Administrative capital : Port Blair
Airports : Veer Savarkar Airport, Port Blair
Distances : 1255kms from Kolkata, 1190kms from Chennai, 1200kms from Vishakhapatnam
Currency : Indian Rupees
Altitude : Varies from sea level to 732 meters
Highest peak : Saddle peak – 732 meters
Climate : Tropical climate throughout the year with average minimum temperature at 23ºC and maximum at 32ºC.
Humidity : Relatively high – 70% to 90%, with a gentle breeze blowing all the time. The weather is generally pleasant with average annual rainfall of 3000 mm in Port Blair.
Population : 3,80,000 approx
Forest cover : 92% protected forest; 86% reserve forest
Clothing : Cottons throughout the year
Internet Access : Good in Port Blair, but very poor dial up connections on extremely slow speeds in most other important islands like Havelock (Swaraj Dweep) and Neil (Shaheed Dweep). Satellite internet is available in Havelock (Swaraj Dweep) although expensive. Data cards (of a few companies) work in Port Blair, however do not work at all on other Islands. Most of the islands do not have internet access at all.
Mobile & Telephone Access : Mobile providers include BSNL, Vodafone and Airtel with Reliance functioning currently only in Port Blair with excellent connectivity. As you travel away from the city of Port Blair to outer city limits or other islands, connectivity may become weak.
ISD code : +91-3192
STD Code : 03192
Transport And Access
Local Transport : Local bus services are not very well developed however dependable regular reliable ferries ply to all important islands. Auto rickshaws and taxis are easily available.
Access by air : International : None. However the government does permit charter flights to land after taking necessary permissions from the Civil Aviation Ministry. Domestic – Port Blair is well connected with Chennai and Kolkata by daily flights. Refer to Getting There page for full details. (oliver to link)
Access by sea : Regular passenger ship services are available to Port Blair from Chennai, Kolkata and Vishakhapatnam and back. There are three or four sailings every month from Kolkata and Chennai to Port Blair and vice versa. There is one sailing from Vishakhapatnam in a month.
The voyage takes about 50 to 60 hours. Details about sailing dates etc can be obtained at www.andaman.nic.in (oliver to link)
Indian Nationals : Indian nationals need no permit to visit Andamans. However, permits are required to visit Nicobar Islands and other tribal areas, which are given in exceptional cases only. Application on a prescribed form may be addressed to the Deputy Commissioner, Andaman District, Port Blair.
Foreigners : All foreigners need to specify that they intend to visit the Andamans while obtaining the visa to India. Foreigners arriving in Port Blair with a stamp reading “Entry to restricted areas not allowed” (or similar stamps) will not be allowed to enter the Andaman Islands. Do note that there is a line in fine print in all Visas stating that ‘entry to restricted areas not allowed’ and that is to be ignored, only if there is a separate rubber stamp then kindly check with your issuing authorities urgently!
With a valid India Visa, foreigners can arrive in Port Blair. However a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is required to enter the Andamans which can be easily obtained on arrival at Port Blair from the immigration authorities. The permit is free of cost.
In addition, permits can also be obtained from Indian Missions Overseas, Foreigners Registration Offices at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and the Immigration authorities at the airports at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
The Restricted Area Permit allows foreign nationals to stay on the islands for 30 days. This can be extended by an additional 15 days at the immigration office in Port Blair. Getting the extension depends on your reason for extension and luck.
The places covered by Restricted Area Permit
For night halt : South Andaman Island, Middle Andaman Island and Little Andaman Island (excluding the tribal reserve), Neil island(Shaheed Dweep), Havelock island (Swaraj Dweep), Long island, Diglipur, Baratang, North Passage island, and islands in the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park (excluding the islands of Boat Hobday, Twin, Tarmugli, Malay and Pluto). Night halt in the park is only with permission.
For day halt : South Cinque island, Ross island, Narcondam island, Interview island, Brother island, Sister island and Barren island (you are not permitted to land on Barren). Please note that the above can be changed at a short notice by the government and hence request you to contact the Immigration authorities for updated information.
Island Tourism festival
Port Blair, the capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands celebrates an annual Island Tourism festival. The festivities include exhibitions, cultural performances and water sport competitions that carry on for a fortnight in the months of December and January.
Subhash Mela – January every year
Organised in Havelock (Swaraj Dweep) every year on the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. This mela (carnival) is celebrated with a week long festival filled with cultural programmes, food stalls and small roadside shops.
Vivekanada Mela – January every year
Organised at Neil Island (Shaheed Dweep) to celebrate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekanada. This mela (carnival) is celebrated with a week long festival filled with cultural programmes, food stalls, loud music and small roadside shops.
Block Mela – January/February every year
Held at Diglipur, this highlights the developments that have taken place in the rural areas and displays the typical rural life of these islands.
Hari Bol Mela – February every year
This is gathering of all local villages where they sing religious songs and pray together. Free food is served in the evening to all people and the festivities last 3 days. As this festival is mainly a religious one, travellers are advised to wear attire that is conservative if attending the festivities.