Touring Port Blair + the last ‘mile’ to the Taj Exotica

The Andaman and Nicobar territory is made up on 572 islands. The main island is Port Blair and the Taj Exotica resort was located on Havelock Island. Access to other islands as restricted for various reasons including indigenous tribes living on some of them and do not want to be ‘disturbed’. Don’t believe me? Have a read here. Other islands that are worth visiting are Ross Island, Neil Island, North Andaman, Diglipur etc. Since we only had 4 nights, we chose to stay put at the resort. From the main airport, you need to take a car to the ferry terminal, then a ferry to Havelock and then another 30 minute car ride to the resort. When you book your stay through the resort, they take care of all transfers. If you book through a third party site like Expedia, ground transfers are included but ferry transfers are not included. In my zeal to save money, guess which option I went with? Anyhoo, booking the ferry was easy enough but there were huge gaps in between the flight into and out of Port Blair.

We were met by the Taj rep outside in the waiting area and escorted to a car. He asked us if we wanted to do anything since we had a little under 3 hours to kill before checking in for the ferry. After reviewing options, we decided to go tour the Cellular jail, have a quick meal and get dropped off at the ferry terminal.

In the car leaving the airport area.

The driver parked a bit away from the building and it was a quick 5 minute walk to the site.

Constructed between 1896 and 1906, the jail was used for housing political prisoners and independence activists during the British occupation of India and Japanese occupation of the Andamans. After parting ways with the equivalent of $2 CAD total for the entrance fee, we entered the site and walked first into a gallery filled with visuals on the wall of prisoner testimonials and stories about the jail and life within. Reading the stories was definitely a sobering moment (if not stomach churning).

Model of the jail.

After that, we walked to the interior courtyard of the jail with access to the wings that housed the jail cells.

Memorial dedicated by the President of India in 1985.

The courtyard.

Don’t need to explain this.

The work shed where prisoners would have to meet their quote of either extracting 30 lbs of coconut oil, rope making etc.

With the self-tour done, we walked out and across the road to the Veer Sarkar park.

Hello friends.

Statues dedicated to those who individuals who made a lasting impression while imprisoned at the jail.

Um?

After a quick meal at a nearby resort, we made our way to the ferry terminal where we were met by another Taj agent. He escorted us to the front where we were ID checked by a military guard and waived though. After that, we passed through a security check for bags and then into a waiting area for all passengers.

We were a bit early and therefore had some seats but got full in 30 minutes.

20 minutes before departure, boarding was called and we made our way to the boat. We handed our suitcases to the crew at the back of the ferry and boarded at the front.

Beauty.

The ‘premium’ cabin. Next level was deluxe followed by first class.

Once under way, people would crowd the front to take pictures.

90 minutes later, we arrived at the Havelock jetty.

Met the Taj agent outside the main gates and we were handed off to the assistants who took our bags to the waiting car. The main road was a single paved lane meant to be shared with dual way traffic. After 25 minutes, we turned into a side road that was completely full of potholes and it took another 10 minutes of extremely slow, yet careful driving to get to the Taj.

Finally!

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