Sunday, July 29, 2012

Havelock – visiting Radhanagar Beach

Andaman & Nicobar - The Enchanting Coral Islands of India
(Havelock – visiting Radhanagar Beach)

Day 1 (Day 8 since arrival in Port Blair)

First view of Havlock - from jetty No.1

             After visiting the Ross Island and Viper Island the previous evening, we had rested ourselves during the evening, barely going out to the Aberdeen market to buy a few trinkets & spices for friends & family.  We got up early next morning and were dropped at the specific boarding point at 7.30 A.M by the driver, wherefrom the buses run by Makruzz Company dropped us at the Phoenix bay jetty.  Here we were issued boarding passes and our luggage was checked in and we boarded the Catamaran for Havelock.  It is a very good means for traveling to Havelock, which is at a distance of 50 nautical miles from Port Blair by sea and offers accommodation in three categories i.e. Premium, Deluxe and Royal.  Whereas, the Premium class seats passengers at the deck level and costs Rs.735/- per ticket, the Deluxe class seats are above the deck level and cost Rs.950/- per ticket and the Royal class is also in the same level, but separated through curtains with more plush chairs and cost Rs.1150/- per ticket for a one way journey.  The boat left the shores at 9.00 A.M. sharp and docked at the Havelock jetty in exactly 1½ hours time.

Map of Havelock Island

Boarding the Catamaran - Makruzz at Port Blair

             Havelock is a picture perfect island with beautiful long beaches and lush green forest cover.  It is a nature’s paradise, resplendent with white sand beaches, coral reefs with a colorful array of aquatic life, palm trees, as well as dense forests in the interiors.   Havelock is a longish piece of land (area 113 lying in the group of islands collectively called the Ritchie’s Archipelago. People mainly from Bengal have settled here, but occupy only on the northern, one-third part of the island in small hamlets & villages.  Each village and the adjoining beach are referred to both by a number and a name. The jetty is in the north at Village No.1 and is the conceptual centre of the island. Radhanagar Beach (No.7) is 12 Km. towards South West, Vijaynagar (No.5) is 4 Km. towards South-East of the main Havelock jetty. The main bazaar is situated in vicinity of Village No.3.  Most of the accommodation is however located in Village No.5 (Vijaynagar) area. There are some hotels in Villages No.3, No.1 & No.7 and even at Kalapathar -10 kms away from the jetty.  As we had booked our hotel in advance, known as the Dolphin Resort run by the tourism department, which is situated at Vijaynagar area, I hired an auto to drop us there.  The chap driving the auto was a Bengali fellow called ‘Shubho Biswas’ (Mobile No.09476076338) and had agreed to drop us for Rs.80/-, during the journey to the hotel complex we chatted up with him and on approach to the hotel, found that it was a secluded area and it would be impossible to hire any means of transport easily from the spot.  The auto driver agreed to take us to Radhanagar beach and drop us back for Rs.400/- and accordingly, he was hired and asked to report back at the hotel to pick us up after lunch, at around 3.30 P.M.

Selling wares near Radhanagar Beach

View after the rains at Radhanagar Beach

Rain clouds looming over Radhanagar beach

Sunset over the Radhanagar beach

The Radhanagar Beach on Havelock has been voted as the Best Beach of Asia by The Time Magazine in the year 2004 on the basis of the quality of sand, sea, depth and other parameters. Most of the tourists therefore, flock to the Radhanagar Beach in Havelock. Radhanagar beach is a long, crescent-shaped beach with silver white sand.  It’s foreshore is framed by fine, mature specimen trees of the tropical rainforest and it terminates to the north and south by steeply rising ground which become forest covered buffs dropping down to the sea.   Although, activities like food courts etc. are banned from the core beach area, one can shop for trinkets etc. at the shops nearby.  For those who like to be with the nature, the Department of Tourism offers cozy and eco-friendly tented accommodation right in front of the beach at Radhanagar during the season. The sunsets from this beach is famed as being the picture- perfect view.  Having garnered all the information, we headed for the famed Radhanagar Beach right on the scheduled time, as Mr. Shubho Biswas had turned up right on time.  However, as soon as we boarded his auto, it started drizzling, but being a part of their daily activity, the autos here are well prepared for such eventuality and the covers put in by the driver, did not allow even a single drop of rainwater to breach it to drench us.  Having gone past the market area junction, we embarked on the side road leading to Radhanagar Beach that runs through some hillocks and en-route we found a big snake laying on the road surface, having been trampled under some vehicle tyre.  After driving for a good 30 odd minutes we reached the famed Radhanagar beach, but as it was still raining, we took refuge inside a shop and I ordered some tea for us.  Meanwhile, my wife and daughter literally jumped into the adjoining shop for buying trinkets for themselves and by the time I had finished with my tea, they had purchased a truckload of them.  As the rain had also relented by this time, we headed for the beach, but could not watch any sunset as the cloud cover had shut out the spectacle, but still I managed to get a small solace.

View of the beach from Dolphin Resort

 On our return back the auto driver offered to take us to Elephant Island through the forest route, which he assured was doable and as I wanted to avoid the trip by a small speed boat (Rs.2000/- round trip), I agreed and it was settled that we would pay him Rs.1800/- in total for all the trips in Havlock over the next two days, including the one we had performed on that day.  Accordingly, it was settled that we would head for the Elephant Island the next day and start from the hotel at 10.00 A.M. sharp.



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