Be it the pure stretch of white sand beaches touching the horizon to having centuries-old history, Andaman’s is nothing less than a tropical paradise. Andaman is one of the top tourist attractions of India; it has a galore of islands, beaches, marine life, interesting titbits to offer the inquisitive traveller.
Read on to know to some quick facts about Andaman.
Topography of Andaman
- With over 572 islands, the union territory of India, Andaman and Nicobar islands established back in 1956, has only 37 islands which are inhabited.
- Nicobar Island falls to the south, and is separated by 150km stretch- 10 degree channel from the Andaman Island.
- Among the 37 islands, some are habited by the indigenous groups, namely Sentinelese, Andamanese, Onges and Jarawa tribe of Andaman. Any attempt to contact these tribes of Andaman is a punishable offence, so do adhere to tourist guidelines.
Flora and Fauna of Andaman
- With over 8250km of land divided among the 572 islands, these tropical destinations are home to endemic flora and fauna species.
- Did you know the abundantly blessed tropical forests of Andaman and thriving underwater ecosystem are home to over 3000 species of flora and 6451 species of fauna?
- Bird watching in Andaman is a popular activity among tourists. There are over 240 species of birds, found on this island.
- Andaman has about 96 wildlife sanctuaries, 1 biosphere reserve and 9 national parks divided among its 572 islands.
First sunrise of the Millennium (2000) was received at Katchal Island
- One of the best sunrise points of Andaman is Katchal, a small island near the Nicobar Islands. This Island was supposedly the first inhabited place of earth which caught the first rays of the sun in the millennium year.
- This event was captured by the Indian Post with the release of a commemorative stamp.
- Also commonly known by its nickname- Tihanyu, the Katchal Island is home to many indigenous and non-indigenous tribes. However, this island is not accessible to tourists, until presented with a special tribal pass.
- The island is situated about 1600km away from the mainland and was one of the worst affected Islands during the tsunami of 2004.
From state animal to state flower and tree, the union territory of India, has its very own symbols.
- State mammal- Dugong
- State bird- Andaman wood pigeon
- State flower- Pyinma also known as pride of India
- State tree- Andaman Padauk or also known as East Indian Mahagony
Demographics of Andaman
- Divided into three parts during the 2011 census of India, Nicobar Islands with 1,765 km square area has a population of about 37 thousand.
- Followed by North and middle Andaman which has an area of 3,536 sq. km with a population of 1 lakh.
- Lastly, South Andaman (Port Blair) covers an area of 2,460 sq. km with a population of 2 lakh.
A special mention in the mythology Ramayana
- Scriptures of Ramayana states Andaman as a place of rest for Lord Hanuman before he left for Srilanka – the land of Ravana.
- The name Andaman is said to be derived from Hanuman or better known as ‘Handuman’ to the Malays.
North Sentinel Island – home to the first human population
- Rich in culture and heritage, Andaman is home to the Sentinelese, an indigenous tribe of around 300 people living at theNorth Sentinel Island,who are thought to have directly descended from first human populations.
- The island lies 50 km from west of Port Blair, and is under the Andaman and Nicobar Islands protection of Aboriginal tribes act of 1956.
- It is said, that the Sentinelese tribes have been situated in Andaman for more than 60,000 years and have voluntary chosen isolation.
History of Andaman – Kings to colonial era
- From being captured by Rajendra Chola (Chola empire period) in 1014 AD for naval activities to being organised for European colonisation by Danish East India Company, the history of the Andaman Islands goes back several years.
- The Danish empire first tried to colonise Andaman and Nicobar Islands, after which came the British.
- Did you know the 2 islands of Andaman, namely Havelock and Neil were actually named after the British officers of the East Indian Company?
- In the year 2018, the three Andaman islands got renamed as follows:
- Ross Island to Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Island
- Neil Island to Shaheed Dweep
- Havelock Island to Swaraj Island
Linguistics of Andaman
- Archaeological evidences, dated 2200 years back, state that the first language used by indigenous inhabitants was Mon Khmer and Shompen.
- One must think, the islands would have their own set of languages such as Andamanese, or Nicobarese, but unlike that, the widely spoken language in these beautiful islands is Bengali, followed by Hindi, Tamilian, Telugu, and many more.
- The first and only region in India to have a Tri Service Command of Armed forces is the Andaman and Nicobar Island.
- In order to preserve the rich bio diversity of the Island, commercial fishing is banned in Andaman.
- From being occupied by British, to European and Dutch community, Andaman and Nicobar Islands before surrendering to British officers were captured by Japan and was one of the active war zones during the World War 2.
- Jal Hans, India’s first commercial seaplane was launched in the pristine clear waters of Andaman on 24th January 2011. The sea plane can travel up to 250 km per hour.
From having Asia’s only active volcano at Barren Island, being a nesting site for turtles and crabs, to home to diverse flora and fauna, Andaman Islands has a lot to offer for enthusiastic travellers.
If you are an avid traveller interested in history, a nature enthusiast, an adventure junkie, or a laid back traveller interested in exploring luxury resorts, you are sure to find a place of interest in Andaman.