Andaman Island converted into the hell of a prison for lifers and so called dangerous criminals, mostly revolutionaries against British rule, has been re-converted as the paradisal complex it always was.
Early, Tamil and Oriya seafarers passed it as they sailed towards Malaysia, Indonesia and Bali. Marco Polo visited it on his way back from the court of Kubla Khan in China in the fifteenth century. Lt. Blair, a servant of the Company went and mapped it in the late eighteenth century. This pictorial reveals the lush beauty of the jungles, the palmgroves and the lush beaches. The original inhabitants and the decendants of the men who braved life imprisonment, as also other emigres, show the idyllic landscape to a many-coloured world, eagerly sought to be made into a cosmopolitan free city before civilisation over-takes this paradise. Our photographers have given us here vignettes of beauty of the people and the place.
Shelley Chaudhry is the pseudonym of a retired naval officer, Surgeon-Commander in the Indian Navy. In the seventies, this talented eccentric who is as sensitive a writer as he is an efficient doctor, was privileged to be posted with the Indian Navy in Port Blair Harbour. His inspired inquisitiveness into the life of the people of the Islands and his exploration of the landscape by intrepid hikes and by sail boats, has enabled him to produce-an eloquent text aware of everything which fascinates the visitor in this perhaps smallest State of Indian Republic.
If you look at the map of the World, Andaman and Nicobar Islands are the tail of a centepede below the Bay of Bengal when it opens out into the Indian Ocean. legend has it that the Shailendra Kings used it as an harbour for their boats on the way to Indonesia. Marco Polo, the Italian adventurer of the 15th century, touched the Islands on his voyage back from his exploration of China and was not received as cordially by the tribal folk as he had been by the Chinese Emperor. At the end of the 18th century, Lt. Blair went and drew the map of the Islands for the John Company. His report on the. out-of-reachness of the Islands made the British Sarkar decide, after 1857 uprising in India, to use them as the jail for life prisoners, specially politicals and those who were to be hung. And thus the Islands became the legendry hell beyond the Kola Poni to Indian people, the place of exile from which no one who went there ever returned.
Some of the most daring heroes of India's freedom struggle, dreaded by the British, were condemned to live in the prison of Andamons. After freedom, the Islands have been rediscovered for all their natural beauty and charm, and Andaman Nicobar is a union territory, under a It Governor, part of the Republic of India that is Bharat. In our visionary plans to relate ourselves with our neighbours in South East Asia, Port Blair is a bridgehead. But, importantly, the Islands of Andaman Nicobar are integrated into our free India. And the local mixed population of Tribal folk and emigres are emergent in the participatory democracy to which we aspire.
The lush beauty of the jungles, with the palms swaying behind the beoches washed by the seo waters, the wild life still escaping from the hunters, the birds, the wild flowers, hove o charm some part of which hos been captured by two photogrophers, B.P. Molt! and P.A. De. Dr. Shelley Choudhry, who stayed as Surgeon Commander in Port Blair for some years. has described the Islands, In the effort to integrate the londscope and the people Into the consciousness of our mainland.
This book Is the first In the series of pictorials, In which we hope to reveal the beauties of those ports of our sub-continent which were kept obscure by the exigencies of alien occupation.
I wish to recall to my mind the inspiration given by Set. Indira Gandhi for us to launch on this series. And thanks ore due to Shri Vosant Sothe for initiating the project.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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