South Andaman Island is the southernmost island of the Great Andaman and is home to the majority of the population of the Andaman Islands. It belongs to the South Andaman administrative district, part of the Indian union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is the location of Port Blair, capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Port Blair, the capital city is a bustling overgrown town of immense historical importance. Travellers usually visit the main historical attractions, some of which are in the city and some as day trips keeping Port Blair as the base.The famous Cellular Jail (that housed Indian freedom fighters during the struggle for independence) draws hundreds on visitors and is perhaps the most visited monument in the Andamans. Travellers following the typical tourist route also visit Chatam Sawmill (one of the oldest & largest in Asia), Forest Museum, Anthropological Museum, Fisheries (Marine) Museum, Naval Marine Museum (Samudrika) and the Cottage Industries Emporium (Sagarika) to indulge in a bit of shopping. Souvenirs available here are very popular buys. Easy day trips from Port Blair make it possible to explore close by islands like Mount Harriet (The highest peak in South Andamans and the summer headquarters of the Chief Commissioner during British Raj), Viper Island (where the gallows and ruins of the jail can be seen), Ross Island (the erstwhile capital of Port Blair during the British regime), Jolly Buoy and Red Skin Island (for great beaches and lovely snorkeling) Day trips to the beautiful beaches of Wandoor and excursions to the Mahatma Gandhi National Park are also a popular choice for travellers.
HOW TO REACH ?
Port Blair is well connected with regular flights from Chennai and Kolkata. NRIs and foreigners need to get a Protected Area Permit (PAP) on arrival at the Port Blair airport, which is valid for up to 30 days' stay. There is no additional fee for the PAP.
|Airline||Dep - Arr||Days||Duration & Stops|
|IXC IXZ||Air India (AI 464)||12:50 - 9:15||M T W T F S S||20h25m & 1 Stop|
|IXC IXZ||Jet Airways (9W 2666)||10:00 - 7:30||M T W T F S S||21h30m & 2 Stops|
|IXC IXZ||Jet Airways (9W 2658)||11:00 - 7:30||M T W T F S S||20h30m & 2 Stops|
|IXC IXZ||Vistara (UK 732)||12:15 - 12:55||M T W T F S S||0h40m & 2 Stops|
|IXC IXZ||Jet Airways (9W 469)||12:25 - 14:50||M T W T F S S||2h25m & 2 Stops|
For the adventurous and the patient, you can take a passenger ship that heads out to Port Blair from Chennai (60 hours), Kolkata (66 hours), and Visakhapatnam (56 hours). Tickets can be booked at the office of the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI).
Taxis are available in Port Blair. Most of them are old cars but well maintained and better to travel in than auto-rickshaws. Fares depend on the distance travelled, however, an average trip around Port Blair can cost about Rs 500.
Auto-rickshaws are available in Port-Blair but not the most comfortable way to travel within the city.
To travel to other islands from Port Blair, passenger ferries are the sole option. With a good frequency, it’s a better way to travel than expensive seaplane services. Recently, air conditioned catamaran ferries have begun from Port Blair to Havelock. Tickets range from Rs 650-1000 depending on the category you want to travel in. Bookings can be made in Port Blair or Havelock.
WHEN TO VISIT
You will discover a different side of Port Blair in almost every season. However, tourists swarm the city between October and April. Here's what you can look forward to in Port Blair through the year:
March to May: The summer months are when Port Blair becomes a diver’s paradise. The heat is not very harsh with the temperature during this time ranging between 28 degree Celcius and 30 degree Celcius.
June to September: People often avoid visiting the city during this time due to heavy rainfall and thunder storms, which can make sightseeing a challenge. The advantage of visiting Port Blair at this time however is that you can avail discounts on hotels and flights.
October to February: Port Blair experiences mild winters and the temperature generally ranges between 15 degree Celcius and 34 degree Celcius. It's the ideal time to plan a trip and it's no wonder that most tourists, especially honeymooners, like to travel here in this period. You can easily plan all beach activities and water sports. It's also a good time to see exotic and rare bird species on Chiriya Tapu.
PORT BLAIR IN AND AROUND
Port Blair is also an Island town offering water based activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, sea-cruises, and glimpses of the history and culture of the region. The Aberdeen Bazaar forms the centre of the town. Most of the restaurants and hotels are around this area. The main bus station is just west of the bazaar and the Airport 4 Kms. to the south west. The main passenger dock for ferries-the Phoenix Bay Jetty is 1 Km. to the North West.
The CELLULAR jail, a National Memorial, is located at Port Blair which stood as a mute witness to the most brutal and barbaric atrocities meted out to national freedom fighters, who were incarcerated in this jail.The jail, completed in the year 1906 acquired the name ‘Cellular' because it was entirely made up of individual cells for solitary confinement. It originally was a seven-block structure with three stories and a central tower acting as its fulcrum comprising of honeycomb like corridors. This jail, now a place of pilgrimage for all freedom-loving people draws everyone down memory lane to the years of freedom struggle. Jail Museum opens from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and from 1:30 pm to 4:45 pm all days except National holidays.
SON-ET-LUMIERE (SOUND AND LIGHT SHOW)
The Sound and Light show in the Cellular Jail narrates the saga of the Indian freedom struggle, brought alive through sound and light effect of the brutal and barbaric atrocities piled on the freedom fighters deported to these islands and incarcerated in the small cells of this jail. This show is very popular among the tourists visiting these islands. Timing: Two Hindi shows 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.
This small island, less than a square kilometer stands right across Port Blair. This island served as the capital to the Britishers from 1858 to 1941 when the Japanese occupied it and converted it to a ‘POW site'. This island homes the ruins of the church, Chief Commissioner's house, the Cathedral and graveyard of the Britishers and few other important landmarks which today is hugged by wild wines and huge roots and trunks of century old trees. To reach Ross Island, private ferries are available from Aberdeen Jetty except on Wednesday.
ROSS ISLAND LIGHT & SOUND SHOW
Sound & Light show narrating the history can be seen on all days except Wednesday at 5.30 pm. Tickets (comprising of tickets for the boat, show as well as entry to Ross Island) are available on first come first serve basis from the reception counter of Directorate of Tourism from 8.30 am to 3.00 pm on the same day. Rates of tickets are Rs. 250/- (adult), Rs. 150/- (Children between 5 - 12 Years) For further details contact: 232694/244091.
The Anthropological museum in Port Blair started in the year 1975-76, is an ethnographic museum. It showcases the four Negrito Tribes of the Andaman viz. the Jarawas, Sentinelese, Great Andamanese and the Onges and two Mongoloid Tribes of the Nicobar viz. the Nicobarese and the Shompens. This museum is closed on Mondays and Govt. Holidays.
Timings: 09:00 AM to 01.00 PM and 01.30 PM to 04.30 PM.
This museum is situated adjacent to the Rajiv Gandhi Water Sport Complex, Port Blair, which exhibits species of marine life endemic to the islands and found in the Indo-Pacific and the Bay of Bengal. It is closed on Mondays/Public Holidays/Second Saturdays.
Timings: 09:00 AM to 01.00 PM and 02.00 PM to 04.45 PM.
SAMUDRIKA (NAVAL MARINE MUSEUM)
Situated opposite Andaman Teal House, Delanipur, Port Blair, this museum create awareness on various aspects of oceanic environment and houses a vast collection of cells, corals and a few species of colourful fishes of the sea around the islands. Closed on Mondays and Holidays.
Timings: 09:00 AM to 12.00 Noon and 02.00 PM to 05.00 PM.
ZOOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA MUSEUM
Situated near Andaman Teal House, this museum exhibits several varieties of sponges, corals, butterflies, centipedes etc. It is open on all working days except Mondays and Govt. Holidays.
Timings: 08:30 AM to 05.00 PM.
Kalapani Museum is unique amongst all museums in Port Blair and is the only private history museum in the country, setup in a three storied building, where history is brought alive through miniature and life size models and dioramas. The museum has a vast collection of rare archival photographs, paintings and artifacts of tribes, history, rare original documents of Colonial and Japanese periods, including many documentaries and films related to the Island and the Indian Freedom Struggle. It takes the visitors on a journey of rediscovery and unfolding the unknown and untold mysteries of the Island.
Timings: 09:00 AM to 07:00 PM
The Museum is open 7 days a week (No Holidays)
CARBYN'S COVE BEACH
Corbyn's Cove beach- the coconut-palm fringed beach, six kilometers away from Port Blair town is ideal for swimming and sun-basking. Facilities like hotel, restaurant, bar, changing room, adventure water-sports are available here. Historical remains like Japanese Bunkers can be seen on the way to this beach. The Snake Island situated just across the beach is popular for scuba diving. The Waves Restaurant & Beer Bar run by Tourism department provides delightful cuisine at reasonable rates in a soothing ambience.
NORTH BAY BEACH
The iconic light house of North bay appears on every 20 rupees Indian currency note. North Bay beach which is north of Port Blair provides snorkeling opportunities around its fringing coral reefs. Private ferry service takes you from Aberdeen Jetty across North Bay and brings back after a three hour stay. The corals at North Bay are spread over a large area. During snorkeling, one can spot many species of fish, lobsters and even clams on the coral reef. Sea walk is the latest addition of facilities there to watch under water life.
Chidiyatappu- the southernmost tip of South Andaman Island situated at a distance of 28 Kms from Port Blair. Frequent bus service are available from Port Blair. It is famous for bird watching, sunset view, panoramic scenic beauties, and many colours of oceanic view. Swimming can be done at Chidiyatappu. Safety places boards are erected in Chidiyatappu. But beware of crocodiles. The biological park at Chidiyatappu is the added attraction. There is a Forest Guest House run and maintained by Forest Department, is under Chief Wildlife Warden, Haddo (Phone No. 03192-233549) who can be contacted to reserve accommodation for stay.
Eco-friendly beach facilities including changing room are maintained by forest department. It is one of the most sought after picnic destination in South Andaman. There is a beautiful trek route of around 1.5 kms passing the green canopy forest, breathtaking Panoramic view of neighbouring islands with a surprise amazing view of Cinque island at the rear end of the trek. This of one of the most recommended treks in South Andaman.
NEW WANDOOR BEACH
About 29 Kms. west of Port Blair is the famous Wandoor beach known for scenic beauty and is very popular amongst tourists. The range of the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is just across Wandoor Beach. To visit the Marine National Park, boats are available from Wandoor Jetty. Just at the entrance of the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, one can visit the state of art world class Marine Interpretation Centre. It has dioramas depiction of marine world and auditorium. The Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park at Wandoor is at a distance of 29 Kms from Port Blair and covers an area of 281.5 Sqr. Kms. This Marine Park comprises of open sea, creeks and 15 small and large islands, which is one of the best found anywhere in the world. Viewing of rare corals and underwater marine life through glass bottom boats, scuba diving and snorkeling are a life time experience. Private ferry operators operates conducted tour to the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park from Wandoor. One needs to take permit, issued by the Forest Department and the boat ticket from the boat operators which are available at the Reception Counter of Directorate of Tourism from a Single Window before proceeding to Wandoor. Tourists are allowed to spend two and half hours in Jolly Buoy Island or Red Skin Island as a part of conducted tours. Generally, from December to May tourists are taken to Jolly Buoy Island and from May to November to Red Skin Island. It is advised to take packed lunch and water fillings before proceeding to the Marine National Park. Regular bus services are also available from Bus Terminus to Wandoor, from where conducted tours are operated.
RAJIV GANDHI WATER SPORTS COMPLEX
This water sports complex, the first of its kind in India, offers aqua-sports facilities including safe water sports and Adventure water sports within one water sports complex. In the safe water sports complex paddle-boats, row-boats, glass-bottom and bumper boats are available. In the adventure sport front, Jet Ski, parasailing, banana boats, speed boats are offered. This complex also offers open air eateries. The spectacle of marina park that surrounds the complex is enchanting. The Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex houses a memorial of the ‘Battle of Aberdeen' fought between the Britishers and the Andamanese aboriginals in 1859.
CHATHAM SAW MILL
The Chatham saw mill is one of the oldest saw mills in Asia. It is built on a tiny island and connected to Port Blair by a bridge. It is a store house of timber varieties like, Padauk, Gurjan, Marble, Satin wood etc. The Chatham Island has the second largest wharf of these islands where island-mainland ships can berth. Within the saw mill compound is a museum showcasing the various timber wealth of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The museum offers an insight in to forest activities through scale models and display decorative pieces made of Padauk, Marble, Gurjan, Satin wood etc. Closed on Sundays and Industrial Holidays. Forest Museum (Chatham) timings: 10.00 AM to 2.00 PM
This Emporium exhibits a spectrum of artifacts made of mother pearl, sea shells, coconut shells and local wood products. Miniatures of Nicobari canoes, palm mats for floors, tables, furniture etc. are exhibited which are also for sale. It is closed on Sundays and Public Holidays. Timings: 8.45 AM to 6.45 PM.
The Science Centre, situated five kms from Port Blair town, has an ‘Andaman and Nicobar Islands Gallery' with interactive exhibits depicting genesis of the islands, volcanic activities, science of oceans, fun science gallery, modern technology gallery, Taramandal (Portable planetarium), and an in-house butterfly corner. It is closed on all Mondays and Public Holidays.
Timings: 10.00 AM to 5.30 PM
This beautiful park at Port Blair has facilities like amusement rides, safe water sports and nature trail around the lake, garden, restaurant and historic remains like Japanese temple as well as a bunker. The erstwhile Dilthaman tank, which was the only source of drinking water for Port Blair and the area around, has been developed as Gandhi Park in an unbelievably short time of 13 days. It is open all days.
Mount Harriet, 55 Kms by road/ 15 Kms by ferry and trek from Port Blair was the summer headquarters of the Chief Commissioner during British Raj. This place is ideal for fascinating overview of the nearby islands and the sea. It is the highest peak in the South Andamans (365 mts. high). At Mount Harriet, there is a Forest Guest House where tourists can take rest and refresh themselves.
One can visit Madhuban from Mount Harriet by trekking through the jungle approximately covering 16 Kms. Exotic endemic birds, butterflies are interesting sights of this wilderness trek.
This Govt. agricultural farm is located 14 kms west of Port Blair covering over an area of 80 acres, cultivate spices like clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, coconut etc.
CINQUE ISLAND (26 KMS BY SEA FROM PORT BLAIR)
A sanctuary with rare corals and under-water marine life, Cinque Island has fine sandy-beach and sand–bar connecting North and South Cinque Islands and tropical rain-forest. There is no scheduled ferry service to Cinque Island. Chartered boats of permitted category are allowed from Port Blair and Wandoor. To visit, one may contact private boat operators in Port Blair to hire a boat with due permission from the Forest Department.
This island derives its name from the vessel 'Viper' in which Lt. Archibald Blair came to these islands in 1768 with the purpose of establishing a penal settlement. The vessel, it is believed, met with an accident and its wreckage was abandoned near the island. Gallows built on the top of the hillock, visible to all prisoners in the island, signified death. The jail at Viper, where prisoners deported from the mainland and confined, was built by the Britishers under the supervision of Major Fort.
Jolly Buoy Island, in Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park offers breath taking corals and amazing marine life. It is an ideal place for snorkeling and for basking on the sun kissed beach and getting that fabulous tan. Regular day trips ply from Port Blair to this island at present, however no night stays or camping is allowed here.
PLAN A TRIP !