In Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Port Blair is the largest town and the capital city of this Union Territory of India. The town is located in the east coast of Southern Andaman Island and serves as the main gateway to enter the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Presently, it serves as a major base for the Indian navy and Indian Coast Guard.
History of Port BlairDuring the British rule in India, the Chatham Island was established as a centre of detention and it was named Port Blair in honour of the lieutenant. More and more prisoners of the Indian independence struggle were sent to this island by the East India Company rule. As the number of detainees increased with the years, this prison island required renovation.
The Viper Island, near Port Blair was originally used for housing the convicts but the diseases and living conditions caused a lot of deaths during those days of British rule in India. In the later part of the 19th century, the area came to have the Cellular Jail which was termed by the Indians as Kaala Paani. Before Indian independence, Port Blair served temporarily as the headquarters of the Azad Hind Fauj led by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
People & Culture of Port BlairA visit to Port Blair and its surrounding areas, gives an idea of the culture of the land which is mostly based on the heritage of the tribal populations that stay in the area. Although it is restricted to visit the lands where tribes are still located, with the help of special permits, people can visit these areas. In the Tsunami of 2004, many areas of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were affected, but Port Blair escaped the wrath and served as the base for relief operations.
It is the only point with banks, tourist offices, and hotels. Port Blair being the entry point to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, there has been major infrastructural and community development by the local government. It has a number of hotels, restaurants, office buildings, transport facilities, which cannot be seen in other places in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Things to do in Port BlairTourists can have a glimpse of the tribal culture in the museums and the various cultural programs. Port Blair is the only place which has a good amount of population in comparison to other islands and areas, which is around 1, 00,000, roughly.
Port Blairs rich history can be seen in some of its major attractions like Cellular Jail, Anthropological Museum, Ross Island, Gandhi Park etc. In Port Blair and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, tourists can visit the multitude of beaches, and islands. Activities like snorkelling and boating can be done in the region. Tourists who are interested can choose among the several Port Blair packages which combine hotels, sightseeing as well as various activities.
Food & Shopping in Port BlairSea food delicacies as well as Indian, Continental and Burmese delicacies are found usually in most of the eateries. Coconut water is one of the most commonly available drinks. Restaurants are mostly concentrated in the Aberdeen Bazaar area.
In Port Blair, souvenirs can be purchased in the local shops in Aberdeen Bazaar. Artefacts and trinkets can be bought in the museum sale counters of the marine, forest, and anthropological museum. The shopping arcades in the Aberdeen bazaar sell different types of jewelleries, trinkets, wood carvings, etc. The government emporium Samudrika contains a number of items like photographs, stones and tribal weaponry, replicas of fauna, etc related with the history and geography of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Travelling to Port BlairDue to a well laid transportation facility, the accessibility to the various holiday spots in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, are possible through Port Blair. There are flights that connect the Indian mainland to the Veer Savarkar Airport in Port Blair. Private and government airlines operate their flights from different cities in India to Port Blair. The airport is situated 2 km outside the city centre from where taxis, auto rickshaws and buses are available to reach Port Blair, especially during flight times.
Travelling within Port BlairBus services are provided by private operators as well as state owned transport buses for moving within the island. Buses to different parts of Port Blair and nearby islands leave from the central bus stand from 4.30 am till 12 noon. Local STS buses to different areas inside the city limits run throughout the day.
Accommodation options in Port BlairHotels in Port Blair range from government run guest houses and youth hostels as well as privately owned hotels and resorts of different categories. There are also guest houses of the forest and plantation departments.
There are municipal lodgings and guest houses as well, which are mostly low cost accommodations and are found in Aberdeen Bazaar and Delanipur. Various budget hotels can be found in the Aberdeen Bazaar and Marine Hill as well as in Link road. Luxury hotels are found in MG Road, Link Road, Marine Hill and the sea front.