History of Andaman

The history of Andaman is still a mystery to many. No one actually knows when and how the first inhabitants came to the island. The earliest archeological evidence yet documented goes back some 2,200 years. However, genetic and cultural studies suggest that the indigenous Andaman people may have been isolated from other populations since the middle Paleolithic (old stone age). In that time, the Andamanese may have diversified into distinct linguistic, cultural and territorial groups, now known as tribes.

The fist empire to list the islands under its territory was the Maratha Empire. Rajendra Chola one of the Chola dynasty kings, conquered the islands to use it as its strategical navy base against the Sriwijaya empire (located in Indonesia). They called the islands Tinmaittivu or the impure islands.

cellular jail andaman - kalapani jail
Cellular Jail, Port Blair

A major chunk of the known history, however, dates back to the post-colonial period. The history of organized European colonization began when the Danish settlers of the Danish east India company arrived at the Nicobar islands on 12 December 1755. On 1 January 1756, the Nicobar Islands were made a Danish colony, first named New Denmark. But this colony did not last very long as most of the empire was wiped out because of the outbreaks of Malaria by 1848. It was only the British who can then be called the true colonizers of the island.

In 1789, the British established their colony in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. But, the island was abandoned the British in 1796; yet, the British resumed control over the island in the 19th century. During the 19th century as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands history maintains, the British used Andaman and Nicobar as a penal colony, which was named ‘Kalapani‘ or the Cellular Jail. The history of Andaman and Nicobar Islands proves that criminals convicted of crime against the East India Company was sent to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with a life sentence: the convicts were forced to live in exile in the Kalapani.

But, with the end of the British rule, i. e. after the Indian Independence, the ‘Kalapani’ gave way to a conglomeration of beautiful islands. It was in 1947 that Andaman and Nicobar Islands formed a part of the India Union. Today, Andaman and Nicobar Islands is among the seven union territories of India.

Credits: Inner Eye

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