Port Blair, the capital city of Andaman and Nicobar islands, is a charming island town with stunning views of the Andaman Sea. A city that lies in the heart of an archipelago, Port Blair offers pristine sandy beaches, colonial-era monuments, heritage locales, flanked by forested islands and rich marine life.
Revisiting the Colonial past
Ross Island: Once the seat of British power, Ross Island now boasts of breath-taking ruins and an interesting journey to the past. Named after the British marine surveyor Daniel Ross, the island was known as the ‘Paris of the East’.
The mesmerising ruins of the swimming pool, printing press, club, church and other beautiful buildings provide a glimpse to all the modern amenities, the British brought with them. Today, maintained by the Navy, apart from ruins, the tourists can see a small yet well maintained museum, plenty of birds and deer and a sound and light show.
Cellular Jail: An iconic symbol of India’s struggle for independence from colonial rule, the Cellular Jail takes one back to British-era, wherein the jail imprisoned freedom fighters. The monument is preserved as a shrine to India’s freedom fighters, where visitors can indulge in the history of the place once known as ‘the hell on earth’. The museum here relates the history of this place, names of the convicts, photographs and more.
Do stay back for the sound and light show in the evening which is one of the most engaging attractions that Port Blair has to offer. Aimed at telling the story of the history at cellular jail, it is a perfect blend of both information and entertainment.
Nature at its best
Andaman’s sun-kissed beaches and blue waters welcome you to the land of eternal beauty. So splash, swim or just sit quietly on the sand, soaking in the ubiquitous beauty and serenity.
Mount Harriet: Located on the other side of Ross Island, it is a high point on a hillock which provides a scenic view of the surrounding islands. Blessed with unparalleled natural charm, during the British reign, Mount Harriet used to be the headquarters of the chief commissioner.
Baratang Island: A gateway between middle and southern Andaman district, this island is generally unexplored by tourists. The land of natural wonders, travellers can enjoy a trip on a boat along the mangrove creeks and limestone caves, lush forests, mud volcanoes – the only one of its kind in India – where the last eruption took place back in 2003. Hop on to the nearby Parrot Island for a breathtaking view of the sunset.
Mini Zoo: One of the most visited places on the islands, the zoo works for animal conservation and helps to preserve various wildlife. The zoo consists of some rare species of animals as well as birds. The salt water crocodile is one of the prime attractions of this zoo. The forest department has a museum which displays woods that are produced in the local market. Rose wood, marble wood and dark and light colored paduak wood are exhibited in this museum.
Indulge in water sports, sunbathe on the beach or visit the tropical rainforests in and around Port Blair.
Scuba diving: Diving is a unique experience here as clouds of colourful fish and other marine treasures surprise you. The islands here have one of the richest coral reef ecosystems of the world. Visit Barren Island (an active volcano) and Narcondam Island (an extinct volcano).
Snorkeling: Enjoy the under-water marine life and view the rarest varieties of corals by Snorkeling. Jolly Buoy Island is the best place for snorkeling.
Boat Tours in Port Blair: Andaman’s sun-kissed beaches and blue waters welcome you to the land of eternal beauty. So splash, swim or just sit quietly on the sand. Boat rides to watch the calm blue sea and the lush green forests that surround the island, offer a mesmerising experience.
In Port Blair, you can experience a wide variety of seafood dishes from all over the world and also dishes from North and South of India to Thai and Burmese specialities.
Seafood heaven: The islands are well known for their shellfish, but clams, mussels, oysters, scallops are readily available. Dogtooth Tuna, yellowfin and coral trout are also used widely here. Being a popular destination, there are numerous restaurants scattered across the main islands. Open air restaurants that are sea facing, serving a delectable array of cuisines, from Indian to Italian to Chinese, are bound to keep the hungry traveller well satiated. There is even a floating restaurant aboard a cruise that offers live music too.
Souvenir Shopping: There are a number of beach markets in and around Port Blair to raid and take home quaint souvenirs. Trinkets and souvenirs made of natural and locally available raw materials like shell, bamboo and coconut are available in plenty. Pick up exquisite curios, cane handicrafts, wooden statuettes, seashell accessories, quirky household items and more.
You can also buy pearl jewellery, mats made from local padauk wood and driftwood pieces from the Aberdeen Bazaar.
GoAir Connect: GoAir operates direct flights to Port Blair from Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata, and easy connections from Delhi, Goa, Mumbai and Pune, among others.
Written by Neelam Singh