Category Archives: Union territories

The enchanting Andamans.. Part 1

<07-Apr-13>

Words are not enough and pages needed are endless to write about this trip.. The much awaited, dreamt of and anticipated vacation was finally here.. For reasons galore, only Mom & I ended up going..

There are so many first time experiences that makes this trip so special..

* My first stinct with scuba diving happened here

* Feeding the fishes 15 mts down under water- Sea walk

* One of the best sunset views- off a ships’ deck- right in front of the navigator

* Spotting over 30 members of the Jarawas: A rare occult for many tourists 🙂

* A hospital visit and a tetanus shot right at the start of a vacation

* Snorkeling in a protected area like a marine national park

* A visit to the site where India’s only active volcano exists

* Getting surrounded by flying fishes making me live filmy moments from the ‘Life of Pi’

* A camera breakdown on the first day of the trip and no back-up

* A roll down the stairway and hurting both the knees to trek a deep jungle

* A cancelled flight and an extra day at the airport

* Every day had a unique experience to unfold.

I cannot make justice, but will sum up the entire trip with as less words as possible.. “White sand, Blue sea, crystal clear waters, lashing waves, spotting the flying fishes, sunset from the ship’s deck, diverse deep sea, ever mesmerising beaches, if ever I had a choice to choose my death, I’d love to get washed away by the waves right there.. @ the Andaman sea.”

Sunset point - Chidiyatapu
Sunset point – Chidiyatapu

An easy guide to the Andamans..

This should be an easy guide to anyone who wants to visit the Andamans.. I would say: please don’t plan your trip if it is not atleast a week’s holiday you are aiming at..

Day1:

10.20.a.m- Depart from Chennai; 12.45.p.m- Check-in @ Port Blair

2.45.p.m- Quick walk through the Science Centre and proceed to Corbyn’s Cove beach

4.00.p.m- Leave for the Cellular jail. Walk around the historic memorial of brave martyrs- the backbone for Indian freedom movement

6.00.p.m- Sound & music show at the Cellular jail

07.30.p.m – A brisk walk through the Gandhi park

08.00.p.m- Water scooter ride @ Rajiv Gandhi sports complex, a speedy walk through the Traffic police park in the same premises

Day 2:

8.30.a.m- Board the ferry @Rajiv Gandhi sports complex jetty for 3 island tour with a seven harbour view

10.30.a.m- Alight for delight @ Ross island– the place of erstwhile British settlement which is now a live museum.

11.30.a.m- Off to Viper island with the gallows of imprisonment established before the cellular jail.

12.30.p.m- Arrive at North Bay island– go snorkelling, walk upto the light house and go SEA WALKING..!!

05.00.p.m- Reach Port Blair

06.00.p.m- Freshen up and leave for shopping at Aberdeen bazaar– the local market.

 Day 3:

08.30.a.m- Arrive at Phoenix bay jetty

09.00.a.m- Aboard Makruzz(a Catamaran) to Havelock islands

11.00.a.m- Off to Radhanagar beach– Asia’s no.7 best beach.

12.00.p.m- Catch the ferry to Elephanta beach: one of the best dive sites in Andamans and home to world’s only snorkeling elephant- Rajan 🙂

02.00.p.m- Begin the explorations deep in the beds of the sea- SCUBA DIVING

04.00.p.m- Onboard Baratang- the government ferry from Havelock

Day 4:

07.30.a.m- Leave the confines of our nest for the day’s work- We’ve got lots to explore

09.00.a.m- Registration for the convoy at the forest checkpost. This is a must for anyone travelling on the Grand Trunk road through the Jarawa tribal reserve. Jarawas are one of the aboriginal tribal group out of the 6 tribes inhabiting in the island groups.

11.30.a.m- Aboard the govt. ferry at Middle Strait

11.45.a.m- Alight at Baratang island

12.00.p.m- Cruising on a motor boat through one of the best mangrove creeks I have ever been to.

12.30.p.m- End of the jungle trek- reaching the destiny. One of the 46 limestone caves in the Islands. A spellbinding experience..!!

1.00.p.m- An 8kms flight(read it jeep ride) to see the mud volcano

02.00.p.m- Back at Baratang jetty, ferry ride back to Middle strait.

06.00.p.m- Walk around Port Blair.

Day 5: 

07.30.a.m- Sippighat horticultural farm visit.

08.00.am.- A quick turn-up at Wandoor beach

08.30.a.m- Walk around the Mahatma Gandhi museum

09.00.a.m- Off for a ride- An un-expressible journey to the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park

11.00.a.m.- Glass bottom boat ride, sun-bathing & SNORKELING  in the crystal clear waters of Jolly Buoy island

01.00.p.m- A spicy walk through the Mongluton rubber & spices plantation. ‘Coconut Malai Sharbat’ is a must try drink there.

03.30.p.m- A super drive through a very different part of the Andamans- took us to ChidiyaTapu. We were the last people for the day to get entry into the mini zoo there.

04.00.p.m- I’m on one of the best beaches hitherto- backwaters of the tsunami affected area.. We did not even realise that we had walked over a kilometer deep into the sea- and the water level had not risen beyond our ankles.

04.30.p.m- Exploring the Chidiyatapu hills. An AMAZING place for the landscape photographers

05.00.p.m.- Sunset point – by far the BEST sunset I have witnessed on a seashore.

06.30.p.m- We are at Sagarika– the govt. emporium for shopping for souvenirs

Day 6:

09.00.a.m- Chawtham island– Asia’s biggest timber saw mill and forest museum

10.15.a.m- Samudrika– A museum maintained by the Indian Navy

11.00.a.m- Anthropological museum visit

12.00.p.m- Check out and arrive at Veer Savarkar airport.

Andamans from the air
Andamans from the air

This is the maximum number of places anyone could squeeze into the list for a Sunday to Sunday trip.. The islands has so much to explore that only a month long vacation can do justice 🙂 I’d suggest you take a 2hr motor boat ride from Havelock to South button island- the smallest national park in India for scuba diving known for its shallow waters Tropical coral reefs. You could add Mt. Harriet, Niel island, Cinque island, Barren island, Diglipur, Mayabunder, Rangat, Ross & smith island, Saddle peak etc. among the important places of Andamans. However, a trip to Nicobar islands has to be planned separately as it is special in its own way..

Words of caution:
1. Please adhere to your time schedule strictly because every ferry ride, every museum, every zoo runs/remains open only on a specified time frame. 
2. The city remains awake only between 8.00.a.m and 08.00.p.m. Plan your entertainment well to keep yourself occupied.
3. If you are planning to eat out or take a coffee walk, it has to be before 7.00.p.m. All shops shut down after that.

"Dude-The-Sagar".. Finally..!!

If you have read my previous 2 posts- The railway adventure & Dos and don’ts , you’re sure to have got an insight to the adventure part of the trip..  Anyways.. now the trip part of the story.. 🙂

17 of us boarded MAS-Vasco exprs from YPR on Friday night and alighted at Castle rock station the next morning at 9.15.a.m. Castle Rock is cute little station which divides the village into two- on one side is the railway colony, school, hospital, offices etc. and on the other side is the town(if at all it is called so) with basic amenities like a grocery store and a few petty shops. The station is all green and is a treat to the eyes which just landed from a concrete city.

@Castle rock station- in the midst of the Braganza GhatsART a.ka. Accident Relief Train is parked by the side
@Castle rock station- in the midst of the Braganza Ghats
ART a.ka. Accident Relief Train is parked by the side

We started to walk towards Dudhsagar- encountering numerous waterfalls where we stopped each time to take good photos..

The entrance to Castle rock adventure camp
The entrance to Castle rock adventure camp

A total of 11 tunnels before you reach the waterfalls, plus 2 to reach the view point. The 1st one can be approached by crossing a girder bridge watching a scenic view of the valley.

Tunnel no.7 (3)
The girder bridge
The Rock formations- View from the bridge
The Rock formations- View from the bridge
The tunnel no.2 exit
The tunnel no.2 exit

The 2nd tunnel is the longest-at 624m. and the most beautiful one which resembles an entrance into a Castle.

A waterfall we explored after tunnel no.3

A waterfall we explored after tunnel no.3

With the 3rd one came a waterfall within a vault..

The cave by the side of our way
The cave by the side of our way
The waterfalls within the vault by the rail-side
The waterfalls within the vault by the rail-side
Goa territory starts here
Goa territory starts here

We crossed Goa border after finding our way out of the 4th tunnel.

Goa is just a tunnel away.. yay..!!
Goa is just a tunnel away.. yay..!!

After a long walk there on, we crossed tunnel no.5 where we were sidetracked by a goods train.

Run for life..!!
Run for life..!!

6th n 7th came together, 7th being nothing more than a small arch. Then we crossed 8, 9 and 10…

Light at the end of darkness..
Light at the end of darkness..

Finally we had a ray of hope after this 1..We had reached Dudhsagar station-all tired after a long walk in hot sun while on a monsoon trek 😦

The DDS station
The DDS station

Then, the 11th…. We were all hooting, clapping in joy as we were getting out of this one- And there we saw the 1st glance of the mighty “Ocean of Milk”.. Totally.. It was a a great sense of contentment after a long tiring walk- it was alllllll worth it..!!

Just out of tunnel no.11
Just out of tunnel no.11
The 1st glance
The 1st glance
Torch lights to keep us up all night :)
Torch lights to keep us up all night 🙂

The only shelter available to pitch a tent was already occupied by a large group and we had no choice but to tent in the open.. As we were basking in the glory of the waterfalls, it was soon dark.. We put up a small campfire sort of a thing so that we had enough light to see each other’s face- but the rain gods who did not appear during the trek spoilt sport now. We had to manage the rest of the night with our torches..

It poured cats and dogs the whole night.. The roaring noise of the waterfalls at the backdrop and the loud hooting sound of the train once in every half an hour, the tent pitched right next to the track with the waterfalls on the otherside- It was indeed a night to remember..!!

Next morning, we all rised with the sun and spent some peaceful time beside the violent waters..

The sea-of-milk.. Truly..!!
The sea-of-milk.. Truly..!!

It was already 2 days & 2nights since we last saw the restroom or a bathroom, we looked around to find a little place where we could finish that as well.. A small waterfalls nestled deep inside the woods- We girls just jumped into the water  while the guys kept a watch on trespassers at bay.. 😉

This is where every man wished he was that morning ;)
This is where every man wished he was that morning;)

Mythology says that the “DevaKannikas or the Apsaras are often seen bathing in the midst of the woods  before sunrise.. and if one is lucky, he can see them walk by in wet clothes” LOL… something similar to that, We couldn’t find a place to change, we all wore our jackets and walked 1.5kms towards our tents. On the way, we came across tens of trekkers who desperately stared at us.. Anyways.. the pristine water and the divine girls- deadly combo- Nobody could help the sight.!!

The Apsarakonda ;)
The Apsarakonda;)

We were told that the passenger train would cross the waterfalls by 9.15.a.m. This meant that we had to be at the view point by that time to get that perfect Internet photo..!!

Finally.. We got what we wanted..!!
Finally.. We got what we wanted..!!

And so we did…. After a long photo session and before the crowd who had just arrived in the train would spoil the peace, we headed back to our tents.. We had a round of heavy brunch and slowly packed up.. The initial plan was to walk the track all the way to Kulem, but owing to the cruel sun, we decided to take a goods’ train either to Kulem or Castle rock. We missed the goods’ train to Kulem by a few minutes and so  we had to wait at the Dudhsagar station for the passenger train going towards CLR.

And with that.. Curtains down to our trip to DDS falls..!!!Note:
1. Clicking credits to “Sam”- our official photographer during the entire trip..!!
2. If you’re camping there, carry tents- no matter what season it is.. Be prepared to get mobbed by monkeys
3. There is a guy who sells tea, dinner on Saturdays & breakfast on Sundays
4. You get booze near the shelter on a weekend night
5. There is a restroom (decent enough in the jungle) attached to the shelter
6. Buy a return ticket from Kulem or Castle rock depending on the direction you are heading to..

The railway adventure from Dudhsagar

< 16-Sept-12>

When you are back from a trek to Dudhsagar and talk about a “Railway adventure”- the usual things that strike anybody are train spotting, tunnels, wild encounters, the rail line that passes across the mighty waterfalls so on and so forth..!!! And there is ample information available all over the net about this walk along the railway tracks… So that’s the railway adventure…!!!

“NO…!!! ” I’m not here to speak about such a lame adventure- What if we did not come across any wildlife on our way..? There is always something even better that comes across as a compensation for not having any wild encounters..!!

We were all on our return part of our trip.. and were just happy that everything went on well so far.. And then began the actual adventure unfolding one by one..

Scene no.1:

We were mocked at, at Dudhsagar station when we enquired about the tickets. Why that? We had even requested the person at the ticket counter in Castle Rock to issue return tickets from Kulem to Londa as we did not want to take any chances. But, our requests were all turned down telling that it was not needed. Like every other tourist/trekker who comes to Dudhsagar, we too decided to travel ticket-less till Castle Rock station. There were more than 500 people who got into the Vasco-Nizamuddin express with us- all without a ticket..!! This is nothing unusual as each and every blog on the net speaks about ticket-less travel. In less than 5 minutes after the train had started, the TT came asking for our tickets. We honestly displayed our tickets(from Londa to Bangalore). He told us to show the tickets from Dudhsagar to Londa and we told him this was the only one we had. His voice sounded a little harsh this time. We explained all that we knew about the reason for this kind of travelling.. But now he told us to pay a fine of 500Rs per head. 17X500???? Noway..!!!! Finally.. he took us all to one end of the bogie and settled the scene for a total of Rs.460. That too- Till Londa 🙂 Now it calls for an adventure of travelling ticket-less right..??
But that’s not the case, everybody knows that there is no ticket issued from DDS, so this kind of checking is a major scam happening in these trains..

All ticket-less trekkers ready to jump into the Vasco-Nizamuddin exprs
All ticket-less trekkers ready to jump into the Vasco-Nizamuddin exprs

Scene no.2:

Onboard Rani Chennamma Express:

Approx.9.00.p.m.:  17 of us are playing dumbcharades, all seated in the same compartment and the entire bogie looking at us in awe(some jealous of us for the fun we were having, some surprised of the size of the gang, some enjoying the game with us, and some definitely pissed with the loud noise we were making). 2 police men walk across the bogie without bothering to notice anybody in particular.

Approx.11.00.p.m.:   We all decide to go to sleep as we were all pooped out of the long trek and most of us had to go to office the next morning. All are dispersed from the seats and preparing the bed.

Approx.11.30.p.m.:   Less than 2 minutes before we turned the lights off.. The 2 policemen appear out of nowhere..

“What’s going on here? We have received a call from the control room that there is a lot of noise coming from this bogie. Other passengers have complained about it..!!”

“But, we are sorry Sir, We had stopped playing half an hour ago and were just about to hit the bed”

“What are you playing with all these girls I say? and You.. dressed up like Y*su Chr*sta….” pointing out at XYZ..

XYZ got pissed off and revolted, “Mind your tongue, how dare you talk like that……”

The rest of us dragged him away before the scene got worse..

“Oh not just causing public nuisance, now you are fighting with a cop huh? All of you get off the train at Davangere station and lets talk about it in the station” the Cop asserted..

“But Sir, We will keep quiet now on and take responsibility not to disturb others. We are sorry..!!”

“We don’t know all that, get down at the next station or else pay a fine of 1000Rs. per head”

“Please consider, girls are travelling with us. We can’t get down in the middle of the night and we are on our way back, we don’t have so much money either”

“Just get down and lets see at the station”

This went on till approx.1.30.a.m and the entire bogie was watching the fun with no one even bothering to support us considering that we were all kids(or something like that, atleast out of courtesy)

Finally we all pooled in all the ‘Tens’ we had and settled the matter with Rs.500. A toll for absolutely no mistake of ours..!!

“The Indian Police”..!!! They are more than wild and entertaining who could well give an excellent replacement for the Orangutans- which are critically endangered.!!

Anything for money….. There is NOTHING that can be done to eliminate corruption in our country..!! We all speak volumes about a corruption free nation but we ourselves promote it in absolute helplessness..!! And Ohh?? Safety and respect for women???? what does that mean? I don’t remember coming across any term like that during my journey…