Port Blair: Wikis

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Port Blair
Port Blair
Location of Port Blair
in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Coordinates 11°40′N 92°46′E / 11.67°N 92.76°E / 11.67; 92.76
Country  India
Territory Andaman and Nicobar Islands
District(s) Andamans
Population 100,186 (2001)
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)

Port Blair About this sound pronunciation (Hindi: पोर्ट ब्लेयर) is the largest town and a municipal council in Andaman district in the Andaman Islands and the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a union territory of India. It lies on the east coast of South Andaman Island and is the main entry point to the islands.

It is also the headquarters for the Indian district of South Andaman, and the local administrative sub-division (tehsil), which is also called Port Blair.

It is home to several museums and a major base for the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard. It is also the headquarters of the Tri Services Command.

Contents

History

The Ross Island Prison Headquarters, 1872
Map of Andaman and Nicobar Islands with an extra detailed area around Port Blair

In 1789 the government of Bengal established a penal colony on Chatham Island in the southeast bay of Great Andaman, now known as Port Blair (after the officer who founded it). After two years, the colony moved to the northeast part of Great Andaman and was named Port Cornwallis after Admiral William Cornwallis. However, there was much disease and death in the penal colony, and the government ceased operating it in May 1796.

In 1824 Port Cornwallis was the rendezvous of the fleet carrying the army to the First Anglo-Burmese War. In the 1830s and 1840s, shipwrecked crews who landed on the Andamans were often attacked and killed by the natives, alarming the British government. In 1855, the government proposed another settlement on the islands, including a convict establishment, but the Indian Rebellion of 1857 forced a delay in its construction. However, since the rebellion gave the British so many prisoners, it made the new Andaman settlement and prison an urgent necessity. Construction began in November 1857 at Port Blair (named for Lieutenant Archibald Blair of the British East India Company), avoiding the vicinity of a salt swamp which seemed to have been the source of many of the old colony's problems. The penal colony was originally on Viper Island, named after Lieutenant Blair's vessel, The Viper. The convicts, mostly political prisoners, suffered life imprisonment at hard labor under degrading, even cruel conditions. Many were hanged, while others died of disease and starvation.

Between 1864 and 1867 a penal establishment was built with convict labor on the northern side of Ross Island.[1] These structures are now in ruins.[2]

As the Indian freedom movement continued to grow in the late Nineteenth Century an enormous Cellular Jail was constructed between 1896 and 1906 to house even more Indian convicts, mostly political prisoners, in solitary confinement. It is also known as "Kala Pani" (translated as "Black Waters"), the name was given to it for the torture and ill-treatment towards the Indian Freedom Fighters.

For a time during 1943 and 1944, Port Blair was the headquarters of the Azad Hind government under Subhash Chandra Bose.

In 1984, the city was made the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Port Blair.

Although damaged by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, Port Blair survived sufficiently to act as a base for relief efforts in the islands.

Known as the Emerald Islands, today this is a recommended site for tourists, with its lush green forest and the blue of the sea.

Geography and climate

Port Blair
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
36
 
29
21
 
 
21
 
30
21
 
 
9
 
31
22
 
 
70
 
32
23
 
 
346
 
31
23
 
 
456
 
30
23
 
 
400
 
29
23
 
 
425
 
29
23
 
 
403
 
29
22
 
 
295
 
30
22
 
 
254
 
29
22
 
 
157
 
29
22
average max. and min. temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: Weather Underground

Port Blair has an equatorial climate with little variation in average temperature and large amounts of precipitation throughout the year. All months except January, February and March receive substantial rainfall.

Demographics

As of 2003 India census[3], Port Blair had a population of 100,186. Males constitute 52% of the population and females 48%. Port Blair has an average literacy rate of 81%, higher than the national average of 79.9%: male literacy is 81%, and female literacy is 72%. In Port Blair, 11% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Transportation

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Travel to Port Blair

Ships transport passengers and cargo between Port Blair and the mainland cities of Kolkata, Chennai and Vishakhapatnam. Domestic Indian air carriers serve Veer Savarkar International Airport.

Travel within the Andaman Islands and Port Blair

Ferry Boats link Port Blair to outlying islands. Private and State-owned "State transport service" buses are available for intra and inter Island travel. Inter Island Buses are available for Baratang, Rangat, Mayabunder and Diglipur.

Taxi service

Taxis cost Rs. 20-40 only for 2 to 4 kilometres.

Images

Center of Port Blair in December 2004, a couple of days before the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.
Chatham Island off Port Blair

Popular culture references

  • Singer Jack Johnson's song "Holes to Heaven" is about a surf trip to Port Blair.
  • A crucial part of the Sherlock Holmes novel "The Sign of Four" takes place in this penal colony, depicted from the point of view of a convict.

References



Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Port Blair's seaside promenade, one of the few pleasant bits of town
Port Blair's seaside promenade, one of the few pleasant bits of town

Port Blair is capital and largest city of the Andaman and Nicobar island group, with a population of around 100,000.

Understand

Given the beauty of the rest of the Andamans, Port Blair is a depressingly ugly and dirty place no different from any other smaller Indian city, although the seaside has been tarted up a bit. Aside from Cellular Jail, there isn't really any need to spend more time here than absolutely necessary, although many travelers will find themselves overnighting while waiting for their flight or ferry.

Get in

See Andaman and Nicobar for information on flights and ships from the mainland.

By plane

Port Blair's Vir Savarkar Airport (IATA: IXZ) is located about 2 km south of the city. Taxis and autorickshaws wait outside the terminal at flight times. Public buses can be flagged down on the main road just outside the airport ( cross the road) . A bus to Aberdeen Bazaar will cost no more than 7Rp. The terminal is small and reasonably modern, with an air-conditioned departure hall, but aside for an overpriced kiosk selling chai and crisps there's not much to tide you over if your flight is delayed.

Helicopters used to run from Little Andaman once per week but were grounded after it was ravaged by the tsunami. Check with Pawan Hans/Air Deccan to see if they've started up a new service.

By bus

Buses connect Port Blair with other points on Grand Andaman, including Baratang Island (2.5 hrs), Rangat (6 hrs) and Diglipur (8 hrs).

To get "de-luxe" bus tickets, go to the little arena of shops across the road from the bus station. Ask around, but the guy is in the fourth shop along on the left on the ground floor.

If you're going further than Rangat the road is somewhat bumpy, so it's recommended not to get seat number greater than 20 (as this is over or behind the rear axle). Don't get the rear seats as they are a bench - you'd be better off on a public bus.

By sea

Various ferries run between area islands:

  • Havelock Island 2-3 times daily from Phoenix Bay, Port Blair. Fast boat 2.5 hours, slow boat 4 hours.
  • Neil Island once a day, 1.5 hours. Some boats go from Havelock.
  • Little Andaman. Several times weekly from Hut Bay, takes 8 hours.
  • Long Island. Several times weekly and takes 8 hours. This ferry continues on to Ranghat on Middle Andaman.
  • Diglipur. A few times weekly and takes 10 hours, overnight.
  • Walking is a good option - Port Blair is a fairly small town.
  • Auto-rickshaws are abundant, and within town should cost Rs 20-40.
  • Local buses are also available for inter-city and intra-city travel. Very cheap, but you'll need to ask around to figure out the routes.
  • Scooters & motorcycles are available for hire from a few shops around MA Rd. Ask around, and also try your hotel.
  • Private hire cars are available for local sightseeing around Port Blair and South Andaman.
  • Boats are available to destinations like Ross Island. You can also pay the local fishermen to take you on day trips to mangrove creeks (Bridget Creek is nice) or places like Mt Harriet National Park (where you can beach your boat and go birdwatching). Don't pay more than Rs 2000/day for the boat, and you can often bargain it down to much less. Be sure to check with the Forest Dept before heading out, as many destinations require certain permissions.
Cellular Jail
Cellular Jail
  • Cellular Jail, [1]. Built by the British to house political prisoners far away from the mainland. All prisoners were kept in isolation cells and subjected to a brutal work regime, with regular whippings and executions. Briefly taken over by the Japanese during WW2, who added outright torture to the palette. Today, however, the jail has been transformed into an immaculately kept national monument complete with a garden that seems very much at odds with the horror of the place. A light-and-sound show in Hindi and English available in the evenings. Entry Rs. 20, closed Mondays.
  • Corbyn's Cove - an ok beach, and the closest to Port Blair, popular with locals for swimming and watching the sun set. However, part of the beach was washed away by the 2004 tsunami and currents can be very strong, so be careful if you decide to swim.
  • Mini Zoo - A small zoo containing some species only found on the islands. Very shortly it is going to be shifted to its new place at Chidiya Tapu.
Japanese bunker
Japanese bunker
  • Japanese Bunkers, near Corbyn's Cove. Bunkers built by the Japanese army during World War II. There's one more right down the hill from Cellular Jail.  edit
  • Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) - It is about four km away from Airport. CARI Scientists are conducting research on different aspects of Island Agriculture. Landscaping of CARI is very beautiful and it is worth seeing. Here you can see farms of different livestocks and poultry viz. Cattle, Pig, Goat, Rabbit, Turkey, Quail, Guinea Fowl, Duck, Fisheries Ponds, Integrated Farming System model etc and fodder blocks as well.
  • Anthropological Museum. Interesting Anthropological museum which gives the history of the various A&N tribes. Closed Thursdays and Public Holidays.  edit
  • Jewelry, wood-carvings and Port Blair t-shirts are available around Aberdeen Bazaar.
  • Samudrika (Govt. Emporium). This is a govt. emporium, ask anyone for directions. Autowala will take you there.  edit
  • Annaporna Cafeteria, Aberdeen Bazaar (after Hanuman Temple, 200-yards from Clock Tower, Opposite Police Station.), 234199. Pure vegetarian restaurant, offering both South and North Indian food. Cheap.  edit
  • Icy Spicy, [2]. Punjabi-style north Indian food, with veg food. And a Sweets and Chaat counter.
  • Katubomman (Pure Veg.), Aberdeen Bazaar (Opposite SBI ATM. {100 yards from Clock Tower, before Gurudwara}). Vegetarian South Indian food.  edit
  • Lighthouse Residency, MA Rd (near Aberdeen Bazaar). One of Port Blair's best restaurants, with a good (Indianized) Chinese-Thai menu and North Indian favorites. The speciality here is fresh seafood; check the price and pick your fish. The tandoori masala fish is outstanding, and they also have one of the few decent bars in Port Blair. Rs.50-200.
  • Mandalay Restaurant, Fortune Resort, Marine Hill. The Fortune Resort restaurant but caters to non-guests. Not cheap but the food is quite good, the location peaceful, and the view is excellent. Does a good buffet for breakfast at about Rs 250.
  • New India Cafe, MA Rd, (near Jagannath Guesthouse). A cheap, local eatery, great if you're on a budget. Thalis available.

Drink

Coconut water (daap or naaryal pani) is available everywhere for Rs. 8-10.

Sleep

Thanks to the early-morning scheduling of most flights and ferries from Port Blair, many hotels have an 8 AM checkout policy. The good side of this is that it's generally not a problem to check in early either.

  • Aashiaanaa Residency Inn, Marine Hill, (+91 9474 217 008) & (03192 242858). This family run place has spotless rooms and is at a great location (two mins. uphill walk from Marine Jetty from where the ships leave for Havelock and other nearby islands). All rooms come with cable-TV, attached bathroom and some with a balcony giving a view over the marina or city. Non-AC 300-500 Rs and AC 800-1000 Rs. Can arrange airport pickup for Rs 125.
  • Andaman Teal House, Delanipur, Port Blair, 232642, 234060, 234061, [3]. AC (D/B) Rs. 800/- NAC (D/B) Rs. 400/- Very centrally located. Prepaid taxi from airport charges Rs. 100/-, while local taxi drivers will take you for Rs. 50. All government tours start from here (eg Jolly Buoy, Baratang Islands)Spacious rooms with seaview. Attached restaurant provides cheap and wholesome meals. Has to be booked 6 to 12 months in advance specially in peak season. Water supply 2 hours twice a day, rest of the time you have to use water from buckets.Hotel booking as well as details of tours can be obtainedfrom director of Information publicity tourism +913192232694 or (locally)03192 232694.  edit
  • Central Lodge, Link Rd, +91 3192 233 632. Very basic but some rooms have nice character... and some are dank, so look at a couple if possible. Very popular with budget backpackers and those that haven't left India since they came in 1964. Rs 80-120.
  • Jagannath Guesthouse, MA Rd, +91 3192 232 148. Very basic but popular with locals and travelers. Some rooms may stretch the definition of "clean". Rs 200-500.
  • Youth Hostel, Aberdeen bazaar, +91 3192 232 459. Dorms Rs 50, rooms Rs 100.
  • City King Palace, +91 99332 52389, +91 (0) 3192 233320. Rooms are neat and air-conditioned. Rs 1000-1200.
  • Lighthouse Residency, 11 MG Rd, +91 3192 237317, [4]. checkout: 8:00 AM. Opened 2004, recently completed a somewhat haphazard renovation. Tolerably clean, but don't be afraid to ask to see a few rooms before you pick one. All aircon rooms, Rs.1000/1200 for standard/sea view. 1200.  edit
  • Shompen Hotel. Neat a/c rooms. Rs 1000-2000.
  • Fortune Resort, Marine Hill, +91 (0) 3192 234 101, [5]. The first chain hotel in Port Blair, great sea views but rooms are desperately in need of renovation. Has a bar and a restaurant. US$70-170, credit cards accepted. Note that locally this hotel is known mainly as "Bay Island" and asking rickshaw drivers to take you to "Fortune Resort" often results in confusion.
  • Sinclairs Bayview, (033)22801317, [6]. On the seafront, but far from the center — not necessarily a bad thing.
  • Baratang Island - mud volcano, limestone caves, and parrots, 2.5 hrs by bus and ferry from Port Blair
  • Barren Island is a volcano island and the only volcano in India. Day trips can be arranged from Port Blair. No additional permit is required to visit the island, however it is not possible to set foot on the island, only to view it from the boat.
  • Chiriya Tapu - a small fishing village with good snorkeling, located at the southern tip of South Andaman. Buses run several times per day from Port Blair and take 1.5 hours, or rent a scooter and drive yourself. The best snorkeling is at a beach about 2km south.
  • Ross Island - once the capital under British rule, it was moved to Port Blair after a 1940s earthquake. A great 1/2 day side trip from Port Blair. Ferries daily at 8.30, 10.30, 12.00, 14.00. Buy tickets at the jetty behind the aquarium where the boat leaves from.
  • Boat tours from Port Blair. You can get information about boat tours from A&N tourism, but not book the tour there. Instead, go to the aquarium jetty 1/2 hour before departure and you can buy the tickets from one of the four booths by the entrance.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PORT BLAIR, the chief place in the convict settlement of the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean, situated on the south-east shore of the South Andaman Island, in 11° 42' N., 93° E. It derives its name from Lieut. Blair, R.N., who first occupied it in 1789, as a station for the suppression of piracy and the protection of shipwrecked crews. Abandoned on account of sickness in 1796, it was not again occupied until 1856. It possesses one of the best harbours in Asia, while its central position in the Bay of Bengal gives it immense advantage as a place of naval rendezvous. (See ANDAMAN ISLANDS.)


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Proper noun

Port Blair

  1. Capital of the union territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (India).

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