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Andaman & Nicobar Island Introduction

Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a string of 300 tropical islands, which lie scattered halfway between Calcutta and the equator. Most of the Andamans are hilly and forested, Saddle Peak on North Andaman, which rises to 732 m, is the highest point.

The inhabitants live on 12 of the islands, particularly Car Nicobar in the north. Great Nicobar, the largest and southernmost island in the group, is virtually uninhabited.
Discovered by Arab merchants in the 9th century and the first western visitor was Marco Polo who called it the land of the headhunters.

Annexed by the Marathas in the late 17th century, from18th century it was base for Maratha admiral Kanhoji Angre, whose navy frequently captured British, Dutch and Portuguese merchant ships and remained undefeated right up to his death in 1729. Finally annexed by the British in the 19th century and used as a penal colony for Indian freedom fighters. The penal settlement known as Kala Pani or Black Water where the most criminals were sent. In the notorious 'Cellular Jail' many of the inmates were executed, either judicially or clandestinely.

General information
Population:                              356, 265

Area:                                        8293 Sq Km on 139 islands

Capital:                                     Port Blair

Languages:                               Spoken Nicobari, Bengali, Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam, Hindi, English.

District:                                      2

People Per Sq. km:                   43

Literacy:                                     81.18%

Best Season:                              October to April

Relative Humidity:                      70% To 90%

Clothing:                                     Cottons throughout the year

Altitude:                                      Varies from sea-level to 732 meters. (Highest Point- Saddle Peak).

Climate:                                       minimum 23 deg C, maximum 30 deg C.

Rainfall:                                        3000 mms (May to Mid-Sep.& Nov. to Jan).

STD Code:                                      03192

How to reach

Port Blair is connected by air with Madras, Calcutta and Car Nicobar.

There are 2 sailings in a month each from Calcutta (1255 km) and Madras (1190 km) to Port Blair & vice versa. There is one sailing from Vishakhapatnam (1200 km) every 3 months. The voyage takes about 3 / 4 days and the ships normally berth at Port Blair for three days.

Fairs and Festivals

Island Tourism Festival December – January
The Andaman and Nicobar Administration organize this festival every year during the months of December – January. It is the main festival of the islands. The festival comprises an exhibition, cultural programs, competitions, etc. The exhibition highlights the developmental aspects of these islands. Cultural troupes and artistes of national and international fame are invited to perform during the festival apart from performances by the talents of the islands including tribals.

Vivekananda Mela January
Vivekananda Mela is organized at Neil Island to celebrate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

Block Mela January – February
This festival held at Diglipur, highlights the developments that have taken place in the rural areas and displays the typical rural life of these islands.

Shubash Mela January
This festival is organized in Havelock Island every year on the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. It’s a weeklong festival filled with cultural programs.

Art and Handicraft

Wood Work
Carpentry and woodwork are native to the Andaman, and the Administration provides training in this line. Several units are engaged in making furniture and other articles out of ornamental woods such as Paduak, marble wood, Chui, etc. Tabletops made of Paduak burr are a novel item produced.

A production centre under the industries department and a workshop of the Government saw mill at Chatham are the two large units responsible for the bulk of the produce. There is enormous scope for improvement in the furniture industry of the Andamans, especially with regards to construction, design and finish.

Cane And Bamboo
Beautiful hole cane baskets made out of thin cane twigs that are not split, are used by women for carrying market produce and for storage. Mention may also be made of the cane work done in the cellular jail. This is mostly furniture made to order. The total number of artisans engaged in cane and bamboo work in the Andaman is estimated at about 50.

Shell Craft
These products extend from cleaned and polished decorative shells to table lamps, ashtrays, jewelery and buttons. An interesting resource material is Tortoise Shell; large shells in beautiful shades are available here, and could be put to very imaginative use.

Coconut Shell
The local industries department at Port Blair initiated training in making articles out of coconut shells. The items include table lamps, finger bowls and other objects, have become quite popular. Jewellery made of coconut shell is another possibility, which may find an export market.

Crafts Of Nicobar

Wood Work
The most important craft of the people is carpentry-constructing houses, fencing plantations and making canoes of various types. There is very little wood carving or sculpting in Car Nicobar. In the other islands, however, certain wooden statues such as a male and female pair, as well as figures of birds and animals are made as house deities toward off evil spirits. These wooden figures are well crafted and painted with bright colors.

Basketry and Mat Making
The two important traditional crafts of the Nicobarese, usually carried on by women in their leisure time. Mats are made from coconut stems and Pandanus leaves. They are used for sitting, sleeping and making huts. In the mats, very often light and dark leaves are interwoven to make an effective pattern. These mats are soft light, and cool, and have a glossy surface.

Cross Bows
Another functional craft is the making of crossbows which consist of a central beam of wood with grooves and iron loops to hold arrows and quiver, and a bow shaped arc made of thinner and lighter wood, its ends joined with a string. A trigger made of wood or bone is fixed to the lower portion of the beam. The cross how is used with one hand and can shoot up to 150 yards. Its novel design and trigger system make it a prized handicraft article for tourists.

In and around

Port Blair
The capital town of this Union Territory is situated about 1200 km from the east coast of the mainland. It is connected to Madras and Calcutta by flight and by sea it takes about 3 days.

Ross Island
The residence of Chief Commissioner during the British rule, now entrails tourists with its ruins of the printing press, church, bakery, tennis courts, swimming pool, and the cemetery. Ross island abounds in friendly spotted deer that nibbles at any kind of tid-bit held out to them.

Viper Island
It was used to harbor convicts before the construction of the cellular jail evokes similar emotions. It had gallows on the top of a hillock where condemned prisoners were hanged.

Jolly Buoy Island
Jolly Buoy Island, offers a breath taking view of some of the World's most spectacular coral reefs. One has to experience the under water coral and marine life for oneself to believe it. Glass bottom boats help to take a closer look at the coral colonies.

Mount Harriet
The summer headquarters of the British Chief Commissioner at one time, offers a kaleidoscopic view of Port Blair.

Cellular Jail
Constructed by Britishers in 1906, is a pilgrim destination for freedom fighters.

Sippighat Farm
Sippighat Farm, 14 km, from Port Blair in the south, is an agricultural-cum-demonstration farm spread over an area of 80 acres, where experiments for the improvement of spices like clove, Cinnamon, pepper etc., are carried out.

Chidia Tapu
Chidia Tapu 26 km, from Port Blair, generally known as Birds Island is situated at the southern most tip of South Andaman.

Entry Formalities
Foreigners: Foreign tourists need a special permit to visit the Andaman Islands. This can be obtained from Indian Missions abroad or the immigration authorities in Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, and Madras or on arrival at Port Blair Airport. Foreign Nationals are not allowed to visit Nicobar Islands. This permit is valid for Port Blair Municipal Area; Havelock Islands; Long; Neil Islands; Mayabunder; Diglipur; Rangat for a period of one month where night halt is permitted. However only a day's visit is allowed to places like Jolly Buoy; South Cinque; Red Skin; Mount Hariet and Madhuban.

Indians: Indian nationals need no special permits to visit Andamans. However, permits are required to visit Nicobar Islands, issued by The Deputy Commissioner, Andamans at Port Blair


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