The history of the Andaman and Nicobar islands is representative of
the medieval to modern history of India: a soul-stirring saga of invasions,
conquests, state-sponsored terror -- and that undying spirit of freedom.
A synopsis by IndiaOneStop.Com
and Nicobar Islands -- a grim reminder of the horrific aspects of
the British rule of India -- are a group of 321 tropical islands in
the Bay of Bengal, 1,200km east of the Indian mainland. They are now
a tourists' paradise.
The area of the Andamans is 6,408 sq km and that of the Nicobars is
about 1,645 sq km. Port Blair is the capital of this Union Territory
(as opposed to state) of India.
The Andamans and the Nicobars have a collective population of about
300,000, most of them concentrated in or around Port Blair.
These islands were discovered by Arab merchants in the 9th century.
The first western visitor there was Marco Polo. The islands were annexed
by the Marathas in the late 17th century, then by the British in the
19th century, by the Japanese during World War II, and incorporated
into the Indian union in 1947 when the British rule of India ended.
These islands were the venue of some of the most horrific excesses
of the British rule of India. Freedom fighters on the mainland were
"deported" to these islands, and many of them never seen
again. They either died there of natural causes or as a result of
excessively hard labour or were executed with, or without, court sentences.
Many died in years of solitary confinement in absolute darkness. Torture
cells, hard labour camps and gallows were plenty. They are still to
be seen there today. It remains amazing how senior government officials
of a country of the United Kingdom's standing could unleash such terror
on freedom fighters. This is is not ancient history, but modern history
-- which ended on August 15, 1947.
The Cellular Jail in Port Blair where most of such barbarism was practised
by the British is now one of India's declared National Monuments,
a salute to those noble human beings who had only asked for freedom
from foreign rule.
Today, these islands are often called Emerald Isles. Golden white
crescent shaped beaches, mangrove forests, rich marine life, exotic
flora and fauna, are the main non-historical attractions.
About 86% of the total area is reserved and protected forest area
and 36% of the reserved forest has been earmarked as primitive tribal
reserve. Contact with the local tribals is restricted.
Port Blair is accessible by sea and air. It takes three days by sea
and two hours by air.
There are number of government guest houses, two tourist homes, and
a circuit house. Besides, there are number of resorts, cottages, and
hotels run by private sector. Many travel agencies in the Indian metropolitan
cities offer Andaman and Nicobar holiday packages.
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