These archipelagic islands have India to the west and Myanmar to the north and east. I olden days many countries and communities have tried to conquer these islands. The name "Andaman" itself appears in many travelogues of many travellers. The inhabitants have been portrayed as cannibalistic tribals, and the place, primitive.
The Andaman islands have been used as military bases and fortresses. The Maratha admiral Kanhoji Angre fought the British off from these islands until his death in 1729. By late 18th century, it was used as a penal colony by the British and Indian chieftains. During the Burmese War, the British enslaved many natives and used them as soldiers. After the 1857 Mutiny, the English imprisoned many Indians in settlements here.
The Cellular Jail at Port Blair was completed in 1910. At that time, it had 698 cells designed for solitary confinement. There were prison complexes here since the 10th century. A Hindi movie, Kala Pani, portrays a prison of the same name. It was a political prison during the rule of the British. On Viper Island, there used to be the Viper Chain Gang Jail. It was meant for troublemakers, and was also the place where hangings were undertaken. During the Independence struggle, many famous freedom fighters were housed here.
During the World War II the Andaman islands were occupied by the Japanese. After the war, the islands’ resources were utilized for their betterment. The penal colony was closed on 15 August 1947, the day India gained its independence. From then on, it has been a museum.
It was in the late 1900’s that the islands’ natives, especially the Jarawas, started venturing out into the streets and among villagers. Even now very few historians and photographers have had accessed to their settlements. It’s quite amazing how the natives survived the 2004 Tsunami. They retreated into the forest when the waves rose, and were saved thus.
The Nicobar Islands are located to the south of the Andaman Islands. The Nicobar Islands are part of a great island arc created by the collision of the Indo-Australian Plate with Eurasia. The archipelago comprises 22 islands. The Indira Point, the southernmost point of India, is located on Great Nicobar Island. It is also the largest island in the Nicobar Islands. Together with the Andaman Islands, they became a union territory of India in 1950. The islands have been used by the British and the Dutch during their occupation of South and South east Asia. The islands were occupied by Japan between 1942 and 1945.
Some of the islands in the group are Car Nicobar, Great Nicobar, Little Nicobar, Batti Malv, Poahat, Chowra, Teressa, Nancowry, Katchal, Isle of Man and Tillangchong. Some islands are uninhabited and are nothing more than wild forests and sanctuaries. The islands are inhabited by the Nicobarese and Shompen tribes.
About 35% of the islands trace their origin to the Indian mainland and Sri Lanka. Six indigenous Nicobarese languages are spoken on the islands. They are part of the Mon-Khmer branch of the Austroasiatic language family, which includes Mon, Khmer and Vietnamese languages of Southeast Asia, and the Munda languages of India. The Shompen, one of the indigenous tribe living at the southern tip of Great Nicobar are said to be of Mesolithic Southeast Asian origin.
The islands have many coastal mangrove forests as well as evergreen and deciduous tropical forests. This makes it a great place for nature activities and adventure activities to do.
The white sandy beaches, blue waters, and coral reefs with lot of marine life including dolphins, turtles and fish are a great way to spend your evenings. It’s an ideal location for scuba diving.
The best way to enjoy underwater life is to go Scuba diving. Beginners as well as experienced divers can find a lot of places to dive. Different colours and varieties of corals can be seen here.