Friday, 30 September 2016

Sailing to Havelock

How does one reach Havelock Island? By boat of course!
Regular ferry service runs between Port Blair and Havelock- both government operated and privately run.
Located 39 km of north-east of Port Blair, private ferry Makruzz takes 90 minutes whereas the Govt ferry takes 150 minutes. See the map below.

We took the Makruzz on a wet morning with pouring rain. But it did not dampen our spirit. Water at Port Blair jetty appears muddy due to heavy rain that day. Pictures.

Onward sailing happens during morning hours/forenoon. The sea is relatively calm. Though there is a bit of uncertainty of the ferry service during post monsoon months like Sept. During monsoon months, the ferry service is restricted to Govt ferry for essential supplies and limited tourism.
Our ferry, a catamaran made good speed. It was nicely fitted out with CCTV entertainment, cafeteria and ship's announcement system. It has three classes of accommodation for tourists including a VIP lounge.
 Being air-conditioned, it is fully enclosed. Even the windows have dark sun films. The sun film is partly torn in few places offering a view of the sea outside. Ghumakkad was seated on one such window.
 After 75 minutes of steady sailing, we sighted land through the window. Sailors always feel delighted on sighting land!
 The jetty was a picture of excitement for all 270 passengers or so. The weather, clean water and fresh air- all added to high energy levels visible on tourists' faces at Havelock jetty.

Here is a close up of Makruzz logo painted on ship's sides below the bridge.

I walked back towards the stern of the ship. And see what I found. Clean sea even in the harbour. Reminded me of Seychelles, located in middle of Indian Ocean, when I had last gone there in 1990.

 View from the jetty was truly breathtaking. Nobody wanted to leave till the port staff blew their whistle to clear off the area.
In the picture below, you could traverse the beach all the way to our resort hidden behind the mangrove in the centre. I did that walk later and could see Makruzz from the beach front of our resort.
 Even without snorkeling, you can spot the corals as in this picture!

During the return journey, we had to take Green Ocean ferry which took 2-1/2 hours. Sea was choppy and many felt uncomfortable. But Green Ocean had an open deck with cafeteria for fresh air. We also saw some flying fish but could not capture it on the camera because of low light.
Those waiting for a roundup of Havelock's beaches, hang on till the next story.
In case you missed reading previous two posts on Andamans, click the links below.

Thanks for browsing. 
   Harsh-the-Ghumakkad/ 30th Sept 2016

Monday, 26 September 2016

Kala Paani A place which gives you chills

India’s Andaman Islands attract tourists not only because of beautiful beaches but its rich history. 

Our 5N/6D tour had a mix of both. Here are twenty-six 'FFA' buddies and spouses looking excited even though they had been up since 2 AM to catch the 5 AM flight from Chennai. Just in case you missed what is "FFA", read the story here.
The arrival lounge of Veer Savarkar airport at Port Blair has cautionary sign boards to warn the tourists not to buy or collect sea shells etc. See the boards.

We stayed at Hotel Sea Shell, recommended by Ghumakkad's naval course mate Mathew George who had visited Andamans last year. Thanks much Georgy.
For those who haven’t been to Port Blair, here is a guide map showing places of interest. Map courtesy Barefoot Holidays. 

The second map shows nearby islands courtesy

Our program for six days is summarised in the boxes below.

20th September, Port Blair
8am       Check-in, B’fast Seashell
Lunch    Seashell
3pm       Cellular Jail
4pm       Corbin’s Cove Beach
6pm       Light-n-Sound Show
Dinner   TBD- To be decided

21st September, Havelock
8am       Ferry to Havelock Is
FN        Fisheries Museum
Lunch    Seashell
AN       Radhanagar Beach
Dinner  Seashell

22nd September, Havelock
FN         Snorkeling/Scuba Diving
Lunch    Seashell
AN        Snorkeling/Scuba Diving
Dinner   Seashell


23rd September, Havelock-PB
FN        Kalapathar Beach
Lunch    Seashell
3pm       Ferry dep to Port Blair
5pm       Arr PB, Check-in hotel
6pm       Visit FDN/Navy
Dinner   Navy

24th September, Port Blair
9am       Boat to Ross Is
Lunch    Seashell
3-7pm   Sound-n-light show 
             Ross Is
Dinner   TBD

25th September, PB-Chennai
6am       Check out Seashell
8.05am  Dep PB
10.15     Arr Chennai
FN/AN  Dispersal


We had time in the morning before our organised tour commenced after lunch. So we ventured out on foot on that wet morning. After ten minutes of walk down a steep slope, we hired an auto-rickshaw.
The driver Swapan, a Bengali settler knew the town backwards. He took us to two temples besides showing us the best eateries in Port Blair. Pictures:


 From our hotel as well as cellular jail, we had a clear view of the harbour. North point lighthouse stands as a sentinel.
In the afternoon, we started off with the Cellular Jail—a place which gives you goose bumps. The Cellular Jail, also known as Kālā Pānī काला पानी, was a colonial prison in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (A&N). The prison was used by the British especially to exile political prisoners to the remote archipelago. The jail took ten years to build and was opened in 1906. According to the A&N tourism department, it got its name ‘Cellular’ because it is entirely made up of individual cells for the solitary confinement. Where every cell has its own tale. Tale of torture, struggle and freedom!

Veer Savarkar's cell on 2nd floor attracts maximum visitors.

Tourists jump at the opportunity of being 'imprisoned' for a picture.

The jail originally was a seven prolonged, puce-coloured building with central-tower acting as its fulcrum and a massive structure comprising honeycomb like corridors. The building was subsequently damaged and presently three out of the seven prongs are intact. See the picture below.

The Jail, now a place of pilgrimage for all freedom loving people, was declared a National Memorial in 1979. The jail museum draws your memories back to those years of freedom struggle.

Swatantrya Jyot  -- Eternal Flame of Freedom has been installed in the vicinity of the Jail in memory of all freedom fighters and martyrs. Picture.
The Jail and museum are open on all days except national holidays from 09:00 AM to 12:30 PM and 01:30 PM to 04:45 PM. An Entry Fee (INR) of Rs 30/- per person, Camera: 200/-, Video Camera:1000/- is charged. Contact Ph.03192- 230117 for film shooting.
It was time to thank our brilliant guide Mustafa.
We also made a quick trip to Port Blair's only beach-- Corbyn's Cove beach. Significance of the beach are the Japanese bunkers of WW-II days.

At Corbyn's Cove beach we observed unique sand patterns. Similar patterns we had observed on east coast of Andhra Pradesh. Story on Sand Bubbler Crabs came rushing to the mind (click here to browse the picture story). Picture below.

Son-et-Lumiere (Sound and Light show)
The saga of the heroic freedom struggle, brought alive in a moving Son-et-Lumiere, in the Cellular Jail, is very popular among the tourists. Two Hindi shows are held on all days at 6:00 pm and at 7:15 pm except on Monday, Wednesday & Friday when second show is in English at 7:15 pm. Entry fee for Adult is 50/- (INR). Another sound and light show is held in Ross island nearby which is far superior.

That's all for now.
Next story on Havelock Island will follow. Preview picture for you.
Thanks for browsing.
More picture stories will follow.

     Harsh-the-Ghumakkad with Neeta Bhargava/ 26th Sept 2016