We decided to take the advice of Mr. Xavier, the travel agent of ITC Port Bliar. Mr. Xavier is a Tamilian who is very proud of his Chettiar origin and it is displayed in all his rings, heavy chains and other jewelleries. His grandfather came from Myanmar and since then they have settled down here in Port Blair.
We took our first trip to Ross Island – very close to Port Blair (much later I realised that there are Ross Island and Smith Island at the north point of Andaman Islands as well).
We hired a 10 seater for ourselves and our journey started from this ferry point. We were also enticed to book a coral view cruise in a mini ship which gives us 45 degree view under water.
The journey was about 30 minutes to Ross Island, or Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island as the name now is situated at 3 km east of the central port of Port Blair. While the British surveyed the Andamans in 1789, a settlement was established in present day Port Blair. Between 1789 and 1792 the British hospital and a sanatorium at Ross Island and later used it as a penal settlement. Today the island has ruins of the bazaar,bakery,stores, churches , printing press, hospital, cemetery, residence and the troop barracks in dilapidated condition, reminiscent of the old British regime.
We were told by our guide that during the Tsunami, Ross Island was damaged extensively and has lost much of its land mass after that.
The island has little inexpensive dhabas for anyone to have while taking a tour. Many were snorkelling, scuba diving in the island as well. Trained divers and swimmers were available to assist you there.
Our trip in the coral cruise was rather disappointing. The water was too muddy to see anything and the real corals were in other areas, which the Government has banned for good reason I think. The only positive point of the cruise was the scenic beauty of the sea with a 360 degree view.
I was glad to come back to the comfort of the hotel at the end of the day.
Next trip: Havelock Island – the best is for the last!