Being the gateway to different attractions of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Port Blair is a city to cherish for life. It is recognized as the local administrative division of the Andamans.
Port Blair in recent times has emerged as the hub of tourist activities. It is comprised of people from different parts of India and has been termed as Mini India.
Many people thronged the streets of this city during the winter season. Surrounded by dense forest and rugged coastline, Port Blair is Andaman’s heavenly abode.
The city seems to be a treasure hunt for history buffs as the famous Cellular Jail resides here. Major attractions of the city include Cellular Jail, Carbyn’s Cove Beach, Chidiyatapu Beach, Wandoor Beach and more.
How to reach Port Blair?
The capital city Port Blair is well connected with flights from the cities of Kolkata and Chennai. However, there lies a special clause for NRIs and foreigners.
They need to get a Protected Area Permit(PAP) on arriving at the Port Blair airport. The validity of the permit is for 30 days and they are not required to pay any additional fee.
You can also travel to the city by water if you are patient and adventurous enough. You can take a passenger ship to Port Blair from Chennai for approx 60 hours, Visakhapatnam for 56 hours and Kolkata for 66 hours.
You can book your tickets at the office of the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI). There are also flights from Mumbai, Delhi, and Banglore to the capital city of the Andamans.
Things to do in Port Blair
Port Blair tourism consists of rich indigenous culture, local sightseeing along with exploring shorelines. Starting from the coral artifacts located at Aberdeen Bazaar to an awesome holiday in the city, you can have fun and amusement.
Shimmering beaches along with the informational museums, there are plenty of activities to do in Port Blair. Local sightseeing is one of the most exciting things to do in Port Blair to explore the colonial past. The famous attraction in this regard has to be Cellular Jail.
The unique attraction of the Cellular Jail is the Light and Sound show that happens in the evening. The show is hosted both in English and Hindi languages.
While visiting Cellular Jail, you can also opt for a trip to Viper Island. The city has some museums like the Anthropological Museum, the Samudrika Marine museum and functional Chatham Mill on Chatham Island.
The Aberdeen bazaar which is the hotspot of the town is at a distance of 3km from the airport and only a few kilometers from the Phoenix Bay Jetty. Port Blair is full of interesting things at every corner. They have their own appeal towards the visitors visiting the place.
Activities to do in Port Blair
There are plenty of activities to participate in Port Blair. Located on the eastern part of South Andaman, it is a very famous travel spot. From discovering an indigenous tribal culture to witnessing shimmering beaches, you have many things to explore on your visit.
Port Blair is surrounded by lush greenery and uneven coastlines. It is a cocktail of Indian Ocean inhabitants such as Bengalis, Tamils, Nicobarese, and Burmese. One can simply walk the Japanese bunkers and explore the island’s high peaks.
- Cellular Jail
Cellular Jail situated at Port Blair is a place to witness the pain and struggle of Indian freedom fighters. It stands as a testimony to the time when British atrocities were at a peak.
The jail came into existence in the year 1906 and got the name ‘Cellular’ because it was made up of different cells for solitary confinement. It reflects the dark reminiscence under British rule in the Indian subcontinent.
The grueling torture meted out to the Indians in the remote island was a place of exile for them as well. Over the years the building has been damaged and right now only three wings and the tower is present.
In the year 1969, it was converted into a National Museum. This place is a must-visit for all the history buffs. The entry fee per person is INR 30. For a still camera, it is INR 200, for a video camera is INR 1000 and for film shooting, it will cost you around INR 10,000 per day with prior permission.
- Light and Sound show
One of the best activities to enjoy in the capital city of Port Blair is to explore light and sound show. It reflects the atrocities meted out on the Indian freedom strugglers by the British.
The history of Kala Pani is not unknown to people. The show is a beautiful rendition from the perspective of an old peepal tree in the context of all the tragic events in the Cellular Jail.
What added more to the rendition is the intense voice of the veteran actor of Bollywood Mr. Om Puri. The show usually takes place in two languages namely English and Hindi.
The timing for the Hindi show is from 6:00 PM to 7:15 PM on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday whereas the English show starts from 7: 15 PM.
The Museum Tour
Talking a half-day tour to museums of Port Blair is an interesting activity. Museums in this city are full of tribal history, underwater life and a plethora of island artifacts. Samudrika Naval Marine Museum is an Indian Navy run museum in the capital city.
This museum plans to spread awareness about the environment, particularly the ocean and marine life. The museum has been divided into five sections presenting the history of the Andaman Islands.
Located just opposite to Andaman Teal House, Delanipur this museum has a lot to offer with information about the vast collection of corals, cells along with a few species of dynamic fishes and sea turtles around the Islands.
Anthropological Museum is known for the information about the life and times of the indigenous tribes of the Islands. The islands of the Andaman is inhabited by six native tribes namely Onges, Sentinelese, Jarawas, Andamanese, Shompens, and Nicobarese.
Even today, the tribes are not in close contact with the mainstream population. Established in 1975, the museum has various articles like tools, handicrafts, photographs, and clothing dating back to the era of the native tribes.
A complete tour of the museum will take an hour and you can also explore the adjoining souvenir shop with a sale on several interesting books.
- Chidiya Tapu
Besides the grand sunset lies the Chidiya Tapu. It is a recognized place for the activity of Bird Watching. Several birds from all over the world flock to this place and the visitors can enjoy that view with pleasure.
The best time to watch bird watching is in the early morning when the birds remain highly active. You can also enjoy the beautiful sunset with your beloved ones at around 4 PM. The spot is located 17km from the city of Port Blair.
- Seafood Restaurants
The city of Port Blair is full of seafood restaurants (both local and international). Few of the known cuisines are namely sumptuous red snappers, barracudas, tiger prawns, squids, and lobsters.
Blue Marlin restaurant located at Maulana Azad Road is another famous restaurant that has the most interesting menu for seafood that includes Nicobari fish, Crab curries, Coconut chicken, etc.
Excel restaurant located at Hotel Lalaji Bay View is the international eating joint. Their Israeli dishes are worth trying on your trip to Port Blair.
If you are a party-loving person, stroll over to the Sea Sip Bar that remains open at night. There are plenty of cocktails and mocktails options where you can sip on with your friends.
- Aberdeen Bazaar
If bargaining is what you enjoy doing, then Aberdeen Bazar is the place for you. You can pick several items from the government emporiums as well as roadside stalls.
Colored fabrics, jewelry, wood artifacts, and Port Blair t-shirts are the few items you can watch out for. After a good shopping, you can have a delicious meal at the Lighthouse Residency in the market itself.
The best things to pick up from Sagarika Government Emporium include pearl jewelry, home decor, coconut lampshades, bangles, and tribal masks.
- Gandhi Park
If you are done with the important places in the morning, then Gandhi Park is the place for your evening stroll. This is the place where you can enjoy the sunset while reading a book or staring at the limitless ocean.
There are also some food stalls where you can devour Pani puri, Chinese fast food, and ice cream. Built around the Ditaman tank, this beautiful park is best to enjoy the amusement rides. It includes the remains of a Japanese temple along with a bunker ensuring a memorable time.
- Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park
Known for its dominant flora and fauna, this National Park was once closed for rehabilitation after the tsunami 2004. With a total area of 281.50 km square, the park was established in the year 1983.
The park is home to birds like white-bellied sea eagle, Andaman teal, heron, waders and swifts. It is highly diverse in terms of vegetation, white sandy beaches along with rich marine life. The beaches are crystal clear with a rich habitat for underwater animals.
- Mount Harriet
The place called Mount Harriet in Port Blair offers the most enviable views to the visitors. Being a mountain peak, it consists of over 393 plant species along with more than 90 bird species and more. Located at the distance of 42.5 km from Port Blair the entry timings for this place is scheduled from 7 AM to 5 PM.
For exploring the best of the places in the Andaman Islands you can grab the holiday deals from RSR Tours and Travels. Come can explore the capital city with loads of memories to be cherished for the future.
Cellular Jail is situated in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands stand as the dark testimony of atrocities under the British rule. It reflects the reminiscence of the most grueling colonial pressure upon Indian freedom strugglers.
The remote archipelago was used by East India Company to exile Indian political prisoners. Isolated from the mainstream population, this jail was also referred to as Kala Pani(where Kala means death and Pani means water in Sanskrit).
This place has witnessed the brutal punishments imposed on the prisoners. India’s struggle for independence comprised of freedom fighters like such as Batukeshwar Dutt, Veer Savarkar.
Veer Savarkar was incarcerated in this jail. The jail is now open for public viewing and recognized as a National Memorial. The museum inside the jail gives a glimpse of years of India’s struggle for freedom.
Historical features of Cellular Jail
The Andaman Islands were used by the Britishers as a prison after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. The result of which was considered as the first war of independence went in favour of the British. The Britishers suppressed the rebels by transferring them to the Andaman for lifetime exile.
The rebels in the number of hundreds were sent to the Cellular Jail and remained under the custody of jailer David Barry along with military doctor Major James Pattison.
About 238 doctors, prisoners who tried to escape the jail in 1868 were caught in April, out of whom 87 were hanged. The prisoners were put isolated from the mainland and there were no ways for them to escape.
The freedom fighters were chained and made to work in constructing buildings. In 1942 the Japanese overpowered the Britishers in the Andaman Islands and drove the prisoners out of the islands.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose visited Andaman during that time. Following the end of the Second World War’ in 1945, the British regained control of the islands.
Design of the Cellular Jail
Originally the structure of the Cellular Jail consists of seven straight wings each connected to a tower in the middle giving the whole construction a view of a bicycle wheel.
The design was based on social theorist and English Philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s concept of the Panopticon. The tower situated at the centre formed the intersection point of all the seven wings and served as watchpoint for the guards to keep a vigil on the prisoners.
Even the cells in a wing were in a row so that the inmates cannot communicate with each other. Each cell consists of only one prisoner ensuring minimal chance of communication.
This principle of solitary confinement earned the jail its name “Cellular”. The jail consists of a total of 693 cells, measuring 4.5m by 2.7m with a ventilator located at a height of 3m. There exist no dormitories within the jail.
How to reach Cellular Jail?
The Cellular Jail is situated at the Atlanta Point in the capital city of Port Blair. You can reach Port Blair by air and by sea.
By Air – Several flights operate regularly between Port Blair and Chennai and Port Blair and Kolkata. Veer Savarkar International Airport at Port Blair also operates international flights.
By Sea- Weekly ship services ply between the city of Port Blair and Visakhapatnam, Chennai, and Kolkata and may take up to 4 to 5 days. Most of these passenger ships are expensive and limited.
Visit Timing and Entrance Fee
The Cellular Jail remains open for public viewing on all days except National holidays. The entry fee per person is 30 INR. Other charges include 200 INR for a still camera, 1000 INR for a video camera and 10,000 INR for film shooting per day.
Light and Sound Show
The Cellular Jail regularly holds Light and Sound shows depicting India’s freedom struggle both in English and Hindi. The price of the ticket for the show is 50 INR per adult and 10 INR for children.
The Hindi shows are for all days except Monday, Wednesday, and Friday whereas the English shows are scheduled on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7.15 PM.
The atrocities meted out on the Indian prisoners is bought alive inside the jail and it lasts for about 45 minutes. The entire story is being narrated by the voice of an ancient Pipal tree. The show brings up the dark history of the islands and reminds you of the history of Kalapani.
Life in the Cellular Jail
Notable freedom fighters were confined in the jail-like Batukeshwar Dutt, Diwan Singh Kalepani, Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi, and the Savarkar brothers(Babarao Savarkar and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar).
Owing to solitary confinement the Savarkar brothers were unaware of each other’s situations. Most of the freedom fighters in the jail went through various inhuman tortures.
The jail was in the limelight when its inmates observed hunger strikes in the early 1930s. Mahavir Singh, a close associate of Bhagat Singh went on a hunger strike in protest of such cruel treatment but died when jailer tried to feed him milk forcibly.
Later, his body was thrown into the sea. In 1937-38, Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore intervene and Government decided on repatriating the freedom fighters.
Over the years, the building was completely damaged and only three wings along with the tower remain. In 1969 it was converted into a National Memorial. Travelers from India and around the world visit the island which is famous for its scenic beauty.
The National Memorial house has galleries of Freedom Fighters photo with a Netaji gallery and an Art gallery on the first floor, among others.
Post India Independence two wings of the jail were demolished. However, this activity led to massive protests from several prisoners and political leaders who saw history getting erased of shreds of evidence.
Govind Ballabh Pant hospital established in the premises of the jail in 1963 is now a 500-bed hospital with about 40 doctors serving the local population.
The torture upon the prisoners was unbearable. No matter how fatigued the inmates are, resting was never an option. Sinister punishments awaited those who showed any signs of fatigue.
Cellular Jail is the best place for you to let your children explain what could have happened in the past during the rule of the British. It is the only place that reflects the pain and anger of hundreds of prisoners living in hell.
If you plan to go on a trip to the Andaman Islands, Chidiya Tapu needs to be on your list. It is one of those amazing places in Port Blair that provides a peaceful environment for strolling.
The beach is mainly famous for the wide range of birds. Bird watching in the early morning is the best experience for the visitors approaching the region.
You can see migratory birds decorating the sky, tempting nature lovers and travel enthusiasts. The beach is a treasure trove for dense forests and a stunning ocean view. Exploring the serenity of the mangroves, you can detach yourself from the hustle and bustle of life.
How to reach Chidiya Tapu from Port Blair?
The beach is situated at a distance of 30 kilometers from the capital city of Port Blair. There are several ways to reach the island. Most of the travelers prefer to ride a bike or a cycle to visit the exotic island.
The roadside view comprised of stunning forests along with a spectacular view. If you plan to visit via road, you will get to explore the inspiring beauty of the tropical forests.
For your convenience, you can also hire a private car or a cab from Port Blair. If you are in Havelock Island, you will have to go via Port Blair to get to Chidiya Tapu.
Best time to visit Chidiya Tapu
Although the weather of the Andaman Islands remains pleasant throughout the year, the best time for Chidiya Tapu is between October to April.
During summers( May to July ), the temperature notches up to 40 degrees and the weather can be quite hot. Therefore, the perfect timing lies between Spring and Winter when the weather is clear and pleasant.
Activities to do in Chidiya Tapu
Chidiya Tapu is a nature paradise for wildlife photographers. The places nearby to visit include Kalapathar Beach, Cinque Island, and The Sunset Point.
You can explore Kalapathar Beach on your way to Chidiya Tapu from Port Blair. There is a beautiful trekking trail to Munda Pahad for the mesmerizing view of the islands.
The place is also suitable for water sports activities like snorkeling, pear hunting, boating, scuba hunting, etc. If you want to enjoy a small picnic, then Chidiya Tapu Biological Park is an ideal place for you.
There is no specific timing to enter Chidiya Tapu. The duration of the visit may vary from 3 to 4 days. Make sure you carry the essential handy medicines with you.
The nearby restaurants are namely Brewberrys and Waves restaurants serving both local and continental cuisines. For the best holiday deals, you can rely upon RSR Tours and Travel.
Situated at a distance of 25 kilometers east of Port Blair, Wandoor Beach is one of the popular beaches of the Andamans.
It is a pictorial beach with a horizon of blue sky and turquoise water.
This beautiful beach is an ideal place to explore the dramatic sight of the corals. The beach provides a soothing ambiance to chill and spend quality time with your beloved ones.
The infrastructure around the beach is well constructed with changing rooms and beaches for the convenience of the visitors. Located near the capital city, Wandoor Beach is easily accessible by the travelers visiting the Andamans.
Moreover, the location of this region makes it a great place to try out swimming as well as exploring spotless white sand. Two islands namely Alexandra Island and Red Skin Island are nearby the beach where you can take a boat ride and visit the islands.
How to reach from Port Blair to Wandoor Beach?
You can take a bus from the Port Blair STS bus terminal to Wandoor village. The bus journey will take around 45 minutes to reach the village.
Tickets can be purchased for 12 INR per head. After getting down from the bus you need to walk around 5 minutes to reach the beach. Boats for Red Skin/Jolly Bouy Island are available only up to noon( unless it’s a peak season for tourists).
Activities to do at Wandoor Beach
Wandoor Beach is just to relax, sit back and bask in the rays of the sun. You don’t want to miss the sunset view as its breathtaking. You will find many wooden huts with benches and tables where you can enjoy the wonderful view.
Close to the beach lies a huge cave carved with high tides that surround the beach. Locals run a few food shops near the beach that serve basic groceries, food, and eggs.
However, there are not many accommodation facilities in this region. Sea Princess Beach Resort is one of the known places to stay in Wandoor. You can visit the beach between 4 AM and 9 PM.
Places to visit near Wandoor Beach
The Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is the best place to explore vibrant marine life. The man-made park includes flora and fauna ranging from sea turtles, starfishes to white-bellied sea eagle, herons, and more.
From Wandoor Beach to Jolly Buoy Island, you can experience coral reefs taking a glass-bottom ride. Surrounded by the tropical forests, the Jolly Buoy Island remains open for only six months a year(November to April).
For amazing deals, you can go through the holiday deals of RSR Tours and Travel. It is recommended to book your tickets online to avoid a hassle-free journey.
Mount Harriet is one of the many national parks in the Andaman Islands. it is recognized as the highest peak and main attraction in the Archipelago of the South Andaman.
The interesting feature of Mount Harriet is its natural flora and fauna. Similar to a forest, the Mount Harriet National Park is covered with lush greenery.
The capital city Port Blair can also be seen from the top of the mount’s peak. The National Park was named after the British soldier Robert Christopher Tytler’s wife Harriet.
Apart from being a soldier, Tytler was a natural photographer and lover of nature. From his clicks, one can admire the islands around Mount Harriet with breathtaking beauty.
It usually takes 15 to 20 minutes by boat from Port Blair to Bamboo flat and another 15 to 20 minutes by road from Bamboo flat to Mount Harriet.
This place is a great spot to bond with your family. A day with the love ones around natural set up doing activities together is a priceless time.
Apart from the wonderful nature appreciation, you can enjoy nature tripping breathing fresh air. Mount Harriet is also the highest point where the horizon seems just a stone throw’s away.
How to reach Mount Harriet National Park?
You can reach Mount Harriet National Park by air and by road. Veer Savarkar International airport at Port Blair is the closest airport to Mount Harriet.
Port Blair is also well connected to Chennai and Kolkata by air and ships. It is located 55km by road and 15km by sea from Port Blair. Visitors or tourists can reach Mount Harriet by road with cab/car/taxi from Port Blair via Ferrargunj.
The sea route starts from Marine Jetty to Hope Town and then from there to Mount Harriet by road. While reaching upon Hope Town Jetty, towards Bambooflat by a bus or a ferry, it will take about 15 minutes to reach the peak of Mount Harriet.
It is within the range of 6km from Hope Town Jetty/Bambooflat Jetty. It is recommended to visit the park in day hours preferably 9 AM and return in the evening by 3 PM.
Places to Visit Near Mount Harriet National Park
There are several places of attractions near Mount Harriet National Park. Some of them include Madhuban beach, Lighthouse, etc. Below listed are some of the places you can explore while visiting the park.
Out of several options to explore places near Mount Harriet, Madhuban beach has to be the first one. It is a 10km long beach with the presence of flawless scenic beauty.
The captivating woodlands of Madhuban have a great influence on nature lovers who came for a trip to the Andamans. It is a superb place for trekking and other adventure activities.
There exists a long stretch from Mount Harriet to Madhuban that extends from the magniloquent hammock. The name of the stretch is called Mount Harriet to Madhuban and is highly blessed with wild creatures and rare species.
Trekking through the jungle can leave you breathless and a distance of 16km should be covered through the dense forest. You can explore the immense collection of birds, butterflies, along with many similar creatures.
Trekking, sightseeing, bird watching, beach walk are some of the interesting activities to participate in Madhuban.
An imminent structure with a swirl of white and red visible from a distance is the Lighthouse on the North Bay Island. It offers a striking view of the surroundings of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The lighthouse on the North Bay Island is the one that you can see on an Indian twenty rupee note.
Rajiv Gandhi Water Activities Centre
One of the major attractions of the North Bay beach is the water theme park that includes various water sports activities. Kayaking and jet ski rides are the popular water activities at the centre.
Teal Bhawan along with the Zoological Survey of India worth your visit to explore valuable marine wildlife and the hidden facts related to them.
You can also take part in activities like trekking, picnics. photography, and bird watching. Locals use to spend a day with their friends and family by enjoying the exotic environs of the spot.
The mountain area is endowed with an abundant reservoir of birds and animals that can be captured to create lifelong memories.
After hectic trekking at the National Park, it is obvious to get hunger pangs. You have a couple of options to eat nearby the National Park like Amaya, Icy Spicy, Lighthouse restaurant, etc. The eateries provide decent Indian and multi-cuisine delicacies.
There is no facility of accommodation available close to Mount Harriet National Park. The closest places to find decent accommodations are Hope Town, Port Blair, North Bay Island, and Marine Hill. For best hotel deals you can grab your offer at RSR Tours and Travel.
A trip to Mount Harriet is different from the rest of the places in the Andaman Islands. As it involves a lot of trekking and nature trail, you are advised to wear comfortable shoes for trekking and walking. Beware of the leeches while trekking and you need to remain fully covered with clothes.
The entry fee to Mount Harriet National Park for an adult is INR 25, for children, it is INR 10, Foreigners 250 INR and the camera charge is INR 25. The Harriet National Park can be visited from sunrise to sunset and you can normally spend 2 to 6 hours in the area depending on the kind of activity that you wish to indulge in.