Day 3 – Dighlipur to Rangat


Today, i shall take you from Dighlipur where we halted the previous night to Rangat where we will spend this night. On the way we visit the Ross and Smith islands of the coast of Dighlipur. As i mentioned earlier, Dighlipur is the main town of the North Andaman island. Close to Dighlipur is Saddle Peak, the tallest mountain of the Andamans. This map of North Andaman will make things clearer.

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We woke up in the morning and walked down to the Kalipur beach which is a little distance from the resort. Here’s ma and Baba in front of the hotel

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You have to walk for like a quarter of a mile on the main road before turning into a lane that leads to the beach. Ma and Baba taking the long walk

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From the main road, this narrow lane branches off to the beach. As with everything else on the island, the pathway passed through a very thick forest before opening, almost miraculously onto the wide and wild Kalipur Beach

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It was stormy overnight and it had been pouring torrentially till around an hour before we hit the beach. The winds were high and the sea was rough. Here, take a look:

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…and the rains started all over again. We had to run for shelter at the shack on the beach where we waited for the next hour for it to stop. This poor man was trying to stay dry and guide two stubborn buffaloes at the same time. Poor man!

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How many colours can you see in the water?

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This is the wild and storm lashed Kalipur beach. This is pristine habitat. In November-December, turtles – Olive Ridleys, Leatherbacks, Hawksbills – come ashore to nest on this beach.

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The rain held for a few minutes and i went for a walk on the beach and this is what i found. This is a huuuuuge King Cobra, easily 14 feet in length. Its not surprising that it was murdered, because thats the only thing people can do, but what struck me was the way it was murdered. If you look closely, you will see that it was strangled to death with a rope. What sort of a depraved person would do that??

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Another view of the beach and all the storm debris that have been washed ashore.

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And thats baba and me taking shelter from the strong winds and heavy rains.

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So after we managed to cram in some breakfast, we headed straight to the Ariel Bay jetty to take a boat to Smith Island. The time was just about right as the low tide had just set in. Heres ma in the jetty:

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The simple man guiding his simple boat

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One of my trademark abstract shots. I must stop taking more of these. Its kinda getting repetitive

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When you reach Smith island, you discover that there is no jetty. So the boat goes as far as it can and then you have to jump! Here are two people who have successfully got down from the boat in the manner described before.

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The skies were so dramatic throughout the trip. I love this picture:

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What you see here is the smaller Ross island seen from the larger Smith. As it is low tide, the two islands are connected by this while sand beach. While we were there, the waters receded further and the beach became even broader.

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Thats the beach on the Smith Island side

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As the waves came lapping on the shore, it churned the sand on the seabed into these interesting formations. On a clearer day, this would have been even clearer.

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Resting places for tourists at the Smith island beach

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One more of the beach…it was so beautiful, could not get enough of it.

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Our boat waiting to take us back to the jetty. Check out the hills in the background. Mysterious misty hills.

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And the waters recede even further and reveal what was till a few moments ago, under the waves

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The beach was full of corals and sea shells. This one was huge. It would have easily weighed 2 kgs. Beautiful..only nature can craft such colours and patterns

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Random beach shot

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Another random beach shot

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This is how deserted the place was. We were the only people in the two islands. And look at the sky again. AWESOME

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Beachscape

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Check out how clear the water is. the bottom is crawling with hundreds of crabs and fishes. Wherever you plant a foot, there are a thousand things scuttling around. That place was alive

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Ma taking my pic, i guess

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This is one of my favourite pics from the day. The colour of the water here is so unusual. Adding to the charm are the patchy sky and the cloud topped hills in the distance

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Its time to go. The boatwallah gets the craft as close to us as possible

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Be careful when you get on to that boat‘, he tells her

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Anchors Aweigh!

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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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