I am sure that by now you know my fascination for Islands and their stories. A trip to Andaman’s Ross Island provided me with just an another story to tell.
It was 15 minute by ferry from Port Blair to Ross Island. It was here that the British had their base.In an earthquake in 1960s, 120 acres of the island had gone under the sea. Only remnants of British Colonies were left. This Island faced wrath of the tsunami and it could be seen with the uprooted trees and the deformed shape of trees and islands.
Now the history….
The ruins of Ross Island speak of better days and a long forgotten history. In 1788, The East India Company came to Andaman Islands to make it a penal settlement for Indian freedom fighters. And this is also how the legendary and darkest of all “Kalapani” history was made.
Named after British Marine Surveyor Daniel Ross, the island is only .6 sq k in area. It was called “Paradise of the East” about hundred years ago when for the first time electricity was made available at the Island and it looked like a bedecked ship. All the construction and development was done by the prisoner Indian freedom fighters. Ross Island boasted of having a church, a printing press, water distillation plant, Indian Bazaar, a lake, Ball Room etc. etc. in that time and was home to about 500 people!
On one side, it reflects the tasteful life of British but on the contrary, is also a witness to deaths of Indian Freedom fighters due to sheer hard work and lack of basic necessities. So ironical! Once served as headquarters of British settlement for over 80 years, it is a property of Indian Navy now.
- Had it not been for Ross Islands, Port Blair would have been destroyed in the 2004 Tsunami.
- It is rumored that Japanese made a secret tunnel from Ross Island to Port Blair.
- While it is assumed that one of the bunkers on the Ross Island leads to the opening of a tunnel to Port Blair, there is no evidence of its existence.
- Pristine islands Ross and Smith are connected by a natural sandbar, which hides during high tide making two separate islands. During low tide, the water recedes from the sand bar making them one single piece of land.
The fact that Ross Island isn’t inhabited by anybody helps to keep it in a pristine condition.
If you happen to be in Port Blair and have few spare hours, visit Ross Island! I’m sure it’ll not fail to live up to its past reputation. However, It’s closed on Wednesdays, so avoid that day.