KALAPANI!!!! That is how we were introduced to this place when we were small children. Through numerous stories, movies and documentaries, we would learn only about the unpleasant unhappy and unwanted things which were constantly highlighted. However most of these stories reflected how this place was before the independence of the country. The cellular jail, numerous stories of torture, miserable living conditions and other miseries were the part of these islands only before the independence. Post independence, this place remained largely untouched by the mainland India with the economy of the place in a self sustained mode. The Government of India did provide continuous support but the real and much bigger impetus came only in the later years especially during the Prime Minister ship of Late Mrs Indira Gandhi. Over the years rapid progress in all fields have taken place in the islands thanks to a concerted effort and attention of the government to these islands mainly due to the new found strategic importance of the Islands since much of the South East Shipping lines pass through the region and with China on our heels, the Islands offer the best opportunity to keep an eye on the neighbouring countries and their activities.
It is perhaps due to this reason that the Armed Forces got a major leg up in the region. The Islands which had only Indian Navy presence earlier was fortified with both Indian Army and Indian Air Force troops setting up major stations and infrastructure. Air Force in fact now has a full fledged squadron in the Islands. Army also has been steadily building up their presence in the islands with multinational exercises being conducted very often in the area.
However of major interest to most of us is the fact that the infrastructural development of the area and promotion of tourism by the government has made this place one of the most sought after. A particular government policy which allows government servants to fly to the islands which otherwise is not their entitlement have brought them in droves. This particular policy has been a masterstroke for the development of tourism in the area. Suddenly there is a surge of tourists in the islands where the main livelihood of the people have been tourism along with support from shipping and administrative related jobs. The money that got pumped into the Islands economy due to this surge is showing in good measure through better living conditions and work prospects for the Islanders. Hotels, transport, tourism are the major industries that have got a boost.
Coming back to the tourism and notwithstanding the economics part, this place is heaven on earth. I mean it, no kidding. The beaches are the best or amongst the best and I can say that having travelled many parts of the world. The wildlife, the beaches, the forests and mountainous terrain, the unique blend of culture and people, everything is so different, special and worth a remembrance and visit. So thought why not start a series on experiences of places that have been visited till now by us. I shall also write about places which normally no tour operator will even think of taking you to and some hidden gems and certain tricks to make your visit to Port Blair truly memorable should you plan to visit it any time soon.
So do look out for this section now and do revert back with your comments, views and suggestions to make this section truly spectacular.