Everything you need to know about Andaman and Nicobar Islands

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Introduction

The Andaman and Nicobar Island is a group of 572 islands. Out of those, about 550 islands are in the Andaman Group, 28 of which are inhabited.  The smaller Nicobars, comprise some 22 main islands (10 inhabited).  The Andaman and Nicobar are separated by the Ten Degree Channel which is 150 Kms. wide.  These islands are covered with dense rain-fed, damp and evergreen forests and endless varieties of exotic flora and fauna.  The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been declared as two of the 218 endemic bird area of the world.  As many as 270 species and sub-species of birds have been reported existing in these islands, 106 of them being endemic.

There are about 96 Wildlife Sanctuaries, nine National Parks and one Biosphere Reserve in the islands. The Andaman Wood Pigeon, Andaman Padauk and Dugong are declared as State Bird, State Tree and State Animal respectively. These islands also boast of freedom fighting days’ historically significant landmarks viz. Cellular Jail, Ross Island, Viper Island and Mount Harriet. Now a days Andaman Island is one of the most attractive tourism destinations of India.

Capital City Port Blair
Districts 3 (South Andaman, North Andaman, Nicobar)
Total Area 8,250 Km2 (3,190 sq mi)
Population 3,80.520
Population Density 46/km2 (120/sq mi)
Official Languages Hindi, English
Languages Spoken Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Nicobarese and English
Time zone IST (UTC +05:30)
Website www.andaman.gov.in

Flora

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a tropical rainforest canopy, made of a mixed flora with elements from Indian, Myanmar, Malaysian and endemic floral strains. So far, about 2,200 varieties of plants have been recorded, out of which 200 are endemic and 1,300 do not occur in mainland India.

The South Andaman forests have a profuse growth of epiphytic vegetation, mostly ferns and orchids. The Middle Andamans harbours mostly moist deciduous forests. North Andamans is characterised by the wet evergreen type, with plenty of woody climbers. The North Nicobar Islands (including Car Nicobar and Battimalv) are marked by the complete absence of evergreen forests, while such forests form the dominant vegetation in the central and southern islands of the Nicobar group. Grasslands occur only in the Nicobars, and while deciduous forests are common in the Andamans, they are almost absent in the Nicobars. The present forest coverage is claimed to be 86.2% of the total land area.

Fauna

This tropical rain forest, despite its isolation from adjacent land masses, is surprisingly rich with a diversity of animal life. About 50 varieties of forest mammals are found to occur in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Some are endemic, including the Andaman wild boar. Rodents are the largest group with 26 species, followed by 14 species of bat. Among the larger mammals there are two endemic[citation needed] varieties of wild boar, Sus scrofa andamanensis from Andaman and Sus scrofa nicobaricus from Nicobar, which are protected by the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 (Sch I). Saltwater crocodile is also found in abundance. The State Animal of Andaman is the dugong, also known as the sea cow, which can be found in Little Andaman. Around 1962 there was an attempt to introduce the leopard, which was unsuccessful because of unsuitable habitat. These were ill-considered moves as exotic introductions can cause havoc to island flora and fauna.

About 270 species of birds are found in the territory; 14 of them are endemic, the majority to the Nicobar island group. The islands’ many caves are nesting grounds for the edible-nest swiftlet, whose nests are prized in China for bird’s nest soup. The territory is home to about 225 species of butterflies and moths. Ten species are endemic to these Islands. Mount Harriet National Park is one of the richest areas of butterfly and moth diversity on these islands. The islands are well known for prized shellfish, especially from the genera Turbo, Trochus, Murex and Nautilus. Earliest recorded commercial exploitation began during 1929. Many cottage industries produce a range of decorative shell items. Giant clams, green mussels and oysters support edible shellfishery. The shells of scallops, clams, and cockle are burnt in kilns to produce edible lime.

Location

Andaman and Nicobar Islands are located in Bay of Bengal. It’s about 1290 Kms away from Kolkata, 1350 kms away from Chennai and only 600 kms from Phuket, Thailand.

Longitude 92° to 94° East
Latitude 6° to 14° North

How to reach

Port Blair the capital of Andaman  and  Nicobar Islands is the only entry and exit point and it is connected by both Air and Sea to Mainland (India). Daily flights are available from various airlines like Air India, Go Air, Indigo, Jet Airways, Vistaara and SpiceJet from Chennai, Kolkata, Vizag and New Delhi.

How to visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands by Ship

Port Blair is also connected through ships from Kolkata, Chennai and Vizag and ships are operated at-least twice a month.

Latest ship schedule for Andaman and Nicobar Islands can be found here http://www.andaman.gov.in/hi/web/guest/latest-updates

Ship fare for Andaman and Nicobar Islands  are available here http://www.andaman.gov.in/web/guest/mainland-ship-fare-details

How to travel in between islands

Ferry and ship services are available to travel in between islands, the services which a tourist should know are listed below

Makruzz

This is the first private ferry service playing in Port Blair – Havelock/Neil Island sector; she takes 90 Minutes to Havelock. Catamaran ferry leaves from phoenix bay harbor (fishery’s jetty) at 8.15AM as normal trip to Havelock Island and 4 PM from Havelock Island to Port Blair. By travelling by this ferry you can save 1 Hrs. on one way. This ferry having a coffee shop on board. The vessel has 2 decks with passenger capacity of 280. It presents three classes for its guests –

  • 208 seats in Premium class—Lower deck with Mak Cafe ,best view is from the premium class.
  • 64 seats in Deluxe —-On the upper deck with refreshment served and good leg space.
  • 08 seats in Royal—–On upper deck a small cabin with 08 push back seats,refreshments served.

Green Ocean Cruise

Green Ocean cruise is the first and the only all weather deep-sea vessel to operate between port Blair and Havelock to provide unparalleled experience. With consciously designed space on board ship to facilitate unrestricted movement for the guest to enjoy the scenic beauty of the islands as it unfolds towards their voyage to Havelock Island.

Green Ocean Tariff-

ORIGIN DESTINATION EXECUTIVE LUXURY ROYAL
Port Blair Havelock 900/- 1000/- 1300/-
Havelock Port Blair 900/- 1000/- 1300/-

Government Ferry

Government ferry in Andaman is the life line of the people living around Port Blair. These ferries cater thousands of passengers (Islands & Tourists) daily to remotest of Islands and hot tourist destinations.

Government Ferry Tariff:

ORIGIN DESTINATION SEAT CHAIR
Port Blair Havelock 396/- 580/-
Havelock Port Blair 396/- 580/-
Havelock (Via Neil) Port Blair 396/- 580/-
Port Blair Neil 396/- 580/-
Neil Port Blair 396/- 580/-
Havelock Neil 396/- 580/-

Government ferry schedule for Havelock, Neil Island and Rangat can be found here http://www.andaman.gov.in/web/guest/neilhavrangat

Helicopter

Helicopter schedule for various island can be found here

http://www.andaman.gov.in/web/guest/helicopter-schedule

Helicopter fare for Islanders and Tourists can be found here http://www.andaman.gov.in/web/guest/helicopter-fare

Seaplane

Seaplane is not operational now a days. Seaplane’s service began in January 2011 in Andaman Islands, the Seaplane flew from Port Blair to Havelock Island once or twice a day but the services of seaplane were suspended in the year 2016.

Inside the islands

Public Transport is easily available in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. A variety of transports are buses, auto rickshaws, taxi, and mini buses. A traveller can also hire a two wheeler for sight seeing. Cycles are also advisable for wandering in small islands such as Havelock or Neil island.

If you want to enjoy your journey with the group then you can also take the bus. Many of the outer island connected by road so if you arrive in Port Blair then you can take buses from Mohanpura Bus terminus, the buses are operated by a private operator and also by transport department of port Blair.

  1. Autorickshaws– These are abundant and cost Rs. 20-40.
  2. Private car hires– You can hire private cars for local sightseeing around Port Blair and South Andaman. Our car rental charges are as given below. Please contact us for booking.

    • DESTINATION Mahindra XYLO
      NAC AC
      Airport to Hotel- Drop (In city) 250 300
      Hotel to Airport Drop (In city) 250 300
      City tour Covering Per Point 250 300
      Sound and Light show – (Pickup and drop) 250 300
      Corbyn’s Cove Bach- Round Trip 800 1,000
      Hotel to Water Sport Complex Drop 250 300
      Water Sport Complex to hotel Drop 250 300
      Hotel to Harbor Drop at Port Blair 250 300
      Harbor to Hotel at drop at Port Blair 250 300
      At Havelock – Harbor to Hotel Pickup & Drop 300 400
      Radhanagar Beach – Pickup and Drop 1,200 1,500
      Elephanta Beach – Pickup & Drop 600 800
      Kalapathar Beach – Pickup & Drop 1,200 1,500
      At Neil – Harbor to Hotel – Pickup & Drop 300 400
      At Neil Covering per Point 300 400
      Wandoor Beach / Jetty – full Day Trip 1,200 1,600
      ChidyaTapu Beach-Round Trip 1,200 1,600
      Baratang Island – (Same Day return) 4,000 4,500
      Diglipure Round Trip (2Night & 3days journey) 12,000 16,000
  3. Boats and Ferries– They are the most used transport service for traveling from one island to another and even within the islands.
  4. Local buses– Many local buses are available at cheap rates for intra-city and inter-city travels in Port Blair.

Climate and Geography

The islands have a tropical climate. The South-west Monsoon sets in Andaman Nicobar islands towards the end of May and the North-east Monsoon in November. There is no fury of hot summer, no chilling winter, no water clogging or traffic jams. For those who want to enjoy boating, swimming, snorkeling, sightseeing all 12 months is season. North Indians find relief from burning heat and chilling winter if they visit the island from May/June/July and in December/January. Season for nature lovers is May to December when forest is lush green and waterfalls are at their prime. Divers can enjoy the best during December to April and bird watchers during winter times.

  • Normal rainfall at Port Blair : 3900 mm
  • Mean Minimum Temperature : 23.2° C
  • Mean Maximum Temperature : 25° C
  • Mean relative Humidity : 80 %

Tribes

(This is a tourism related website and we do not promote human safari or tribal tourism, therefore we are not writing anything about tribes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands)

Languages

Bengali is the most spoken language in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Hindi is official language of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, while English is declared an additional official language for communication purposes. As of 2011 census, Bengali is spoken as the first language by 28.49 percent of the Union Territorie’s population followed by Hindi (19.29%), Tamil (15.20%), Telugu (13.24%), Nicobarese (7.65) and Malayalam (7.22%). Languages in Andaman and Nicobar Islands vary from community to community. Since the Union Territory is an abode to all types of communities, all the major languages of India are spoken here. The major languages spoken at Andaman and Nicobar Islands are listed below- Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, English, Punjabi, Kannada, Gujarati, Malayalam, Bengali, Marathi, Oriya, Karen, Burmese.

Apart from the above, there are some tribal languages spoken around Andaman and Nicobar Islands. They are : Andamanese, Onge, Sentinelese, Nicobarese, Jarawa Since the cluster of islands have people from various cultural backgrounds and communities, so different languages in Andaman and Nicobar Islands are used. But the majority of the population of Andaman and Nicobar Islands speak Hindi. English is also spoken a by a large number of people along with their regional languages.

The main reason behind such vast diversity in Andaman and Nicobar languages is that the group of islands have people who have migrated from different states and communities to serve the punishment of “Kaala Pani” during the British rule. Thats how the Union Territory has people using different languages in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Religion

Religion in Andaman and Nicobar (2011):-

  1. Hinduism (69.44%)
  2. Christianity (21.7%)
  3. Islam (8.51%)
  4. Sikhism (0.33%)
  5. Buddhism (0.08%)
  6. Other or not religious (0.5%)

The majority of people of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are Hindus (69.44%), with Christians forming a large minority of 21.7% of the population, according to the 2011 census of India. There is a small but significant Muslim (8.51%) minority.

Local Cuisine

The islands are known for their exquisite sea food delicacies and one can find a Burmese and Thai influence in the cooking. A variety of sea foods such as prawns, fish, lobsters; crabs and so on are available at most local joints. Seafood might be a little on the expensive side but it is well worth the extra cost. Most of the hotels have their own restaurants and every island will have something different to offer.

The sea food Andaman and Nicobar Islands is usually found in the most unlikely of places. The restaurants at the various hotels are expensive and unless you are staying there it doesn’t make sense to eat at these places. The best bet is to ask the locals and figure out a cheap place to eat. Most of the shacks along the beach offer fresh catch.

Sea foods such as lobsters are usually available only in the upscale restaurants and they are quite expensive. Prawns, fish and crab are available everywhere and they are relatively safe to eat. You must try the Tandoori fish at the Lighthouse House Residency in Port Blair. Actually, most of the local joints also serve this dish and it quite stunning. The fish is covered with a variety of spices and then cooked in a tandoori open. Sea food lovers would have a wonderful experience at the Andaman’s. You can walk along the streets and explore the various dining options which are available to you. This is the best way to choose a good local joint.

Mainland Indian cuisine and Chinese cuisine is always available on the island. However, continental cuisine is mainly restricted to four and five start hotels in the region. They are quite expensive and might not be authentic in any case. Rice, roti, and naan along with a variety of Indian curries are available in most of the dhabbas around the islands. Curried prawns and grilled lobsters are ideal options if you have a cold drink in hand. One can find various barbeque parties and grilling sessions along the shore during the winter months. Freshly caught sardines, mackerel, king prawns, and crabs can be found here.

We have listed few good restaurants here http://adventureandaman.com/blog/cuisines-available-in-andaman-and-the-best-places-to-get-them/

Drink

The Andaman Islands hotel and bars are popular watering holes, the local bars are usually eerie and poorly lit but are normally safe. Fresh coconuts are available throughout the islands and these are a perfect accompaniment for any sea food dish. Most of the main islands have retail liquor outlets and you can pick up alcohol from here. But note than the beer would not be cold in most places. There are no clubs as such in the region and nightlife is largely restricted to the beaches.

Culture

The people of the region are not much different from rest of India. It means culture of Andaman and Nicobar Islands is similar to Indian culture. Remember that the islands are still a part of India and the customs and traditions are quite strict. Public displays of affection and inappropriate dressing are frowned upon. Bikinis and sarongs should be restricted to the beach and avoid drinking in public. The majority of the population is Hindu and a smattering of Christians and Muslims also live here.  The tourist areas are quite open but the rest of the regions are still restrained. If you are traveling to some of the local villages then you should behave and dress appropriately.

Administration

Administratively, the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has three revenue Districts. Port Blair- the capital and gateway to the islands lies in South Andaman Island and falls under South Andaman District. The latest North & Middle Andaman District with Mayabunder as headquarters lies separated from South Andaman District by a creek. Car Nicobar is the District Head quarter of Nicobar District. As per 2011 Census, the total population of Andaman & Nicobar stands 3,79,944 and the literacy rate is 86.27%.

PORT BLAIR – THE CAPITAL OF ANDAMAN & NICOBAR ISLANDS

Port Blair is the capital of the Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Port Blair is the gateway to the pristine islands. Port Blair, 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.

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