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Port Blair - Overview

Port Blair, the capital of the 350 odd islands that comprise the Andaman and Nicobar group, has one major landmark-the Cellular Jail. A pipal tree, just outside this seven-winged national monument, can tell tales of the torture of India's freedom fighters within its walls. In 1897, the British, who then ruled India, laid the foundation stone of the building. It had 698 solitary cells to ensure that there was no contact between prisoners. Only three of the seven octopus-like wings remain and as you walk down their corridor, you can still hear the echoes of patriots like Veer Savarker or the booming voice of jailor Berry Bellowing.

The records at the site museum and a 'death house' bring tears to one's eyes.The islands were called 'Kalapani'-islands with 'black water', water tinted with the blood of those who would have India free.
A visit to the islands is an emotional one. As the sun rises from Bay of Bengal, the ethereal beauty of unadulterated nature engulfs one. One can spend hours just staring at the clear blue waters with not a sound to disturb you, except the twittering of a song bird or the footsteps of a wild cat or a deer.
The Andamans are a paradise for ecologists and ornithologists with 242 species of birds, 46 species of mammals and 78 species of reptiles-some of them rare and almost extinct. These live in dense rain forests surrounded by mangroves that seem to become part of the sea. You do not have to go far out to see brilliant tropical flowers, including the orchid, and an array of butterflies.

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