The History of Andaman Islands

Andaman is a group of islands, situated in the Bay of Bengal, off the coast of India. Their mean elevation is equal to that of the sea, with the highest point being 2402 feet above sea level at the summit of the Saddle Peak. Together with the Nicobar Islands, they form one of the seven Union Territories of India. The largest city and the capital of this archipelago is Port Blair. Before undertaking an Andaman tour package, visitors may want to learn about the history of this island group. Based on archaeological studies, it is estimated that the region has been inhabited since the last 2200 years. However, cultural and genetic studies reveal that they may have been inhabited since the middle Palaeolithic Age, more than 30000 years ago. It has been theorised that during the great coastal migration some 200000 years ago, people from the African continent migrated to India and came here. The theory about the name of the archipelago says that it was derived from the word andoman, which is the Malay corruption for Hanuman – the Hindu deity.

Medieval

Many ancient people like Ptolemy probably knew about the area and had a different name for it. Al-Ramhormuzi, a Persian explorer, has mentioned the region as being manifested by cannibals in his book Ajaib-al-Hind. In the 11th century, Rajendra I of the South Indian Chola Empire conquered this territory and used it as a strategic naval base to launch attacks on Sumatra. The first Europeans here were the Danish, who arrived on December 12, 1755. Due to the repeated malaria outbreaks, the territory was repeatedly abandoned by the colonisers. Kanhoji Angre, a Maratha admiral, made it his naval base and fought the British from here during the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Colonial and WWII

The British in 1824 established a colony, what is now known as Port Blair in the Chatham Island. During the First Burmese War, it was a major stopover for the colonial armed forces. Through the next 20 years, sailors who shipwrecked here were killed by the natives. The 1857 rebellion urged the authorities to construct a prison on the isles to keep political activists. During WWII, the Japanese occupied the region and atrocities were conducted on prisoners and residents. Subhash Chandra Bose of the Indian National Army came here and hoisted the flag of Indian independence on 30th December, 1943. After the war ended, the Japanese left and gave the territory back to Britain.

Tsunami and Aftermath

The British government in 1947 and 1948 decided to employ inmates to develop the fisheries, timber production and agriculture in the area. In return, the prisoners were to allowed to set foot in their native Indian mainland. The colonial regime decided to relocated Anglo-Indians and Anglo-Burmese people to this area so that they could form a nation of their own, but this was never accomplished. Independent India took it as its own in 1950 and in 1956, declared it as an Union Territory. On 26th December, 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami, following the underwater earthquake, lashed the coast. However, the task of extensive restoration took place and the place was brought back to its glorious form. Andaman tour packages can be availed during any time of the year to explore the charm of this destination.

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