Andaman Chapter 5 – Neil Island (Shahid Dweep)
Previous chapter in series : Havelock Adventure
Neil Island – last stop on our Andaman itinerary. It’s almost like a drop of land in the big wide ocean. The island is about one fifth in size compared to Havelock and it sits right under it in map. There are ferries connecting these two islands, as well as connecting Neil to Port Blair. We arrived from Havelock in the boat Green Ocean 2, on a Friday morning at 10:30 AM. The journey had been smooth and shorter than our previous voyage to Havelock. The jetty was relatively quieter and less crowded. Late morning sun was already quite bright and under the shining dome the sea looked incredibly green. The water was calmer here and it seemed even clearer than what we had experienced so far, if that was at all possible. Probably the reason that tourism had extended to this tiny piece of land, was man’s everlasting desire to explore the unexplored, which eventually Havelock would have stopped satisfying. Aside from that, the landscape remained quite similar to Havelock and the activities designed for tourists were also quite the same.
|Near Neil Island Jetty|
We learned soon that the most distance one can travel by road across Neil was about 7 km. But our hotel being at the other end of the island we would have to cross this path. We came out of the port to look for a ride of some sort. The place wasn’t empty of people. But in terms of vehicles, there were only a handful of autos standing nearby. Negotiation was not much of an option and we had to soon agree on their initial demand of 200 bucks for taking us to our hotel TSG Aura. The route was simple and straight-forward. There were no patches of barren land or complete wilderness. It ran through villages of Neil Island, or rather the one village that is Neil Island. Our hotel was next to Sitapur beach, at the south-east corner of the island. It was in fact the last property at the end of this route. Beyond this, only an army compound existed which was out of bound for civilians.
The hotel also seemed very quiet. If there were any guests, they sure didn’t making any noise. At the beginning of the property, there was a two-storied restaurant, and adjacent to it stood the reception. Beyond that the guest rooms were placed in a semi-rectangular fashion consisting of blocks of two-storied cottages. The whole place was made of a dark colored wood which gave it a rustic look. There was no boundary or gate of any sort. The place just laid beside the road, which had reduced into a small pathway by now, amongst a setting of a typical village. It didn't stand out either. It just looked to be part of the surrounding.
|Our Cottage at TSG Aura||Rustic Decoration of Room|
After check-in formalities at the reception, we were guided to our room at the rear end of the property. Our room was on the first floor which sat on top of an exact identical cottage on the ground floor. The interior was similarly decorated as the exterior, every bit of it made of dark wood. It was dimly lit by a yellow light that came from the multiple bulbs hanging in the wall. Even the curtains and the cushions had a rustic color to match with the décor. It looked quite beautiful and cozy, and there was a vintage flavor to the whole setting. I even felt a subtle smell of wood adding to the overall charm. The balcony overlooked the lawn and the trees beyond the road. We couldn't quite view the sea from there, which was hidden behind the trees. But we could tell that it was only a few steps away, where we would head pretty soon.
|Bright water of Sitapur Beach|
The beach was at a lower altitude. We took the makeshift stairway by the edge of the rock to reach down. The water gleamed blue and green. The sand was yellow in here, unlike other beaches of Andaman. But it didn't make it look any less pretty. Up ahead in our view, a large rock stuck out of the ocean making it a great vantage point to enjoy the view from. A few people were swimming in the quieter water near the rock. We started to stroll across the hard sand, aiming for this rock.. The wall of rock carried on at our left, which was covered with various small and big trees and many interesting birds were hopping around them making beautiful sounds. On the other side the ocean was endless. Upon reaching the rock we pulled ourselves up on to it and walked up to the highest point. As we expected it was a great view. And we could enjoy a few quiet moments there devoid of any crowd or unwanted noise.
|Sparkling Water at Neil Island||Beautiful Bird of Andaman|
|Barren Rocks of Natural Bridge|
There were a few points to see in that small island. So by afternoon we arranged a scooter for 500 bucks and commenced our journey. There was a natural bridge made of stone which was accessible only during low tide. So we headed there before it could get too late. We drove across the island and reached Laxampur beach, one of the many Laxmanpur beaches. Parking our bike, we joined the queue of people heading towards the same distance. Whatever scarcity of tourists we have felt up until now, it all disappeared and we were surrounded by probably more tourists than we had met in Havelock. The crowd continued on an elevated path with stalls selling food and souvenirs on both sides. Later the path went downwards and took us to a rocky shore of the sea. The water was quite far away, but we could tell that on high tides it reached up to where we were standing. There were more crowd on the rocks as well, which laid for quite a vast area. In distance we could see the shape of the natural bridge, which was nothing but an inverted U shape made of rock. We went closer to it, took some pictures trying hard to avoid people and finally unimpressed by it all left the way we came. On our way back we checked out the other side of Laxmanpur beach as well. But we felt our own hotel beach had been much more satisfactory. We had some tea and samosa near the market area and then headed back to the hotel with a mood to enjoy some relaxing evening back at the hotel. As next day was the end of our trip and it would be time to leave the islands and head back home.
|A harsher day at Sitapur Beach|
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