Most of you will agree that the Indian mainland, despite being covered by water on 3 sides, have only a few beaches to boast about. We often settle for the mountains and get accustomed with the lush greens and high peaks which do take our dreams to even greater levels. But to the “not so sea and sunrise lovers kind of people”, here’s my try to get you fall in love with Andamans, a journey I will look up to for years to come.
It was November. I was considering places to visit in January and somebody suggested me Andamans. My desperate thirst for scuba diving backed my plan to the islands very well. I had never been to any island, so yes, I would admit, Andamans proved to me an unprecedented fervor. How? The list is quite endless but it did stop to change me from the core. It did make me a patient being and it did help me tune out of my mental baggage.
It all started with that 3 day road journey from Port Blair to Diglipur. My expectations were very low and I was just curious about my destination, Ross and Smith islands. But boy was I wrong! The journey unfolded each time we bent on the uncountable winding roads to give me a different perspective of life. We woke up at the ungodliest hour and started off to catch a sight of one of the most beautiful sunrises that the islands undoubtedly boast about. That was a scene kept secretly to surprise me later but first was the journey itself.
Making our way through the resplendent greenery veiled in the coat of green mist and getting amused by distant bird calls was an experience in itself. The mist laden evergreen forests bathed in the early sun rays with birds peaking through the dark corners, waiting to be lighted. With my favorite playlist on infinite loop in the background, we were enjoying the densest of forests on one side and the resplendent shorelines on the other. Surprises weren’t limited to the roads but we were mesmerized every time we stopped for tea breaks to get into a heartfelt conversation with the locals. Realizing their susagade way of life dedicated so honestly to Mother Nature not only gave me goose bumps but a tinge of guilty feeling about what we are doing to our lands. And then as I reached the beaches, my mornings were spent watching the sea change colors as the sun made its way to the top.
The journey continued to make me smile involuntarily at every thought of new experiences that I was having and those awaited. As the evening passed, we stopped again, this time to see the sun touch the horizons. And as soon as the sun returned to its abode, or maybe not, the night sky turned starry to the extent that it felt unbelievable. And the best part of the whole journey was having no data and no mobile network. The feeling of connectionless did the needful and helped me soak in everything that nature had on its plates to offer.
After 2 days of getting wowed, we reached our destination, or now I should call it a part of my journey, Ross and Smith Islands. The islands are of mysterious kind. Joined by a narrow stretch of sand, they change forms with every high and low tide. The beach bed brimmed with all kinds of shells and corals only to leave me ponder about the power of nature.
That day I realized something very aptly, which is, a journey is only half done if we don’t try to know the culture of the place we are visiting. It not only amuses you but also provides the locals a chance to glance beyond their daily happenings. And trust me that make them happy like nothing else. The boatman who took me to the islands promised me to show turtles, even if that’s not allowed, only because we chose to talk. As he was showing these incredible creatures to us, he said, “Madam, yhi to maza hai. Aap tourist log aata hai, baat karta hai, usme hi humloka khushi hai. Ghar jaake to wapas wahi jhamela me parna hai!”
The 3 days got over with lots of memories and stories of the Jarwas as we crossed their lands. I was lucky to see 7 of them of the estimated 250-400 individuals residing in the 47 km long restricted dense forests. After reaching Port Blair, we headed to Havelock, the land of some of the most beautiful beaches. Radhanagar beach, undoubtedly caught by breath with its beauty but what I enjoyed more was the trek which took me to Elephant beach. As it rained last night, the half an hour trek stretched to almost 2 hours and I could not have enjoyed more. I fell twice and almost fell 5 times, laughing on myself after I watched small kids paving the way so flawlessly! After reaching there, I cut off two things from my bucket list so gladly – snorkeling and sea walking. I am a vegetarian, so imagine how I was amazed by the fishes in close proximity, making their way in and out of the enticing corals. It was a whole new world there and to me, it was seductive. I know I have got addicted to it now and won’t be able to sit patiently until I start doing it regularly.
Before I figure a way out, I just want to thank the islands for having me and giving me the best of experiences which I will cherish in years and years to come.