October 2021 - Be On The Road | Live your Travel Dream!

Friday, October 22, 2021

The Beauty of Andaman and Nicobar Islands: A Travel Photo Series

A postcard view of sunset at Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island, India

The tropical island paradise called Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the South Eastern ocean waters of India can be seen in many vibrant shades. It’s rich emerald waters, pristine beaches, lush tropical forests, mangroves, tribal cultures and rich diversity in terms of people, food, forests, flora, fauna and landscapes make it an archipelago of unparalleled beauty. People visit these islands to snorkel or scuba dive or just to enjoy a relaxing beach holiday in a budget tropical island paradise. I have been privileged to have explored this island at length many times in the past and am delighted to share its beauty with you through these travel photos. I hope these photographs entice you to plan your upcoming holiday to this tropical archipelago wonder.

Above photo: Andaman and Nicobar islands is blessed with spectacular sunsets. This particular one was shot at Asia’s best beach – Radhanagar beach or Beach no. 7 at Havelock island in Andaman Islands.

The tropical Butler Bay Beach in Little Andaman

Above photo: It takes a while to reach this island from Port Blair, but the journey is totally worth it. This is the absolutely clean and pristine Butler Bay beach in Little Andaman, where you have the entire beach and its nature all to yourself.

Tourists relaxing at the secluded Elephant Beach

Above photo: A trek through tropical forests and mangroves brings you to this secluded white sandy beach. As it is not easily accessible, the general public usually avoids it, but if you have are game for a bit of adventure, you will really enjoy Havelock Island’s Elephant beach. It is perfect for a picnic beach outing with a book in hand and lots of peace and quiet around.

An ultimate view of Bay of Bengal from a large crevice in the Limestone Caves overlooking the ocean

Above photo: Andaman and Nicobar islands are full of limestone karsts and caves. This blue view of Bay of Bengal can be seen from a large crevice inside a limestone cave in Little Andaman.

Hermit crabs in seashells live happily at Beach No. 3, Havelock Island

Above photo: With extremely low levels of pollution and a fairly undisturbed surroundings, nature thrives here. A case in point are the hermit crabs that can be seen in thousands at Beach No. 3 in Havelock Island.

Massive Tropical Trees by the Radhanagar Beach

Above photo: A hot favorite with visitors, Beach No. 7 or Radhanagar beach is known for its white sands, gorgeous waters and spectacular sunsets. But, for me, the massive tropical trees lining the beach are its main highlight. I wish that these trees stay like this for many more generations to come.

Kalapathar Beach - A horizon view

Above photo: Havelock island is full of untapped beach walks where you are one with your surroundings. This one is the offbeat Kalapathar beach. All you have to do is rent a scooter, ride to this part of the island, park it by the beach, remove your footwear and walk barefoot on these smooth silver sands.

North Bay Beach, Andamans

Above photo: This is the view that greets you as you arrive from Port Blair by boat to North Bay beach. Popular with locals, North Bay is known for its gorgeous beach setting and old light house.

Jolly Buoy Island in the Marine National Park

Above photo: This is the view of Jolly Buoy Island inside the Marine national park, a great place to snorkel and to see a pristine island/beach ecosystem.

Virgin Beach Stretch on Jolly Buoy Island

Above photo: Jolly buoy island beaches are as virgin as they can get. With minimum visitors and boats allowed here, exotic flora and fauna thrive here. I sincerely wish I could stay here for months together.

Way into Mangrove Swamp and to goto Limestone Caves, Baratang Island

Above photo: Baratang Island in central Andamans is known for its mangrove swamps and limestone caves. This sultry boat ride takes you through the heart of the mangrove swamps and towards the massive limestone caves and their gorgeous stalactites and stalagmites.

The sun has nearly set in the Andamans

Above photo: You are never far from a gorgeous sunset in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This is one such sunset, I saw as I was departing on my evening fishing expedition.

Silver sands of Beach No. 3, Havelock Island

Above photo: Havelock Island’s Beach No. 3 is popular with visitors as it has calm, warm waters, beautiful white sandy beach and lush greenery. 3 perfect elements for a perfect beach holiday.

Nature has the final say - Ross Island

Above photo: Such sights are quite the norm at ROSS Island. Many old buildings here used during the British rule have been taken over by the roots of the Banyan tree.

A Bench's eye view - Beach No. 5, Havelock Island

Above photo: This was the view from my place of stay. The stay was a humble bamboo cottage with just a fan, while the view was worth a million stars. I enjoyed many afternoon naps, book reads and photography sessions here.

Fishermen set out for their evening fishing chores!!

Above photo: This part of the beach happened to my regular haunt as this was the place where I learnt my open water fishing. Me and my friend would accompany the local fishermen every evening for a month to catch fish. Even though I am a vegetarian, this was a memorable experience for me.

The Lighthouse, the place of my first scuba dive near Havelock Island

Above photo: This was the location of my first scuba dive. Called ‘The Light House’, this place is known for its rich coral reefs in shallow waters and a great environment to entice beginners into the world of scuba diving.

The Ultimately slow Ferry that takes passengers and vehicles aboard to Baratang Island

Above photo: Baratang Island in central Andamans can be reached through a combination of a road trip and a ferry ride. Buses, four wheelers, motorcycles and people use this ferry to reach Baratang Island. The ride is painstakingly slow, but the gorgeously green views compensate for the slow ride.

Cellular Jail, Port Blair, Andaman Islands, India

Above photo: The infamous Cellular Jail (Kaala Paani), a colonial prison where Indian independence activists were jailed and tortured and hanged.

The mangove beach of Havelock Island

Above photo: A sign of a good coastal system lies in its mangrove forests as it is these forests that protect the island from tsunamis, storms and erosions. This is one such mangrove forest at Havelock Island.

Mangroves and Tropical Rainforests of Baratang Island

Above photo: One of the most dense forests of Andaman Islands can be found at Baratang Island. The tropical evergreen forests, rainforests, grasslands, shrubland and mangrove forests make for a rich forest ecosystem.

There is where the Kaala Pani punishment was given

Above photo: The infamous location where the famous Kaala Paani punishment was meted out. A location with a great view, but a gory past.

Corbyn's Beach, Port Blair, Andaman Islands, India

Above photo: This is Corbyn Cove beach, a popular beach location at Port Blair and a favorite with the locals.

Evening Sky at Port Blair

Above photo: Another one of Andaman’s famous sunsets. Here the sky has turned multiple shades of orange at Port Blair, the capital of this Union territory.

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Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Sela Pass: A High Altitude Himalayan Wonderland

The winding and snowy roads of Sela pass, Arunachal Pradesh

It is a paradise for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. It is a place that holds an important place in Indian military history. It is considered a religious place for the Buddhists. I am talking about Sela pass, a 13,700 feet high mountain pass in the Eastern Himalayas of India and that connects the Buddhist town of Tawang with the rest of the country.

Sela Lake, Arunachal Pradesh

Located between Bomdila and Tawang on the Western Arunachal Pradesh highway, Sela pass connects the Buddhist hill station of Tawang and the India-China border at Bumla with the rest of the country. Its surroundings are home to 101 lakes that are sacred in Tibetan Buddhism, the largest lake being Sela lake. In summer months, yaks can be seen grazing around its lakes, while at other times of the year, Sela pass and its lakes can be seen covered in a heavy blanket of snow.

Due to its altitude and tough weather conditions, you will hardly find any tree cover or vegetation here, though in the summer months, you can spot grass growing on its slopes. This bleak landscape when covered in snow and surrounded by thick mist is a perfect excuse for a cup of joe and a piece of freshly baked cake. And when the mist clears up, you can get your eyes and camera lens treated to some panoramic views of the Eastern Himalayas.

And then there is that divine Buddhist connection with the colourful prayer flags floating in the cold breeze, the sight of the Buddhist monks wearing a thin gown while you seem to be shivering in your heavy winter wear and the beautifully decked Sela memorial.

View of Sela Memorial

Sela pass is more than just a pit stop. Its unparalleled rugged beauty, pristine mountain nature, exotic mountain birds, rich Buddhist connection and winding roads make it a hot favorite in Arunachal Pradesh. It is a high altitude Himalayan wonderland in every way you see it. I cannot recommend this natural wonder of a place enough!

Buddhist Prayer Flags at Sela Memorial

Best season to visit:

Sela pass is open all year round unless there is heavy snowfall that leads to road closure. Even in such a situation, the border roads organization will ensure that the roads open in 24 to 48 hours.

As Sela pass is located at 13,800 feet, one can find snow here almost all through the year. Winters will be cold, but offer the best views. Summers are the hot favorite as tourists run away from the sweltering summers of the plains below. Monsoons can be a bit messy with muddy and slippery roads, but late monsoons will be beautiful as you can actually catch snowfall here.

Expect Sela pass to attract lots of visitors during festival holidays and school vacations.

Fresh snowfall at Sela pass, Arunachal Pradesh

How to reach there:

The nearest airport and railway station with the best connectivity would be Guwahati (372 kms away).

One can either take a combination of local buses to reach here or hire a cab. The route would be Guwahati –> Tezpur –> Bomdila –> Sela Pass.

Sela pass at 13,700 feet

Where to stay:
br />If you are planning to explore Sela pass prior to visiting Tawang, you might want to stay at any of the properties in the beautiful Himalayan valley of Dirang (62 kms away). If you want a traditional experience, you might want to try out the rooms inside the Bomdila monastery (103 kms away).

If you are planning to explore Sela pass after visiting Tawang or if you wish for slightly better accommodation, the beautiful Himalayan hill station of Tawang will be your best bet. The hotels and homestays here cater to a diverse audience across a wide budget range.

Sela Pass and lake from a nearby view point

Where to eat:

One can either eat at the simple restaurants and cafes at Sela pass, Sela lake and Jang valley or eat at proper restaurants in Tawang city.

It might be prudent to have your main meals at a large city and may be a small bite with a cup of tea or coffee at Sela pass or Sela lake.

High Altitude and religious Sela Lake at 13,700 feet above MSL

Other nearby tourist attractions:

1) Dirang: Arunachal Pradesh’s hidden magical world and a pretty little valley

2) Bomdila: Headquarters of the West Kameng district and home to a massive Buddhist monastery

3) Sangti Valley: A gorgeous valley that is also a breeding ground for the migratory black necked cranes

4) Tawang: India’s true Shangri-la and a 10,000 feet high hill station that is home to the largest Buddhist monastery in India

5) Jung Falls: A gorgeous waterfall located 35 kms before Tawang

6) Bumla pass: A high altitude mountain pass on the India-China border

7) Eaglenest wildlife sanctuary: Birdwatcher’s paradise in the Himalayas

8) Nameri national park: Assam’a wildlife haven

9) Sangetsar lake: A 12,000 feet high mountain lake that presents abundant mountain vistas

10) Tak-Tsang Gompa: A remote Buddhist monastery located at 13,000 feet

11) Tongpen la view point: A 15,150 feet high panoramic mountain vista

12) Penga Teng Tso Lake: A high altitude Himalayan lake

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