Baratang Island – part of Andaman Islands is a place just out of the Nat Geo & Discovery documentaries. Andaman Islands are one best place to visit in India. Best time to visit would be from October to April. I have been there twice, but the second time was marred by sudden cyclonic disturbances. As excepted the beaches are one of the best ones. My favorite place for the whole trip was Baratang Island. It is like nature’s hidden secret which someone accidentally stumbled upon.
We had left 04:00 am from Port Blair to reach the Baratang. Journey is divided into three parts –
- Port Blair to Jirkatang
- Jirkatang to Nilambar Jetty
- Jetty to Baratang Islands
We had hired a private cab for one day. Government run buses are also available for the journey.
First part was covered in approx. 1.5 hours. We reached Jirkatang where Forest Department officials have a check post. To be honest, I was sleeping for this part of journey. At Jirkatang Check Post, the refreshments are available. So wake up yourself with a sip of tea. There is an old temple on the roadside which reminded me of all the Bollywood movie temples with bells ringing. 🙂
The second leg of the journey is interesting. You have to pass through the Jarawa Reserve Forest. The vehicles are only allowed to move in convoys, heavy vehicles in front with policemen accompany them. This area is inhabited by the Jarawa Tribe, native of Andaman Islands. Stopping on the way & photographing is strictly prohibited. Even talking or giving any food items to Jarawa is forbidden. The road passes through patches of dense forest. Tall trees on both sides of the road & scattered sun rays all along the way. Pictures wont to justice to this beautiful sight.
It leaves us to ponder about the strange ways of life – some are busy with all the modern amenities & then there are tribes still untouched by all this fuss.
The third leg of the journey is a short distance covered by Jetty boats to reach Baratang Island. You are welcomed by loud voices of tour guides promising you the best services. Places to cover in Baratang –
- Mud Volcano
- Limestone caves
- Parrot Island
I did not visit Parrot Islands as they cannot be covered in single day trip.
We took motorboats to visit Limestone caves. I was left awe-struck by sheer beauty of Mangrove forests. Mangrove trees have formed a natural path which leads to the caves. At places the mangrove trees have covered the area as if to form tunnels. This was the highlight of the day for me.
The limestone caves take you back to the geography lessons about stalagmites & stalactites. The water seeps through the rocks crevices and forms amazing structures. Well, the guides there would show you all the possible figures in those structures – fountains, humans & even holy deities. Even though we understand the science behind the cave formation, it is a natural wonder.
The Baratang Island did not have many options for food. Better to be prepared & carry light snacks. Remember to wear covered clothes to avoid mosquito bites & a big no to open toed shoes. We took return Jetty from the islands at 4:00 pm & followed back the same route to return to Port Blair.
After visiting this place, I often find myself thinking about the inhabitants of North Sentinel islands. They are one of last known tribes in the world with no contact. They have discouraged all attempts to be contacted by outside world & remain a mystery till date. People about whom we know nothing, unheard & unknown. Does anyone else also wonder that some more secret tribes would be existing today? Do let me know to assure me that I am not alone with all these weird thoughts.