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Andaman and Nicobar Islands - An untold tropical tale - We are all too familiar with the pangs of disconnecting from the clamour of city life and fleeing to nature’s crib. Imagine yourself on an empty beach covered in sugar-white sand, under the palm trees, the ocean innocuously clear in front of you, and the azure sky over you. With Thomas Cook India’s Andaman tour packages, you can make these dreams a reality. With Andaman holidays starting at a shoestring INR 19,810 to an uber luxurious island escapade at INR 1,01,599, Thomas Cook India understands and caters to your every travel need with these curated Andaman holiday packages from many Indian cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Cochin, Lucknow, Pune, Kolkata, Indore, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chennai, Port Blair and more. A vacation to the Andaman Islands with Thomas Cook India has many benefits, chief among them, the ease of booking and freedom to choose an Andaman trip that suits you from a list of well planned, well priced and well-executed Andaman tours.
If you still need a reason to visit the Andamans, visit the Thomas Cook India website for more information you may need to finally plan your trip to the Andamans.
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|Luxury - Wow Andaman with Flexi Flights|
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About Andaman Toursim
This pristine archipelago is situated in the juncture between two grand seas- Andaman Sea and The Bay of Bengal. It is 150 km ahead north of Indonesia with Thailand and Myanmar lying on the other end of the Andaman Sea. The two Island groups, namely Andaman Islands and Nicobar Islands are separated (in parts) Ten Degree Channel.
Andaman and Nicobar may seem far removed from the past and current happenings of India, or in fact the world, but the reality suggests otherwise. The region is rich with history, heritage and has its own chronicle of a colonial past that has made its perpetual impressions on the culture.
Founded during the Chola Empire, countries have fought to claim this tropical paradise throughout history starting with the Dutch in the 1800’s, the French and finally the English, from whom India liberated the islands in 1950.
The islands are rife with remnants of India’s colonial past, which lend them a quaintness one often sees in the exotic isles of the Caribbean, but it also has reminders of struggle to keep them an integral part of the country, such as Port Blair’s Cellular Jail where freedom fighters were incarcerated for decades at a time.
In modern India, the islands are an exotic escape from the mundane. Places we’ve heard of in textbooks and travel guides that are shrouded in an aura of mystery, intrigue, always accompanied by the question, ‘How do we get there?’ But guess what, Thomas Cook India is the answer to this question and a guide to one of India’s least explored destinations.
What are Andamans? They’re remote islands surrounded by turquoise blue waters and balmy tropical breeze for beach bums. They’re idyllic jewels in the Indian Ocean that beckon honeymooners with the promise of privacy, where they can stroll along white sandy beaches without a soul in sight. For intrepid adventurers the Andaman’s harken back to the time of pirates and explorers, where every step has the potential to cast the first ever footprint on an uncharted island island. Lastly, for daredevils, it is a mecca for watersports and undersea exploration where you can swim with the fishes and marvel at coral reefs.
Best time to visit the Andamans
Andaman and Nicobar boast of being a year-round tropical haven. The weather is unknown to extreme fluctuations in temperature and maintains an average of 25°C throughout the year. Although, there are recommended seasons for specific activities. Summer comes with clear skies and steady, calm waves which are perfect for snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing and many more of the marine thrills.
Andaman experiences average to heavy rainfall in the months of July to September. The tropical jungle blooms in a thick green frenzy with waterfalls spurting like merry surprises- an idyllic forest retreat away from the world known. However, water activities are stopped due to the erratic tumults of the sea and strong winds. But with winter paving way in October, comes the best time to be in Andaman and Nicobar. The temperature remains pleasant, ranging from 22°c to 28°c. Cultural activities begin in full zest with the Island Tourism Festival being the lodestar.
How to reach the Andamans
There are direct daily flights to Port Blair (Veer Savarkar International Airport) from cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, and Chennai. Furthermore, on some days, there are flights available from Visakhapatnam. While the flight duration from Mumbai/Delhi takes approximately 5 hours, Kolkata/ Chennai/ Visakhapatnam experiences significantly lower flying time of 2 hours. International flights coming in are subject to fulfillment of criteria from the Director General of Civil Aviation.
Regular passenger ship services to Port Blair can be availed of, from cities like Chennai, Kolkata, and Visakhapatnam. While Kolkata and Chennai charter 3-4 sailings every month, Visakhapatnam offers only 1. The average journey takes about 3-4 days. Do plan well in advance so that you can book your voyage.
Where to go in the Andamans
The capital city of Andaman makes the fact gleaming clear that there is more to the islands than just the sun, sand and the sea. It beckons you to take a deep dive into the rich culture and history, starting from a visit to the infamously famous Cellular Jail of the British era, also known as ‘Kala Pani’. The name Kala Pani literally translates to black waters in Hindi which was suggestive of the banishment of Indian captive prisoners, across the seas, into the darkness from where there was no return. Every wall, gallows and chamber in this jail echoes the struggles and martyrdom of the freedom fighters to the present day. The feeling lingers on your further when you set foot in the ghost town of Ross Island, resplendent with ruins of the 19th century British settlement. It is sprawling with Goth bungalows, churches and cemeteries, straddled by the lush flora of the jungle, growing over and through the architectural decay. Besides such intense experiences, Port Blair also offers a sweet respite to Chidiya Tapu and Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park which is highly recommended for wildlife (and sunset) enthusiasts. The place is also matted with good cultural and ecological museums, with those quintessential sea view restaurants where you go to dine, wine and unwind on a vacation.
You could be a backpacker looking for adventures or someone on an extravagant maritime family vacation, Havelock Island has quite a reputation for charming travelers of all kinds. Start with digging your toes and letting the soft white sand slip through on the virgin coast of Elephant Island before you choose what to try off the enthralling platter of water sports. You can be snorkeling, scuba diving or just treating your eyes to the underwater vistas in a glass water boat ride. Radhanagar Beach offers professional assistance and training for aquatic activities and has quite a few dive shops. If this exotic retreat hasn't convinced you still, wait till the exotic birds on the Japanese Island get your attention. It is a bird lover’s paradise least to say with emerald doves, long-tailed meerkats and hanging parrots owning the skies. But, if you want to make it a perfect lazy day at the beach, head straight to Vijaynagar or Lone Grove beach where you can spend your day languidly on a hammock or collecting seashells under the azure sky and cobalt waters, shaded with palm trees.
This destination will make you feel like on a quest to the south end of the world to discover a natural wonder. The Kalapathar limestone caves are jewels emerging out of the lush mangles of mangroves and set you on an adventure trail to enjoy the experience. You either take a mangrove canopy walk that makes most of skip a heartbeat or take a boat up to the creek in which notorious saltwater crocodiles roam free. The choice is yours. But wait, there's more in store! Two waterfalls- White Surf and Whisper wave that make you feel like stepping into one of those scenic wallpapers on your computer screens. The air washes out any sign of fatigue with sporadic sprays of water and dew. Rainbows appear constantly over your head and light filters through the branches of the trees. Welcome to Paradise!
Barren Island brings you an unexpected surprise- an active volcano! And the only one in the whole of South Asia. The Barren Volcano is not a sight to be missed when touring Andaman and Nicobar. The land is marked with violent bulges and pockets of the past lava flows and oozes. Unlike the characteristic landscape of the archipelago, the Barren island has black rock beaches and a harsh topography, spans dramatically under the big blue sky.
The first thing to pop in our heads when we think of this coastal beauty is of course, seafood! Fresh out of the water fish and crustaceans are definitely recommended. You have to try the macher jhol, coconut prawn curry and lobsters. Andaman and Nicobar Islands are the melting pot of many cultures which bring a part of their own identities and cuisines on the table. From Bengali to Thai, Chinese to South Indian; the restaurants offer lip smacking options for all your cravings. Barbeque is one popular way of rounding off a fun dinner on the beach, under the twinkling stars. And how can we miss the foray of tropical fruits? Vegetarians can breathe a bit lighter. Tender coconuts, bananas, ram phal, noni fruit- you are in for a super healthy sweet treat!
Things to Do in the Andamans
Work on your tan at Radhanagar Beach
With pristine white sands and crystal clear water Radhanagar beach is the textbook example of everything beach should be. You can lie on its sandy beach or frolic about in the water. Try snorkeling or diving among the reefs when you tire of lying about on land. It is also lined with a host of cafes where you can relax over a cold beverage or something stronger. Routinely voted among the best beaches in India, Radhanagar gives exotic locales a run for their money without putting a strain on yours. Forget Bora Bora, Grand Cayman and Tulum, head to Radhanagar for a beach vacation like none other.
Bask in the glory of the bioluminescent beach at Havelock Island
On moonless nights from December to February, the beach at Havelock Island comes alive thanks to bioluminescent plankton. The blue waters glow blue in the dark giving the beach an ethereal neon hue. The experience rivals the northern or southern lights and will take your breath away. Words do the sight of waves bathed in a mystical blue glow gently caressing the shore no justice. Here’s an idea, how about planning a proposal at this beach with the stars, the glowing blue sea and your significant other for company? Let it sink in and book one of Thomas Cook India’s Andaman tours to take you there.
Step back in time at Ross Island
Ross Island is the erstwhile capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, founded when India was a British colony. The island is dotted with remnants of our colonial past such as historic ruins, old world churches and bakeries that will take you back to when we paid teen guna lagaan and visiting these islands for the average Indian meant a one way trip to Kala Paani prison.
Get locked up at Kaala Pani
Few prisons have managed to shake off their infamous past and become places of cultural interest. There’s Alcatraz Island, there’s the Bastille and then there’s Cellular Jail or Kaala Paani. What used to be a prison housing those fighting for freedom, this jail is now a historic site with a light show every evening you simply cannot miss. See the cells that housed revolutionaries and witness the gallows where the roots of the tree of freedom were refreshed with the blood of patriots. Kaala Paani has managed to move from the macabre to the magnificent where the walls, some of which still bear the writings of former inmates, actually tell stories.
Cross the Howrah Bridge to Bharatpur Beach
We’re not talking about Kolkata, the Howrah bridge in question is a natural rock formation in the shape of a bridge leading to Bharatpur beach. Bharatpur beach is the real star here. It looks like the work of a surrealist painter and might as well be a part of an idyllic dream. Wade in the crystal blue water or simply sit on one of the many rocks that dot the shore, watch the sunset and ponder the great mystery of creation that gave rise to such beauty. Also, if privacy is your thing, and loud obnoxious tourists turn you off, this is the place for you as the few people at this beach are seeking the same solace you are, affording you some peace and quiet.
Trek up to the summit of Mt. Harriet
While there’s plenty of tourists seeing plenty of beaches on these islands, few venture inland. Those that do are granted access to the rugged wilderness that is a hallmark of the trail from Madhuban to Mt. Harriet via Kala Patthar. This stretch of forest will set you on a path to adventure, giving you the feeling of exploring an uncharted forest in search of hidden treasure. The only treasure here is the view from the top of Mt. Harriet, the second highest peak in this chain of islands. You could visit the first Saddle Hill, but the trek to Mt. Harriet and the view from the top is something to write home about.
Swim with the sea cows off Neil Island
The Dugong is the state animal of Andaman and Nicobar. These gentle giants have seen their numbers dwindle due to hunting but are slowly making a comeback thanks to conservation efforts by the WWF. Seeing a Dugong glide gracefully along its natural habitat elicits a range of emotions from fear of these behemoths of the deep, to glee because of their inherent cuteness and lastly peace, because their faces seem to be frozen in a perpetual smile. They can be found off Neil Island, and though the populations are small, they do not shy away from human contact. Who knows, if you’re lucky enough to spot a dugong up close, it might come a little closer to investigate and you might make contact with an awe inspiring creature from the deep.
Interesting facts about Andaman and Nicobar Islands
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