Limestone Caves Baratang Island
The mesmeric attraction of Andaman and Nicobar Islands is not confined to the golden white sand beaches and shimmering blue sea alone. It also boasts of rich biodiversity in its dense Evergreen and Mangrove forests, which is home to a vibrant treasure trove of flora and fauna, both terrestrial and marine, not to mention the cultural heritage of this ancient archipelago. Comprising around 572 islands, islets and rocky outcrops at the junction of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, it draws visitors from mainland India as well as the world for a tranquil holiday experience. The Andaman Islands are gradually opening up to the outside world, and one such destination, typical of a tropical paradise, yet virgin and pristine is the Baratang Island. It has emerged as a must-visit destination in the Andaman, not only for its attractions of sea and sand but also for its natural wonders of Limestone Cave in the Andaman Islands and the only live Mud Volcano in the country.
Where is Baratang Island located?
Baratang Island is about 100 Kms from the capital city of Port Blair and is considered to be the gateway to the Middle and North Andaman and important destinations like Rangat, Mayabunder, and Diglipur. The road journey to Baratang Island from Port Blair is, in itself, a lifetime experience of exploration running deep within the dense forest designated as Jarawa Reserve. Access is strictly monitored, and passage is regulated only in convoys at a fixed schedule to help preserve the habitat of the exceedingly reclusive ancient Jarawa tribe.
Culture of Baratang Island
The ethnic composition of the Island is divided into two – the indigenous and the settlers. Abode to six ancient tribes and settlers from outside has created a unique combination of culture and traditions, which juxtaposes with each other in harmonious coexistence. However, the tribes remain aloof from the mainstream, maintaining their cultural purity, sticking to hunting and horticulture for sustenance. The settlers, on the other hand, have taken to agriculture and other occupations. Hinduism is the dominant religion, and Bengali, besides Hindi and Tamil, are the usual spoken languages.
Major Tourist Highlights in Baratang Island:
Visitors to the Island in close proximity to the fiercely independent and elusive Jarawa Tribe offers a range of attractions for an invigorating vacation. Places to visit in Baratang Island include shining lures like the Limestone Caves, Mud Volcano, serene Baludera Beach, and Parrot Island, to name a few. Not yet flooded with fancy resorts and restaurants, Baratang Island is a destination with ample scope of being one with nature. Foodies can sample the local predominantly non-vegetarian cuisine, heavily influenced by the Bengali and South Indian settlers, which are delicious and wholesome. Not to be missed to beat the sultry heat is the green coconut juice or the refreshing Lassi and Chhanch, a concoction of fresh curd.
What are the Limestone Caves?
Limestone Caves can be defined as naturally carved cavities under the Earth’s crust. In shape and size, they may range from a few meters to a few miles, where in some cases, even light has not penetrated.
How are Limestone caves formed?
Limestone cave formation is a natural architecture created over millions of years of corrosion, triggered by Carbonic Acid, in a reaction of Carbon Dioxide and Rainwater Cavities or caverns under the earth’s surface are adorned with naturally formed attractive shapes called Stalagmites, Stalactites and Flow stones. These keep changing form due to the continuous deposit of Calcium Carbonate, showcasing an awe-inspiring sight.
Popular Limestone Caves in the world
Among all the cave formations in the world, some of the best Limestone Caves admired for their beauty are:
- Cave of the Mounds: Admired for its beauty and has been rightly named the “Jewel Box”, it is located in Wisconsin, USA.
- Jeitta Grotto: Lebanon prides in this Limestone Cave, which is 9 Kms in length.
- Hida: The Limestone cave is located at a depth of 800 mts under a cascading waterfall in Japan and is adorned with finger-like Helictite formations.
- Jenolan: The spectacular oldest cavern in the world, lies in the Blue Mountains, close to Sydney, Australia.
- Cave Pool: Located in Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Province of Mexico, the Cave boasts of a natural swimming pool inside. It is illuminated by piercing sunlight through an overhead crevasse, creating a kaleidoscope of myriad delightful colors.
Trip to Baratang Island Limestone Caves
Visiting Limestone caves in Baratang Island is a thrilling experience in itself. The magnificence of the insides of the Limestone Cave in Baratang Island creates mixed feelings in the minds of the visitors, who throng the place during the peak months between December and March when the sea is calm and the weather pleasant.
The Top highlights of the Trip
- Many tourists take the easy option of a day trip by booking a Baratang Island tour package from Port Blair.
- Package tour may be convenient, but the traveler will end in Baratang Island sightseeing, missing out on the opportunity to explore the Island for all its heavenly attractions.
- The approach to Baratang Island Limestone Cave site entails a captivating boat ride through the Mangrove canopy, offering the unique opportunity to be a bird watcher and a wildlife enthusiast, rolled into one.
- The last part is a short trek to the Baratang Island Limestone Cave site for a view of the ever-changing natural wonder.
Visiting Limestone caves in Baratang Island is an enthralling experience affording excitement to add spice to the otherwise sublime holiday of leisure and relaxation. The sight of the natural spectacle shall remain etched in one’s mind as one of the cherished memories, to recall in future with a tinge of nostalgia, not to forget the close encounters with nature in the once exclusive preserve of the Jarawa people.
How to visit Limestone Cave in Baratang Island?
One can plan the trip on one’s own by availing a boat ride through the Mangrove and then the short trek to the cave site. A package tour to the Limestone cave is available in plenty. Either way, a visit to the cave is a must activity in Baratang Island, along with the other natural wonders of Mud Volcano and Parrot Island. An overnight stay in Baratang Island is slated to be a highly rewarding experience, considering that it has remained unexplored for so long.