Author Archives: Ruchira ghosh

Andaman: The land of Diversity

 

The blister-packs are very convenient for taking along with you. !

All the medications one can see in our product lists are generic.

Great product!!! Best I have found in several years taking medicines. ?

Many rogue pharmacies are happy to bypass a doctor’s prescription in order to win your business.

 

viagr a pfizer

 

In Andaman in a small area you can find sea(even that is with variety of colors at different islands and beaches), mountain, forests of different types, a variety of flora and fauna and a population of diversified language group.

andamans_map

 

There are total 572 islands(325 in Andaman and rest in Nicobar) in the group among which only 38 are inhabited.
The total area is 8249 sq Km of which Andaman has 6408 Sq KM and Nicobar has only 1841 Sq KM. 92% of this land is covered by forest.

The biggest island of Andaman group is Middle Andaman(1536 sq Km) and the smallest is Ross Island(0.8 Sq KM). North Island, Middle Island and South Andaman are the major islands of Andaman. Port Blair is in the South Andaman island.

The maximum breadth of Andaman islands is 52 Km with Bay of Bengal in West and Andaman Sea in East. It is 58 Km is case of Nicobar. This means no place in Andaman islands is more than 26 Km away from the sea.

The Andaman & Nicobar islands are spread between 6° to 14° North latitude and
92° to 94° East longitude with 10° channel running in between Andaman & Nicobar.

The climate is hot & humid throughout the year. The highest and lowest recorded temperature is 36° C and 25° C(written in the Samudrika Museum, I am not 100% sure that I have memorized the lowest one correctly, it may be +/- 1°C).

Andaman has 2 rainy season. One is from End April/ May – Mid September. The 2nd one is from Nov-Mid Dec.

The altitude of Andaman Islands is 0-732 m. The highest point is Saddle peak in North Andaman near Diglipur.
Kalpong, the only river of Andaman flows from Saddle peak.

The main vegetation of Andaman varies from wet evergreen forest of North to deciduous forest of Middle and South. In all the islands the coastal area is covered by Mangroves.

The Andaman Islands have been inhabited for many thousand years. The indigenous Andamanese people appear to have lived on the islands in substantial isolation from that time until the 18th century.

In 1789 British Govt of Bengal established a naval base and a penal colony on Chatham Island after Archibald Blair’s survey on 1788-89. But as a result of much death and disease the British Govt ceased the operation of this colony on May 1796.

Annoyed by killing of crews of wrecked ships by the natives British Govt proposed another settlement at Andaman islands on 1855. But the Great Indian Rebellion of 1857 forced a delay.At the same time the huge number of political prisoners after 1857 made the penal settlement at Andaman a necessity.

The construction begun at 1857 and the penal settlement was started on March 1858. At the beginning there was no jail in Andaman.

On 8th February 1872 at around 7PM, the then Viceroy of India Richard Southwell Bourke, 6th Earl of Mayo(known as Lord Mayo) was killed by a prisoner from Wahabi Movement Sher Ali when returning to the ship at Hutbay after watching the sunset from Mt Harriet. Later Sher Ali was hanged at Viper Island on 11th March of the same year.
He was the only viceroy killed in India. We have read about so many British officials killed by Indians, but only few knows about the killing of the top most official of British Govt. Surprising, isn’t it?

After this incident the British Govt decided to built a jail in the island. The construction of Cellular Jail started on 1896 and completed on 1906 and the cost was around Rs 0.7 million at that time.

919153_10200463437182037_1566817156_o

The jail has 7 wings with such an architecture so that every wing can view the back of the wing at its left.
The cellular jail has 698 cells each measured 15ft by 9ft with a single ventilator at around 10ft above the floor.

The prisoners from India as well as Burma was sent to Cellular Jail. It witnessed most cruel tortures of the British India.

Andaman was under Japanese control during World War II from March, 1942 to Oct, 1945.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose visited Cellular Jail on 30th Dec 1943 and he renamed the Andaman and Nicobar as Shahid and Swaraj Islands.

After world war II Andaman returned to British Govt who then announced to abolish the penal settlement.

After independence a number of Bengali refugees from East Pakistan got settlement in Andaman islands. So most of the people in Andaman are Bengalis.
People from other provinces of India like Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra are mostly found around Port Blair.
The population of Baratang Island is mostly of tribe Ranchi from Ranchi area.
Mayabundar area has a good percentage of Burmese (Crane) population.

The total population of Andaman as per 2011 census is 379,944.

The major languages spoken in the Andamans in numerical order are Bengali (32.6%), Tamil (27.61%), Hindi (22.95%), and Telugu (14.84%). Source: Wiki

Native People of Andaman:

Great Andamanese: Once the group with highest population, but has only around 50 members at present. They are settled at Strait Island in between Long Island and Havelock and given ration by Govt. They started marrying non-tribal people and getting mixed with the non-tribal population. A few of them can be seen posted at the Chatham Jetty as crew.
(The 10 tribes of Great Andamanese: Aka-Kari,Aka-Kora,Aka-Bo,Aka-Jeru of Norther sub-group and Aka-Kede,Aka-Kol,Oko-Juwoi,A-Pucikwar,Akar-Bale,Aka-Bea of Southern Sub-Group).

Jarwa: Presently they are around 425 in number, we have seen a number of children. SO, there number should be increasing.
They live in 3 areas: Tiru(restricted for Tourists), Middle Strait and Kadamtala(by the side of the Great Andaman Trunk Road).
Prior to 1997 they maintained a hostile relationship with settled population. These settled people were afraid of getting out after the sunset.
Presently they are given medical aids, clothes and some fruits by Indian Govt, but no formal ration is given.
One group of Jarawas, named Patang Jarawas still avoid any contact with the non-tribals.

Old people in Jarawa communitee still avoid contact with the settled population.

I was surprised to hear the story of Kaham an 125 years old Jarawa who live in Tiru area with his 95 years old partner and 17 dogs and avoid any contact with Indian Govt team employed to serve Jarawas.

There is a interesting story behind Jarawas started contacting settled people.

Jarawas used to go into the settlers villages and collect fruits from the farms after sunset. One day one Jarawa child of around 10 years were fallen from a tree and left behind.
The next morning he was found laying with a broken leg by the villagers and were handed over to the police. Govt arranged for his treatment. He was shifted to a hospital in Port Blair and then moved to Delhi.
Once completely cured he was dropped to the forest.
The boy who never lived a day outside the forest was witnessed the city life for a while,and got good care. He was so impressed by all these that he kept insisting others in the group to contact the non-tribal settlers and the Govt.

After that started a phase of disturbances. Jarawas used to come to the road and stop the vehicles, asking for food, snatching any red dress etc.

Now Govt has regular contact and a good control over them. They no more attack people with arrows but contact police for any problem with the local settlers.

Onge: Their present population is around 170. They are settled in Dungong Creek in Little Andaman and are given ration by the Govt.

Sentineli: They are the only tribe who still live in isolation in North Sentinel Island and avoid any contact with the outer world. Not much is known about them.

They all are negrito people and all are (or were before rehabilitation) in the food gather stage.

The trip to Andaman:

The think of a trip to Andaman Islands was in my mind for last couple of years. It was my dream destination for our honeymoon. But the budget constraint was on the way.

In the last week of Feb I heard of a discount in air fare and instantly booked the tickets to and from Port Blair without wasting time. I had a rough estimate on no. of required days for a trip including North Andaman. Considering that and the flight fares I had two options for the no of days: 9 days or 10 days and I had chosen the 1st one. Later on a hundred times I regretted why I did not opt for a 10 days (or even better a 11 days) trip.

After the tickets are booked I started going through various sites in internet and contacting different tour operators for a good plan. After lots of research the finalized plan was:

Day1: Reach Port Blair at 7:30. Complete the city tour including Cellular Jail, Fisheries Museum, Anthropological Museum, Samudrika Museum, Corbyn’s Cove Beach and in the evening light and sound show at Cellular Jail

Day2: Ross Island and Mt Harriet

478538_10200463498063559_1443790297_o

Day 3: Wandoor beach, Jolly Buoy and watch sunset at Chidiya Tapu. En-route visit horticulture farm and Rubber Plantation.

478769_10200678684122728_1841282076_o  921445_10200678503878222_2112094505_o475291_10200678745844271_1822419974_o   920816_10200678783405210_1793618886_o

Day 4: Start early at 4 AM to Mayabundar. On the way visit Baratang Lime stone cave, mud volcanoes(nothing to see), Amrakunj beach, Mirchy Dera, Dhani Nala at Rangat

 

Day 5: Start early from Mayabundar. Visit Ramnagar and Karmatang beach at Mayabundar head towards Diglipur Aerial Bay. Take speed boat from Aerial Bay to Ross & Smith Island. In the afternoon visit Kalipur beach and stay at Diglipur

Day 6: It was a Friday. On Friday there is a boat from Rangat to PortBlair via Havlock at 1PM. It takes 3 hours. So, reach Havlock by 4, check in to the hotel and visit Kalapatthar beach.

Day 7: Full day at Havlock. Visit Elephant Beach in the morning and Radhanagar beach(famous for sunset) in the afternoon.

479144_10200494677563027_675872846_o 476195_10200494662442649_364132730_o 476119_10200494676923011_740051405_o

Day 8: Take morning boat to Neil(1hr 15 min) at 9. Full day at Neil. Visit Bharatpur Beach, Laxmanpur 2(natural bridge), Sitapur beach and experience sunset from Laxmanpur 1 beach.

Day 9: Return to Port Blair and leisurely roam around. As this was a Monday and only 2 boats from Neil is available at 8:30AM and 3:30PM, planned to take the morning boat.

Day10: Morning flight from Port Blair and back to routine life.

Now few points related to the plan and places I visited:

1. Take some time to visit the cellular jail. No need to take a guide. We took one thinking that it would be good to know the details of the historic place, but he did not tell a single word that was somewhere written in the gallery or told in the light and sound show.

2. The light and sound show has good content, but it is better to call it only a sound show and that too of poor quality, one of the boxes was not working at all. I was able to understand it as I had read a lot about Andaman and Cellular Jail before going.

3. The fisheries and Samudrika museum is good and it’s better to visit these before going for a snorkeling or diving. It will help in identifying corals and other sea-animals.

4. One may like the Anthropological Museum if some home work on tribals is done.

5. The only bitter experience in the whole trip was during the visit of Ross Island.
Most of the tourists visit 3 islands: Ross,North Bay and Viper in a package. We had chosen not to visit the last 2 as Jolly Buoy and Havlock has better coral than North Bay and Viper has nothing special.
We were told that every hour a boat goes to Ross Island. But the truth is there are many companies operating the boat service in the route and most of the boats are used for the 3 island tours.
We booked a ticket of B.P Tours and later found it has lesser no of boats than the other company. Even the boat of this company did not allow us to board as they were carrying passengers of 3 island package.

Later we were told that we faced the problem because it was Bengali Nababarsa and most of the boats of BP Tours were not working as the Bengali workers were on leave and there was huge rush as Cellular jail, jolly buoy, Baratang everything is closed on Monday.

But I am not sure if that was true as they told a lots of lies.

6. I had the plan of visiting the Mt Harriet during sun set since I read that viceroy Lord Mayo was killed when returning to boat after watching sunset from Mt Harriet. You still can see the plaque at the place where he was killed.

Mt Harriet has a forest guest house with a very good compound. A 16 KM trek to another peak (trying to remember the name  ) starts from here.
You can skip this spot if you have time constraint.

7. Jolly Buoy is a must see. Jolly Buoy has the highest variety of species of aquatic creatures. You should not miss the snorkeling here.
A permit from forest department is needed to visit this place and it is closed on Monday.

8. I heard Mahua Dera near wandoor beach has great coral reef. But at present no one is allowed to go there(earlier it was open). Please check if it is opened again.

9. Sun set from Chidiya Tapu is good. Chidiya Tapu also has a forest guest house.

10. To go to Baratang and Middle and North Andaman you need to cross the jarwa reserve area between Jeerartang and Middle Strait.
In this area the cars pass only in convoys. Convoys from Jeerar Tang(at Port Blair side) starts at 6AM, 9AM, 12noon and 2:30 PM and the convoys from Middle Strait (at Baratang side) starts at 6:30AM,9:30AM,12:30PM and 3:00 PM. One need to present the permit to the check post before the convoy starts. So if you reach the check post at 6:10 you need to wait till 9.

Use of camera is not allowed in this area.

11. At Middle Strait the car crosses the strait in a ferry. The car will cross another strait in a ferry between Kadamtala(Gandhi Ghat) and Rangat (Uttara Jetty).

12. The speed boat to Baratang Lime stone cave is available at Baratang Jetty. The journey through the mangroves is a memorable one. A permit from forest department is needed.
It is closed on Monday.

You should skip the mud volcanoes, nothing is there. It only wastes time.

13. Beaches in Rangat are good, the walk through mangroves in Dhani Nala is very good. It also has a Turtle Nesting centre.

14. One need to cross another check post for the Jarwa area at Kadamtala. But no convoy is required.

15. Sunset from Austin bridge between Mayabundar and Kalighat in Diglipur island in winter is a must see.

16. No ferry service is available to Ross & Smith island. one need to reserve a speed boat(Rs 2000). It takes less than 10 minutes in speed boat.
Ross & Smith island is the best place I have visited.

17. We chose to go to Havlock from Rangat as it saved time. But the ferry from Rangat to Havlock is not available everyday.
At present it is available on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday(6 AM) and Friday(1PM). But it may change. So enquire before planning.
Tickets can be booked 3 days in advance.

18. Boats between Havlock and Neil and Neil and Port Blair is available every day. No advance booking of Tickets is permitted.

Gopalpur on Sea

It was a sudden tour. After a lot of confusions around date of journey, tickets and accommodations we finally started in the morning of 5th Dec by Falaknama Express. We were a bit disappointed to miss a whole day in journey but we took it positively.

We had seen the first sun beam at Howrah with the background of the Ganga & the bridge.

Our train left in time. The sound of the train passing over a bridge interrupted our drowsiness; we peeped out of the window and had full view of the beautiful Rupnarayan. We started enjoying the journey, a joyful naughty kid accompanying us in the compartment made the journey more enjoyable.

We saw 3-4 other rivers including Subarnarekha, Mahanadi and Brahmoni, a major tributary to it, just before and after Cuttack. In these days when the mighty rivers of India are becoming things of the past Mahanadi and Brahmoni are still really wide and beautiful. When the train was leaving Cuttack, the water from the pipeline entered through the open windows and drenched us.

Just before Balugaon station we saw for the first time a water land and then for the few Kms there was only water at our left. We guessed it was Chilka and its backwater and that was confirmed when we saw the Rambha station. The day was heading to its end, and the daylight was waning. In the soft light of the dying day we saw the lake, small rocky islands, fishing boats at a long distance and the bluish water extended till the horizon. We were in confusion whether we should cover Chilka in the 1.5 days we had in our hand as many told us that there is nothing much to see there But we were in love with the lake at the very first sight and the decision was taken to visit it.
The train was running late by 30 mins and we get down at Brahmapur at 5PM. The thought of reaching Gopalpur after dark was making us worried, but as we got down we forgot everything else. A bunch of green coloured birds (May be Parrots) welcomed us at the station. They should be more than 50 in number, flying around the station in a circle. The light was not sufficient to capture the colour of the flying birds; so we missed a very beautiful frame.

When we came out of the station a group of auto and taxi drivers came to us and demanded Rs 200 by auto and 250 by taxi for Gopalpur. After some bargain we got the rate of Rs 200 from a taxi driver and Rs 180 from an auto. It was complete dark before we left Brahmapur town.

We had our booking at Hotel Kalinga at Gopalpur. We reached the hotel at around 6:30PM. The booking agent charged us Rs 800+tax @10% per night. Location-wise the hotel is very good. But the amenities are very very elementary and the building is an old one. Later we came to know from a local taxi driver that the building was once the godown of the old Gopalpur port. We were allotted a view room at the direction of the light house. The view from the balcony was excellent. But the room was not at all decorated, we had even seen cockroach at the toilet. Power cut is very common in the area, and the hotel does not provide a generator backup during the day and you will get the toilet completely dark even during the day. The food was horrible.
After a few minutes of our check-in the power went off. The hotel staff said that the power would not come in an hour and as most of the guests were not in the hotel they were not ready to start the generator. We were provided with a small chargeable lantern. We had a quick fresh up and went outside to the open terrace. The beach was looking out of the world in the soft moonlight. The silhouettes of a few tourists sitting in the beach made it look mystic. The light house was sending signals to the boats in the deep sea and its piercing beam was creating a magic circle. We enjoyed the ambience and the sound of the roaring sea with a cup of tea. Then we walked for a while in the deserted beach. Our emotions were coming out in our songs and we were singing full throated.
We were listening to the mysterious sound of the sea from our bed and that is the specialty of this hotel. Sometimes it was sounding like a blast.

When the alarm rang at 5:30 it was still dark. I jumped out of the bed and went to the balcony to see the weather condition. The weather god was not in our favour in any of our previous trips and we could never get a chance to view a sun rise from a sea beach. We rushed to the beach to see the first ray of the sun. The fishing boats were coming back to the shore with their catches. We started walking towards the point where a number of boats were being seen. Fishermen were busy bringing the fishes to that place and arranging them in a rectangular area. We understood that a fish auction was going to start. We moved around the place and noticed various activities of buyers, middle men and the sellers. Mainly women from the fishing groups were carrying basket- full of fish bought by the traders while some sly people – children, urchins, even old men and women- were pilfering fish one by one the place of auction. Lives here move around the sea and the fishes.

The place was originally a habitat of tribal people who were evicted from their hearth and home for hotels and guest houses and are now being made to serve tourists. This is evident from the fact that most of the staff of the hotel as well as the people working around us were all tribals.

After breakfast we again went to the beach. The blue water was glistening in sun light. The boats with colourful sails looked like small paper boats made by children. Last night I had written the name of the hotel on the sand just in front of the hotel gate. But now we found half of the letters were washed away. We had gone towards left from our hotel in the morning where the fish auction was taking place. So this time we chose the right hand side and started walking.

There is only one hotel ‘Song of the Sea’ to the right of Hotel Kalinga, just in front of the light house. A broken wall is visible in front of that hotel. We are not sure if that is a remnant of the old port. The light house compound has a casuarina plantation which looks like a jungle. Beyond it there is a huge compound with incomplete but old stone buildings. Later we came to know from a local driver that it was being built by a Marwari businessman who came here from Kolkata, but could not complete them as the permission to construct a huge building so near the beach was not granted. We had seen a pair of goats walking on the stone wall of this premise, at some 25-30 ft height from the beach.

A number of kites, Brahminy kites, and other unknown birds were flying in circles above us. We tried capturing photos of them, but the batteries were already drained out after the photo session in the morning. So we concentrated in collecting shells. There were varieties of them and we were surprised to see the geometric patterns on them. Why they are made with so many colours and patterns?. Is it of any use to them in their struggle for existence? Why has nature created them with such beautiful designs?

We saw local fishermen crossing us from both the directions. We noticed they were vanishing or coming into sight from a point where a number of boats could be seen. We concluded that a village must be there behind the sand dunes and decided to go to the village after lunch.

We came to the beach again, this time without camera. We were ready to take bath. I am usually afraid of bathing in the sea, but at the same time feel very much attracted to it. The result is in any beach I spend a lot of time in knee deep water, but do not dare to go further. This time I became a bit more courageous and went to waist deep water. But the waves were touching my shoulders. Eventually I started playing ‘come catch me’ with the waves; running towards the beach when a big wave was coming, then again following the returning wave. The undercurrent of the sea was really dangerous. Twice the waves knocked me down and I drank a few glasses of saline water. A few who started bathing with us went back, 2-3 new groups came and they too retired.

After an enchanting fight with waves we came back to hotel around 12:30 pm. We were tired and needed food and a sweet power nap. But lunch was not ready. So we spent some time at the open terrace watching the sea, boats and kites.

After lunch we got ready to explore the fishermen’s village. Everything was seen like B&W as we were watching everything with the very bright sun at the background. Again we started walking towards right from the hotel. This part is a desolated place. The crabs were moving quickly as they felt us approaching. They were very colourful with green and red spots on yellow body. We had seen a red crab also. But it hid itself so quickly that we could not take a snap.

Finally we reached near the spot where the boats were being seen. A group of fishermen was catching fishes. They were taking the net a few metres into the sea with the help of a boat. Then they were dragging the net manually. There were 7-8 of them actually working and 4 women were waiting on the sand. They were Telegu speaking tribal people. The women had a different look for wearing the saree high above the ankles and coving their upper trunks with it fastened at the back of their neck without any blouse. They had brass ornaments like bangles, multiple earrings and nose rings. The men too had coarse and short dhotis. All of them had a weather beaten look; their skins chapped by the saline water and the rough sea wind.

We waited for sometime there, and watched their catches. From our idea of market price we had gathered from the auction in the morning we were sure that the catches from 2-3 drives would bring them not more than Rs 300-400. And from the number of the people we found at the beach we knew that at least 5-6 families have to go by this earning.

Here we saw the Brahminy kite from a vantage point very near us; it was flying so close to us that I got afraid to see its claws. Then I found two Brahminy kites sitting at the edge of a boat. They were looking like ‘byangoma-byangomi’ in our fairy tales.

We turned right, away from the sea following the foot marks on the beach. We had to climb up the wavy sands. After few steps we found 3 men making a net. They were sitting between two sand waves and were completely invisible from the sea. We approached them for a photo. Surprisingly after the photo they asked (just asked in light mood, not pressing) for money, and moaned ‘machh uthena’ (we do not get much fishes nowadays) and there body language was asking ‘how would we survive??’ The boundless sea is the only hope in their battle of life, but the sea itself has now become poorer and disappointing them. These people reminded me of the famous play ‘Riders to the Sea’ by J.M.Synge and also the novel ‘Padma Nadir Majhi’ by Manik Bandhyopadhyay. We saw progenies of ‘Kuber’ and ‘Ganesh’ in the wrinkled faces of the wizened men sitting there.

We moved again; following footsteps we climbed the sand dunes. It was full of cactuses and small Keya like bushes. After reaching the top we were able to see the locality at the other side. What we saw in front of us was not like a village. We saw a few huts far away. May be there is a village at that side. But there was nobody to ask. We could not ask the fishermen we met as they could not understand our language. They only showed the direction with hands when I mentioned the one word ‘gaon??’(Village). We found speaking only relevant words than trying to make a sentence is more powerful in communicating with people who do not understand our language.

We had to come back as the timing to climb the light house was 3:30-5:30 and it was already 4 o’clock. The Light House compound is well maintained. We were surprised when we were asked to put off our shoes before going inside the light house as we do in temples. We had to climb more than 120 steps to go to the top. We had a nice bird’s eye view of Gopalpur from there. The sun was setting making the sky and part of the beach tinged with crimson colour. But we could not capture many photos as the camera was again switched off. The battery was not sufficiently charged due to power cuts and the hotel did not provide generator facility during the day.

We came down before 5:30 as it was getting dark. We had to book a car for the next day’s trip to Rambha(Chilka). We found a travel agent Sagar Tours and Travels at the corner of the road, just beside Hotel Holiday Home. We asked for a car to Rambha. The person at the counter asked for Rs1000 for Gopalpur – Rambha – Gopalpur journey. After some bargain (we are not good at this art) the charge was fixed to Rs 1100 for Gopalpur-Rambha-Bramhapur. We asked the car to pick us up from hotel at 9:30Am.

For the next morning we had a plan to walk up to the back water we had seen from the light house. The alarm rang at 5:30. We went to the beach before sun rise and started walking towards the point where fishermen were gathering their catches. Last day we had seen a very busy auction at that place. Catches were in plenty and the auction was almost over by 7 o’clock. We don’t know the reason, but that day we did not find that enthusiasm and that hurried business. Number of fishermen was less, catches were less and those small catches were being sold before displaying it on the sand. We, as outsiders, found lack of energy on this day’s activity. But there were plenty of objects for photography and that stopped us from proceeding towards the back-water.

The car came on time and we started for Rambha at 9:45 am.
After a KM or so the car took a right turn from the road to Bramhapur. We saw a water land at both the sides of the road and we recognized it at once as the backwater we had seen from the light house which was still visible. We stopped the car as we had seen a number of birds at the back water. There were cranes, different types of Kingfishers, ‘Pankouri’ and a few unknown birds.
The car took a road which runs parallel to the beach and the road sides were full of wet lands and mangrove type trees, ‘Keya’, at first and then sand and cactus type trees and trees of cashew nuts.
Our next stop was at new Gopalpur port which is still incomplete after a couple decades. The work has gained some momentum presently after it has been handed over to some private company.
Our next and final destination was Rambha on Chilka. It took around 1.5 hrs to reach there from Gopalpur. The entrance is in a well maintained OTDC Panthanivas compound. When we reached the only motor boat had left with tourists, so the options were to take the OTDC speed boat or hire boats from locals. The charge of motor boat was Rs 550, the speed boat was Rs 850 and local boats depended on bargain. We booked one local boat for Rs 450 for visiting 3 points: breakfast point, cave, and Birds Island. It was like the fisher men’s boat. The motor was not assembled with the boat but placed separately at the edge.
‘Breakfast point’ is a small bright yellow temple like structure, which was looking beautiful on the blue water. When the boat stopped at this point we were astonished to hear the sound of water which was being subdued by the sound of motor. If one has enough time in hand rowing boat must be the best option here as the birds fly away due to the sound of the motor boats.
The lake here is surrounded by hills on both sides. Our next destination, the cave, was on the hill at our right hand side. From a distance we saw monkeys sitting on big boulders. This part looks like an island and we were surprised to think how the monkeys survive on the rocky island. The water was covered with reddish moss at this part and hundreds of small rusty coloured birds were on it. We had to climb big boulders to reach the cave.
The next destination was birds’ island on which OTDC has built a statue of a stupid Dinosaur and the boat man mentioned it as Dinosaur Island. We did not find any interest in getting down at the island. The main attractions were the birds around the island. We tried hard to balance multiple motions of the moving boat dancing on the wave and the flying or floating birds to get good snaps of the birds.
The main attraction of Rambha is watching various birds in the silent ambience. The OTDC Panthanivas is also worth for a night’s stay.
We had to conclude our short trip. The car dropped us at Bramhapur. Chennai- Howrah mail arrived at scheduled time 5:35 pm to take us back to our routine life.
We have visited a few other beaches on the eastern coast. But Gopalpur attracted us more than most of the other beaches because of its tranquil surroundings and ideal atmosphere. There were local people and their daily activities to enjoy, but, there were no crowd of tourists. We could peacefully enjoy the beauty of golden sand of the beach, the wide expanse of the blue water, could listen to the songs of birds for hours and watch the sun rise in its full glory. We would like to visit Gopalpur sometime in future again.