Port Blair: A touch of history and nature

Port Blair is the capital city of Andaman and Nicobar islands. It serves as the entry point for visiting the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is connected with the rest of the India by both sea and air. You can reach Port Blair by sea from Chennai, Kolkata or Vishakhapatnam in 3 to 4 days. Flights take 2 to 3 hours. Port Blair is famous for historic Cellular Jail, which has a great significance in India’s freedom struggle. Other places of interest in and around Port Blair are the Corbyn’s Cove beach, Chidiya Tapu, Ross Island, Jolly Buoy Island, Viper Island and a number of museums. One should plan for 3 nights at least in Port Blair if local attractions and islands like Jolly Buoy and Ross are to be covered.

Cellular Jail

A colonial prison that was used by the British for exiling political prisoners. Today it serves as national memorial. A sound and light show organized in the complex is something that one should not miss.

Corbyn’s Cove Beach

The only beach in Port Blair. A good relaxing experience to walk and be there at the time of sunset. Bunkers built by the Japanese during the World War II can be seen here.

Chatham Saw Mill and Forest Museum

Setup in 1883, this saw mill is in operation. One of the oldest and largest saw mills in Asia. Its’ purpose was to meet saw and timber requirements for the local construction works.

A small forest museum is located in the premises of the Chatham Saw Mill. The major attractions that are on display include the artefacts that are made from timber, gurjan, oak, satin wood and paduak.

Anthropological Museum

The Zonal Anthropological Museum in Port Blair was established in 1975. It tells us more about this island’s local tribes. These tribes are also believed to be one of the oldest in the world. The islands have six main tribes native to this place, Onges, Sentinelese, Jarawas, Andamanese, Shompens and Nicobarese. These tribes maintain limited contact with the world, and not a lot is known about them. On a regular day one isn’t permitted to enter the tribal areas, but need to take special permission for the same. This museum is thus one of the ways to understand and know about the tribal life here.

Chidiya Tapu Beach

Chidiya Tapu Beach is the spot where you can catch sight of one of the most stunning sunset ever! The beach still has the remains of the trees that were uprooted during the 2004 Tsunami. Home to a number of birds of different species – hence the name Chidiya Tapu. About 30 kms from Port Blair town It is surrounded by a thick forest with tall trees.

Mount Harriet National Park

Mount Harriet National Park was originally a reserve forest which was converted into a national park in 1979. The park is at a distance of 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Port Blair. The park has evergreen primary forests. Mount Harriet is the 3rd highest peak in Andaman and Nicobar archipelago.

Food and accommodation in Port Blair

Since Andaman Islands depend a lot on tourism for economic activity multiple options for accommodation are available to suit every budget. We had booked our holiday through Barefoot Holidays. They arranged our accommodation, airport, hotel and jetty transfers and local transport within the island and transfers to and from Havelock Island on Makruzz. All the arrangements made and services provided by them were excellent.

A variety of food options are available for non-vegetarians. Sea food in Andaman should be tried, as many times fresh catch is on the display. Almost every restaurant serves vegetarian food. Street food can also be tried. One can refer to sites such as TripAdvisor and Booking.com to get information. It is interesting to note that most of raw food items i.e. fruits and vegetables etc. comes over ships from mainland to Andaman Islands.

One of the accommodation options in Port Blair

Shopping in Port Blair

You can shop for wooden artifacts, handicrafts, coconut carved arts, spices, ornaments made of shells, jewelry made from pearls and corals, sarongs and hats. You can also shop for garments with pictures of islands printed on them as souvenirs. Aberdeen Bazar, Sagarika Govt. Emporium, and MG Road in Port Blair are the places where you can visit for shopping.

** My experiences based on travel before the COVID-19 pandemic.