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Port Blair Travel Guide
The town is named for Archibald Blair of the British East India Company, who founded a nearby penal colony in 1789. Port Blair was founded by the British in 1858, the Cellular Jail surviving from this period. Port Blair is also known as "Kala Pani" translated as "Black Waters".
Port Blair is the capital of the Union Territory Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Port Blair is a small but picturesque place spread over a number of hills from Haddo across Secretariat Hill to Aberdeen Bazaar and South point. The territory has a natural heritage, with evergreen moist deciduous and swamp forests. Today, Port Blair has grown and tourism is being developed to entice more people to enjoy the clean beaches and unpolluted waters that are already attracting divers and snorkellers.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Cellular Jail: Port Blair's only firm reminder of its gloomy past, the sturdy brick Cellular Jail or Kala Pani overlooks the sea from a small rise in the northeast of town. Seven wings originally radiated from the central tower out of which only three remain, the rest being destroyed by the Japanese.
Gandhi Park: This beautiful park at Port Blair has facilities like children's park, amusement park, water sports, nature trail, lake, garden, restaurant and Japanese temple and a bunker. The erstwhile Dilthaman tank, which was the only source of drinking water to Port Blair has been developed to Gandhi Park in an unbelievably short time of thirteen days.
Water Sports Complex: This unique complex offers all possible aqua-sport facilities like Water-skiing, Sail boats, Windsurfing, Speed Boats etc., and safe water sports like Paddle Boats, Row Boats etc. There is a sea water swimming pool and a change room. There is also a Memorial for the Battle of Aberdeen fought between Britishers and Andamanee aboriginals in 1859.
The Beaches: Port Blair has a number of beautiful sandy white beaches. Take a tour of these gorgeous beaches, relax and laze on them and forget your routine life. A tour of the Port Blair beaches is a short and perfect getaway from the hectic urban life.
Ross Island: Ross Island was once the site of the British headquarters, but it is now deserted and the buildings are in ruins. There is an interesting church on top of the hill and a museum near the boat jetty, which are worth seeing. Swimming is not allowed around the island. You may want to pack a lunch, as the island has no eating facilities other than a cold drink stand.
Viper Island: The islands got its name from a ship The Viper, which was wrecked nearby. Gallows, whipping posts and crumbling walls of the gallows remind one of the days of the Raj. Convicts were made to stay for a month to deter them from breaking prison discipline. Harbour cruises from Port Blair (daily 3-5pm; Rs20) include a short stop on Viper Island.
Havelock Island: It is an unspoilt retreat with beaches and camping grounds about 38 kilometres away from Port Blair. Boats are available from Phoenix Jetty at Port Blair four times a week.
Forest Museum: Forest Museum set up by the Forest department displays decorative pieces of woodwork made from timber such as Padauk, Marble, Peama or Satin found in the islands. Open daily except Sundays and Holidays between 9 a.m. to 12 noon and 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Harbour Cruise: Harbour cruise provides a unique experience of cruising along the harbour on a boat leaving from Phoenix Bay Jetty. The panorarmc view of seven points from the sea, harbor, the floating dock, Viper Island, etc., are memorable.
Chatham Sawmill: 5 km North-west of Aberdeen Bazaar, on the peninsula that marks the northernmost edge of Port Blair, is the British built Chatham sawmill one of the oldest and largest timber processing plants on Indian territory. The seasoning of beautiful and rare woods taken from various islands is a sad testimony to continuing felling; photography is prohibited. Most of the timber goes from here to the mainland.
Mini Zoo: This small zoological garden maintains some of the rare species of animals and birds found in these islands, which is by and large patronised by children. Open: All days except Monday, 8 AM to 5 PM.
Best time to visit Port Blair: Best time to travel Port Blair is between October and April.
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