Exploring Andaman

Spread across the Bay of Bengal are the palm lined white beaches of Andaman Islands.

It is a quaint place so there are some things you need to be prepared to expect if you are used to a metropolitan life.

Things to Expect:
– No cellular network except for Airtel and BSNL and absolutely no internet if your hotel doesn’t provide you wifi.
– Rains anytime anywhere.
– Weather conditions to change your plans. Travel between islands is by water. So if weather is rough, boats get cancelled and also water activities are suspended.
– Again as most of the travel is by sea except some sway. Carry motion sickness tablets if this affects you.
– Card transactions are limited so also are ATMs. Carry hard cash with you.
– Also, day starts early by 4.30 am and it gets dark by 5 pm here. So plan your day well.

We had quite a flight hop to reach Port Blair as we had booked our vacation via a tour agency. If you are planning your own trip, try direct flights.

Port Blair

The capital city of Andaman and Nicobar is just 16 square kms long. At best, you will need 2 days to explore the city completely.

Rent bikes for quicker navigation and do download your maps before hand. The locals can also be asked for directions.

Places to see in Port Blair

The day you arrive in Port Blair, it is better to visit the Cellular Jail.

The Cellular Jail was used as a prison by the British. The name is derived because of its structure. It has a central watch tower and had seven wings spanning across capable of holding 696 prisoners at a time.

The prison is also known as Kala Pani because once a prisoner was brought to the remote island, there would be no means of escape. Prisoners often died due to the brutal treatment meted out on them. The main task in the jail being the oil grinding ‘Kolhu’.

Prisoners were expected to churn out oil in a day that even buffaloes could not and upon failing so were tied to the machine and forcefully pulled along.

The famous revolutionary Vir Savarkar was held prisoner here.

If you are a history buff, you can hire a guide or you can get the whole story told in a very interesting way in the Light and Sound show.

The concept of the Light and Sound show was very unique – the monument speaking to the audience about it’s horrific past – the lights and sounds are amazing but a visual would have added to the appeal.
You need to book your tickets for the show in advance.

Next to the jail is the Vir Savarkar Park

In the evening, enjoy a stroll along the Marina Park

The Jogger’s Park offers an airport view. And also a Yoga point.

Better to visit it in the morning as it has no much shade and you don’t want to be caught in the sun.

Visit the Gandhi Park

This Park has a Japanese temple and bunkers built during the Japanese invasion.

Japani Mandir

Then you could do a museum visit. Club all the museums in one go.

Zonal Anthropological Museum
Samudrika Museum
Fisheries Aquarium
Forest Musuem

I would say do visit the Samudrika Museum as it is worth Fisheries and Anthropological Museum combined in one. Plus it allows photos and has an emporium. 😜

Visit the Forest Museum to collect wooden souvenirs and later drop a visit to Chatham Saw Mill.

For the night, we enjoyed a dinner cruise.

Food: The taste of fish is something that doesn’t leave Goans soon. We tried some local fish but the taste wasn’t much satisfying.

Shopping: Aberdeen Bazaar isn’t quite the Bazaar you would want to visit because everything here is imported and quite frankly not something that you would not find from where you came from.

Souveniers here are mostly coral stuff and you will get them along the beaches or in Sagarika Emporium. Cost wise, the Emporium is way more expensive than the local shops.

Look out for this Clock Tower in Aberdeen Bazaar

Places around Port Blair

Chidiyatapu via Cobryns Cove Beach

Hire a four wheeler for this as it outside city limits and through forest reserve area.
Stop by at Cobryns Beach and enjoy water activities.

Cobryns Cove

Proceed to Chidiyatapu and first visit the Biological Park.

Then enjoy the sunset at the Sunset Point at Chidiyatapu beach.

Wandoor beach is situated at Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, around 30 Kms from Port Blair. From here, you can travel to Jolly buoy and Red skin islands. These islands are known for their coral reefs and sea life which is viewed by a Glass Bottom Boat Ride. However, permission to access these beaches is given very less.

North Bay, Ross and Viper Islands
Take a early morning ferry ride from Aberdeen Jetty which is located at Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex to these three islands.

North Bay Island – for water sports

Ross Island – This island once used to be the administrative capital of the British and was a beautifully constructed city until the earthquake that hit the island and left it in ruins.
Again, this island is for history buffs.

Viper Island – Before the Cellular Jail was constructed, the British used to hold their prisoners at Viper Island Jail.

Havelock

We traveled between Port Blair and Havelock on the Makruzz boat.

It swaysss!!

Havelock is a beautiful place. I liked it more than Port Blair. Bonus: People here are way more friendlier.

Places to see in Havelock

Elephant Beach – You must visit this beach. It’s a water activities place and it’s like so alive with the buzz. You will have fun, trust me. I did, that too not being a water baby.

Snorkeling

Radhanagar Beach
It is 7th best beach in Asia. I’m no beach expert but the sand here is so soft and compact and even when waves wash over it, it is left almost untouched. The water is so white and stretches limitless.

Look at the gathering black clouds

Do enjoy the sunset here.

For scuba diving, they say the more early the timings the more clear the visibility. Do try the sport at Govindnagar beach.

Confession: I panicked and chickened out

Other Islands to Visit:

Neil Island – has beaches known for coral reefs and sunset views. The Howrah Bridge is a natural rock formation. The island is also a sanctuary for turtles.

Baratang Island – known for it’s limestone caves and mud volcanoes.

Other geographic attractions:
Barren Volcano, the only active volcano in South Asia.

Mount Harriet, the second highest peak in Andaman. The picture on the back side of ₹ 20 note is taken form Mount Harriet National Park, which offers a breath taking view of the Port Blair city, Ross and North Bay Islands.

The most frequent question we got asked on this trip was why being Goans we came to Andaman. Well, I’m glad we came here and explored these tropical delights. It’s being home away from home.

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Pondicherry

There is a bit of French aura in India and it is called Pondicherry.

We had been planning for an all girls trip for a long time and turns out Pondicherry was the place we were meant to visit.

The last time I traveled on a flight was when I was like 6 so this was literally my first time on a flight.

Boarding Passes

Lucky to have window seats both times

Loved this expansive view of night lights

We reached Chennai, safe and sound into the hands of our master planner Niee and spent the night catching up, digging into jar truffles and raiding Niee’s wardrobe.

Next morning we took a bus to Pondi. The East Coast Road which links Chennai to Pondicherry is so beautiful 😍

If u can, have a road trip along this road. It takes like 3 n half hours to reach Pondicherry and if you have the time you can aaram se stop along this amazing road and take in the beautiful landscapes

After we had refreshed ourselves, we set out for brunch in White town.

At Cafe des Arts

The Brunch Spread

White town holds the French essence of Pondicherry. It is spaced out with colonial style buildings with vibrant colors.

The architecture of the churches is incredible.

Basilica of Sacred heart of Jesus

Eglis de Notre Dame des Agnes

Architecture inside

We also visited the Aurobindo Ashram.

Other places to visit in white town are

Immaculate conception cathedral

Sri Manakula Vinayagar temple

Botanical Gardens

Pondicherry Museum

Park Monument

Next we went to the Paradise beach. The water is soo bluee… It’s a refreshing feeling to just look at it.

Take a boat ride from Chunnambar Boat house to Paradise beach and enjoy these clear waters.

Shadow art 😁

In the evening, we did a bit of bar hopping

We checked out Icecubes and Crosskeys.

If you want a more relaxed night life experience, visit the Le Club garden restaurant or any open rooftop restaurant and don’t miss out on ordering the wine.

One of the best things to do in Pondi is to watch the sunrise. And what better place than the Promenade Beach.

Grab a coffee from Le Cafe and sit on the rocks to watch the sun rise up.

Later stroll along the Promenade and see the many statues here.

Mahatma Gandhi statue

French war memorial

Joan of Arc statue

Dupliex statue

Kargil war memorial

Old lighthouse

We also visited Coromandal Cafe.

Most of the cafes here are like eateries equipped with boutiques and books. It’s a break to recharge your batteries.

Stop along on Serenity beach on the way to Auroville

We visited Matrimandir to see the Golden Globe. It’s a meditating center and visitors are allowed to see it only from a view point.

Its a 2 km walk to the viewing point. Enjoy the relaxed walk or if you want rent a cycle along.

Auroville is an experimental town where people from all the world are allowed to live in harmony irrespective of religion and race.

A beautiful thought!! 😊

See the Auro beach too

We visited Bakers street to complete the French cuisine cravings and also to take some for home.

Evening we returned back our bikes and came back to Chennai. But we didn’t leave Chennai without tasting the spicy Chettinaad chicken 😋

Street graffiti

B 13 Solo Seat

I mostly avoid watching horror movies in the theater because well it doesn’t let me sleep at night. 

Before this, I did watch IT with my friends but that didn’t scare me. Then for the “Darkest Chapter in the Conjuring Universe”, we couldn’t get our group seats, so each of us had to go solo. 

And I got B 13.

This number has horror significance in Hindi movies. And I thought solo seat B 13 to the show of The Nun – I need to make sure I don’t scream out aloud. 

But it wasn’t truly a horror experience. For one, “Nun” of the scenes were scary. I mean Conjuring 1 scenes are still fresh in my mind but nothing in The Nun could make me feel that, you know, the heart thud. Most of the scenes were just jump horror – oh there’s someone behind you, oh something is gonna fall from the top. After a time even Valak stops looking terrifying. 

And secondly, the packed theater audience kept laughing and wolf whistling and clapping whenever Frenchie came on screen. It all dilutes the paranomal experience you see. 

Am I upto a solo real horror movie night again? Ohoo, I don’t know. Because this one just happened. Maybe if the next one also just happens. I’ll really never know 👻