Port Blair

As our Air India approached Port Blair I was fascinated by the stunningly green and blue view from the window of the aeroplane. The green of the forests merged with the blue ocean. As I kept wondering of the various tribal people who had made this lush green forests their home the pilot announced the arrival at Port Blair.

The airport at Port Blair is small though not well-maintained with only two conveyor belts. Our luggage arrived at conveyor belt No. 2 and as we collected our luggage and proceeded towards the city, our driver Vijay Singh meet us with the placard. Our car was a Travera and the journey to our hotel Ripple Resort took around thirty minutes. Our driver advised us to take rest in the morning and we would go for a tour around Port Blair after lunch.

After breakfast, we left for the only beach in Port Blair : Carbyn’s Cove Beach which is around a ten minute walk from the hotel. The beach surprisingly was empty and the sun blared down on us. The cove looked calm and beautiful. The first view of the sea after a long time is always breath taking. As we took in the sights of the sea, the hot and humid weather bared down on us. We had to leave the sun kissed beach and return to our air conditioned rooms to avoid the blisters on our skin.

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After lunch at our hotel, we left in our car for the tour of Port Blair. The journey through the Marine Drive was exhilarating and we stopped to click pictures of the Ross Island just before entering Port Blair proper. On the way from Corbyn’s Cove Beach we saw the Science Museum and the Aquarium. Photography is strictly restricted. The Aquarium would certainly elicit first timers but for sea veterans it is a mood damper. Instead head out to the Anthropological Museum near the Toruism office which explores the myriad tribal communities of Andamans. The three story building explores the life and times of tribals of Andamans and Nicobar. Photography is again prohibited and you have to deposit your cameras before entering the building.

Next we proceeded to Cellular Jail. Tickets cost Rs 30/- each and ticket for video cameras cost Rs 200/- each. Entering the cellular jail there are two photography museums on both sides exploring the life of the prisoners in Andamans. As you move from photograph to photograph you are taken back to the harrowing times of the prisoners of the Cellular Jail and you start to feel resentment against the British occupants. Moving on the main building of the Cellular Jail you can see the flame to your left. The main building of the cellular jail consisted of seven towers. They were located centrally around a Central Watch Tower. Four of the towers were destroyed by the Japanese. We explored the various cells on all the three floors of the main building. Seeing the cooped up cells we felt for the prisoners. I mean none of us from air conditioner rooms and five star hotels can even imagine living in the tiny cells for even an hour. And people spent years in these cells. This is what patriotism can do to the people of India. The more you pass by the cells the more you begin to value the freedom and the independence that we take for granted. The central watch tower presents a mesmerizing view of the entire Port Blair including amazing view of Ross Island and North Bay Island. It is from here that you can view the photograph at the back of the twenty rupee note.

We went down to the gallows and the small chamber beneath it. The condemned cells took us back to the minds of prisoners who waited in these cells for their untimely and unjust execution. On completion of the tour we went outside for booking tickets for the light and sound show. One had to book tickets via wifi which was a complete mess of digital India. They assures us that online ticket booking would start soon.

The light and sound show depicted the history of the jail and its occupants including Veer Savarkar. The light and sound show was disappointing at its best and you grew bored with it halfway through the show. Most left. I stayed back to take that one photograph of cellular jail lit up at night.

On completion of the show we left for our hotel as we had to leave at 3am early next day.

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