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State of India - Andaman and Nicobar
QUICK FACTS Climate (Degree C.): Mean minimum 23 deg C, Mean maximum 30 deg C.
Best Season: October to May | Languages Spoken: Nicobari, Bengali, Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam, Hindi, English | Capital: Port Blair

Floating over the emerald blue waters of the Bay of Bengal in splendid isolation - like some broken pearls about to sink is the archipelago of 5272 island, islets and rocks known as Andaman & Nicobar Islands. This Union Territory is stretched over an area of more than 700 Kms. Surrounded by some of the most beautiful lagoons in Asia, the pristine shimmering waters of Andaman offer some splendid adventure activities to it's visitor, making it a fun filled and ideal island getaway of India. On the other hand most of the parts of Nicobar Islands are inaccessible to the tourists, especially foreigners.

Geography of Andaman and Nicobar Islands:
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands surrounded by the Bay of Bengal is divided in two groups by a ten-degree channel. The groups are the Andamans and the Nicobar. 239 Andaman Islands comprise of North, Middle and South Andamans. This along with Baratang and Rut-Land forms one landmass and is known as the Great Andamans. The Nicobar Islands are located 50 km to the south of Little Andaman. 13 of the 19 Nicobar Islands are inhabited by about 12,000 aboriginal tribes; most of them are cut off from the outside world.

History of Andaman and Nicobar Islands:
Once a hill range extending from Burma (Myanmar) to Indonesia, the name Andaman is derived from the Mythological God Hanuman. He was referred to as Handuman by the Malays, who as per the archaeological studies were inhabited here since several thousand years. Later this place was used as a deportation site for the accused during the British rule. Under the decree of 'kalapani', prisoners were banished to the islands, cutting every kind of connection with friends and family. The Cellular Jail in Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar was then considered as the "Siberia" of British India and it has borne witness to the sentence periods of many a freedom fighter.

Tourist Places of Andaman Islands:
Andaman offers a variety of interesting tourists places including beaches, historical monuments, museums, parks and more! The main islands in the Andamans are Land Fall Island, Middle Andaman, South Andaman, Port Blair and Little Andaman. The capital of this Union Territory is Port Blair, on the Andaman Islands, which is the landing and departure point for boat excursions in Andaman and is an ideal base for touring the island. A number of these excursions are to Ross Island, Havelock Island and Coral Island. Port Blair itself is an interesting city to visit since it houses all the government buildings, adventure theme parks and few historically significant sites.

Fairs and Festivals in Andaman Islands:
Apart from the nationally celebrated festivals of India, Andaman Island is also home to some local fairs and festivals that churn out huge number of crowds every year. The most important one being the Island Tourism Festival, which is a fort night festival held between December and January. This festival showcases the art and crafts, marine life and folk dances and songs of Port Blair. The Subhash Mela (Havelock Island) is a week long festival held on the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, filled with cultural programmes and events. Vivekananda Mela is organized at the Neil Island to celebrate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. Block Mela, held in January / February at Diglipur, emphasises on the rural life in the Andaman Islands.

Cuisine in Andaman Islands:
The cuisine of Andaman is greatly influenced by the geography, the tribes residing here and its history. Surrounded by the Bay of Bengal, sea food is very popular in Andaman. The dishes prepared are the same as in seen all over India, but it has a unique flavour and different style of cooking. You would get a variety of fish, prawns, lobsters and crabs. With the boost of Tourism in the Andaman Islands, famous cuisines like North Indian Tandoori food, South Indian, Continental and Chinese food is also available at good restaurants and hotels for who are looking for safer options.

Shopping in Andaman Islands:
Andaman has a lot to offer for the shopaholics too. The best place to indulge is the Aberdeen Bazaar in Port Blair. Here you will find a number of Government Emporiums that include the Cottage Industries Emporium, and the Gram Khadi Commission. You may choose from a variety items to take back home like the multi-hued corals and seashell which act as an ideal souvenir, pearl jewellery, accessories made of shells, palm mats, cane handicrafts, wooden artefacts and the interesting lamp shades made of coconut shells. Other nearby shopping areas are in Goalghar, Junglighat, Prem Nagar and Delanipur, all in Port Blair.

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