Day 4 – Baratang and back to Port Blair


We started from Rangat at the crack of the dawn, as usual. the destination of the day is the limestone cave at Baratang Island – the same place where we had the first ferry crossing just the day before. Only that from the jetty we take speedboats and begin the 40 km ride through the creeks to reach the other side of the island where the cave is located.

Ma and baba seem prepared for the worst

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and i did too, only with a frown:

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The creek at Baratamg. Apparantly they are full of saltwater crocs.

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More traffic on the other side of the creek. The big boat in the distance is the ferry.

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Lifejacket for protection against drowning and dupatta for protection against cold and wind-induced bad hair. Smaart baay, Rabart!

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From the wide creek, the boat took a turn into the narrow mangrove channel. at times the channel was so narrow that the sides of the boat kept bumping into the roots.

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From the jetty, we had to walk for like a kilometre to get to the cave. First, the road took us through the jungles

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Our guide and his brother leading a group of enthusiastic travellers

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More forest roads:

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After some time, things started to rock! i mean the surroundings started getting rockier… and indication of the proximity to the cave.

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A narrow road passes between the sentinel rocks.

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And then there was a narrow bridge over a narrow brook.

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I was tired of no one clicking my pics. So i stood in the middle of the ‘bridge’ till ma snapped one.

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Gone…

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Going…

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Gone!

Entering the foreboding limestone caves. The inside was pitch dark. The guide was carrying an emergency lamp, the only light source once you are in.

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And these, my dear friend, are the rock formations inside the cave. Over thousands of years, water had been dripping down giving rise to rocks of curious shapes. they are in a process of constant growth, sometimes they grow and change so rapidly that the change is discernable even within a few years.

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Various chemicals in the water adds various ishades of colours to the rocks. The colours are not completely understandable as most of the photographs inside the caves were to point to or focus on.

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And yes, it can be very claustrophobic

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A stalactite

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From a wide and lofty opening, the cave gradually goes narrower and narrower and the rocks weirder.

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And there is ma, shouting at the rocks, apparantly. Look at the expression of fear on baba’s face. The cave does weird things to your psychy.

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A stalactite descends from the woof while a stalagmite rises from the floor.. or is it the other way round? whatever… one day they will meet and form a pillar!

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Leaving the caves. The rocks on the right looks like a series of faces carves on the walls.

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The amazing bamboo forest. Spot the bench in the lower right corner? We sat there for a while nursing the straining legs

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Back on the road and exhaustion takes over. This is when the car stopped at the forest checkpost at Jarbatang.

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Who knew there was so much more to the Andamans than just sand and surf?

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Of course there are deserted roads in the middle of thick forests where your car suddenly breaks down, miles away from humanity. The driver went off to the next town, 28 kms away to find us another vehicle while we waited.

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Rampwalking in the forest. What people would do to pass two hours!

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Obviously Baba cant do rampwalk, so he just took a stroll

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and then stopped to admire the lush foliage!

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Finally back in Port Blair. The runway of the town’s airport is to the right. They built two parallal roads – used one for the cars and buses and the other for Airbuses!

lol

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Funny breed of local poultry. Looks like a cross between chicken and turkey to me. Whatever it is, it’s bound to be tasty!

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A pillar erected in 1914 in memory of the few residents of the islands who died fighting in the First World War for a country, they or their descendants would never set foot in.

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Day 2 – Port Blair to Dighlipur


We started at 4 in the morning to get to Dighlipur. Port Blair is at the southernmost tip of the Great Andaman islands while Dighlipur is the northern end. The total distance is around 340 kms. Here’s the map:

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The red line is the Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) that connects the two cities. It passes through some of the densest forests in the world, inhabited by the stone age Jarawas. At two pints, you need to get down from whatever vehicle you are in, cross over on ferry – people, cars, buses, et al, and continue from the other side.

The road through forests:

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The first ferry crossing at Middle Strait. You can see how vehicles and people cross over on boats.

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From the boat, you get a very nice view of the creek as well as the numerous small islands and the mangrove forests fringing the waterline

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Here’s a close-up of the lush mangrove thickets:

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We crossed over from middle strait onto Baratang island. Here we waited in little huts built on the water, for the car to come in the next boat. I took some pics while waiting.

Ma

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There was a boat tied to the pillars. I tried to capture it using the window of the hut as a frame:

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More vehicles cross over to join the melee on our side of the water:

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While we were still in the shack, it started to rain heavily. here is a picture of the deluge

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And this, after the rains..

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People line up to board the state bus to Dighlipur at Baratang jetty

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From here on, we went to see the Mud Volcano, which was just an anthill sized mound issuing bubbles from the top. What a let down! Here is Baba walking through the forest to get there

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This is a beautiful photograph of ma, en route the Mud Volcano. When baba saw this pic, his only comment was ‘aagun laiga jaibo‘!

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Strange palm trees…seen nothing like this anywhere else… locally they are known as the Umbrella Palm

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Baba pretending to be a poet while waiting for the boat at Kadamtala Jetty (the second ferry crossing)

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Kadamtala jetty from the boat

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Stormclouds loom over the mangroves at Kadamtala

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ma and baba on the boat

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and thats me

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Funny pic of ma chilling with some nariyal paani. Baba’s reaction to the pic was ‘khaishe!’

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After ma, it was the dog’s turn to succumb to the kernel desire!

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The waste paper bin becomes a hand resting place. Talk about wildlife suffering under the growing weight of humanity

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Baba…poet…jetty…AGAIN

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Lunch at Rangat

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Just outside the restaurant we had lunch in, i discovered a colony of the half-inch-long Tailor Ants. If you look closely into the following pics, you will see that the ants literally ‘stitch’ leaves of the plants together to make a nest. They are very aggressive and their sting is supposed to be very painful.

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The journey from Rangat to Dighlipur was long. The road passed mostly through forests which got denser and denser with every passing mile. sometimes forests were broken by little hamlets with surrounding paddy fields. The clouds were very low. You could see them drifting through the tops of hills barely 100 meters high.

This one was taken from the moving car. Check out what i was saying about the clouds.

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And this was just before everything plunged into a sudden, early night.

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