It was time to move on from Baratang and we started early. This day would be called an ‘inCar day’ in the history of our travels, as we literally drove all day to reach Diglipur after dusk.
The road henceforth was extremely rough for a sedan to handle and that slowed us down immensely. The path was lined with tall trees, many of them the famous ‘Padouk’ indigenous to Andamans. The journey is fascinating for the romantic and dusty for the pragmatic. We drove for about an hour and reached another channel. Here there was another jetty for crossing over along with the car.
A bridge is under construction and will soon be usable. It will decrease the time taken for the cross over and save a lot of diesel that these ferries use, and thus facilitate the reduction in pollution too.
Once on the otherside we thought we’ll wiz past the villages and towns but it was not to be. The road was all dug up, heavy machinery was being used and we experienced work in progress for a better ATR in days to come.
We stopped at Rangat for a short break.
By the time it was 1pm we our stomachs was grumbling but there was nothing that looked good to eat as we passed occasional small villages. Finally Sanju stopped at a road side eatery that served hot meals. Whether it was the hunger or the taste of my native food (it was typically Bengal food) the meal felt soul satisfying.
Sanju did not pay head to my demands for tea until we reached Diglipur, which was wise, as even without stopping much we had lost the sun even before we made it to the resort through a lightless narrow street.
The resort was a happening place, the delightful lighting and a bountiful restaurant cheered us after the long drive. The driver’s quarters were full as the resort was bustling with guests. Thankfully Sanju had a friend whom he could call upon and he had a gala time too.
The major attraction for me was the turtle nesting shores; that Diglipur is famous for, and this resort called ‘Pristine’ is almost at a stone’s throw from such a shore.
Thus after dinner, that by the way was sumptuous, we walked towards the shore with a whole lot of other guests. It was dark. It was cool. The pathway was through the trees shrouding the moonlight. The only light came from mobiles or torches. We just walked on almost blindly and then we heard her, a gentle continuous splash – the sea. We could also smell the sea and then finally through an opening we emerged onto the beach. Dark it was and mysterious; we were all standing or sitting awaiting an arrival. It felt miraculous. But the miracle didn’t happen; mommy turtle did a no show.
Next morning we visited the beach again after breakfast and having packed up – we were to start our return journey – all the way till Rangat.
We stopped over to see the twin islands of Ross and Smith, the visit will have to wait until next time. Further down we stopped momentarily at the aerial bay which is a picture perfect vista and then again at the main market area of Diglipur to buy some refreshments for the road.
We had lunch at the same eatery where we had stopped for lunch while going to Diglipur. The food was once again lickalicious. Am not much of a meal person but in Andaman I just loved them.
Dhanninala was our next stop where we reached just in time for a good stroll before dusk. It is a mangrove nature walk, but on a much bigger scale than that we walked in Baratang. The different varieties of mangroves where categorically named for easy identification.
The walk or the bridge on which one has to walk, goes all the way over to the beach. But there is a catch; though the mangrove swamp ends and the sands start, the waters are still way ahead. Tall trees with acrobatic branches and bushy leaves great us. It is nothing short of a jungle, only bereft of any wild animals and made into a picnic spot. Once out of the maze of the trees one finally reaches out in the open and the sea beckons with open arms.
We didn’t have much time to hit the waters as the sun was about to set.
Rangat, we reached after sun down. The hotel was on the ATR but a little further down from the main town. The grounds were promising but the bathroom was a setback. We had plans of staying here for two nights but I immediately cancelled the second night and rescheduled our onward journey for the next morning. The owner of the place was prompt in settling the account, a very generous move, I would say.
We had to go to the town for dinner. This time Sanju thought he had got my pulse and took us to a Bengali dinner joint, but I didn’t like it at all. However it was edible and cheap. We got some buns and refreshments packed for the next morning.
Rangat and its beaches will also have to wait for the next trip. We drove off quite early as we had to cross both the channels one to reach Baratang and the other to move out of it and go past through the Jarawa territory before the last gate closed at 3pm and have lunch at Baratang before that if possible. Happy that we managed all.
When we had lunch at the dhaba at Baratang the first day we reached there, it felt good. I spoke to the lady of the house and dhaba and liked her instantly. The second day felt even better, very much at home. The third and the last day, felt sad. The dabha seemed to me like a rock on a beach, wave after wave of tourists and commuters splash on it and move on. The lady had come afloat from afar, the main lands of Punjab and had got rooted to this little island she calls home. She seemed so content and happy but I would be too scared to get stuck up to a place.
Through the gate we went into the Jarawa territory one more time and saw a lot of the tribe’s people. Photography is prohibited but there is indeed nothing to photograph a Jarwa person per say, as much has been documented about them through photos and videos, also city girls now cover lesser body parts than they do – though the territory has lots of plants and birds that are gorgeous photo material.
We refreshed ourselves at Jirkatang where the Jarawa reserve officially ends.
Since we cut our stay short in Rangat by a day, we had no booking for this night and requested Sanju to take us somewhere decent. He took us to hotel Atlanta which was slightly up the hill on the road towards the cellular jail. It had just started operating a few days back and was not completely equipped with a kitchen but since it is a stone’s throw from the waterfront and Aberdeen Bazar area, food was not an issue at all.
We checked in freshened up and went out. We, as in I and Rajib, Anoushrayan doused himself in his kindle and we let him be. We took a stride into the ‘waterfront’ as it is called. It has a nicely decorated park facing the waters where the residents and tourists of Port Blair can catch a breeze with refreshments. We took a stroll on the wide road beside the park which was closed to traffic and open to children for skating and cycling.
Anoushrayan came out for dinner, food as I have mentioned earlier is his second love. We went to a slightly upmarket place at the waterfront and saw huge lobsters on offer, but having satiated our desire earlier on the trip in Havelock we settled for something more common place. Though not the best of the seats or arrangements were in place at the semi open air joint, it was crowded to the brim and people had queued up. Apparently the place is a big favourite.
The next morning, 30th of dec 2019 we checked out of hotel Atlanta, had breakfast in the same restaurant where we had had our first breakfast in Port Blair on the 21st of dec 2019 after touchdown, and went off to see the fisheries museum. Sanju was with us again as the deal with him was for 6 days – 25th to 30th dec 2019.
The fisheries museum has a huge collection of specimen from around the islands and is an interesting place to enhance one’s knowledge of the marine life, we spent a great deal of time exploring the marine life and learning many unknown facts.
Thereafter we went to the Samudrika museum, the last on our list of museums to visit in Port Blair. This one is more of a conglomeration of marine and culture and history of Andaman. A delightful little place complete with rest rooms, a souvenir shop and a selfie point!
Our next destination was Oceaneas Resort at the fag end of Port Blair near a place called Chidiya Tapu. We bid farewell to the town center of Port Blair, went past the airport driving on the ATR, the same that took us to the north of Andamans – Diglipur; but this time we went south.
By lunch we had checked in to our final destination. The resort is a blissful place atop a small hillock overlooking the sea. It is a huge piece of land with cottages sprinkled in amidst coconut and loads of other trees. The sprawling grounds are a delight and the sit-out by the sea side is pure ecstasy. It is a place where a tired soul could check in to rejuvenate.
The only spoiler being the food, though not bad it was the only place in whole of Andaman which was not to our taste, of all the places we visited and dined at, whether roadside or upmarket.
Stay tuned for a little note on our last day on the island…