Vidur’s Travel Diary – 17 : Andaman Calling


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CHENNAI – TAMIL NADU – INDIA           JULY 24, 2015           10.45 P.M.

It was raining heavily today in Mumbai. Rains are romantic but only when you are at home and enjoying the downpour. Torrential rain, for me, is dreadful if you are travelling. You feel dwarfed in front of the fury of mighty nature. When I started from my apartment for airport, it was drizzling. But when I reached airport, it was dark and I could see rain water lashing out on the large window panes of the domestic terminal. I dreaded but had no option. I took the flight, because I have to be in Port Blair on July 26th.

I took the flight and reached Chennai in the night. It is my 5th Chennai visit. But this time I am visiting the city only as a transit passenger. I will be taking early morning flight to Port Blair, the capital town of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Apart from 29 states, India has 7 Union Territories. Out of 7 Union Territories, I have visited Delhi multiple times, Puducherry 4 times and Chandigarh once. 2 other Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli are very close to Mumbai and I can visit them any day. But I never imagined that I could visit Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Never in my wildest dreams have I thought that I would be visiting Andaman in my life. So when my student Lakshmi Rao invited me to come to Port Blair as the Chief Guest of the 1st ever Andaman beauty pageant, I agreed immediately.

I searched Wikipedia and found some fascinating information about Andaman & Nicobar Islands. These island first came to light during Chola Empire. Then finally took shape during British rule. Britishers tried to colonise these islands but failed.

In 1858 the British again established a colony at Port Blair, which proved to be more permanent. The primary purpose was to set up a penal colony criminal convicts from the Indian subcontinent. The colony came to include the infamous Cellular Jail.

In 1872 the Andaman and Nicobar islands were united under a single chief commissioner at Port Blair. The capital of the union territory, Port Blair, is located 1,255 km from Kolkata, 1,200 km from Visakhapatnam and 1,190 km from Chennai

There are 572 islands in the territory having an area of 8,073 km. Of these, about 34 are permanently inhabited.

The Andamans are separated from the Nicobar group by a channel (the Ten Degree Channel) some 150 km wide. The highest point is located in North Andaman Island (Saddle Peak at 732 m .

The Andaman group has 325 islands which cover an area of 6,170 km while the Nicobar group has only 24 islands with an area of 1,765 km.

It is night halt at Chennai airport. I will take 5.00 AM flight and will be reaching Port Blair at 7.30 AM. A dream of my lifetime will be fulfilled.

Whenever I visit a new place , I always remember these famous lines of the great modern Hindi poet Agyeya :

पार्श्व गिरि का नम्र चीड़ों में , डगर चढ़ती उमंगों सी ;

बिछी पैरों में नदी ज्यों दर्द की रेखा , विहग शिशु मौन नीड़ों में ; 

मैंने आँख भर देखा , दिया मन को दिलासा ; 
पुनः आऊँगा , भले ही बरस दिन , अनगिन युगों के बाद ;

क्षितिज ने पलक सी खोली , दमक कर दामिनी बोली ;
” अरे यायावर ! रहेगा याद ? “
………………………………………………..अज्ञेय 
[ Tenderness of mighty mountains reflected in pine trees ,
Upward moving pathways symbolizing my enthusiasm ,
River , flowing deep down like a line of pain ,
Tiny tots of birds sitting silently in their nest ,
I saw everything with contentment ,
Consoled myself , I would come again ,
After a year or may be after ages ……….
Horizon opened its eyes , lightning dazzled in the sky ,
As if saying ………………
O Wanderer ! Would you ever even remember ? ]

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