Baratang Island in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Baratang Island is a gateway to South and Middle Andaman Islands which are part of Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is one of the main islands of the Great Andaman group with natural habitat and wonders, which closely set archipelago in the Bay of Bengal, adjoining the Andaman Sea. Although it is not that famous in Tourism sector but is popular for having Beautiful Beaches, Mangrove Creeks, Mud-Volcanoes and Limestone Caves lying around 150kms (93mi) north from Port Blair. Port Blair being the capital of the Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands is located around 45kms (28mi) from the southern tip of Baratang. The NH 223 ( Andaman Trunk Road) is the only road line connected to North Andaman and its places from Baratang Jetty like Rangat (71kms), Mayabunder (141kms), Kadamtala (28kms) and Diglipur (203kms) through this island.
Baratang contains the only known examples of Mud Volcanoes present in India. The Mud Volcanos and Limestone Caves in Nayadera are the major tourist attraction spots in Baratang. Thus, People willing to visit the Limestone Caves and The Mud Volcanos have to take journey through this island from the thick, dense forest area known as 'Jarawa Tribe Reserve' for about 50kms by road. This reserve is native to local people called as Jarawa Tribals. Hence, One can explore the Limestone Caves at Baratang with the permission of Forest Department and help of local folk guidance.
Baratang Island at Andaman and Nicobar Islands
The major attractions are the Limestone Caves, The Mud Volcanos, Parrot Island, and Baludera Beach.
Middle Strait Jetty:http://www.andamans.gov.in/images/baratang/7.JPG
Vehile Ferry between Middle Strait and Baratang:http://www.andamans.gov.in/images/baratang/8.JPG
1)Limestone Caves at Baratang Island:
From Baratang island one can board the Nilambur Jetty to reach the Lime Stone Caves which is about 30mins boat ride through a wide creek leading to Nayadera Jetty, from where it is 1 1/2km board-walk winding through the tropical forest full of Mangrove Trees at a distance of about 240mts. It depends on the tourists interest how to reach the destination either directly by boat ride or through the board walk to reach Nayadera jetty.
Journey through Mangrove creeks to Limestone Caves
Limestones are a sedimentary (Stalagmite) rock formations formed at the bottom of the sea with gradual deposits of few ingredients such as marine life, skeletons, corals and shells, due to the compression over millions of years ago.
As one reaches here they can view how some of these sedimentary limestone formations are hanging from the top and some growing from the ground. With the time passing these caves are constantly evolving in shape and size, and are the prime tourist attractions of this place.
Lime Stone deposits hanging from the Top
2)Mud Volcanos at Baratang Island:
To reach the Mud Volcano one has to take journey through the road of Jarwan Tribal Reserve (forest area) and cross the sea at Baratang jetty which is around 20 mins journey at a walkable distance of 250-300 mts from Baratang. Taking photographs of these tribes and interaction with them is strictly prohibited while passing through this way.
A Mud Volcano is formed with the emission of natural gases by decaying organic matter present underground. As this Mud is pushed upwards by the gas, the Mud starts depositing and hardens above the ground level and when more Mud oozes out it spills over the edge growing in size, thus resulting in the form of a miniature volcano with the texture of rich, creamy mud crater at the top.
The Mud Volcano at Baratang Island
3)Parrot Island at Baratang Island:
The Parrot Island near Baratang Island is a natural habitat for parrots living in this region. This island attracts a number of tourists as it gives a wonderful sight of Thousands of parrots returning home before sunset, and the sunset is worth seeing. One needs to take a boat ride from Baratang Jetty and cross through a creek to reach this secluded island, and the journey would be around 30 mins.
The Parrot Island at Baratang Island
It is advisable to visit this place in the evenings to watch these thousands of parrots flocking together, roosting here and which leave the island the next morning. In the mean time they trim the island leaving it perfectly pruned. The birds which come to Parrot Island are known as Parakeets as they are varied groups.
Parrakeets in Parrot Island of Baratang Island
4)Baludera Beach at Baratang Island:
Baludera Beach is situated in Baratang Island and is well known as an unpolluted shallow and isolated beach till recently. This serene beach is only 9km from the Nilambur jetty, and is hidden away from the crowd as very few visitors turn up here and the locals come here on weekends for picnic. This beach has eco-friendly huts and tree top huts. Nowadays it is also being promoted by the Forest Department. Frequently the Elephant Safari is the latest adventure added to this Beach.
Baludera Beach of Baratang Island
Elephant Safari at Baludera Beach of Baratang Island
Language and Permit in the Island:
Coming to languages spoken in Andaman and Nicobar Islands the Union Territory has people using different languages as it is a cluster of islands having people from different communities and cultural backgrounds. Hindi is the official language spoken here as it was mostly inhabited by the Hindu communities and hence major languages spoken here are Bengali (32.6 %), Hindi (25.95 % ), Telugu and Nicobarese (18.93 %) and Tamil especially Sri Lankan Tamil (17.84 %). English is also spoken here but not much used in this island.
This territory is indigenous to a huge population of different tribal communities and Nicobarese is one of the languages used by the local tribes mainly in the Nicobar Islands for administrative purposes. The other tribal languages are Andamanese, Onge, Sentinelese and Jarawa. The reason behind its vast diversity are the people who were migrated from different states and communities to serve the punishment of "Kaala Pani" during the British rule.
Foreign Tourists visiting this place are required to attain a permit to stay from the Indian Immigration Authorities (IIA) who issue a 30-day permit to visit the Andaman Islands. As the Foreign nationals are not given permission to visit the Nicobar Islands, they can extend their stay by another 15 days.
1)Night Halt: The places covered by permit are South Andaman Island, Middle Andaman Island and Little Andaman Island (except tribal reserve), Havelock Island, Long Island, Neil Island, Diglipur, Baratang Island, North Passage and islands in the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park (permission to this park is mandatory for Night halt).
2)Day Halt: The places covered by permit are Ross Island, South Cinque Island, Narcondum Island, Interview Island, Sister Island, Brother Island and Barren Island (it can be visited by board vessels only).
Indian citizens need not require any sort of permission to visit the Andaman Islands. But, the permits are mandatory to visit Nicobar Islands and other tribal areas, which are given in exceptional cases.
Tourist Information Centre : Directorate of Tourism,
Andaman & Nicobar Administration Port Blair
Phone No: 03192- 232694/232747(F)
Accomodation in the Island:
There are Forest and PWD guest houses are available for the visitors visiting this place. There are some private accomodations also available, but stay would be comfortable if booked earlier. As the majority of the people are from Hindu communities there are different flavours of south indian food also available to the tourists visiting this place and one can really relish on them as well.
Best Time to Visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands: Mid November - April.
How to Reach:
By Sea: Major Transportation is by Sea through 2 Jetty's in Port Blair. There are 2 ferry crosses: "Bamboo Trikery" Jetty and "Nilambur" Jetty.
Regular passenger ship services are also available to Port Blair from major cities like Chennai, Kolkata and Vishakhapatnam to and fro. There are 3 - 4 sailings every month from Kolkata and Chennai to Port Blair and vice-versa, and one sailing from Vishakhapatnam in a month. The journey through sea takes for about 50 to 60 hrs and the ship normally berths at Port Blair for about 2 to 4 days.
By Road: Baratang is approx. 100 kms away from Port Blair and takes 2.5 hrs by bus or ferry from Port Bliar. To reach Baratang one has to travel by road and cross a creek on a vehicle ferry at Middle Strait. Regular bus services are available from STS Bus Terminal, Aberdeen Bazar. There are plenty of Government, Private Buses and other Transports available which connect Port Blair with other points on Grand Andaman, including Baratang Island (2.5 hrs), Rangat (6 hrs) and Diglipur (8 hrs).
By Air: Port Blair has the main Airport where one can fly with ease of daily and weekly flights from the major cities of our country. The airlines providing regular flight services to Port Blair to reach Andaman and Nicobar Islands are Jet Airways and Alliance Air/Indian Airlines. It is advisable to book your tickets in advance to avoid heavy rush during the vacations and make your trip comfortable and memorable.
Image Courtesy:www.andamans.gov.in, tripadvisor.com, welcomenri.com, visitandaman.co.in, www.volcano.si.edu