Andaman is intriguing in more than one ways. Of 572 islands only 36 are inhabited and that leaves 93.7 percent of it unexplored. It hides within its waters, lands and forests the secrets of fascinating underwaters, layers of political conspiracies, and painful, yet inspiring stories of brave patriotic men. Besides, it also holds dear certain tribes untouched by civilization, and their dying culture, customs, and languages.
Of many secrets, we bring you some really beautiful and controversial ones. This is a quick run-through of Andaman’s natural wonders, troublesome past, facts about the soon-vanishing tribes and developments in the state in the post-independence era.
1. Havelock, Port Blair, Neil, Ross and Smith are a few of the many islands in the Andamans, named after British officials who ruled there
2. Barren Islands in Andaman are home to the only confirmed active lava volcano of India
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3. And not just the active lava volcano, Andaman also houses the only place in India with mud volcanoes – Baratang
4. The biggest wonder, bioluminescence can be witnessed at Havelock Island
5. Not many know that Ross and Smith are a single island. Well, sometimes
Pristine islands Ross and Smith are connected by a natural sandbar, which hides during high tide making two separate islands. During low tide, the water recedes from the sand bar making them one single piece of land.
6. Had it not been for Ross Islands, Port Blair would have been destroyed in the 2004 Tsunami
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7. The native tribes do not interact with outsiders. The Sentinelese are considered as the most isolated tribes
When the government of India sent relief helicopters after the Tsunami of 2004, the Sentinelese people aimed arrows at them to scare the helicopters away.
8. In the Chola Chronicles the islands were called Timaittivu, meaning the impure islands, due to the cannibalism that existed on these islands
9. The native language, Andamanese, is nearly extinct today
The extinction is the result of an epidemic disease that wiped off a major chunk of the native population about 200 years ago.
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10. Andaman & Nicobar Islands were occupied by Japan for 3 years during WW II
Japan occupied the Andaman Island in 1942. Though they continued to rule for the next three years, the Japanese theoretically gave up control over Andaman and Nicobar Islands handing them over to Subhash Chandra Bose on 8th November 1943. He renamed them as “SHAHEED” and “SWARAJ” islands respectively.
11. It is rumored that Japanese made a secret tunnel from Ross Island to Port Blair
While it is assumed that one of the bunkers on the Ross Island leads to the opening of a tunnel to Port Blair, there is no evidence of its existence.
12. The Andaman Islands were originally a part of Burma and were traded by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in exchange of two districts of Manipur
In 1948, India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru gifted Coco Island of the Andaman & Nicobar group of islands to Burma only in turn to be gifted to China by the Burmese. Coco Islands are the only islands in the Bay of Bengal that are in China’s possession since then. However, Myanmar (erstwhile Burma) continues to list Coco Islands as a part of their territory. Another theory states the presence of Chinese base in the Coco Islands that are still in possession of Burma. The ambiguity continues to exist with no concrete information.
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13. A view from Mount Harriet, the third-highest peak in the Andaman, features on the backside of the Indian 20 rupees note
14. Jal Hans, India’s first commercial seaplane was launched in the Andaman Islands
15. The popular ‘Light and Sound Show’ in Cellular Jail features veteran actor Om Puri narration as the peepal tree
The light and sound show tells the poignant stories of Kala Pani prisoners, who were tortured to death in the cellular jail.
So which of these secrets totally blew your mind? Share with us any similar secrets of the isles that we forgot to put on our list.
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