Port Blair, India

May 9, 2023

On our sea day yesterday, the boutiques had a fashion show that showcased some of our fellow travelers wearing both the clothing and the jewelry available in the ships. Here is a picture of all of the models.

When Myanmar was taken off of our ATW itinerary, three ports were added along with a second day in Phuket, Thailand. Port Blair was the first of the three. We had never been to Port Blair, in fact, we never even heard of it before. When we saw the map, we realized how far from the rest of India it is. It is a 2 -3 hour flight from mainland India.

The captain told us yesterday that instead of staying in port until 7 PM as scheduled, we would leave at 5 to get ahead of the monsoon weather system headed this way. We will see if we do stay ahead of it!

Our plan today was to find a tuk tuk and have a tour around town and to see the bazaar and the Cellular Jail which seems to be a highlight here.

Port Blair is the capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. There are 572 islands in total but only 38 are permanently inhabited.

We took the shuttle bus to the center of town since we thought the tuk tuks there would be less expensive than the ones waiting at the port. We were the only cruise ship to dock here all year so we assumed they would be waiting for tourists. at the port.

The immigration procedure here was less tedious than in the rest of India. We received copies of our passport page, India visa, a customs form where we were asked to list video equipment and how much money in US dollars and other currency we were bringing and a landing card which they stamped and then checked at entry and which we gave back to them at exit.

We weere greeted by some beautiful women, showered with flower blossoms and had a bindi put on our forehead.

The Gandhi statue is a highlight in the town center.

We visited the Aberdeen Bazaar which wasn’t too much different from all of the markets we have seen in India, but there were very few tourists there. We did see this cow!

Apparently they love their garlic here!
We thought these cabs looked vintage! We didn’t actually see any like this driving around

We hired a tuk tuk and went to the Cellular Jail. It is quite hot here even so early in the morning but there was a nice breeze in the tuk tuk. The driver was not allowed to park, so he gave us his phone number and asked us to call when we were finished touring.

The design of the jail was based on separate confinement, which ensured that the prisoners had no form of contact with others except the officers. Originally the jail had 7 wings which got damaged by the earthquake in 1941 and now there are only 3 wings.

The Cellular Jail was created over 10 years, from 1896 to 1906 and is said to be the most formidable colonial prison that ever existed in India. Once built and used by the British to exile political prisoners, it is now an important tourist destination for many as it serves as a historical reminder for one of the darkest chapters in the Indian freedom struggle.

The sole idea behind its construction was to use it as a place of exclusion and isolation where prisoners would be subjected to harsh treatments in a single cell prison room.

Since it was located in one of the most secluded and inaccessible parts of the country, escaping from this jail was nearly impossible. Hence, the name “Kala Paani” was given to it, which roughly translates to “death water”.

Two places with eternal flames are in the courtyard
A model of the original design, a three story structure with 7 wings
One of the cells
Bridge from one ward to another
The gallows

In spite of how grim the history of this place is, the surroundings are quite beautiful.

One of the officials called our tuk tuk driver for us, and when he arrived we asked him to take us to a place for Norm to get a haircut.

By now we were pretty hot and tired, so we asked the driver to take us back to the ship.

Tuk tuk, man and cow competition

Tomorrow we. have another sea day on our way to Sabang, Indonesia, another one of the new ports and also new for us.

This entry was posted in Asia, Excursions, May, World Cruise #4. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Port Blair, India

  1. Violet Archer says:

    Very refreshing information. We too have never heard of these Islands. Thank you again.


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