Introduction to Andaman & Nicobar Islands

KALAPANI "the Coral Island"

Andaman & Nicobar Islands (A group of approximately 572 Islands) – spread over an area of more than 8,249 square kilometers forms the Union Territory of India located in the Bay of Bengal about 1310 Kilometers (approximately 814 Miles) from the mainland India.

As the name suggests they are a group of two Islands – the “Andaman Group” with their headquarters at Port Blair and the “Nicobar Group” with their headquarters at Car Nicobar; separated by the dreaded 10° Channel which is about 145 kilometer wide and 400 fathoms deep. There are more than 3000 Islands, Islets and Rocks in the archipelago while only about 572 of them are of appreciable size. Of these approximately 39 Islands are inhabited and of which 27 of them are located in the Andaman Group and 12 in the Nicobar Group.

The Island is neighbored by Thailand & Myanmar [about 190 kilometers (approximately 118 miles)] towards the east and Indonesia [about 150 kilometers (approximately 93 miles)] towards the south both separated by the Andaman Sea while towards the north and west lies the mainland India separated by the Bay of Bengal. Indira Point (earlier Pygmalian Point) is the southernmost tip of India and is 150 kms from Sumatra, Indonesia.

The Islands in the Nicobar group are surrounded by Coral Reef and Shallow Seas. Long narrow stretches of Sandy Beaches are a salient feature of the topography here. Car Nicobar and Katchal are almost flat while the others have hilly terrain. In Little Nicobar and Great Nicobar the land surface is very irregular, cut up by steep hills and valleys. There is history, nature and beauty that will fascinate you.


BRIEFS & FACTS

A clear history of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands can be had only from the time of a British Survey of these islands conducted in 1777.

The Andaman & Nicobar Islands remained the abode of indigenous people of Negrito and the Mongoloid stock respectively, who occupied the Islands for centuries. These islands remained secluded from the mainland till the end of the 18th Century when people from the outside world first arrived. Click here to know more about Andaman & Nicobar Islands

On 26 December 2004 the coasts of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were devastated by a 10 meters (approximately 33 feet) high Tsunami (A disaster resulting from a destructive sea wave caused by an earthquake or volcanic eruption) following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. More than 6,000 people were believed to have been killed on the Andaman & Nicobar Islands during the disaster. The worst affected were the Nicobar Group of Islands namely Katchal, Trinket and Indira Point (the southernmost point of India which now is submerged in the ocean).


The CLIMATE

The Climate of Andaman & Nicobar Islands is Tropical throughout the year with a minimum mean temperature at 23°C and maximum at 31°C. Hence only Cotton Clothes are worn throughout the year; while the best season to travel to Andaman is from the months of October through May. Humidity is relatively very high (approx. 70% to 90%) with gentle breeze blowing all of the time. The weather is generally pleasant with average annual rainfall at 3,000 millimeter from May to mid September & November to January.


PORT BLAIR “the Capital City”

Port Blair – “the Capital City of Andaman & Nicobar Islands” - constitutes the Offices of all the major Government Bodies, Private Establishments, Hotels, Medical Institutions, and has a thick Population compared to other parts of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The only Airport in Andaman Islands is based in Port Blair viz. “Veer Savarkar International Airport” which connects Kolkata [1305 kilometers (811 miles)] , Chennai [1366 kilometers (849 miles)], and New Delhi [2487 kilometers (1546 miles)]; along with the major Passenger Embarking & Disembarking Port (Harbour) as the “Haddo Wharf” which connects Kolkata, Chennai and Vizag [1310 kilometers (814 miles)]. The travel time from Port Blair to mainland India is approximately 02 hours 10 minutes via Air and 3-4 Days (approximately 60-85 Hours) via Sea.


The PEOPLE

The original people of these islands are the great Andamanese, Jarawas, Sentinelese and Onges in the Andaman group and the Nicobarese and Shompens in the Nicobar group. More than 50 percent of the islands population includes the settlers from various parts of mainland India who were brought here as prisoners (prior 1947) during the British Regime. After Independence many of the released prisoners & freedom fighters boarded for their homeland and a majority of them took shelter here in the islands which include people from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharastra, Rajasthan, Gujarat and other important States of India along with people from neighboring countries like Nepal, Thailand, Burma and from East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh). This is why Andaman & Nicobar Islands is sometimes labeled as “Mini India”.


The CULTURE

The Community of Andaman & Nicobar Islands are a mixture of Hindu, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs and they live happily like a family. Inter–Caste & Inter–Religion Marriages are common among the people of these islands. The most commonly spoken language of this island is “Hindi” followed by various other languages from other states of India; while the people of Nicobar speak "Mon–Khmer". Almost all the festivals are celebrated here along with “Beach Festival” (organized at the end of February), “Food Festival” (organized at the end of August) and the most awaited the “Island Tourism Festival” (organized at the end of December) which adds an extra cherish to the people of these Islands.


The CUISINE

Andaman Cuisine is influenced by all the communities who came in contact with the island in what-ever ways & reasons. Since Andaman lies in the coastal region; Sea Foods [Lobsters, Crabs, Tiger Prawns, Ink Fish, Oysters and many more] are the favorites of the people of these islands as well as the Tourists visiting the islands. Although the Cuisine of these Islands can also be classified as – the South Indian Food [serving Idli, Dosa, Sambhar, Vada, Rasam and many more...] and North Indian Food [serving Roti, Dal, Vegetables and many more...]. Both the Indian Cuisines are rich in Non Vegetarian Meals while Fish & Prawn being the most common Non–Veg served at all occasions.


ANDAMAN TRIBES “the Pride of India”

The Tribes of Andaman & Nicobar Islands are categorized into Two Major Groups comprising of Six Primitive Tribes which can be classified as:

  • The Negritos &
  • The Mogoloids
    • The Negrito Tribes:
  • The Great Andamanese of Strait Island...
  • The Onges of Little Andaman...
  • The Jarawas of South and Middle Andaman...
  • The Sentinelese of Sentinel Islands...
    • The Mongoloid Tribes:
  • The Nicobarese of Car Nicobar Island...
  • The Shompens of Great Nicobar Island...
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    The Negrito Tribes are believed to have arrived from Africa sometimes around 60,000 Years Ago of amongst them the First to intrude into these Islands were the Great Andamanese. These Tribes are all Nomadic Hunters & Gatherers, hunting Wild Pigs, Monitor Lizard and catching Fishes with Bows and Arrows. They are also experts in collecting Honey, Roots and Berries from the forest. While the Mongoloid Tribes are the Origins of Malay-Burma Coast who settled here several thousand years ago. These Mongoloids have accepted the challenge of change and have prospered and multiplied and are living like normal Human Being. Click here to know more...


    FLORA & FAUNA

    The Forest coverage of the island is approximately 86% of the total area. The vegetation here are a mixture of tropical rainforest...

    Southern Andaman is rich in ferns & orchids, middle Andaman with deciduous forests while the northern part of Andaman houses wet evergreen & woody climbers and the Nicobar Group is flourished with grasslands. The lush green “Mangrove Forests” adds an extra charm to the Islands beauty while “Andaman Padauk” is the State Tree of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

    The Island is enriched with diversity of Animals like Andaman Wild Boars along with more than 26 species of Rodents and 14 species of Bats, Salt Water Crocodiles along with the “Dugongs” (Sea Cow) also the State Animal of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The Island is also the house of more than 270 species of Birds of amongst them the “Andaman Wood Pigeon” being the State Bird of Andaman & Nicobar Islands along with more than 225 species of Butterflies and Moths. The Island also takes the pride to house Shell Fishes namely Turbo, Trochus, Murex, Nautilus, Giant Clams, Green Mussels, Oysters, Scallops and many more…


    ENTRY Formalities

    It is always advisable that you carry a Proof of Identity along while travelling...

    For Indian Nationals no permits/passports or any other documents are required to visit Andaman Islands; while proper permits & permissions are to be obtained from concerned authorities to visit Nicobar Group of Islands and other Tribal Areas, which are declared as Tribal Reserved Zone.

    For Foreign Nationals who are visiting Andaman & Nicobar Islands should posses proper permits to stay in these Islands of India, from the Immigration Authorities and can stay in the Islands for a maximum of 30 (Thirty) days, which can be further extended by another 15 (Fifteen) days upon proper approval & permissions. The permits can be obtained from Indian Missions Overseas, Foreigner's Registration Offices at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Calcutta and the Immigration Authorities at the Airports at Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai.


    DO's & DON'Ts

     
      Should be Followed
  • Consult Life Guards before entering into the sea & always swim in safe areas only. Keep keen eyes on children while going to beaches...
  • Keep the beaches and the environment clean and dispose of the garbage at proper places/dustbins and avoid the use of plastics...
  • Observe decency and decorum while dressing and meeting locals/people...
  • Avail the service(s) of Scuba Diving Instructors who posses Certifications from International/Professional Organizations like PADI, CMAS, NAUI, BSAC and SSI for safe Diving experiences. And while Diving please locate yourself to the Life Guard or Instructor...
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      Should be Avoided
  • Foreign Nationals should not enter the Islands without required Permit's/Passes. Defaulters will be detained at the Entry Point till further clearance...
  • Do not enter into Restricted/Tribal Reserved Areas. Defaulters will be penalized as per the Norms of the Tribal Act...
  • Do not take Videos or Photographs wherever prohibited. Defaulters will be penalized and the Camera(s) will be detained and or seized...
  • Do not collect/carry Sea Fans (Corals having a treelike or fan-shaped horny skeleton) and Sea Shells (Hard outer covering or case of certain organisms such as arthropods and turtles) unless Specific Permits are obtained from Fisheries Department, Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Defaulters will be penalized...
  • Do not Light Fire in Forest Areas. Defaulters will be penalized...
  • Do not stay on the beaches or forest during Nights by hanging Hammocks or by nailing down Tents until and otherwise permitted to do so...
  • Nudity & Drinking Alcohol on beaches and public places is prohibited...
  • Do not enter the National Parks without Permission. Defaulters will be penalized...