One fine day on FB, a social media friend and I were casually chatting. Both of us were frustrated with the mundane routine daily stuff. This guy, suddenly comes up with this idea “Lets go to Andamans”. Me being this travel freak, excited by the idea, book our tickets early in June to travel in September. We get really cheap flight tickets and we are extra excited about it. Later on 5 more people join the group to travel with us.
All of us are excited about the trip. One of the craziest things about the trip is, that I have met only one guy, that too for 5 mins. Everyone was a stranger in the trip. I was travelling with a bunch of strangers!
I was going to travel with a bunch of strangers to a strange new place. The flight tickets were booked for everyone, but we did not book our accommodations since there was mixed opinion about the time we would be spending on each island there.
Just a week before the travel, 3 people drop off due to other commitments, leaving four of us to the mercy of destiny at Andaman.
We land in Andaman and the very next day we leave to Havelock, as recommended by the locals. For us the actual tour starts at Havelock. This place can be named as heaven on earth. We stayed in beach shacks just close to the sea.
We checked into the shacks at around 11 am. We played in the sea, like mad kids. We go back take a shower, have our lunch and come back to the sea to play…to our astonishment the sea wasn’t there!
I was shocked, flabbergasted, surprised, stunned, amazed, astounded etc. I didn’t see the sea which was there an hour back! There was only stretches of land and the sea wasn’t visible till far, far away!
I was scared about Tsunami, and enquired the manager of the place about it, to know that it was low tide and the sea goes few kilometers back. Sigh of relief that it was not Tsunami. I waited and waited to see the sea come back, but in vain, until it was late in the night, I heard the ocean back.
Early in the morning I woke up and rushed to see the sea, and again the sea wasn’t there!
First time I experienced something like this and it was spectacular! We decided to stay there for 5 days, and didn’t get enough. The nearby beaches like the Kalapathar beach, Radhanagar beach, Elephant Beach were awesome. The guys went scuba diving, while we girls did snorkeling and jet skiing!
After five days in Havelock, we decide to go back to Port Blair and see the other places. I don’t want to tell you here about all the places, then it would take me weeks to finish this blog post. But yes, I wish to share my experience in the spooky Ross Island and the mysterious Braratang Island!
Ross is quiet a famous name known when people talk about Andaman. It is a haunting place which lingers in our thoughts even after many many days. The Island is named after Sir Daniel Ross, a marine surveyor.
Ross must have been one of the most happening places during the British period in the late 17th century. It is now left with ruins which tell silent tales of dark history. It is sad to see that the dark history is sinking into the sea slowly. It was only because of Ross Island the Port Blair did not face as much damage as expected during the 2004 Tsunami. Ross Island stood shield and saved Port Blair from devastation!
Baratang Island is not much known to tourists. It has a scenic coastline rich in marine life and mud volcanoes, the only known examples in India. It is located between Middle and South Andaman about 100 km from Port Blair. The island has dense tropical forests ranging from tidal swamp forest to evergreen to littoral forests laced with sandy beaches along its coast.
The easiest way to reach Baratang was to book with a tourist, since it involved permissions from the forest department . The trip starts as early as 3.30 am! Sleepy heads we wakeup and get ready for all the excitement that was following.
Baratang Island can be reached by road via the Jarawa Tribe Reserve and then by boat. Jarawa are one of those indigenous communities of Andaman Islands. Jarawas are believed to have inhabited the islands for at least several thousand years. Photography is strictly prohibited in this Jarawa Tribe Reserve area!
After driving the Jarawa tribe reserve for nearly 3 hours we reach the ferry place. One big ferry carries three big buses, and approximately 100 people and leaves us at the other shore, where the board says “Welcome to Baratang”. The next ferry ride is one the amazing and dangerous journeys between the creeks, with mangroves forests on both the sides. The boat is a speed boat which can accommodate approximately 10 people. The weight had to be balanced or the boat would topple over into the creek containing salt water crocodiles and poisonous snakes. This adventurous ride goes for 40-45 mins and we reach a rocky terrain. It was drizziling and we had to do rock climbing to see the limestone caves at Nayadera!
The path is slippery and we weren’t prepared with any special shoes. I wore flip-flops and did rock climbing and badly bruised my leg everywhere! I had to do it anyways, the beauty of nature kept me going… finally I was the first one to enter into the pristine limestone caves, awed in beauty, I stood like one of those stalagmites and stalactites ! The venomous snakes or the salt water crocodiles didn’t scare me
Then again we take a trek to the mud volcano, which are found only in Baratang Island in India, the mud volcanoes erupt sporadically. The last eruption recorded in 2005. About 700 mud volcanoes have been identified all over the world. Mud volcanoes are vents in the earth which emits gas and mud and are a rare phenomenon found in only select places.
It was amazing to travel with three strangers to strange places, but now we are no longer strangers ...
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