Legends say that Jammu & Kashmir is the paradise up in the north, although I believe there is a paradise down south as well.
Paradise down south certainly is a new one but in order to find it you will have to visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands. When a person visit’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, it’s a feeling of ‘love at first sight’.
In order to reach Andaman, you will have to book your tickets to Port Blair the capital town of Andaman. While flying to Andaman is faster, the other option available is travelling through a ship.Chennai and Kolkatta are the two ports from where you can have direct flights to Port Blair.
It is best to visit Andaman during the off- season.The duration from the month of March to September is far less crowded and hence, it is not a very costly affair. Also, the weather during this time is really nice. It rains which makes the place more serene in nature.
So what can you do in Andaman?
It is a crime not to visit the Cellular Jail in Port Blair which has a history attached to it. The jail gives you an insight into the long freedom struggle for the Independence of India and how the freedom fighters lived during such difficult times. There is also a light and sound show, voiced by famous Bollywood actors like Om Puri and Manohar Singh. They recite the stories of the time when the freedom fighters spent their lives here and how Andaman got converted into a deadly jail by the British.
Apart from Port Blair there are various other islands nearby where you can only commute through ferries which are cheap in cost. If you are in Andaman the following islands are a must visit.
Neil Island is located 37 km south to Port Blair and can be reached by ferries. Neil Island is one of the smallest islands in Andaman and can be covered within a couple of hours. The beaches here are named after the characters of Ramayana such as Sitapur beach, Laxmanpur Beach, Ramnagar etc. These beaches are covered with corals. The island also boasts of having a very rich biodiversity. If you want to know more about the aquatic life of Neil Island, it is suggested that you try snorkelling or underwater diving, which will surely give you lot of information about the underwater life down there.
One cannot expect any lavish restaurants here, unless you have visited the place during the tourist season and the resorts where you are staying serve the mouth-watering delicacies. The best foods are found in shack type canteens.They provide regular meals, which are extremely tasty and cheap. You can taste all the seafood if you get lucky, but it is always advisable to go for the traditional Bengali delicacy that is rice and fish curry.
The only difference between Neil Islands and Havelock Islands is the amount of corals you will find in the former.In fact, they are so many in number that it is difficult to lie down in those beaches for a sunbath. The other difference is that restaurants are less in number in Neil Islands.
Havelock fulfils all that.
There is no dearth of awesome guest houses and hotels in Havelock, where one can stay at affordable prices. The best part is that some guest houses are sea facing and even provide you the luxury of sleeping in a hammock.The beaches are beautiful and one can go snorkelling, scuba diving and learn more about the aquatic life. The best part of Havelock Islands is its serenity. You can go for a swim and enjoy the view around.
Consider yourself lucky if you spot a pod of dolphins swimming through in their own manner without worrying about the world. Not only does their sight add more beauty to nature it is also a treat to watch and photograph them. There used to be times when flying fish would also be spotted, but with human strutting the island in numbers, these species cannot be seen anymore. The best resorts to stay out there is the Dolphin Resorts at Vijayanagar Beach, which is also a good value for your money.
As we move from the white sands and blue waters of Havelock and the rocky shores of Neil Islands, we will next talk about another island with its own share of beauty and uniqueness.