Monday, December 24, 2012

Anchored Islands

Visited  Port Blair last week . Island hopped on middling boats and walked alongside stunning unspoilt beaches at Corbyn's Cove and  Mundapahad.  Viewed  stunning sunrises and spectacular sunsets, and a sea awash in turquoise and thick dense blue gray water that quickly turns blue black as soon as the sun disappears.
There is  a lot  to do at the islands: stroll, sit out at various edges, scuba dive, snorkel and sea walk, or enjoy a variety of water sports such as scooter, banana  and sofa rides.The scuba diving and the sea walking extend  into the heart of the ocean. A whole new world awaits the enthusiastic traveler and  it is an extraordinary experience, to glide over coral reefs and gaze at anemone clusters , watch myriad coloured fish in innumerable shapes and sizes swim past and  marvel at the amazing ecosystems sustained by the coral reefs.  The body becomes weightless and all one has is a discerning eye that is  entranced by this dazzling new world . One meets sea cucumbers and sea-urchins, anemones with velvety underskirts, giant clams that signal that they are not part of the inanimate sea by the zigzag edges separating their bivalve shells.
 Equipped with life jacket, wetsuit, goggles, mask and oxygen tank, it is easy to forget  air-breathing antecedents that  involve  a pair of legs slowly  plodding their way  on earth surfaces.

 Once the sea adventure is  over, it is time to  be awed again by the tangle of sun, earth, water and wind. People at Port Blair are helpful and warm. The views from the Ross and North Bay Islands are restful and incredible. 

 This idyllic group of islands are nautical miles away from our borders. There is an abundance of flora and fauna  and  Chatham saw mill remains even today, the largest wood mill in Asia with its  store of  tree logs.  The anthropological museum  provides information on the extant  tribes  among the several islands that form part of the Andaman Nicobar group.   In the colonial past, political prisoners were housed  first on Viper island  and subsequently incarcerated in  the cellular jail at Port Blair. The Cellular Jail hosts a sound and light show on its premises that recalls and reiterates our hard won independence. Countless Indians from all over the country gave up their lives or struggled in harsh everyday situations, years at a stretch  clamoring for  independence.  A trip to  these islands enables us to  renew and recharge  memories of  our nation's history.  Despite the checkered history  chartered out by violent men and by the imperious  forces of nature,  a  finely balanced co-existence punctuates each day at Port Blair.