Do you know about Andaman Islands?
Enjoying recognition as one of the top tourist attractions in India (technically speaking, off the southern coast of India), the Andamans have redefined the phrase ‘big things come in small packages’. There is much to be said about this magical vacation hotspot, so let us check out some of the most awe-inspiring facts that have made Andaman Island so popular, not to mention revered.
Andaman has the only turtle nesting site in India
Not one, not two, not even three, but four distinct turtle species use the Andaman as their primary nesting site.
- The Hawksbill, Green, Olive Ridley and Leatherback (which is the world’s largest) turtles come here in large numbers and lay incredible quantities of eggs, burying them in the sand and leaving them to hatch in 45-90 days.
- Needless to say, the Andaman is a protected zone for these endangered species.
- If you want to know how to see turtle nesting in Andaman, check with your vacation provider.
- You will definitely need to keep your distance and follow all apt guidelines so you do not disturb or frighten the turtles that come here to lay their eggs (about a hundred eggs, spread over five or so nests).
If you miss the laying, you can still come see the hatching. The glorious sight is truly worth adding to your photo-diary. All those little endangered marvels returning to the ocean in hordes, following the age-old ‘genetic tradition’, going back hundreds if not thousands of years, of the turtles that came before them.
Where to see the turtle nesting in Andaman?
Diglipur should be your heading. From there, you can find convenient access to beaches like Aamkunj, Dhaninallah, and Karmatang, which is considered the ‘turtle paradise of India’.
- You will need to plan night visits. These are the best times to catch mass turtle egg-laying sights.
- It is not a waste of money to pay a local tour guide to help take you on these sightings. They know all the ways to keep the turtles and their nests safe. This will help you avoid making a terrible error, especially if you’re an animal lover.
One of the rarest fruits in the world is found at Andaman
The Pandanus (or Kewra) fruit can be found all over Andaman, most especially on Havelock Island.
- These large and interesting looking fruits are one of the rarest in the world, but are considered delicacies on Andaman.
Where to find the rare fruit on Andaman Island?
Not only is the kewra a staple on the island, you can actually pluck it directly from trees as you go about visiting different locales. Many restaurants on Andaman also serve it for dessert, especially in combination with ice-cream.
The fruit’s insides are delicious. In fact, everything about the Pandanus is useful: the branches and stems are implemented during construction projects, many a weaving mat is made out of the leaves, and it is not uncommon to find reliable bath brushes made out of the fruit’s hard exterior.
Andaman has the only active volcano in South Asia
The only active volcano in all of India (as well as South Asia, in fact) can be found on Andaman, specifically on Barren Island.
How to reach the volcano on Andaman Island?
You can sightsee around the island, but are not allowed to go by yourself to check out the volcano itself. However, a pass from the local forest department will help in this regard.
- As recently as 2016, the volcano erupted. They are known for being unpredictable, which is why tourists are not allowed to set foot on the shoreline or get within range of any falling ash and other debris (i.e., pyroclastic material); just in case.
- 1.8 million years old, and situated on the seismically active Indian and Burmese plates, the volcano can be viewed safely from a distance via boat and ferry rides.
- It is not too active: Its first recorded eruption goes back to 1787, with only five more on record in the following 100 years. Its biggest fallout occurred in 1991, after which only a few small spurts were seen.
- The gorgeous contrast of purple-black volcanic sand/mud and blue ocean is breathtaking.
Tourists can spot the gentle Dugong species in Andaman
Also called ‘gentle sea cows’, the Dugong is the state animal of Andaman, and you can certainly catch sightings of this docile marine animal.
- They are endangered creatures, and have been hunted for oil and meat. They are protected on Andaman, which is great news.
- It is fast becoming fact that more and more animals are making it to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, on which the Dugong is featured.
Where to see Dugongs on Andaman Island?
Head over to Dugong Creek on Little Andaman. You will also be able to spot these shy beauties in several other locales: Mayabunder zone, White-Cliff, Landfall islands, Jolly buoy, Rutland islands, Tarmugli, and some areas on Havelock Island and the Ritchies archipelago.
To see Dugongs up close and personal, you need to go diving. So be ready to hire guides and undergo a short tutorial/training involving diving gear.
Andaman Island is home to the largest arthropod in the world
If you’re drooling, stop! Because this particular crab is off the menu. Why? The Birgus Latro is the largest arthropod in the world, and is protected by law, Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act.
- You can see these crabs actually climbing coconut trees with the aim of eating the soft inner kernels.
Where to see the giant crab on Andaman?
They move around in large numbers on South Sentinel Island.
There are plenty more curious factoids to appreciate about Andaman Island.
- Living in the South and Middle Andaman Islands are an indigenous tribe of nomads called Jarawas. There are only around 350 individuals left, which is why they are highly protected under law. Not only is it illegal for you to visit the tribe, they have proven to be a mortal danger to outsiders.
- The very name ‘Andaman’ traces its linguistic roots to one of the greatest Hindu epics of all time, the Ramayana. It is said that Lord Hanuman stopped here on his way to Sri Lanka, and that the name ‘Andaman’ is derived from ‘Hanuman’.
- The island was no stranger to war. In fact, Japan held fast to this territory before the British came along in 1945. Andaman was no stranger to the ravages of World War II, and you will find several historical curiosities pertaining to the same here. Head to Port Blair’s Museum of the Japanese Occupation to learn more.
- The Alfred Caves in Diglipur are an absolute geo-treat. Made from limestone, these caves actually look very different in monsoon as opposed to other seasons. The Swiftlet birds call these narrow caves home.
- Thanks to the tsunami that rocked the Indian Ocean in 2004, Andaman’s southern tip, Indira Point, lost 4.25 metres of land. It lies submerged under the sea now.
- You can dive underwater to see the famous mud volcanoes of Andaman. As unique as they are exceptional, they’ve become a major Andaman tourist attraction. You can find the mud volcanoes of Andaman on Baratang Island. They are rightly considered a ‘geological phenomenon’.