Friday, 28 January 2011

Ross Island ,Andamans

There is no worse time to plan for travel in India than the cold December -January months and there is no better to time to travel than these. The summer months are best , either go to the mountains or sit before your AC comfortably at home.But come winter and the weather is just right for travelling ,either in and around the plains of North India or to the South to escape the cold. But the fog plays havoc with your travel plans,as it did for us. The flight to Chennai on which we had booked our tickets in September ,inexplicably, told us at the very last of minutes ,in the queue to get the boarding card , flight was fully  booked and we would have to change our plans. However they had already given 3 people of the family boarding passes and failed to board the rest. After much running around,nail biting, arguing  and almost watching our well planned tour going to waste ,we did get to board the next flight at 8.30 pm ,to reach Chennai at midnight.Our plane to Port Blair was at 5.50 next morning ,which we caught comfortably  and after 2 hours we were in a warm sunny island .
After the Delhi chill it was lovely . No dilly dallying, after a lunch at the circuit house in Haddo we set off on exploring a place which got progressively greener and greener.  The nearest place to visit is the Ross Island which one can see from the Aberdeen Jetty . We were aboard a ferry at around 1 pm and in 10 minutes arrived at this former headquarter of the Andamans. To be greeted by a Japanese bunker ,albeit repainted , built during WW II ,   immediately tells you that history lessons are going to begin. The Indian Navy has taken over the island and charged us Rs 20 for entering its INS Jarawa . Once inside it was all forests and ruins of a once bustling town. The ruins of the magnificent Protestant church stood high ,up a flight of steps  but the Chief commissioners bungalow is now only walls held together by Banyan roots which have embraced all the ruins .


We wandered through the ruins of the island passing through a power house,water distillation plant, bakery ,press,swimming pool and a small photo and memorabilia gallery in a building called the   Farzand Ali store .The Navy has set up a small museum which was closed that day . There is a small cemetery near the church with some headstones still intact telling tales of those who died there . As we went behind the church a flight of steps invitingly took us to the beach below. Ferar Beach is just a seashore with periliously overhanging tree trunks and a quiet hidden away ambience to it. The steps ended   and we slithered  down to reach the beach . The sea was calm but it must be deceptive because a notice pinned to a tree forbade us from swimming ! A photo session and some antics on the tree trunk later it was time to head back to Port Blair. As you walk around the place ,you see herds of  deer wandering around. They are shy and will keep their distance,looking at you with curiosity and running away if you take a step forward. But when we reached the park near the place where we had alighted,some people were offering biscuits and they came and ate them off the hand .
Waiting for the return ferry  at Ross Island Jetty
Since we had started a little late in the afternoon ,we had only an hour and a half to enjoy the place .But the ruins,the forests and the history demands more time than that . Maybe next time I can wander around ,getting to know the ghosts who haunt the forests ,the tortured  spirits of the convicts of the penal settlement who were forced to construct the beautiful island town, once even called the Paris of the East .

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