The Andaman Islands
The Andaman Islands are an interesting option for travelers with time on their hands. The location of the islands is closer to Indonesia and Myanmar (Burma) then India and it takes some effort to come here too. The archipelago consist of literally hundreds of islands, most not inhabited. There are two districts: the Andaman and the Nicobar district (separated in 1974).
The Andaman Islands are located in the Bay of Bengal and there are several ways to reach them. Entrance point is Port Blair, a small town at South Andaman Island, a town with a turbulent history.
Getting there and away
There are daily flights to Vir Savarkar Airport in Port Blair from Chennai and Calcutta. A much nicer though time consuming option is to take a boat (even though flights are cheap). I took a boat from Calcutta to Port Blair, which took 5 days/4 nights and continued to Chennai (Madras) which took 4 days/3 nights. The reason was simple, I wanted to relax.
Without a special permit you are not allowed to visit the Nicobar Islands and it seems those permits are hard to get for non-Indians so I skipped that. Transport around the Andaman Islands goes by ferry.
There are no flights or ferries to either Myanmar or Indonesia (Sumatra) despite these two countries are closer then India.
I first heard of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands from history books about the Dutch, Portuguese and English sailing to the Orient.
When I researched for my India journey, I learned that Port Blair, or better, Chatham Island, was used as a penal colony for political activists.
The prison was established in 1789. Two years later the colony moved to the northeast part of Great Andaman and was named Port Cornwallis after Admiral William Cornwallis.
However, there was much disease and death in the penal colony, and the government ceased operating it in May 1796.
In the freedom fight of India, many political enemies of the colonial government were brought here but it was closed in 1947. Nowadays it's a museum with a light show in the evenings and worth a visit. The jail is a must visit to understand a bit more about the independence struggle of India.
When I arrived in Port Blair the town was no more than a sleepy town without much attraction. After visiting the cellular jail, I had to renew my views. The jail alone is an essential part of India's colonial history and for that reason a must visit. And to be honest, it wasn't a "fun" visit.
Havelock Island is the most visited of the Andaman islands. Although it is maybe the most visited island, it hardly see many tourist. Havelock is also one of the eco-friendly tourist attractions in India.
I decided to visit Neil Island. There were many islands to explore but after over 7 months traveling I just wanted to get away from people and have a holiday (long term travelers understand what I mean, traveling is different from holiday). Neil island seemed to be the exact right place to be.
Accommodation at the islands:
More hotels at Havelock Island
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My favorite little island of the Andamans, I spend a good time here doing exactly nothing. Well, that is apart of reading Dsotojewski, walking up and down to the beach and eating and drinking. Perfect getaway!