A visit to Andaman and Nicobar islands of ‘Kaala Pani’ was a long cherished dream which was fulfilled during my yet another but recent trip of this beautiful part of the country back in February. A stop over at Samudrika, a Naval Marine museum helped me refresh my historical, geographical and anthropological insight of the yonder years. I also gained a better understanding of why it was called the ‘Kaala Pani’ even though the sun was bright, the water looked absolutely stunning – bluish green; it was when there were clouds in the sky, the color of the sea changed to almost black as it always does. With the area having rainfall from April to October, the water must be looking dark most of the time. To add to it, the water was the culprit for ensuring that the convicts could not escape from here.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, numbering 556, are located very close to the equator covering an area of 8249 sq. km. and out of these, only 37 islands are inhabited and the rest of them have no one living there. The Bay Island is quite cosmopolitan and the population comprises Bengalis, Andhraites, Tamilians and Bangladeshis. There are six major tribes. Nicobarese, Shompens, Jarawa, Onges, Great Andamanese and Sentinelese. They still reside in huts made of leaves and bamboos in jungles, feed on fruits and stay mostly naked. They are usually scared of ordinary human beings other than the tribe and use bow and arrow to protect themselves. I was told by the locals that they do not consume any salt and their saliva is very poisonous to the extent that even snake bites do not effect them. Shocking! I’m not too sure about this, though this is what they have to say yet it is unauthenticated. Their numbers are dwindling fast and no wonder, the Goat, is making all the efforts to keep them safe and protected.
Some 150 years ago, molten magma is said to have erupted from the earth’s crust along the dilated ocean floor at the foot of a submarine ridge. Andaman Islands are at the tip of an undulating lava plateau, the root of which goes deep down beyond the ocean floor. Useful info! Climate? Hot in winters and extremely hot and humid in summers.
Glad I was there at a fairly decent time. It does not rain here, it pours. Sorrounded by dense tropical forests, tall trees seem vying with each other to grab the attention of the sun while creepers and vines cover the tree trunks. I experienced everything just like what I had learnt during my high school. Discovered in 1959, this place became the prison for the Indian ‘Mutineers’ of the First War of Independence, 1857. After its discovery the British established themselves here, built the infamous jail in Port Blair, set up gallows on Viper Island and made Ross Island their capital. The rest is just history. Indian legends say that Lord Hanuman had stepped on this island on His way to Lanka. The name Andaman has no records anywhere for its entitlement, but Nicobar seems to have originated from South Indian word ‘Nakkavaram’ which means the land of the naked. I strongly recommend a visit to these islands to enjoy the virgin beauty. Period.