The capital of Andaman and Nicobar islands, the quaint town of Port Blair is renowned for its beautiful beaches, diverse ecosystem and exotic natural wonders. Port Blair has also been the backdrop to some of the most thrilling episodes of history on the Indian subcontinent. Accessible by air and by water from Chennai, Kolkata and Visakhapatnam, Port Blair is often considered to be the first stop in a journey deep into the glorious Andaman Islands. Many of the best things to do and see in Andaman islands can all be found in enchanting Port Blair.
Port Blair itself has a lot to offer that will entice you to stay in town for a while. Its proximity to some of the most scenic spots in the vicinity and its historical monuments make it a perfect place to spend a few days and explore.
Here are our top picks of places to visit in and around Port Blair.
The history buffs among us will surely know of this site. Or perhaps, it is more familiar to you by its other name – Kaala Pani. Kaala Paani was the jail that was reserved for the most dangerous political prisoners during the British rule. This is where great freedom fighters like Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Batukeshwar Dutt and Yogendra Shukla were imprisoned. Built between 1896 and 1906, the prison complex gets its name from the structure of its solitary cells that were built in order to prevent prisoners from communicating with each other. Today, the complex serves as a memorial and a museum of India’s great struggle for freedom from the British colonial rule. One should not miss the thrilling light and sound show that takes place every evening within the complex, with a voiceover by veteran actor Om Puri.
Timings: 9 am to 12 noon, 1 pm to 4.15 pm. Light and sound shows: 6 pm in Hindi and 7.15 pm in English.
Entry Fee: Rs. 10/-. Rs. 100/- for video recording
The second place on our list involves another thrilling history lesson – this one from the World War II. During the war, Japan invaded the Andaman and Nicobar islands for a brief period of time and gained control of them. Eventually, the islands were handed over to Subhash Chandra Bose’s Azad Hind government, and the British retook the islands in 1945. During their time on the islands, the Japanese built bunkers to protect their troops from air raids by the British. These bunkers on Corbyn’s Cove and Ross Island are a testimony to the gruesome war that the land has been witness to. We definitely recommend checking out the bunkers near Corbyn’s Cove – they look surreal in the beautiful landscape and there is a chance of spotting deer and peacock in the vicinity.
Timings: Open All Day
Entry Fee: Nil
Just eight kilometers from the city center, Corbyn’s Cove is the perfect beach for adrenaline fuelled watersports – everything from swimming, surfing and snorkeling, all at this idyllic beach. It is also the ideal beach for folks who want to relax and find a cozy hammock under the shade of palm trees listening to the sound of the gentle waves lapping up the seashore.
How to get there: Autorikshaw from the city center costs Rs. 150/-
Perhaps the best place to watch the sunset in all of Andaman, Chidiya Tapu almost feels like a magical and otherworldly place during the sunsets. Located deep in the Andaman jungles, about an hour away from the Port Blair city center, Chidiya Tapu or bird island is so called because of the exotic varieties of birds that gather here. It is best to leave for Chidiya Tapu in the afternoon so that you do not miss the fabled sunset, but we advise getting there in the morning and checking out the trekking trail that leads you deep in the heart of the evergreen forest.
How to get there: Chidiya Tapu is located 30 kilometers from the city center and will take about an hour to reach. Advisable to pack your own lunch.
Chatham Saw Mill
Set up in 1883 to meet the primary requirement of timber around the island, today the Chatham Saw Mill is a beautiful museum that preserves the amazing techniques of woodworking that are a pride of the island. It is the largest and oldest saw mill in all of Asia. One of the prize exhibits is the Japanese bomb crater that was left here during World War II, and take home beautiful woodwork from the souvenir shop.
Timings: 9 am to 4 pm
Entry Fee: Rs. 10/-
Samudrika Marine Museum
Samudrika Naval Marine Museum is the place to go to if you want to learn more about the island’s diverse and exotic marine life and ecosystem. Owned and managed by the Indian Navy, the museum complex has five galleries that deal with the history, geography, anthropology, biology and marine life on the Andaman islands. But the show stealer is the tiny zoo that shelters the saltwater crocodiles of Haddo island.
Timings: 9 am to 5 pm. Monday closed.
Entry Fee: Rs. 50/-
Long before the advent of the British colonial rule, the islands of Andaman have been home to a host of indigenous tribes and communities like the Jarawa, the Onges and the Nicobarese. Some of these people are considered to be the oldest inhabitants of planet earth. The Anthropological Museum of Port Blair gives a succinct image of the life and history of these people who still inhabit the deep forests of the islands. The star exhibits in the museum are the Jarawa chest guard and the various centuries old shamanic sculptures found on the islands. The museum is located in the city center and can be accessed easily by an auto rickshaw.
Timings: 9 am to 5 pm. Monday closed.
Entry Fee: Rs. 20/-
What’s the point of a holiday without souvenirs? Andaman is home to some of the most intricate and beautiful arts and crafts, using ubiquitous material such as wood, sea shells and coconut shells. Sagarika Emporium was set up in 1960 by the Indian government to foster and promote the traditional handicrafts of Andaman and to create a platform where they could be sold. Today, the emporium is the primary destination for shoppers looking to take back memorabilia from their trip to the islands.
Timings: 9 am to 7 pm. ( 3 pm to 7 pm on Sundays)
Port Blair is generally thought of as the perfect base camp as you go exploring the islands of Andaman, but as this list shows, there is no dearth of things to do right in Port Blair. To know more and for help with planning your itinerary, get in touch with TripFactory!