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some boats in Siapar, Anda Pangasinan.
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Andaman and Nicobar Islands Long famous among travelers for its gorgeous beaches, underwater wonders and pristine location somewhere in between, Andaman and Nicobar Islands are still the ideal place to get away from it all. There are about 572 islands in the archipelago of which only 36 are open to tourists. The island's population is an interesting mix of South Indian and Southeast Asian settlers, as well as Negrito ethnic groups on some islands, whose arrival has still baffled anthropologists.

While most of us know about the mythical beauty and charm of Andaman and Nicobar, these emerald islands are interesting in more ways than one. Ptolemy and Marco Polo documented the islands as home to fierce human-hunters, and Jean-Jacques Cousteau dedicated a film to them called The Invisible Island.

The names 'Andaman' and 'Nicobar' are derived from the Malay language

The name Andaman is believed to be derived from Hanuman, who was known in Malay as Handuman. The name Nicobar appears to be a corruption of the South Indian word 'nakkavaram' (land of the naked) as depicted in the great Tanjore inscription of 1050 AD.

The most widely spoken language on the islands is not Andamanese or Nicobarese

The most spoken language on the islands is Bengali followed by Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. Andaman Creole Hindi is also widely used as a trade language in the Andaman Islands.

Tsunami ruins
Photo by Nabil Naidu / Unsplash

Katchal Island gets first sunrise of millennium

Katchal, a small island near the Nicobar Islands, was virtually unknown until the Royal Greenwich Laboratory announced that it would be the first habitat on Earth to capture the first millennium of sunrise. In the first postal issue of 2000, India Post released a commemorative stamp depicting the first sunrise of the millennium in Katchal.

The world's largest sea turtle makes its nest here

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have the best nesting beaches in India for three species of sea turtles – the hawksbill, the green turtle and the world's largest sea turtle, the leatherback (Dermochelys koreasia). The nesting population of leatherback turtles in Nicobar is one of the few colonies in the Indo-Pacific that exceeds 1,000 individuals, and is therefore of global importance.

North Sentinel Island is one of the world's most isolated Palaeolithic tribes

North Sentinel Island is home to one of the most isolated human populations in the world. The sentinels, whose numbers are believed to be around 300, have turned down all contact with the modern world and have fired their arrows at anyone who came within range. They are believed to have descended directly from the first human population to emerge from Africa, and have probably lived in the Andaman Islands for as long as 60,000 years.

Dugong, the gentle sea cow, is the state animal of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Large, fat marine herbivores with small, paddle-like front flippers can be found, grazing peacefully on sea grass in the warm coastal waters of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These sloth creatures, also known as 'messengers of the sea', can be seen in parts of Richie's Archipelago, North Reef, Little Andaman and Nicobar.

Sunlit cloud, Andaman Sea, Langkawi, Malaysia
Photo by Steve Douglas / Unsplash

Pandanus or Nicobar breadfruit is a rare fruit found in Nicobar and widely consumed

Pandanus is a densely arranged, wedge-shaped fruit with an extremely hard, woody and fibrous body in which many narrow, edible seeds are embedded. Each section has a fleshy base with a fragrant pulp which, after cooking, is the staple food in Nicobars. An economically important plant in the islands, the stem branches of Pandanus are used in construction, the leaves used for mat weaving and the hard outer part of the fruit used as bath brush.

Commercial fishing is banned in Andaman and Nicobar

Commercial fishing has been banned around the Andaman Islands for more than 4 decades. It is believed that the fish in these waters now die of old age. The turquoise waters surrounding these emerald islands are home to an abundance of dolphins, whales, dugongs, sea turtles, sailfish, sea anemones, and other marine life.

Barren Island, the only active volcano in India, is present in the Andaman Islands

Barren Island is the only active volcano not only in India but in the whole of South Asia. Located about 135 km northeast of Port Blair, this small 3 km wide island has a 1.6 km wide crater partially filled with a cinder cone that has been the source of the eruption since it was first recorded in 1787 is.

A Mud Crab shows off its impressive claws at the Cairns aquarium, Australia.
Photo by David Clode / Unsplash

The largest living arthropod in the world, Birgus latro or the Robber crab, lives here

The Robber Crab (Birgus latro), also known as the Coconut Crab, is the world's largest land-dwelling arthropod. They usually live on the ground, but climb coconut trees at night and make a hole in the tender coconut to eat the soft kernels. In South Asia, the largest number of these giant crabs are found in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. They can be seen on South Sentinel Island as well as some islands of Nicobar.

The extremely narrow limestone Alfred Caves are home to swiftlet birds that build edible nests

The limestone Alfred Caves of Diglipur change their shape every monsoon due to a chemical process. These extremely narrow caves are home to swiftlet birds which build a unique edible nest. This tiny brown bird uses its saliva and licks its sticky home as a tiny cup against the most inaccessible places on cave walls. Limestone caves with stalactite formations can also be seen in Baratang.

20 rupee note depicts a view of Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Have you ever seen a 20 rupee note? The image of a picturesque bay laden with lush greenery on a red note is North Bay Island and the same view can be seen on the way to Mount Harriet. Mount Harriet is the second highest peak in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Rock and water and life.
Photo by Elaine Brewer / Unsplash

A punitive settlement including the dreaded Kala Pani Jail (Cellular Jail) was established here by the British after the Revolt of 1857.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands were so far away that they became a dangerous black water penal colony for Indian freedom fighters under the British. The Cellular Jail was built to isolate prisoners from the outside world – prisoners were kept in solitary chambers and made to work long hours on a hand-held oil dispenser made of iron. Today, the prison is open to tourists, and a light and sound show takes place in the evenings.

Baratang in Andaman is the only place in India with mud volcanoes

According to available records, the first observed mud volcanic eruption was in March 1983 in Nilambur village of Baratang Island. Mud volcanoes are formed by the release of pressurized pore waters and natural gases from underground organic matter, accompanied by vigorous eruptions and flames. It gradually forms a miniature volcano with a pit of rich, creamy clay on top.

Jal Hans, India's first commercial seaplane was launched in Andaman Islands

Seaplanes are amphibious aircraft that can take off and land in water as well as on land. Calling it Jal Hans, the government-owned Pawan Hans launched India's first seaplane operation in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2013. The Jal Hans is an eight seater Cessna 208A equipped with modern navigation facilities, can travel up to 250 km in an hour. And can even land on the ground.

Slow and Steady
Photo by Jehu Christan / Unsplash

Ross Island was once an important headquarters for the British and Japanese.

Ross Island was the erstwhile British headquarters for most of the Andaman Islands from 1858 until it was shaken by an earthquake in 1941. In 1941, the Japanese converted the site into a PoW camp, and built war installations, the remains of which may still be there. Seen. Now under the control of the Indian Navy, the island is a popular tourist destination with jungle-covered colonial ruins and the creepy World War II tunnels.

On Havelock Island, one can kayak through dense mangroves to reach the open ocean

With its own ecosystem, kayaking through the mangroves is an exciting way to see the exotic wildlife of Havelock Island. Acting as both a nursery as well as a breeding site, mangroves host a large number of life forms such as shrimp, algae, barnacles, oysters, sponges, mud lobsters and mangrove crabs, to name a few.