show in the evening.
Moreover, the brightly lit Marina Park with sea facing view provides another powerful story
So this occupied our very first day on the islands and then I drew up the plan for the rest of days from the information given on the Andaman Islands map.
The cellular jail’s rich history and its role in independence enthralled all. If you have seen the National award winning Malayalam film “Kalapani” it would be more emphatic for you. Otherwise, it is a good introduction to Andaman and what it entails
The British created this prison for the Indians – mostly for Hindu revolutionaries for whom crossing the sea would mean abolition from their caste, making a psychological impact on them. However, the colonial masters never lived here; rather they lived in a 600 square kilometre picturesque island just opposite the Cellular Jail, called Ross Island.
Ross Island was considered the Paris of the East back in the 1800s as it had all the luxuries of the world with swimming pools, clubs, churches and press. Now, it is a deserted island and a ghost town with relics. I heard about the Ross Islands beautiful light and sound show narrated by Gulzar so it was planned for the next day.
However, the weather played spoilsport and Andaman authorities closed down Ross and Smith Island for the day. Having no other options in sight we were thinking what to do. It was too late for the Baratang Limestone caves as precious hours were already lost
Here you must remember, in an island, life and work revolves around the sun. They rise with the sun and go down with it. Some islands like the North Bay Island completely closes after 4 pm.
Day 2: Museums & Saw Mill Port Blair
As our previous plan of visiting Ross and Smith Islands was postponed because of poor weather, we planned to check out the various museums and the forest museum cum timber factory marked on the Andaman offline map.
Instantly, we hit it off with the anthropological museum which is a large repository of information and artwork on the natives of Andaman.
Not many know that the people of Andaman fought the cruelest battle on earth. The Greater Andamanese Tribe protested for their land and the deforestation done by the British. This is known as the Battle of Aberdeen where more than 1000 of the tribe perished and the race became extinct. Today 10-15 of them survive but they are of mixed tribe not proper Andamanese. Now, they have been replaced from Aberdeen in Port Blair and given land in Middle Andaman. Aberdeen is now known for its famous clock tower and large bazaar where you can get special island tuna pickles. A memorial for the greater Andamanese Tribe lies in the Sports Complex.
From there we moved onto the Fisheries museum to witness the exotic species that the region has. This proved ideal to know the marine life before taking a dip underwater when you go scuba diving or snorkeling.
Next it was the Samudrika museum which shows the whole naval history and the geological history of the land. There are some good indigenous products including showpieces, jewelleries and books available in the museum’s shop.
We ended our day by visiting the Chatham Saw Mill and Timber Factory. Inside the factory the process of timber production was going on. Inside the mill premises lies the forest museum along with a shop that showcased lovely timber products including showpieces and furnitures for sale. Behind this museum lies a World War 2 bombing site where the Japanese dropped a bomb, before capturing the island in 1942.
Day 3 : Havelock Island
The third day was already booked for a Havelock visit. So after a short ferry ride from Port Blair we reached Havelock around 10pm.
We first visited the popular Radhanagar Beach in Havelock. This large crescent shaped beach is the best for swimming and to have a quiet day by the sea.
But I wasn’t satisfied and missed the rusticity of an unpolished beach. So, after a hearty seafood meal I took out the Andaman and Nicobar Islands map to look for other places.
Out of the popular Elephanta trek beach and Ram Sita Beach, I chose a less frequented forest beach – Kalapathar.
This cool tranquil beach is part of a reserve forest where even the sand is protected. The sea is more fierce on this beach making it unsuitable for bathing and as you go closer to the water the sand turns to a more coarse stony aquarium like material. Watching the glistening full moon on this beach is hauntingly beautiful.
Day 4 : Neil Island
Next day we headed on another ferry to reach Neil. Of the 2 most places of interest on Neil Island is the Natural Bridge and Sunset Point. So after a quick seafood lunch we headed out for the Natural Bridge. Neil Island is the best place to explore exotic seafood delicacies and enjoy a luxurious vacation by the sea. So don’t miss out on the crabs, octopus, squids, tunas and colourful fishes here. The Natural Bridge is a marine and wildlife lover’s paradise as you get to see exotic creatures like black Star fishes, sea anemones etc. in the crevices of the coral laden beach while you take a look into the Natural stone bridge.
We ended the day watching the sea catching the plunging sun at Sunset point in Lakshmanpur Beach.
Day 5 : South Andaman
The following day we returned to Port Blair and went to the Munda Pahar Beach and the Wandoor Beach in South Andaman. These beaches are crocodile sanctuaries and often show lagoons like water and tall sea mahua trees. The day ended with a glimpse of the sunset at Corbyn’s Cove one of the most popular spots in Port Blair. On the way to Corbyn’s Cove take a look at the airport runway from the Joggers Park
Day 6: Baratang & Parrot Island
The next day started early with a long drive through Baratang Jarawa reserve to reach the limestone caves. Despite our best of intentions we didn’t catch a glimpse of a Jarawa on the long ride. We finally went through the mangrove creek to reach the artistic limestone caves. This was over by 12 pm and we thought of exploring nearby places.
Many suggested the mud volcano but the parrot island on the Andaman Islands map excited me. So, after a quick lunch at the Baratang Canteen we reached Parrot Island. The dense mangrove forest is a treat to watch here. It meant a perfect ending to our eventful trekking day. Cherry on the cake was a fleeting glimpse of a Jarawa man while traveling through the Jarawa reserve back to Port Blair
Day 7 : Ross & Smith, North Bay Island
The last day was the day of events for us as we rounded off the trail with a scuba diving and semi submarine ride on North Bay Island. Then heading off to Ross and Smith Islands to take a ride through the ghost town and end the day with an evening with Gulzar
With this the history, the culture and the life of Andaman kept playing on my mind as I went to sleep that night dreading the return flight back to the mainland.
The maps on my bed seem to call for another adventure in another time. For it was the maps that came to our rescue and with the help of it I could plan out my Andaman getaway which wouldn’t have been possible in a conventional tour. The G2A maps were quite useful to decide on the plan of action as it gave insight on what lies in every area. Using the maps we could easily find out the places to eat and shop and also the tourist places which we can explore nearby.