States of India
Andman & Nicobar
Area : 8,249 sq km
Population : 280,661 (1997)
Religion : Hinduism (67.52%), Christianity (23.94%), Islam (7.60%), Others (0.94%)
Temprature : Maximum Temperature : 31°C ,Minimum Temperature : 23°C
Capital : Port Blair
Languages : Bengali, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Nicobarese, Telugu
Best Time to Visit : December to early April
Literacy Rate : 73%
Located in the Bay of Bengal, the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands is an archipelago of over 572 islands, a majority of which are uninhabited.
The islands are surrounded by coral reefs, sandy beaches and clear water.The topography of the islands is Hilly and abounds in evergreen forests. The sandy beaches on the edge of meandering coastline are fringed with coconut - palms that sway to the rhythm of sea.
The islands were used by the British in the 19th century, mainly for imprisoning Indian freedom fighters in the 'cellular jail'.
Geographical Information :
Located in the Bay of Bengal, this group of 572 islands lies 193 km away from Cape Negrais in Myanmar, 1255 km from Calcutta, and 1190 km from Chennai. The two important groups of islets are Ritchie's Archipelago and Labyrinth Islands. The Nicobar Islands are located to the south of the Andamans, 121 km from the Little Andaman Island. Of the total 572 islands, only 36 islands are inhabited. The Islands are located between the latitudes 6° to 14° North and longitudes 92° to 94° East.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands comprise around 572 islands formed by a submarine mountain range, which separates the Bay of Bengal from the Andaman Sea. The islands attain maximum altitude at Saddle Peak (730 m), formed mainly of limestone, sandstone, and clay.
The climate in the Andaman and Nicobar is tropical. The native people of these islands are of Negroid and Monogloid stocks. The main tribes are Onge, Andamanese, Shompen, Nicobarese and Jarawa. The number of tribals is fast dwindling.
Flora and Fauna
The canopied rain forests of the islands harbor 3,000 species of plants including mangroves, epiphytes (130 ferns, 100 orchids), palms, woody climbers, timbers (teak, mahogany, Andaman paduk) and a wide variety of tropical fruits. Marine fauna is diverse including a wide variety of tropical fish and coral. Considering the diversity and uniqueness of fauna and flora and the fragile nature of the eco-system here, 96 sanctuaries spread over 466.218 sq km and nine National Parks spread over 1153.938 sq km have been notified on these islands.
Little is known historically about Andaman and Nicobar, a cluster of around 572 islands of which less than 50 are populated, stretching from the southern tip of Burma all the way down south till Sumatra in Indonesia. It is believed that Marco Polo was among the first from the West to set foot on one of the islands. Kanhoji Angre, a Maratha admiral had his base on the island in the early 18th century. From there, he attacked passing Portuguese, Dutch and English merchant vessels on their way to or from their various Asian colonies. In 1713, his navy even succeeded in capturing the yacht of the British Governor of Bombay. Despite many efforts by the British and later a joint military force of British and Portuguese naval forces, Kanhoji Angre was never defeated. He died in 1729.
The British established their first colony in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 1789, which was abandoned in 1796. The British finally annexed the islands in the 19th century adding them to their empire. They turned it into a penal colony for Indian freedom fighters. The construction of the infamous Cellular Jail was completed in 1908. Hundreds of anti-British Indians were tortured to death or simply executed here. With the Second World War, Japanese troops occupied the islands and the local tribes initiated guerrilla activities to drive them out. When India achieved independence in 1947, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were incorporated into the Indian Union.
Places In and Around Andaman and Nicobar Islands :
The Cellular Jail : Originally a British penal settlement, the Cellular Jail epitomizes all the misery, the trials and tribulations faced by the Indian freedom fighters, many of whom were sent here to serve life sentences. Now a national monument, the Cellular Jail has a museum where exhibits depict prison life in the early 1900,s. the saga of the historic struggle is now brought live in a moving son-et-lumiere.
Museum : The marine museum exhibits almost 350 species of marine life while the Anthropological Museum displays the tools, implements, art and handicrafts of the tribals in the territory.
Corbyn's Cove : About 4 kms. from Port Blair airport is palm fringed beach ideal for swimming, surfing and sunbathing.
Mount Hariet : Ideally suited for trekking, Mount Harriet, a picnic spot par excellence offers a breathtaking view of Port Blair.
Sippighat Farm : This is a Government agricultural & demonstration farm spread over in area of 80 acres.
Chidiya Tapu : Also known as bird island this is the southern most tip of South Andaman.
Wandoor Beach : Situated on the West coast of South Andaman, it is a beautiful place for diving, swimming and picnicking. The wooden jetty at Wandoor is the boarding place for Red Skin or Jolly Buoy island famous for corals.
Viper Island : This island offers beautiful sandy beaches and lush green forest. Island camping at Radhanagar is real exposure to the unpolluted nature for an environment lover.
Travel Information :
By Air : Five weekly flights between Calcutta and Port Blair and four flights between Chennai and Vishakhapattnam connect the islands to the mainland.
By Sea : There are around three to four ships sailing between Haddo Jetty, Port Blair in the Andamans and Calcutta and Chennai on the mainland. There is one sailing from Vishakhapattnam every two months. The Shipping Corporation of India runs these sailings. The distances between Port Blair and some of the important cities on the mainland are Calcutta - 1255 km, Chennai - 1190 km and Vishakhapatnam - 1200 km.
Local Transport : The Directorate of Shipping Services maintains regular inter-island foreshore and harbour ferry services to cater to the needs of inter-island commuters. There are local buses, bicycles, motorcycles, auto rickshaws, and taxis available for local transport on the islands.