Kaalapaani & The Sylvan Sands of Chidiyatapu..

Day 2:

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The day starts quite early in Andamans as there is almost a time lag of 1 hour from the mainland. The dazzling sun is up in the sky by 4.30 am itself. Mounica and I were up, while rest of our friends was still tossing in their beds. We just went down the lane for a quick jog which turned out to be refreshing. The houses beautifully lined; the clean and calm roads and the cool breeze from the sea were so rejuvenating.

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By the time we were back from the jog, everyone is up. We quickly got ready for our next move. Whenever there is a mention of Andaman Islands, the first thing that hits every mind is the Cellular Jail, mostly remembered as “Kaala Paani” (Black waters). Thanks to the film Kaala Paani which made it so famous! So our first plan is to go and have a glimpse of what exactly the Cellular Jail looks like.

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The first thing that welcomes us is the Swatantrya Jyothi (Freedom Flame and Torch). An iconic symbol of India’s struggle for independence from colonial rule, the Cellular Jail takes one back to British-era, wherein the jail imprisoned freedom fighters. Once known as the “hell on the earth” , this jail was built in between 1857 and 1906 by the British, acquired the name ‘Cellular’ because it is entirely made up of individual cells for the solitary confinement of the prisoners.

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It was originally a seven pronged structure almost representing spikes of a wheel. A puce-colored three storied building with the central tower acting as its fulcrum is an architectural marvel. As of now, three of the seven prongs were intact and the museum here relates the history of this place, the convicts, photographs and more. One can get a clear view of the Ross Island from the top of this jail. The blue waters and the tiny ferries on the sea are worth watching!

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It was almost mid of the day by the time we completed our tour around the Cellular Jail. We were back home for lunch. Aunty has prepared us some Rajma Chaawal. The Bengali Rosagullas which we brought with us back from Kolkata and the fresh litchis at the end of our lunch made it perfect 🙂 We soon grabbed a nap, as we were tired because of the blazing summer sun.

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It was around 3.30 pm when we started to our next destination “Chidiya Tapu”. Chidiya tapu is the southernmost tip of South Andaman. It almost reminds me of Kerala when I think about the road leading to Chidiya Tapu, as one side of the road has got coconut grooves and the other side has the mighty Andaman Sea. We halted for a while along a broken fence wall, where we got to know that the wall was damaged by the mighty Tsunami waves and the sea has come forward a few miles.

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It was around 4.30 by the time we reached Chidiya Tapu. The beach was quite and calm. There were not many visitors, in fact very few were there. While most of them were sitting and watching the sunset, few kids were playing in the sea. What I could see is that it is an ideal picnic spot. The white sands with clear waters surrounded by mangroves and chirping birds from the forest cover simply makes it ideal. Soon we ventured out into the sea, playing, diving and even swimming 🙂 . We all were children again 😉

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Soon, the sun started setting. As the sun started to set, we just climbed up a huge tree trunk that was protruding into the sea and started to watch it silently. The orange colored sun-set with a foreground of golden colored waters is simply breathtaking. A great evening 🙂

Time to go back home!  Stay tuned!!!

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“Mini India” Port Blair :)

Day 1:

Though I hail from South India, I took a flight to Port Blair from Kolkata, so that I can spend some two days in Kolkata too. We boarded the flight around 10 am in the morning. Though I got a window seat, I was asleep for most part of the journey 😀 as I was tired from the previous day shopping in Kolkata :p , but as we were just nearing our destination, the pilot started to go around the archipelago, of course every flight offers this service, the service of providing an aerial view of the beautiful islands 🙂 . Swati woke me up asking me to have a look at the pristine beach waters below. Every one of us peeped through the windows to have a glance at the spell-bound scene beneath.

Soon we were on the runway. It was around 12.30 when we stepped into the Veer Sarvarkar Airport or the Port Blair Airport. Yes, the airport is named after the Indian freedom fighter Vinayak Damodar Sarvarkar. Sahil, Swati’s brother was waiting for us by the time we reached. We grabbed our baggage and headed to Swati’s home. Aunty and uncle welcomed us all and after the greetings we had our lunch and rested for some time.

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An Archipelago of 572 islands adrift in the Bay of Bengal, the union territory of Andaman and Nicobar islands, also known as the Emerald islands offers us breath taking colors of the sea. Port Blair, named after the naval surveyor Lieutenant Archibald Blair, was colonized in the late 18th century by the British. The capital city of Andaman and Nicobar islands, is a charming island town with stunning views of the Andaman sea. With its bustling atmosphere, the city is called “Mini India” as one can find Bengalis, Tamils, Telugus, Mallus, Nicobarese and Burmese living in this city.

It was around 4 pm , we set out to go around the city. The plan is to catch up the music and light show at the historical monument “Cellular Jail”. But, it’s too early, the show would start up only by 7 or 7.30 pm. So, we thought of having a drive through the roads of Port Blair. Our first halt is the Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex, which offers Safe water sports activities as well as Adventure water sports. We just paid a visit. Important thing is try eating the egg rolls that are offered just outside the complex, trust me they were so yummy 😉

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We just spent a couple of moments there and headed to the Joggers’ Park on the VIP road. This is a must see place in Port Blair, especially if we just want to take some time off and watch the world go by. This is one of the highest points in the city and truly breath-taking after the sunset. The view from the benches overlooking an illuminated city and the sight of the lit runway of the adjacent airport are nothing short of magical.

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Soon, we were at the Cellular Jail. The light show started after we took our chairs. The structure soon came into life with the lights lit, the colors representing the tri-color. We strictly adhered to the rules of not taking snaps of the show as instructed. It was the tree which took the voice of our Om Puri ji, narrating the stories that were all related with the tortures meted out to the freedom fighters. Am sure that everyone will get goose bumps while listening to the narration, also a part of this contains the conversation between Veer Damodar Savarkar and the cruel jailer David Barry. It fills our hearts with patriotism. I salute them!

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The show is hardly for 45 mins or one hour. We headed to the local beach and thereafter called it a day 🙂

Neetha – A cool introduction

One of the coldest months across all seasons being December sprinkled the idea (though not a weird one amongst a group of like-minded active sprouts) of Trekking. Oh yes, it’s not the thought of trekking that struck a chord of weirdness but the place of trekking in the coldest month – The Himalayan Terrain (Sandakphu) in the year 2013. Six friends set their foot and respective steps to the base camp and reporting place Darjeeling. A few started from Nagpur and I did from Rajahmundry and the plan was to meet at Kolkata and travel together from there to the base camp.

The date arrived when we realized the entire batch of this trekking effort comprised of 40 enthusiast participants out of which were 10 brave women! The management had allotted a single room for the women fraternity of this trek and it took us by a shock, of course not with any intention of breaking any of the mental manacles thinking of the irony of all of us getting ready at a specified time! As any other pillar to post running Day-1, ours were no lesser as we were asked to procure the medical certificates from Doctors at Darjeeling if we did not take them with us from our homes and also to assemble at 05:30 pm for an induction session.

Base camp Leader’s instructions were ringing deep in our ears that evening along with the list of DO’s and DON’T’s as we trek along. As we hissed through the chiming list that was unrolled, there walked in a young couple, quite delayed to the gathering when the strike was the girl that was so joyful and elated without a slightest of worry evading her for the delay in joining the session. Yes, you have been correct in your guessing that it is my MoIN (Mother India, if you would have ready her introductory article) alias Neetha.

The sparkle caught my eyes and ears once again while we were dining at the ground floor. Yes the same girl that was constantly talking to Ruthwik, her husband, who tried to focus munching, a little too silently in the gang of two! While we were back in our room with the hot chit-chat of the day of a girl and her boyfriend who had stepped in from Bangalore, there was a wave of air when the same girl bubbled in introducing herself and reaching out for ours!

While I had to slip away for a while to chirrup about our new companions to my mom in regional language – Telugu, with an assured heart that none around me shared the same language. Laughing my way out with my mom with Neetha besides and the topic was her! I had an attack between my jaws when I heard Neetha attend one of her calls once I was done in Telugu! I had to admit that there was nothing wrong that was conversed, though with a polite question reached out to Neetha, which received an evil smile in return – evil?..wicked?..cunning?..or just a pretention ?

Watch out!!