Ep - 1 Port Blair, Chidiya Tapu, Ross Island | Andaman Islands
At a time in history, Andaman meant "Kala Paani" or severe punishment by the British. An island that is surrounded by water for miles in all directions. Quite afar from the Indian mainland.
The penal settlement began at the Viper Island Jail. Later on, the British built another jail & an administrative office on the Ross Island. Once Cellular Jail was built, Ross Island was used as an administrative block.
Cellular Jail became the main jail. In the coming episodes, you'll see the Cellular Jail in detail. We spent first half of our first day in Andaman learning Ross Island's history. During the second half of the day, we visited the Chidiya Island... ...and Munda Mountain. Namaskar friends! Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host, Harish Bali.
I am in Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. We are beginning our day at the South Point. I have come to a place of immense historical significance! This is where, in 1943, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, unfurled the Indian tricolor.
This feels good, doesn' it? I knew before I came here that this place was under Japanese control from 1942-45. Here, I am reading that... ... the Japanese control began on March 23, 1943. It means this was the first Indian territory to declare independence from the British. We began our day from the right place then! Wherever you go in the Port Blair...
...you will learn a lot about our history. Whether it is Cellular Jail or Ross Island,... ...each place is closely connected to the history of our independence movement. Now, we're going to the Ross Island, which I've shown you, is right there. We will go there in a boat. It isn't far. We'll reach there in 15 minutes. But, we might need to wait in queue for the boat.
We've bought tickets to go to Ross Island. The boat service begins at 9 AM from here. You cannot go before that. The timings are 9 am, 11:30 am and 2 pm. They increase the number of boats in case there is more crowd. But as of now, as of today, only three time slots are there, last one being at 2 pm.
They are waiting for the boat to fill up to capacity before they leave. So, to save time, I thought let us hire the full boat for our four-person group. We had to pay Rs 3700. Boatman, please come forward! Okay, we'll see you later brother. I've been trying to pay attention to this scene for a long time. Don't know why this water is looking dark blue in colour.
Could be because of the sunlight. But I have to admit that I am having fun here! See, we've reached the Ross Island! Ross Island is now called the "Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Dweep". So beautiful! Brother, there used to be a Madam who used to guide us. Yes, it is a Madam who guides tourists. Hello Radha Ma'am.
So, please take us to meet her. As soon as we got down, the first thing I see is this Japanese bunker. Let's visit here first. It is flooded inside. We cannot go in as it is dark inside.
I've already told you this Japanese bunker belongs to the W.W. II era. They controlled this area during the W.W. II. So, this is one bunker we can see. Please come! This one is quite aggressive! Aggressive because it is the smallest in the family. It usually rushes after its mother.
Since when are you on this island? Since I was a small child. I am the fourth generation in my family to live here. This place is my father's birthplace. So nice! All these deer seem friendly with you! It is because I've domesticated them with my love and care! Their number on this island was quite low, just 17. Earlier, people used to hunt them. Then, in 1987, the Indian Navy entered this region.
They helped to domesticate these wild animals. Today, I possess 550 deer. So good! I don't disturb them, wherever they want to go. Though the sparrows stay out till 5 PM, by 4.30 PM, all birds head to their nests. But they will continue to roam after me, even if I am here till after dark. Never in my life have I stood this close to a deer.
Yes, they won't turn away. I am seeing this for the first time. They are taught to live in the proximity of humans. I request tourists to not bring plastic with them. I've deliberately not kept a dustbin. This is such a noble deed to save this environment.
You can see peacock, deer, everyone roaming around together. Even sparrows and squirrels are also together. Do you see the squirrel? It is making sounds. Would you like to see it? Yes, of course! Show them please! The Japanese ruled this island for 3 years. During that time, they meted out torture worth a thousand years to the natives. During the W.W. II, the Japanese also bombed this island.
Due to that, an earthquake also struck this island. During that quake, a total of 130 acres of Ross Island developed deep cracks. Really! I will show you that area. Sir, this is the original structure of a bakery of that time. Its doors and windows are new, though. (Inaudible) His full name is Daniel Ross.
Named after the first British surveyor who stepped on this island. These islands were 200 acres when these were first surveyed in 1740. As you are here today, this island is left only 70 acres in area.
At that time, the population of this island used to be a thousand. Among those, only 500, who were British and Indian, could stay here. Rest had to return to the mainland by sundown. So, who were those? They were Indian freedom fighters imprisoned and working as labourers here.
After the day's work, these 500 prisoners were taken back to jail by 4 PM. And they left behind just 500 Indian and British soldiers. The British came here first in 1740.
Yes! And they built their first administrative office here in 1840. During that time, the prisoners were kept in jails on the Viper Island. Yes, in Viper. Later on, barracks were built on the Ross Island too.
And, eventually, the Cellular Jail. This is a 75-year-old tree on top of this ruined building. This tree is on top of these ruins, with its roots going deeper into the structure. This is a printing press from the times of the British. The name of this paper is "Daily English One Page." This paper is still being published.
In 1947, it shifted offices to Port Blair. Today, this paper is called "The Daily Telegram." The government is still publishing it in Hindi and English languages. If you take out these roots, this structure will fall down. This tree is actually keeping this structure standing.
Let me show you how! Sir, this building structure is unlike common structures. I will say this till I am alive that even a bomb cannot bring down this structure. These structures have been destroyed mainly by the humans. Man is more responsible than the nature for this devastation.
These walls are made of bricks and iron has been instilled in between the walls. The iron sheets in between the walls are installed using iron bolts and nuts. The British knew that Andaman and Nicobar is an earthquake-prone area.
Thus, this building was constructed like this. It has three black spots. You can see the nuts and bolts even today. This building will keep standing for another 200 years.
Okay, the iron you were talking about! Yes! You can see the iron nut-bolt in the wall. Pari, come down and bring everyone down with you! Call all your friends! You can talk to the squirrels. You even talk to the deer. Because humans aren't my friends, so what to do! Ae Pari, come down to Mama. Call all your friends too!Aaa! Aaa!! Hey you! come here! Where have all the kids gone? Where are all your partners? Come on all! Come down fast! Call them down! This is Bulbul Sir! They live somewhere else and have come here for today. Sir, these used to be the steam boilers.
These were brought here from England in 1840. There was no electricity in 1840. So, these boilers were used to turn seawater into distilled water. In the absence of electricity, coal was used for fuel. This is the firing point, where the fire was lit.
And seawater was poured into these filters above. Fire heated up the water and turned it into steam, which was condensed into water. Water from all the filter tubes was collected here to be used further. Rainwater was used as bisleri water. Really! Now why did they do this? It is the god's gift to Andaman & Nicobar. Wherever you'll drill into the sea bed along the coast, you'll get sweet water.
The British eventually dug up 12 wells along the sea coast on these islands. We are using 6 of those till this day. Why 6? Because in 1987, when this area was handed to defence... ...they started maintenance of all the wells and... ...started using the water for personal usage. So, today we use the same seawells.
Still, why did the British build these filters? Because in Andaman & Nicobar, the British were afraid of just two things. Mosquitoes & sea water! Mosquito bites caused malaria, thus, death while the water caused skin diseases. Behind you is the swimming pool that the British built for themselves. It was built in a way that it got cleaned and refilled itself. It has varied depths of 4 ft, 3 ft, and 2 ft. And it isn't sweet water but salt water.
This tap gets closed once the pool is filled. When the water needs to be changed, you just opened the low tide valve... ...and the pool got emptied. This is all but listen to a story about Savarkar ji. Yes! Savarkar is a man who isn't born twice on this earth. He was born, he is gone. Now he won't be born again ever!
The British wanted Savarkar ji to weep with despair. Savarkar used to keep smiling through all the torture meted out to him. His smile worked like poison for the British.
There was a particular officer who tortured Savarkar ji and he got transferred. He packed his luggage and left one morning. But he was seen returning with his luggage just 30 minutes later. On returning, he asked for Savarkar. He was told that Savarkar was working in some part of the jail.
He ran up to where Savarkar was and.... ...asked him what he was made of and why didn't he cry ever? Savarkar ji came up to him, put his hand on the officer's shoulder and said.... ...if you want to see me cry, you'll have to take rebirth as an Indian. He told the officer, "You'll see my tears the day you will open eyes as an Indian." It is believed that he added that not his eyes but his soul cried, which only... ...an Indian could see. After this interaction, the officer couldn't muster courage to return to this island. When you will see my documentary on the Cellular Jail in the coming episodes...
...you'll be saddened to know the way prisoners were tortured. We also visited the cell where Veer Savarkar was imprisoned. I noticed two doors outside the cell. This measure was taken so that there was no way Veer Savarkar could escape. Ma'am, what areas does this golf cart cover and what are its charges? They charge Rs 80 per person for a group of 8 persons.
But they will take you to just one side of the island, towards the light house. Where do they take us? Tourists are taken to visit that lighthouse by the water. Tourists aren't able to wander much. Do you see those stairs? There used to be a building here. The first floor of the building was an office and the second floor was residence.
His name was Colonel (inaudible). He was an important officer. He had a lot of official information at his disposal and he had facilities at hand. The bakery was close in case he felt hungry.
He had this beautiful lawn in case he wanted to take a walk. For him to play, there was also a tennis court, right up these steps. This whole area was a tennis court, absolutely beautiful in that era.
It used to be covered in green grass. Come dear! Come on! Come on out dear! Come on! It won't harm you! This is a squirrel. Sir, this used to be their club.
This was the card room, the single room. This used to be the bar room. Do you see this hall? Come closer and take a good look. It was repaired after tsunami. This was the Britishers' club? Yes Sir! It is a smaller one! This was the card room, this the bar room! The British officers used to live here with their families.
Yes with families! That is the dancing floor Sir. Really! The dancing floor and this used to be the seating space. This was the upper floor of the club. This is the way to the top floor. This is where they tortured the prisoners and here they played cards! Yes, and here was the bar room! There is another ruin.
That one! Yes! Yes! Alright! This used to be the office room of another British officer. You took these stairs to reach the office. You just told me that you used to visit here from Port Blair. Earlier, it used to be barracks, which were later converted into jails. These used to be barracks till Port Blair was made a capital. Later, it was turned into a jail.
During which period was this jail functional? Sir, that was during 1840, after the Viper island started being used. This became an administrative block. Yes! The Britishers wanted to place administrative control. Yes! This place was build at that time? Yes, at the same time.
But then, it had just started building. It wasn't ready yet. This whole complex was a jail. Andaman & Nicobar Islands was famous all over the country. These islands are situated at a place of strategic importance... ...which could help any country to rule the world from here. And Ross Island is located at the mouth of this island group. Anyone wanting to enter or leave here had to cross this line.
That is why the British chose it. It makes it easier to keep an eye on anyone entering or leaving these islands. That was the intention. I am the first Indian woman to receive this. Alright. What is this?
This is a Cincan badge, awarded for doing exceptional work. We are leaving here now. I want to thank you for taking out time to guide us. I have already handed over a small donation amount to you. Ma'am refused to accept anything but I insisted that...
...it was for the good work she has been doing all these years! I have travelled all over India but I haven't met many people like you. Your nature as an environmentalist, the way you love and care for these animals... ...is proven in the fact that these animals flock to you. You've taught them so well that they've now become friendly even with tourists. What we experienced here is something we've not seen anywhere else.
Thank you! Our visit to Ross Island was quite good. The time is 12.45 PM and we want to eat lunch. Before that, I've scheduled to meet some subscribers here.
I had informed them that I would be back here by 12.45 PM. We plan to have a 30-minute meet here & they belong to another state. They have a return flight to catch & wanted to meet me before leaving. I will go for lunch after this meeting. That is our plan. For lunch, I've come to the main market of Port Blair.
This market is called 'Aberdeen Bazaar.' Not many people know why this market is named thus. Actually, Aberdeen is a town in Scotland. This Bazaar is named after that town.
Now, I will tell you the historical significance of the Aberdeen Bazaar. The native Andamanis fought a battle with the British. That is called the 'Battle of Aberdeen.' Right? During this battle, the British side prevailed over the tribals.
We will discuss this battle more as we go further on this journey. For now, I am showing you the 'Ghanta-Ghar' (clock tower). It was built before independence. Whenever you visit Aberdeen Bazaar, you can use this clock tower as a landmark. We've come here for lunch.
For lunch, we've come to the Hotel Kathabomman. Everyone is mainly eating meals. I saw curd-rice on the menu and felt like having it. They don't serve dosa, etc in the afternoon. That is served either for breakfast or in the evening.
Thank you! Let us taste sambar first. Lovely! What a preparation! Very good! This is everything you expect from a good sambar. Very tasty! We cannot cook something like this at home. We attempt to cook curd-rice at home some time.
But our curd-rice is just curd over rice. We just mix it up and eat but this is very nice. Let us taste the chutney too. Uff! See, this chutney is made of Dal. But apart from Dal, it has onions, garlic, and green chilies for flavour.
I am enjoying this chutney as much as this curd-rice. But, I am loving this chutney more. Loving it! Too good! I have been eating here since I was a little kid. Whenever we came to the market with my father, we used to eat here.
I think it is the third generation now that is running this place. That means it has been up to 60 years. Yes Sir! But the taste remains the same. One thing I am unable to understand. This place has bright sunlight. Seems like there is no chance of rain today.
Like there was bright sunlight earlier, but now it has started raining outside. I am unable to understand this weather. Does it happen often? It happens often Sir. Thanks! Okay! We've had lunch. Now we are going to visit Chidiya Tapu (island), 28 KM away.
This journey is going to be beautiful! We will join you on the way now. It is raining right now and if we stop any longer, we will get drenched. It would be better if this rain stops. Otherwise, what can we do! We have umbrellas with us. I have to admit.
The most exciting part of this journey is you get to travel along the Bay of Bengal. You have ocean on your left, this is the road & there is lots of greenery around. Sometimes, you get these trees on the way, which obstruct your view of the sea.
But the sea still remains visible through the trees. And then suddenly you get another clear view of the sea. Very nice! Lovely! The weather today is awesome! It was raining a while ago and now the sunlight is playing hide and seek with us.
Good! We are still 8 KM from the Chidiya Tapu. We've reached Chidiya Tapu. Tourists come here to watch the sunset. I cannot explain in words how beautiful this place looks right now. Look at this! Wow!!! So nice yaar! Look at the clouds over the sea! The clouds over the sea have also covered the hills in the distance.
Superb! Right now, I can only hear the sound of sea waves and the sound of the air hitting me. So nice! Look at this magnificent view! There's no one else. Tourists visit here in the evening to watch sunset. Mornings are kept to visit the Munda Mountain. If we go half a kilometer straight from here, we can trek up this mountain. 3.30 PM is the cut-off time to visit that mountain.
So, let us go there first. Otherwise, there is a chance we can get late. We will come back here to watch the sunset. There is a light drizzle as well as some sunlight. It looks like it won't rain any harder.
We will be able to visit the Munda Mountain. Where does the Munda Mountain trek begin? How much further? You will have to go through that gate. That one? Alright! See, the time to begin this trek is upto 3 PM. We were late. We had to request them to allow us to trek but they want us back by 5 PM.
Just yesterday, a group of tourists came back by 6 PM, instead of 5. By 5 or 5.10 PM, it gets dark here. Look at this path. It is narrow, covered in stones and dirt. A person told us that the view from up there is magnificent! We will get to see an aerial view of the nearby islands as well as the sea.
No wonder I am so excited about the visit. I was wearing shoes this morning but when it rained, I changed to sandals. Now, the shoes are left in the hotel. Till some time ago, I was trying to walk on the side but now...
...I am walking right in the middle of the path. I mean I am putting my foot into the slushy mud. The side path is slippery and I'm feeling more comfortable walking in the middle. Inside this dense forest, I'm not sure whether this sound is that of air or rain! Now what to do! You know what happened to us today? Just as we were trekking, it started raining heavily. It rained so hard that I can't explain and...
Our umbrellas are in the shoulder bag of the fourth team member. And I was standing like this over the camera so that... ...because otherwise the camera would've been ruined. Moreover, our Andaman tour has just begun. That is why we had to wait for 15 minutes while getting drenched. While contemplating what to do next, we decided let us cancel this trek. We decided to return while it was still raining.
We walked down for about 10-12 minutes. But right then, the rain also stopped. So, we got confused but then we became greedy and decided to return. Now I have to walk a little faster. This is because we don't want to get late while returning because of cut-off time.
Now, I am keeping my fingers crossed that it shouldn't rain any more. I believe it isn't going to rain at least for the next half an hour. That seems to be confirmed. We haven't yet met anyone returning from up there. So, I am not sure where we are headed. The only thing I know is that we'll get to see a magnificent view from up there.
By the way, one must have a local guide while walking on these paths. Though we are enjoying this journey despite being drenched. And we're still enjoying it.
Ohhoo! What a view! What a lovely sea view! The view from here is absolutely beautiful! So beautiful! Let us proceed! Oh wow! The view from here is even better! Oh Man! Amazing! To be honest! I couldn't expect more than this view. What a view I am getting to see! This is so beautiful! Terrific! Let us see what is on this side! Yes! Finally we've reached the Chidiya Tapu lighthouse. There isn't a way to reach the top of this lighthouse. This front gate is locked.
We walked straight from that lighthouse. And I think we'll get to see the view from here. Wow! Amazing! We are out of the jungle, it seems! They have built a proper hut here.
You can sit inside if it starts raining. What a view! Impressive! I was highly impressed with the earlier view. But this view is manifold better than that one. Just see for yourself from this side.
Ohoo! This view is next level. Man! Crazy! Uff! What a viewpoint! I am so happy to be here! Look at this mountain! What a natural beauty! I don't have sufficient words to describe this beauty! This is really, really nice! Let us check out a little further. The sea looks to be still, may be because we are watching from a height. We cannot see the waves of the sea, that is why! I became drenched because we didn't have umbrella with us. I told you about my fourth team member who had all the umbrellas in his bag.
He has returned, it seems his shoes took in some water. We are three members here right now, and all without umbrella. We are more concerned about our gadgets because if they take in water... ...this could be the last episode of our Andaman series! I mean first and last. That is quite possible. So we need to be very careful! For now, I can say that this place deserves at least two hours of yours.
We are leaving now but you can see the tin hut under which I am standing. You can sit here away from the rain and still enjoy the view. We are leaving here now. It is 10 PM now and we are in our hotel. I've started copying today's data. It will take an hour more. We will go to sleep by 11.30 PM and have to wake up at 4. We need to leave by 5.30 AM to catch our 6.30 AM ferry.
Tomorrow, we will visit the Havelock island. Tomorrow's night stay will be there and then we will visit Neel Island & return. Right! I will now say bye-bye to you.
We will meet again soon. Thanks for your time!