Children

Happy in HAVELOCK

Away from the mundane goings-on of city life, the Andaman Islands make for an idyllic getaway.

The Andaman Islands form an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal between India, to the west, and Myanmar, to the north. Most are part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Union Territory of India, while a small number in the north of the archipelago, including the Coco Islands, belong to Myanmar. The Andaman Islands are home to the Sentinelese.

Back in time

One theory propounded in the late 19th century says that the name Andaman is derived from Andoman, a form of Hanuman, the monkey god. From 800 to 1200 CE, the Tamil Chola dynasty created an empire that eventually extended from the south eastern peninsular of India to parts of Malaysia. Rajendra Chola I (1014 to 1042 CE), took over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and maintained them as a strategic naval base to launch a naval expedition against the Srivijaya empire, a Buddhist-Malay empire based in Sumatra, Indonesia.

In 1789, Bengal Presidency established a naval base and penal colony on Chatham Island in the south east bay of Great Andaman, now known as Port Blair. After two years, the colony was moved to the north-east of Great Andaman and was named Port Cornwallis after Admiral William Cornwallis. However, due to high incidence of disease and death in the penal colony, the government ceased operating it in May 1796.

In 1855, the government proposed a settlement on the islands, including an establishment for convicts, but the First War of Independence in 1857 forced a delay in its construction. However, the war gave the British many prisoners, making the new Andaman settlement and prison an urgent necessity. Consequently, construction began in November 1857 at Port Blair. Finally, in 1910, the Cellular Jail was completed. It consisted of 698 cells designed for solitary confinement. The Indians imprisoned here referred to the island and the prison as Kala Pani or black water.

Indulge

Sea walk at Elephant beach

All you need is a helmet with a transparent visor which allows normal breathing under the water. Get a feel of the deep blue and its inhabitants from close quarters, walk on the ocean floor, feast your eyes on a variety of fish, corals, the crystal blue water of the lagoon and underwater marine life, in all its glory.

Shell spotting

Spotting live shells are rare, but beaches in Havelock are dotted with these fascinating organisms found in myriad colours, sizes, and shapes, crawling around its shores. They play dead the moment they sense movement. If you don’t let your patience get the better of you, you will see them move.

Ride that pachyderm

Baludera Beach is less crowded and one of the unspoilt beaches of Baratang Island. This seafront has a curved sand bay that is intertwined with mangrove vegetation. Swim in its clean waters or go for elephant rides on the beach.

Take your pick

Spot turtles and swim during low tides at Aam Kunj beach. Do not attempt snorkelling and scuba diving here as the submerged boulders make it dangerous and unsuitable to try out any of these. You can also spot dolphins, sunbathe, go boating or just relax, in comfortable sea-facing eco huts at Lalaji Bay Beach.

Do not miss

Havelock Island is the largest of the islands that comprise Ritchie’s Archipelago, a chain of islands to the east of Great Andaman in the Andaman Islands. It is 41 km north-east of the capital city, Port Blair, and is home to a number of breathtakingly beautiful beaches. There are seven beaches in Havelock, each represented by a number (Beach 1, 2, and so on). The prominent ones are the Radhanagar (Beach 7), Elephant, and Kalapatthar beaches.

Radhanagar beach

Ranked the eighth best beach in the world, it is a long stretch of white island dotted with palms. The best time to visit the beach is dawn or dusk when you can enjoy the caress of the cool breeze with the water at your feet. Go barefoot, walk on the white sand, soak in the gentle rays of the sun as you spend time amidst idyllic nature.

Elephant Beach

Approximately 20 minutes by boat from the Havelock Island dock, or a 30-minute jungle trek, it is a secluded beach with white sand. The corals here are some of the best on the island as the reef is close to the shore — at a depth less than a metre away.

Kalapatthar beach

The 2004 tsunami might have changed the shoreline and uprooted forests, but the Kalapatthar Beach has not lost its picturesque setting. What adds to its beauty and mystery are the massive bleached trunks of fallen trees along its fringes. Watch the sunrise here and you might probably never want to return home.

Aam Kunj Beach

A popular hangout beach in Rangat frequented by locals as well as tourists, its greyish waters make it unique. It has wooden benches and log sofas, and is one the most eco-friendly beaches of Andaman.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 6:22:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/happy-in-havelock/article18376630.ece

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