Geography of Baratang Island
Where is Baratang Island
Situated at a distance of 100 km by road from Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Baratang Island lies between the middle and the south Andamans. The virgin island is famous for mud volcanoes and limestone caves and dense mangrove forests. Baratang Island is also known as Ranchiwalas Island.
The location of Baratang Island
Baratang Island is around 24 km in length and 5-12 km in breadth. Homfray Strait separates it from the Middle Andaman and the Andaman Strait from the South Andaman Islands. Baratang Island is located between the east of the Middle and South Andaman Islands and the Rutland Island in the south.
Trip to the Baratang Island
Baratang is connected to Port Blair by both road and water. Though the distance by road is around 100 km, it takes a minimum of 2-3 hours and covers one of the best scenic journeys through the dense tropical Jarawa Reserve forest area spanning nearly 50 km, and if you are a nature lover, you cannot afford to miss this one. The first stop is the Jirkatang check post (49 km. from Port Blair). Baratang Island is an hour’s drive from Jirkatang, which is through the Jarawa Reserve Forest. Vehicles have to leave in Convoys from Jirkatang, and there are only four convoys in a day – starting at 0600, 0900, 1200 and 1430 hours.
Two wheelers are not allowed beyond Jirkatang leaving cabs and buses to be the best choice if you prefer to travel by road. A round trip by cab service for 6-7 people from Port Blair to Baratang costs approximately ₹ 5000 (including tickets and permits). Alternatively, travel by ferry from Nilambur Jetty to Baratang Island is only 15 min. long minus the scenic beauty. Ferries are not available round the year.
Tourist highlights in Baratang Island
The geography of Andaman
The southernmost landmass in India, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a group of islands divided into three main parts – Great Andaman, Little Andaman, and the Nicobar Islands.
While the Andaman group consists of around 254 islands, many of which are unnamed and uninhabited, the Nicobar group has only 21 islands, of which a little over ten islands are inhabited. The five main groups of islands that make up the Great Andamans are North, Middle and the South Andaman regions, Baratang and Rutland Islands (from north to south).
The Length of the collective Andaman Islands is around 350 km and is 60 km. wide at its broadest area.
The Andaman Islands are an Island arc complex and known for their strong seismic activity, many submerged volcanoes, and hydrothermal activity.
The location of the Andaman Islands
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are located in the southeastern part of the Bay of Bengal and form the southernmost landmass of the Indian Territory, spanning an area of 47,000 sq.km between the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. The Andaman Islands are about 600 km. East of the southern coast of Burma, has India to their west and Sumatra Island to the south. Not all islands of Andaman and Nicobar belong to India. A few islands toward the north, including the Coco Islands, are a part of Burma (Myanmar). Barren Island volcano, located around 140 km north-east of Port Blair, is the only live volcano in India.
Holiday tour in the Andaman Islands
Visiting the Andaman Islands is not a big hassle for the Indian nationals. You can reach the capital Port Blair by air or the sea. Cruises from Chennai, Visakhapatnam, and Kolkata are available round the year, which are quite popular. Various classes of accommodation and facilities are available for visitors on these cruise ships, which cost between Rs.5000 – Rs.10000 for a 3 day journey. The closest boarding point to Port Blair is Visakhapatnam at nearly 1224 km. while Chennai is the farthest at 1362 km. Port Blair can be reached by air from all major flight destinations in India, and a round trip will not cost more than Rs. 20,000 if tickets are booked in time. Port Blair, Havelock Island (Swaraj dweep) and Neil Island (Shaheed dweep) are the 3 main attractions tourists cannot afford to miss. Hotels and resorts are available in Baratang Island if you plan a trip beyond one day.
Exploring Baratang Island
The raw beauty, the lush evergreen forest, thick mangroves and the mud volcanoes make Baratang a natural wonder, which apparently is less explored than other popular islands. The mud volcanoes are around 4 km from the jetty and can be reached by the road, but the much-touted limestone caves are 30 min. ride by the boat through the beautiful sea and the thick forest. This boat journey through the mangroves is described as once in a lifetime by many travelers. Beware of crocodiles while exploring the mangrove forests. There are also many low-lying bamboo bridges over the many swamps, walking across, which is another unique experience. The Baludera isolated beach is located to the east of the Baratang Islands and is yet another unexplored scenic beauty of this region. This silent beach with its calm environment is famous for its eco-friendly tree-top huts, swimming, and elephant rides.
Nearby places of Baratang Island
Other places of interest that you better not miss on a trip to Baratang Island include Parrot Beach, the deserted beach at Baludera, Merk Bay Beach, Lalaji Bay Beach, etc. Parrot Island needs to be reached by boat, and a round trip costs nearly Rs. 2000, regardless of 6 number of passengers. Strait Island is another nearby island with dense forests and lush green surroundings. Bluff island, which can be reached by a dinghy from Baratang is a good destination for adventure lovers which, offers facilities such as snorkeling and diving. Merk Beach Bay is also a calm and serene beach and is best visited to spot birds and dolphins.
Sightseeing in Baratang Island
Mud volcanoes, formed from the gases that spew out of the earth’s crust, are a sight to watch. There are very few places in the world where one can see a mud volcano, and Baratang Island is the only such site in all of South-Asia. Limestone caves are another natural wonder which are formed from centuries of erosion by carbon dioxide dissolved water. Torchlight and a tough pair of shoes are necessary to explore the limestone caves. Parrot Island is home to many beautiful birds, including the parrots and parakeets and the most fabulous sight is to watch these birds crowding in the sun at dusk. For this reason, trips to Parrot Island start after 4 PM. Remember to start early (by 4 AM) at Port Blair, if you want to exploit the journey and the beauty of Baratang Island to the fullest and return home (back to Port Blair) the same day.