Capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Port Blair is the most desirable location for tourists because of all the different experiences it imparts on the people visiting the place. The thrill starts while you are in the air itself, when you see the beautiful island capital embarked in the Indian Ocean, just the type of scene one expects to start a trip with. The marvelous sea surrounding Port Blair is as clean as an original Blue Lagoon. You end up landing on one of the riskiest airports of the world. But if one chooses to reach Port Blair by water, it’s a journey worth living too.
On the threshold of the city, one begins to realize that this is not at all a conventional island city one has portrayed in one’s mind. The streets go up and down giving a feeling of how Port Blair is distributed over various tiny hills still not letting you feel nostalgic. Freshen up and you have a variety of places to visit in the city. To start with, “Chidiya Taapu” is the best option. It is the smallest beach of Andaman Islands and the remains of Tsunami After-effects can be spotted on the beach. The fresh water, ample of coconut and coconut water, and undoubtedly the mesmerizing view of Sunset—what else can one desire at dusk? The view of small ships sailing at the horizon and the fog rising out gives a soothing calm to mind.
Next up in the list lays Cellular Jail, one of the main attractions of Port Blair. This ancient building has its roots in the 18th century when Indian revolutionaries were sent to this jail by the British Government during their reign in India. The Jail was a prison to the deadliest considered Indian freedom fighters. The great monument has a display of how Indian prisoners were tortured by the dreaded jailer David Barry. Initially the jail had 7 legs of prison buildings and now has 3 legs of buildings left. There’s a Light and Sound show organized every evening that demonstrates the struggle and torment faced by Indian prisoners, acquainting us with the history well described by a Tree standing tall since the establishment of Jail’s first brick. The show will leave you spell bound and emotional. The visit to this memorial in the morning is a total different experience. You can actually enter the cellars built for prisoners, especially the famous one that caged one of the greatest revolutionaries Vir Savarkar for more than a decade. The top of the central tower has a beautiful scene of the surroundings covering the jetty and the city.
Samudrika—the Naval Marine Museum
Another place to visit is “Samudrika—the Naval Marine Museum” which has a display of various sea species found in the Andaman Sea. Museum comprises of vast variety of sea shells, Andaman’s geographical contours, information regarding Natural backdrop and surroundings like Volcano, Mountains etc, samples of all types of Wood produced and especially Tribal culture information. There are displays pertaining to different number of Tribes that have made Andaman and Nicobar Islands their abode, their culture and rituals. This is the best place for science maniac people and they can spend a lot of time here.
Chatham Saw Mill
Located on Chatham Islands that can be reached by a road bridge, the Chatham Saw Mill was established by British in 1836 and it used to be the largest wood processing mill in Asia. Woods from different parts of Island are gathered and deposited here after which they undergo Shaping and Polishing process. There’s also a forest museum inside displaying the vast variety of woods and replica of each process performed there. The bomb site where the Japanese dropped a bomb during the World War can also be seen.
Grab a boat from the Port Blair jetty and you can head towards Ross Islands situated at 2 kms. East, this is now a naval post. It used to be the Administrative Headquarters of the Island before independence, and it still has the treasure of ruins—those ancient style residential buildings, church, ball room, swimming pool and bakery that were used by British rulers here. A view of tree roots covering the now empty buildings surprises us with the Bakery still preserved and running. The Island is now home to wild life viz. Ducks, Deer and Swan that can be seen grazing in open.
Back at the dock and it is Rajiv Gandhi sports complex where you have landed. It provides various water sports activities like Water Bikes, Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, Surfing, Para sailing, Water skiing etc. that will tempt you spend a day playing in water. It also features a Tsunami memorial built as a tribute to all those who lost their lives in Tsunami.
While heading back to the hotel, a view you can’t miss is the one that has been placed on the backside of 20 Rupee Indian currency note.
The city also has a couple of gardens with variety of flowers and a glass house. There’s a wide variety of cuisines available in some of the most exquisite restaurants in Port Blair, that won’t let your tummy feel empty. One thing about weather, it changes more rapidly than a chameleon’s color. You can experience heavy downpour as well as scorching heat in the same quarter of an hour. In a nutshell, Port Blair is more than just to read and hence is worth an experience. It can be truly regarded as Pearl of India amidst Indian Ocean.
Best time to visit the place: November to April.