An Archipelago of serenity- The Andaman Diaries-CHATHAM SAW MILL,SAMUDRIKA & LIMESTONE CAVE

Hello awesome people!!

I know it’s Monday and I should be drowning myself in those sucky Monday blues. But I’m just too excited because I’ve been loaded with so many packages from all the online shopping I did in the last week. I’ll definitely do a haul post soon. Let’s get back to the rest of the days in my ANDAMAN SAGA.

So, this was the day we thought to relax a bit and stay away from the sea and planned to visit the famous CHATHAM SAW MILL.  This saw mill is credited to be one of the biggest and oldest saw mills in Asia which is located at the north tip of the Andaman. Chatham is famous for the colonial history of Andaman and  dates back to 1883 and was set up by the British.Just close to the saw mill, there is a forest museum that exhibits some of the masterpieces made from Andaman woods.

Let me tell you a little bit of history behind this place. Chatham mill was of utmost importance in the pre-independence era as it catered to the needs of the British. During the second world war, it became a prey to the heavy bombarding done by the Japanese and was badly destroyed as one bomb hit it directly. The Japanese then occupied this island and it remained under their rule till 1945. Post second world war, the island revived its glory and the mill started functioning again in 1946 and since then it has never looked back.

So this place is actually located in a small island like place which is also called the CHATHAM ISLAND and is connected by a bridge. As soon as we reached there, we could see wood all around (of course). Large piles of woods can were being loaded, unloaded, sorted, cut and moulded. We saw how these wood logs are cut in the mill for various purposes and the main wood of Andaman that is known for its life-long durability is the “PADAUK WOOD“. When we were living in PORT BLAIR, we got a couple of furnitures made for our future house then, and guys they look as good as new now when we opened them during our house- warming ceremony.

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Wood log being processed in the mill

 

On the way to see the FOREST MUSEUM next to the mill, I saw the rail tracks and after enquiring, I got to know that earlier locomotives were used to carry woods and later the use of locomotives were discarded. When we entered the mill, I could get this nice woody fragrance all over and then I noticed that this museum actually showcases some of the masterpieces made from the Andaman woods. This museum exhibits beautiful photographs of historical importance as well as about the general working of the Department of Environment & Forests. It also exhibits souvenirs and various handicrafts on timber. The products were so distinct with its intricate carving, polishing, designing and skilled craftsmanship. Some of these products can be easily purchased from the “SAGARIKA” handicrafts store that I had mentioned in my previous post (HERE).

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Handicrafts made out of wood in the Forest Museum

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The next stop was the “SAMUDRIKA NAVAL MUSEUM“. As the name suggests it’s a museum run by the Indian Navy and aims to generate awareness about the ocean environment and the marine life. It used to be one of my favorite places among many when I used to live in PORT BLAIR a few years back. As a kid I loved coming here to look at all the pretty looking creatures in the ocean especially the various variety of shells and corals. This museum showcases some of the best and rare collection of shells, corals, fishes and a few species of colorful fishes found in these islands. The museum has five sections that consists of the history of Andaman Islands, Geographical information, people of Andaman, Archaeology and Marine life.You can get all the information regarding them here and if you are someone who loves nature and its beautiful creations, I’m sure you are definitely going to love this place. You will also find informative displays on the islands’ various tribal communities like the Jarawans,Onges etc.The Indian Navy has made sure to take very good care of this museum and is one of those must-go places if you are in Port Blair.  This museum is open only from 9 AM-5PM , so make sure to plan accordingly.

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The Naval Marine Museum- Samudrika

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The famous skeleton at samudrika museum
The famous skeleton at samudrika museum
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These are my favorite shells.. Aren’t they pretty

 

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Miniature Andaman Nicobar map made on Padauk Wood

 

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Various tribes of the islands

 

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The famous skeleton in the museum

 

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Pretty coral (dead)

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The next day we visited this island called “BARATANG“. The names in Andaman are a little different from the ones you’ve heard before but guys the amazing experience that you’re going to have just to reach this island is just out of this world. We got up early morning and hired a Traveller to get to the jetty. And here comes the adventurous part, to reach to the jetty that takes you to Baratang, you have to go through the Andaman Grand Trunk road, which connects Port Blair to South, Middle and North Andaman. So,soon we left the city behind. The jungle along both sides during your travel would be a treat to watch. On your way you would pass through Jirkatang, couple of decade ago people feared to stay or pass through these places because of attacks by the native tribes (JARAWANS) who usually used to come to these places in search of food. Until recently, government has made efforts to help and protect these tribes after which the attacks on people staying or passing through these places were reduced. and reached the check post. We had to take a pit stop as we arrived pretty early so thought having some hot pakodas and tea.This is the place where there are specific timings when the forest department sends out convoys and all the vehicles have to register themselves and at a certain time, here for us it was 9 AM, all the vehicles starts moving in a line one after the other. No vehicle can overtake or should stop anywhere until you reach the jetty as you pass through scarcely populated areas of the jungle.You would now pass through the Jarawa Tribe reserve, the reserve controlled and operated by government for protection of the Jarawas against diseases from which they do not have natural immunity. The government also provides medical aid to these indigenous tribes.

Long line of vehicles waiting for the Convoy
Long line of vehicles waiting for the Convoy. Dad busy taking my pictures 🙂

 

 

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Something to be taken care of

 

Pit stop at the check post
Pit stop at the check post. Loved the shop aunty’s hot yummy pakodas

We even spotted a few of these tribes along the road. It is recommended not to offer any food or take pictures of these tribes during this time. Interacting with them, giving them food or clicking their pictures is strictly prohibited and is a punishable offence. After passing through the tribal reserve we reached the Nilamber Jetty. It was raining cats and dogs and once the ferry arrived we all boarded it which would take us to the Baratang Island. These vehicle ferry can accommodate buses, trucks, cars & bikes and is the only source of transportation for the residents of BARATANG. Upon reaching Baratang Jetty we took a dongi(boat) which took us through dense mangroves to reach the starting point of our journey to reach the Limestone caves. It is even said that there are lot of crocodiles that could be found in these waters due to the mangroves. The journey to the cave is a lifetime experience guys. After we got onto the island we were passing through walkways made by cutting through dense forest and large stones.Since it was raining as well, the experience was even more adventurous. Inside the cave the temperature is lower than outside. The cave contains beautiful cave formation. The whole cave was formed due to the rain water and the CO2 in the air present. Rain water picks up carbon dioxide in the air and a weak solution of carbonic acid is formed. This water can dissolve limestone over time, creating a cave. The guided who comes along with us in the boat told us the whole story of how this cave was formed and showed us some spectacular formations. Loved it !!!

Things to do in Baratang
Places to visit in Baratang

 

The vehicle ferry
The vehicle ferry

 

While leaving the jetty to Baratang
Baratang Jetyy

 

The deep mangroves on the way to Limestone cave
The deep mangroves on the way to Limestone cave

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Limestone cave
Limestone cave
Limestone cave
Limestone cave

After a tiring journey, we headed back to Port Blair, the same way as we arrived. I absolutely loved the whole journey through the forests, spotting the famous Jarawas and all this happiness gave me a very pleasant sleep as well 😀

I have one last post left and that was the most awaited part of my vacation. Tune in to read what I did on the last 2 days of my trip. Hope you guys are liking this segment. Do let me know if you want to know anything about Andaman from staying to places to visit to anything and I would love to help you out. 😀

To read the previous posts from this series click on the links here:

https://shopaholibond.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/an-archipelago-of-serenity-the-andaman-diaries/

https://shopaholibond.wordpress.com/2015/08/27/an-archipelago-of-serenity-the-andaman-diaries-the-cellular-jail/

https://shopaholibond.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/an-archipelago-of-serenity-the-andaman-diaries-ross-island-north-bay/

 

Happy Monday 🙂

 

 

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