The Andaman and Nicobar Islands,one of the seven union territories of India, are a group of islands at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.The territory is 150 km (93 mi) north of Aceh in Indonesia and separated from Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) by the Andaman Sea. It comprises two island groups, the Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands, separated by the 10°N parallel, with the Andamans to the north of this latitude, and the Nicobars to the south. The Andaman Sea lies to the east and the Bay of Bengal to the west.The territory’s capital is the Andamanese town of Port Blair. The total land area of these islands is approximately 7,950 km2 (3,070 sq mi).
It’s not known when the first inhabitants arrived on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands but their presence was documented in the 2nd century by Greek astronomer Ptolemy, and again in the 7th century by Chinese monk Xuan Zang during his 17-year journey through India.In the late 17th century, the islands were annexed by the Marathas, whose empire consumed vast areas of India. Two centuries later the British found a use for them as a penal colony, initially to detain ‘regular’ criminals from mainland India and later to incarcerate political dissidents – the freedom fighters for Indian independence. During WWII, the islands were occupied by the Japanese, who were regarded with ambivalence by the islanders. Some initiated guerrilla activities against them, while others regarded them as liberators from British colonialism.Following Independence in 1947, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were incorporated into the Indian Union. Since then, massive migration from the mainland has inflated the island population from only a few thousand to more than 350, 000. During this influx, tribal land rights and environmental protection were disregarded to some extent, but now local lobby groups are becoming more vocal.
Andaman wood pigeon
Andaman Wood Pigeon is an endemic bird, which is found only in Andaman and Nicobar group of islands. This bird is of the size of a domestic pigeon with longer tail. This bird has whitish head with checker board pattern on neck. The upper parts are dark slate grey in colour and underparts are pale blue grey Metallic green sheen on upper side and reddish bill with yellowish tip and purplish red orbital skin are identification characters. The bird lives in dense broadleaved evergreen forest.
Dugong or sea cow
Dugong, an endangered marine mammal, also known as Sea Cow, is only strictly marine mammal, which is herbivorous. It mainly feeds on sea-grass and other aquatic vegetation. Dugong is distributed in shallow tropical waters in Indo-Pacific Region. The animal is about three-metre length and weighs about 400 kg. In India Dugong is reported from Gulf of Kutch, Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Within A&N Islands Dugong has been reported from Ritchie”s Archipelago, North Reef, Little Andaman and parts of Nicobars
Andaman Padauk is a tall deciduous tree found only in Andaman. It grows upto height of 120 feet. The timber is highly prized for making furniture. Burr and Buttress formation add charm to the tree and used in making unique furniture.
The only commercial airport in the islands is Veer Savarkar International Airport in Port Blair, which has scheduled services to Kolkata and Chennai and Delhi, Bengaluru and Bhubaneswar. The airport is under control of the Indian Navy. Only daylight operations are allowed. A small airstrip of approximately 1000 metres is located near the Eastern shore of North Andaman near Diglipur.
Due to the length of the routes and the small number of airlines flying to the islands, fares have traditionally been relatively expensive, although cheaper for locals than visitors. Fares are high during peak seasons of spring and winter, but fares have been decreased over the time due to expansion of the civil aviation industry in India.
Being a cluster of 572 islands, Andaman and Nicobar are really famous for their seafood, which is found in each and every restaurant on the islands.Since Andaman and Nicobar Islands were mostly inhabited by aboriginal tribes, no particular cuisine was ever developed. The tribes were mainly dependent on hunting for food and mostly ate fruits, meat and fish, which is found in abundance on the islands. The Andamanese are very fond of fish and therefore, like to have fish with most of their meals.However, due to increasing tourist development in the islands, settlers from the Indian Mainland, who grew up here, have opened up various restaurants offering delicious Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisine. The food over here can mainly be classified into two groups – South Indian Food and North Indian Food
Andamanese are the aboriginal tribes inhabiting the islands of Andaman. They are further divided into five major groups namely Great Andamanese, Jarawa, Jangil, Onge and Sentinelese.The Great Andamanese: Once the largest tribes in the Andaman Islands, the Great Andamanese were estimated around 10,000 during 1789. However, by the year of 1969, only 19 of them were left. The Great Andamanese used to be foragers and depended mainly on the forest for food. Now, they eat Rice, Chapati, Dal and cook using spices. Their traditional diet comprises of dugong, fish, turtle, c
The tribes living in the Nicobar Islands are collectively called the Nicobarese, however, they might have different names on each island. Some even call themselves as ‘Holchu’, meaning friend.The Shompens inhabit the largest Nicobar Island called the Great Nicobar. They belong to the Mongoloid Race and are further divided into two parts, with the smaller part known as Mawa Shompens. Unlike the bigger division of Shompens, the Mawa Shompens are very shy and inhabit the coastal region along the river valleys. The bigger parts of Shompens are very hostile and frequently attack the Mawa Shompens. However, this has recently reduced a lot due to dwindling numbers of tribe members.
The traditional clothes of the natives in Andaman and Nicobar Islands are very interesting. The Sentinelese Tribe in the Andaman Islands believes that they should have no link with the outside world and that is why they prefer to wear no clothes and move around naked. This tribe accounts for a very small amount of population in the islands.On the other hand, the dominant community of Jarwas dress themselves in necklaces made out of shells and barks of trees, armbands and other conventional clothing and jewelries. The partially civilized Shompens wear clothes only below their waistline.Out of the entire native population in the islands, only the Car Nicobarese locals have taken to modernization and wear some modern clothes and no longer restrict themselves to their traditional dresses made out of coconut leaves.
Arts, Music and Dance
Nicobari Dance is one of the oldest and the most important dance forms of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This dance style is mainly performed by the Nicobarese from Car Nicobar Island. The most interesting fact about the Nicobarese Tribe is that they are the only ones, among the many tribes in the islands, who have not even remotely been influenced by modernization and civilization. They live in isolation and still adopt the traditional ways of living.The Nicobarese usually perform the Nicobari Dance during the Ossuary Feast or the Pig Festival.