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Port Blair

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Southern India : Andaman and Nicobar : Port Blair
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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 an upcoming city no different from any other smaller Indian city, although the seaside has been tarted up a bit. It comprises of people from all over India and one can imagine it as mini India with no conflicts on region and religion. Aside from Cellular Jail, there are quite few places which include Ross Island, Barren Island (known for the only active volcano) and few others known for its historical importance. A week's trip will cover the must see places at the island's. You can however do day trip to other close by places like Wandoor, Ross Island etc.

Important: Monday is a holiday in Andamans. Most places will be closed except North Bay, Ross Island tour and Havelock.

Get in

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

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 ₹7. 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.

Regular pax ship services are available to Port Blair from Chennai. There are 3 to 4 sailings every month, The voyage takes about 50 to 60 hrs & the ship normally berths at Port Blair for about 2 to 4 days.

Schedules & tariffs can be obtained from:

  • Shipping Corporation of India Ltd., Jawahar Building, Rajaji Salai, Chennai – 600 001 Tel: 044-25231401to 9, 25225835,25231407.
  • The Deputy Director of Shipping Services, A&N Administration, 6, Rajaji Salai, Chennai – 600 001 Tel: 044-25220841, 25226873

Estimated Fares: Name of Vessel and fare per berth

  • M.V.Nicobar ₹5,880
  • M.V.Nancowry ₹4,860
  • M.V.Swarajdweep ₹1,510 to ₹3,870
  • M.V.Harshvardhana ₹1,510 to ₹5,880
  • M.V.Akbar ₹1,310 to ₹5,880

Get around

  • Walking is a good option. But expect to get lost if you go too far and it is mostly quite steep hills that all look alike, so remember some landmark. The auto-rickshaws will charge you quite high if they can see you don't know where you are going or what you are doing. One way of avoiding being fleeced by them is to just climb in the back of the auto-rickshaws and say "Aberdeen Bazaar" for example.
  • Auto-rickshaws are abundant, and within town should cost ₹20-40. Auto fare from airport to Aberdeen Bazaar in the city centre is ₹30. Auto fare from Aberdeen Bazaar to Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex is ₹10. From Aberdeen Bazaar to Marine jetty (from where you get ships to Havelock Islands, Long island, etc) is also ₹10 (as on March 2010) Note: Another writer would say these prices are extremely low and only a local would get them.
  • 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 have been available for hire from a few shops around MA Rd. However, it seems they are no longer available for rent in Port Blair. Police have seized a lot of 2 wheelers for speeding and driving without license, so people have stopped renting out 2 wheelers. You can rent scooters and motorcycles on MG road about 2km up the hill to the west from Aberdeen Bazaar but they are ₹400 for one day which does not include an overnight as of Jan 2011. Expect to get lost.
  • Private hire cars are available for local sightseeing around Port Blair and South Andaman.
  • Boats are available to destinations like Ross Island. Boat fare is ₹75 for a return journey. It takes approximately 15 minutes by ferry from Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex jetty.

An option to visit the Andaman & Nicobar islands is to opt for the package tours.

See

Cellular Jail
  • Cellular Jail. 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.You can watch it from morning 9:30 a.m to 4 p.m. A light-and-sound show in Hindi (6 pm) and English (7 pm) available in the evenings. Some days the timings are altenated. Jail is closed on Mondays although the light and sounds is still on in the evenings. You have to stand in a long queue from 4.30 pm onwards till the ticket counter opens at 5.20 pm. TIP: Ask your hotel/agent to collect ticket or ask your wife/sis/mother to stand in the ladies' line. ₹20 per person.
  • Corbyn's Cove (beach). An ok beach, and the closest to Port Blair. Popular with locals for swimming and watching the sunset. 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 medium size zoo containing some species only found on the islands. which is now shifted to its new place at Chidiya Tapu.
Japanese bunker just beside Lions club, opposite to SAI Complex Port Blair
  • 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.
  • Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI), (about 4km away from the 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. closed Thursdays and Public Holidays.. Interesting Anthropological museum which gives the history of the various A&N tribes.
  • Chatam Saw Mill, Chatam (15 mins by bus from STS Bus terminal, private buses available ₹6 per person). A saw mill, oldest in Asia. Also the Chatam jetty is where ships from Calcutta/Chennai loaded with goods enter Port Blair. From the jetty passenger jetty is available for Bamboo flat and Dundus Point. 10 Rs/person inclusive of camera.
  • Samudrika Naval Museum. This museum has nice display of corals and live fishes. Also has a shop where you can buy local items. 20 Rs/person. Still camera - Rs 20.


Do

  • Boat tours from Port Blair You would be lured by agents to do a 3 island packaged tour (Ross + North Bay + Viper) in Port Blair for ₹400. The trip starts at 9am and ends at 5pm. Complimentary lunch and breakfast is provided by the tour operator. Please don’t fall into that trap. Since, Viper Island has now become a landfill for all the garbage and complete waste of time and money. Agents also try to sell single tour of Viper Island by the name of ‘Harbour Cruise’ for ₹90. That tour starts at 3pm. and ends at 5pm. Please avoid it completely. It is much better to do a 2 Island tour, which are North Bay + Ross Island for ₹225 . Tour for North Bay + Ross island starts at 10am from Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports complex. If you just want to do Ross Island, there is a ferry that leaves at 2pm. Will cost 40Rs per person. When you enter Ross Island, you'll need to buy entry ticket which is 20 Rs/person + 10Rs for still camera or Rs. 50 for Video Camera.

Ross Island was British administrative capital of Andamans. Now it has many old British building in Ruins. The island has lot of deers and peacocks. So its a nice place where you can spend quality time admiring the nature.

North Bay It is the place to do scuba, jet skii, snorkelling , sea walk etc. You don't need to know swimming to do scuba diving. Don't miss it

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.

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 ₹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.

  • Snorkeling at Jolly Buoy Jolly Buoy is something which is a MUST SEE for everyone and you can watch much better Corals and fishes here snorkeling as compared to Havelock Island. To reach here, first you have to reach Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park at Wandoor. Wandoor is around 30 km from Port Blair. There is only few ferries which takes you from Wandoor to Jolly Buoy and generally leaves at around 9 am. In peak season (December – January), you might want to book those tickets in advance as they are limited. Tickets cost ₹650 per head. Ticket cost includes one small round of trip around the corals in glass bottom boat as well as one small round of snorkeling. You can pay some more money to the guide to take an extended trip. At Jolly Buoy, everyone should do Snorkeling as it is a wonderful experience (No, you don’t need to know swimming for Snorkeling and it is completely safe). It’s a great experience to actually touch Star fish, Sea Cucumber and watch fishes at arm’s distance. If you are going to do snorkeling, don't spend money on extra trip of glass bottom boat. It is a MUST TO CARRY eatables and water as you won’t find anything at all there to eat/drink. It is restricted to carry plastic bags to Jolly buoy, so you can rent the Jute bag at 1Re/bag (with a deposit of Rs. 100).
  • Sea walking. 25 mins. Sea Walking is a must for those who love to see the corals and fishes deep inside their habitat. You put on a oxygen mask, to which oxygen is supplied from oxygen cylinders on the ship. You move down a ladder into the water, where the sea divers will show you the corals. They also feed fish on your hands and hundreds of fish will gather in front of you. Only discomfort will be some pain in the ears as you move deep into the water. They take you down to around 20-25 feets below surface for approx. 25 minutes. To do Sea Walking you have to get to North Bay Island. You can buy tickets at Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports complex and get on a ferry to North Bay Island. Its advisable to carry another set of clothes to change. Though clothes may be provided by the company. You can ask your operator to bargain for free to and fro ride from the Island. Also, they charge Rs. 500 per person for under water photography. you can be particular about your photographs and pay only after checking you pics, as sometimes the photographs are not good. They will give you a CD of the photographs, you can check the photos on their computer. ₹500 per person.

Buy

  • Jewelry, wood-carvings and Port Blair t-shirts are available around Aberdeen Bazaar.
  • Samudrika (Govt. museum). This is a govt. museum, ask anyone for directions. Autowala will take you there.
  • Sagarika (Govt. emporium). This is a government emporium where local made goods are available.

Eat

Aberdeen Bazar (landmark is the clock tower) is a good place for lodging/accomodation as well as food. Quite a few restaurants are present around this place.

  • 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 and also Jain food. Moderately Costly.
  • Ananda Restaurant, Aberdeen Bazaar. Beside Annaporna Cafeteria serving both veg and non-veg.
  • Icy Spicy, Island Aracde (near Junglighat Jetty, Junglighat), 03192-232704, [1]. 8AM-10PM. Pure Vegetarian Restaurant in the North Indian taste. They also have a sweets and chaat counter which serves best sweets in Andamans. Moderate.
  • Katubomman (Pure Veg.), Aberdeen Bazaar (Opposite SBI ATM. {100 yards from Clock Tower, before Gurudwara}). Vegetarian South Indian food.
  • 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.The place is not clean and the staff is unable to manage when it is crowded. ₹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 ₹250.
  • New India Cafe, MA Rd (near Jagannath Guesthouse). A cheap, local eatery, great if you're on a budget. Thalis available.Food not so good.
  • Corbyn’s Delight, Peerless Sarovar Resort. The Peerless Sarovar Resort's restaurant caters to non-guests too. Jet Privilege customers get 10 percent off. It is a modern multi-cuisine restaurant with an attached bar. They serve great north indian fare and decent continental and italian. The resort is the only one situated on a beach in Port Blair but the restaurant doesn't offer a great view. You can see the ocean though. ₹400-500.
  • Gagan Restaurant, (Aberdeen Bazar, near to Babu lane, just behind the Aberdeen Bazar Clock tower). Bengali dishes available here. ₹100.
  • Blue Sea Hotel, (Aberdeen Bazar, next to Sagarika emporium). It is one of the newly opened place, service best South Indian food in the city. It is very clean and reasonable.
  • TSG Emerald View, Moulana Azad Rd, Phoenix Bay, [2]. Great seafood. Has a ship-deck themed bar with a good view of the phoenix bay jetty.
  • Ananda Restaurant, Aberdeen Bazaar (after Hanuman Temple, about 200 yards from the Clock Tower). Cheap & best. Try the range of south indian dishes. Bombay meal is also awesome.
  • islet foods pvt ltd (islet resturant), atul shriti samati bheegi lane portblair (behind bengali club), 09775273711. pure Bengali food

Drink

Coconut water (daap or naaryal pani) is available everywhere for ₹10-15 (Mar,2011). One green coconut costs ₹15 in front of Cellular jail and they charge ₹20 at North bay island (Mar,2011).

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. In Port Blair, if you are staying in a hotel not in main city and don’t have a cab/travel agent picking you; transportation might become a little expensive for you. So, please be a little careful while making this decision. Fortune Bay, Sinclairs, Peerless Sarovar, Megapode are some of the reputed hotels near Corbyn Cove but it is a challenge to get an Auto Rickshaw there easily.

Budget

  • AASHIAANAA RESIDENCY INN, MARINE HILL,PORT BLAIR (It is just spitting distance away from the Marine jetty and the main Bazaar.Rooms are spotless and spacious comes with attached bathroom and television. Ten minutes ride from the airport.), '''09474217008,,email- shads_maria@hotmail.com'''. Non A/C room-Rs (300-650)& A/C room-Rs (800-1000)..

INE

  • Delanipur, Port Blair, 23264, 23060, 23461, [3]. Very centrally located. Prepaid taxi from airport charges ₹100/-, while local taxi drivers will take you for ₹50. All government tours start from here (e.g. 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.System of Water supply changed instead of water supply 2 hours twice a day, now water supply is round the clock. Hotel booking as well as details of tours can be obtained from director of Information publicity tourism +913192232694 or (locally)03192 232694. AC (D/B) ₹800; nonAC (D/B) ₹400.
  • Central Lodge, Link Rd, +91 3192 233 632. checkin: 13/11/2012`; checkout: 24/11/2012. 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. 6 PERSON ₹80-120.
  • Jagannath Guesthouse, MA Rd, +91 3192 232 148. Very basic but popular with locals and travellers. Some rooms may stretch the definition of "clean". +91'' 3192 232 14.
  • Youth Hostel, Aberdeen bazaar, +91 3192 232 459. dormitories ₹50; rooms ₹100.
  • SKB Lodge, Babu lane, Aberdeen bazaar. AC as well as NON-AC rooms available. ₹650-1200.

'Bold text'===Mid-range===

  • Megapode Camping Resort owned by ANIIDCO ( A Govt undertaking) all facilities available in a Dome accomodation, having the mystic sea always in front to enjoy its ever changing beauty at all moments. Located on the way to Corbyn's Cove - an Ideal location for serenity lovers to feel the call of the nature. Best for the Honey Mooners. have Bar & Restaurant but Far from the Madding Crowd". tarriff is 2500 INR approx.
  • Diviyum Manor, [4]. This hotel is just opposite to the Airport. The rooms are clean. The staff sincere and courteous. There is a restaurant and a bar within the Hotel. Food is okay. Cost of AC room as in January 2013 is Rs. 1932 including breakfast for two. ₹1200-2000.
  • Holiday Resort. This hotel is in the heart of the city. There are a couple of good grocery stores around & not to forget Uma Bakery House. The bus stop is right opposite. The rooms are awesome. The staff very sincere though a bit lazy. ₹1200-1500.
  • City King Palace, +91 9933 5389; +91 3192 23320. The hotel is not very good. The main problem is that Manager come drunk at night and disturbs the Guests. He cheats in terms of tariff and so be cautious if you at all deal with him. ₹1000-1200.
  • Lighthouse Residency, 11 MG Rd, +91 3192 23317, [5]. 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 AC rooms. ₹1000/1200 for standard/sea view..
  • Shompen Hotel, 0319223264, [6]. Neat a/c rooms, with balcony. Don't take AC deluxe rooms on first floor(room numbers starting with A), they're dark and damp - insist for the ones on third floor. Prepaid taxis would charge 100 from airport, but if you bargain outside the airport, you can get autos/taxis at 50. The best part of Hotel Shompen is its location - it's in Aberdeen bazar, which is bang in the middle of the small town that is Port Blair(10 mins walking distance to Cellular Jail Anand/Annapurna restaurants, the market place is even closer, and the Bus for Wandoor (where the ferry leaves for Jolly Buoy) stops right in front of the hotel!). ₹1000-2000.

Hotel Blue Sea. It is a decent hotel located at Mid Point. The rooms are very comfortable and it has a very responsive staff. Rates are Rs 2500/- per night.

Splurge

Megapode Camping Resort owned by ANIIDCO ( A Govt undertaking) all facilities available in a Dome accomodation, having the mystic sea always in front to enjoy its ever changing beauty at all moments. Located on the way to Corbyn's Cove - an Ideal location for serenity lovers to feel the call of the nature. Best for the Honey Mooners. have Bar & Restaurant but Far from the Madding Crowd". tarriff is 2500 INR approx.

  • Fortune Resort, Marine Hill, +91 3192 234 101, [7]. 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.
  • Sinclairs Bayview, +91 33 22801317, [8]. On the seafront, but far from the center - not necessarily a bad thing.
  • Hotel Sentinel, [9]. The hotel is located in the heart of Portblair city. Its just 2 km from Portblair airport. The facilities in the hotel include swimming pool ,conference room ,games room ,internet,business center etc. 3500-5000 (for tourist season).

'''Sea Princess Beach Resort''' [http://seaprincessandaman.com/]-The resort is located on a hill top facing the sea in wandoor about 25 kms from Port Blair.The resort has 33 sea facing cottages having beautiful view of the blue sea.The tariff for the season here ranges from ₹6000-10000.The facilities in the resort include swimming pool ,separate beach bar ,conference room,internet etc

Get out

By sea

There are 2 Jetty’s in Port Blair. Phoenix Bay Jetty to go to Havelock and other far destinations. Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex to take smaller ferries to Ross Island, North Bay and Viper Island.

  • Havelock Island Government ferry - Port Blair to Havelock at 6 Am. 11.30am and 2 PM. Ferry tickets ₹150 and ₹250 per person 1 way. Havelock to Port Blair 9.30 AM, 2 PM and 4 PM. Travel time 150 minutes.

Recently a private operator has started a fast catamaran day ferry M.V.Makruzz. 09.00 AM departure from Port Blair to Havelock. Departure from Havelock to Port Blair - 4:00 PM . Takes 90 minutes. Tickets ₹750, ₹850 and ₹1,100 per person 1 way. Here you can get tickets on the same day. Of course, it's always better to book the ticket a day ahead.During peak season, you need to book tickets atleast 2-3 days in advance. The inside is really good and clean. To get a window seat you must reach the ticket counter early. Always book the return ticket or chances are you may be stranded on the island. You can plan to stay on the Havelock Island, there are many hotels there, but plan in advance including hotel booking and ferry tickets.

  • Ross Island - It was British administrative capital and it is beautiful to watch ruins of that set up. You’ll find lots and lots of deers on this island. There is a small canteen for some snacks and lunch. You need to walk a lot to see to cover entire place. 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.
  • North Bay Island - Nice place to do snorkeling. You won’t find any canteen here but small shacks serving Tea, biscuits, chips and coconut water. There is a stop gap arrangement for ladies changing room too. You can also see Corals in glass boat. They charge around ₹300 per head for snorkel and ₹200 per head for glass boat.
  • 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.
  • 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.

By Road

  • Baratang Island - Mud volcano, limestone caves, and Parrot Island, 2.5 hrs by bus and ferry from Port Blair. On your way to Baratang you can see local Jarwa tribals. However, the tribals have been moved to a separate island and there's not much to see. Limestone caves are closed on Monday. (update: 2/11/2013) This attraction is now closed from 1/26/2013.
  • Chidya 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. The last bus that leaves the STS Bus Terminal is at 5pm and once it reaches Chiriya Tapu, the same will return to Port Blair. So please plan your trip accordingly. The best snorkeling is at a beach about 2km south. Chiriya Tapu is a very good sunset point. Auto fare for a to-fro journey plus waiting time is ₹500-600.

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 "deluxe" 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 air

Helicopters used to run from inter island helicopter service just 1 km from the airport terminal. There are scheduled services to Havelock, Neil, Carnicobar, Hutbay, Campbellbay and other islands. Pawan Hans Helicopter Ltd is operating its fleet of 03 Dauphin Helicopters from port blair under Andaman & Nicobar Islands Adminstration. But you have to book ticket in advance for a comfortable journey to the other islands. A new air service, MEHAIR, operates an amphibious Cessna Caravan to out islands



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!


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