After a long time, started to explore our beloved country and this time it was one of the isolated part of India. Any guess?... Wooohoo!!... It’s Andaman.
Andaman was one of my selected destinations for last couple of years but could not make it for some big reasons and these are proper itinerary – guidance & a good travel operator who can arrange all for me. I was travelling with my two family members and one of them was senior citizen. The tour was for 7 days and we have covered Port Blair, Havelock Island, Neil Island, Barathang Jarawa Reserve Forest and Limestone cave but unfortunately missed Ross Island and Jolly buoy Island due to bad weather.
Let me take you through the story of our journey. On the first day of December, we took our flight at the very first morning at 6:15 AM from Kolkata Airport and reached Port Blair by 8am. My tour agent asked me that someone will pick us up from there to hotel. So after collecting the baggage we went out to main gate and my eyes started searching for my name from the hand boards. And within a minute I found it. Though I have been asked that someone will receive in the airport but there was little bit tension in my mind, if the person has reached or we have to wait for long time. So when I met the person, I become relaxed. We reached to our hotel A G Residency at Garacharma area within 15-20 minutes. The hotel was good but wanted to mention that it is not in beach side.
After lunch we had started our first day tour. We left hotel at 3pm to visit the famous Cellular Jail which is currently a tourist spot. It has lots of memories from the British era. The names of the prisoner are listed there around the building in the centre part of jail. It took almost an hour to roam around the all part of the jail and we departed for Corbyn’s Cove beach. Within 10 minutes we reached their. Anyone can do boating, Jet-ski, there are chargeable lounge chairs (Rs 10/hr) but unfortunately all the water sports were suspended since a crocodile was seen in last few days. We saw snake Island from the beach only. The boats generally give you the rides around the snake Island. Stepping in to that Island is not allowed, heard that many type of snakes live there. We stayed there for couple hours and witnessed a wonderful sunset. Here the sunset happens opposite to the sea but it was a lifetime experience to watch the sunset through the coconut and palm trees. It looks like someone has played with colours in sky and I can only say Picture Perfect.
Then we moved to Cellular jail again to watch the light and sound show. It was amazing. The story of Veer Savarkar the great patriotic narrated with lights and sound using the jail building and cells as a screen. After that we get back to hotel.
Next day in the morning we started for Neil Island. From this day another family with 3 people joined us for the rest of the tour. Reached to port around 7 am for cruise. There are many govt. and private cruise. We were travelling by Makruz. It is a well maintained beautiful cruise and they maintained almost flight ambiance. They have a cafeteria inside it. Fortunately we got window sit though most the way, me and my wife were standing in front or back of the cruise to experience the sea. This is our first sail through the sea, so there was mix of sense in mind before the journey started. Little bit of scariness, tension and full of excitement in my mind to witness the unknown sea. Earlier become to know that people feels illness and start vomiting in the way of sea so for precaution we have consulted doctor and taken medicine to avoid such situation and of course we did not face such issues but saw that many people fell sick for motion sickness. It took almost 1hr.15min to reach Neil Island and yes of course I was amazed to see the colour of water is truly different and it is sky blue. Neil Island is called the vegetable bowl of Havelock. According to me one of the best places in Andaman with awesome scenic beauty and awesome ambience. We moved to hotel took breakfast and then visited Bharatpur beach which is very close to jetty spent some couple of hours and then we visited natural bridge, as the most of the people r Bengali, it is called Howrah Bridge also. You have to go there by foot and stepping over some dead coral. The walk way is too rough, so it is suggested not to take aged person through this road. So when it is high tide you cannot go there, you have to go when it is low tide. In the way you will see the natural aquarium with different type of colourful and small sea fish and some other creatures as well. I loved those natural aquariums. Then we went back to hotel took lunch and in the afternoon visited Laksmanpur beach. It is also known for sunset point.
Next day we started for Havelock Island. It was 1.5 hours journey from Neil Island. We stayed a hotel near Jetty. After lunch we went to Kalapathar beach in evening. This also looks nice. There are some natural dead trees laid in the beach and those things make the beach photogenic. Next day we checked out from hotel and went to Radhanagar beach. This place is nice and you can easily spent 2-3 hours if you have a camera and love to capture some photos from different angel. You can take sea bath as well, Changing room and washrooms available.
After lunch boarded the cruise Green Ocean to come back to Port Blair. This cruise has open deck which is best place to experience the sea. After 20 minutes of journey started we were allowed to go to the deck and it was amazing and memorable experience to see the Sea closely. In addition to open deck there was a surprising music arrangement and many a people did some dance and enjoyed their journey. We spent rest of the journey on the deck and reached to Port Blair in the evening.
Fourth day in we had a plan to visit Baratang Island. As per scheduled we have started our journey at 3:30am in night and within an one and half hour reached to the gate of Jarwa Reserve forest. We had to wait till 6 am there. There are four convoys leaves everyday to go through this road. First convoy leaves at 6 am. All the route buses and cars make queue there and leave at particular time. On the way we saw some Jarwa sitting and standing beside the road. On the way there is Middle Strait Jetty where we took vessels to go to other part of road. The vessels are big in size; busses, trucks and cars are carried along with people. This is the road which connects south Andaman to Middle and North Andaman.
I forgot to mention that though it was December month but for some depression over Andaman Sea, the weather had started deteriorating day by day. So when we boarded the boat for Lime Stone visit it was started little raining. After 20 minutes we reached to place inside mangrove forest and from there we had to trek to Lime Stone cave. It was approx 1.5-2 km but due to rain path became slippery. We almost started running to visit and come back as early since the rain had started. The cave is almost black. The guide had lights so he described about the lime stones and came back to Jetty. Then we took a cab and saw the mud valley which is not much active. We were about to come back to jetty and it was started raining heavily. All of us were almost drenched. We came back to Port Blair in the afternoon. So the fourth day was little bit hectic but enjoyed.
5th day was for Jolly Buoy Island but weather was not good at all. Tour operator told that the boat may be cancelled but we started for it with some hope in mind. And as expected the tour was cancelled by the administrative due to bad weather. After having breakfast we went to Wandoor beach. It has also a wonderful view. This beach is little bit different from the others. There are lot of shells scattered throughout the beach which creates amazing look for your eyes. After spending some we visited Mahatma Gandhi National Marine Park. There are some artificial Sea fish and coral models kept with some facts. Then we came back to hotel. Though weather was not in favour, we wanted to utilize the rest of the day. So we took a cab and went to Chiria Tapu, Mundapahar. This beach is well maintained; we spent an hour and took some pictures. This place is famous for sunset. You will definitely get pictures of sunset from different angles through the trees and dead trees. Change room and wash rooms are available so you can take sea bath here as well. After some time weather started to behave badly and started rain heavily along with wind. We could not visit Mundapahar as trekking was required reach there but it was raining. We came back to hotel.
Day 6, weather was started improving but still raining frequent interval. Tour to Ross Island cancelled. There is no hope for this trip. So we took the city tour in the morning till noon. Visited Anthropological Museum, Chatham Saw Mill, Fisheries Museum, Samudrika Marine Museum. Out of them I liked Samudrika Marine Museum very much since they have large collection coral and live fishes. Those are amazing and photography is allowed. Came back to Hotel after lunch me and my wife thought to take city tour by regular buses so we roam around the city; spent some time in Rajib Gandhi Water Sports Complex, from where the boats leaves for Ross Island and North Bay Island. We walked around here and there to know the city well, collected some traditional gifts for relatives and colleagues.
Next day morning after breakfast we said good bye to Port Blair and came back to Kolkata with lots of sweet memories.
I would like to thank SOLE LANE for arranging the wonderful tour for us and also like to thank Bivas da and family who was travelling with us. We enjoyed their company and saved their chit chat in memory.
I would suggest all of you to visit Andaman at least once in your life with SOLE LANE.
Ajan Ahmed Noor
Thomas Keller, very rightly said, “A recipe has no soul, you as the cook must bring soul to the recipe”.
This becomes more eminent when it comes to Kolkata, the gastronomical capital of the country as well as the heart of the people. The people, its culture, their soul and soulful food varies from south to north, from lanes to high streets, from kitchen windows to distant vendors. Not just a day of “Food Walk” is enough to match it all, but one has to dwell and smell; as Phuchkas of the North Kolkata are not the same as Panipuris you get at New Alipore; or the Kathi Rolls of Park Street are not that you will find in Hogg Street.
Kolkata, undoubtedly is one of the best places in India where you can find the array of authentic and hybrid recipes as well. It has inherited the taste of not only its neighbour states, but of around the globe. This city even boasts of the certification of World Health Organization, given to the Dacres Lane (situated near Esplanade) as the best street food joint available anywhere.
Paving down the streets, one can easily find a platter full of rice and curry as well as the yummy snacks, without too much of pocket pinch. From Jhal Muri to Pani Puri, Ghugni Chat to Bhell or Batata Puri; the lanes of Lassi can take you to streets of Lasagna Soup as well; adding to it there are Chinese, Tibetan, Mughlai dishes for your taste buds.
Here’s a list of places where you can get spoiled… Enjoy !!!
Zaika, Park Street : ROCK ON ROLLS
It is a known fact that the “Kathi Rolls” were first introduced by Kolkata; but this soup called Zaika boasts of its incredible stuffing wrapped in thin rotis that is found in every city. The authentic “Kathi Rolls” are still found here. You can also hover around Nizam’s in New Market and Kusum’s and Hot Kathi Rolls in Park Street.
Dacres Lane : A SUM UP VERSION
From the trade mark Bengali dishes, you will find Punjabi to Tibetian to Chinese as well Noodles, Schezwan Chicken, Luchi-Aloo Dam, Fish Roll, Ghugni, Jhal Muri are always on hot platters; and Jalebis are to die for.
Gariahat and Vivekananda Park : PHUCHKASSSS!!! (PANIPURIS/GOLGAPPAS – YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT)
These two places in Kolkata are the raj of never-ending smashes of Phuchkas and Churmurs.
At Southern Avenue, Maharaja Chat Centre is the joint you can rush into for this heavenly delicacy. The streets of Bhawanipore and Dakuria (entrance of Dakshinapan) can also boast for the best Phuchkas.
China Town, Tiretti Bazar : DUMP THE DUMPLINGS
This city was once the home of almost 20,000 Chinese; thus it has inherited the authentic Chinese cuisines traditionally cooked and certainly that attracts people especially during the Chinese New Year. At Tiretti Bazar you’ll find authentic Chinese breakfast consist of Rice dumplings and soup and many more. You have to be a real early bird for that as the stocks last till 6:30 or 7:00 AM.
Mitra Café : LIKE NON-VEG?
Period!!! Mutton Kabiraji…just dive in here. Mughlai Parathas, Fish Chops, Fish Fingers, none of them will disappoint you.
Tiwari Brothers, Burrabazar : SINGARA / SAMOSAS
If you are a special person for “Special Chai” and Singaras (or as you say it Samosas) you’ll never miss the place; and your evening will be made.
Anadi Cabin, Jawaharlal Nehru Road : PARATHAWALAS!!!
You will find Mughlai Parathas in almost everywhere in Kolkata; but this is the best place one can find it. Cheaper and crispier this is the place one can die for.
Fairlie Place and Stock Exchanges, BBD Bag : LUCHIS ARE NOT PURIS!
Each and every Bengali households especially in Kolkata, boasts of Luchis and Aloo Dam. Aloo Dam is a Bengali rendition and Fairlie Place Makes it best. You can also try full platter of Kachoris, Rice and Fish Curries and sweets as well. Dahi Chats and Chillas are also famous in the Stock Exchange Road.
College Street, Kalika Mukhorochok : TELEBHAJA
Even the most health conscious one can’t stop himself to have a taste of it. From Egg Chops to Mutton Chops to Brinjal Fries to Fried Fish people struggles from 4 PM to 8 PM just to have a bite. Gariahat can also be a favorite destination for it.
Vardaan Market : CHILLA, DAAL PAKORI
It is situated almost in the midst of the office para of Camac Street; best veggie delicacies are found in here. Marwari snacks like the Chillas and Daal Pakori and also Fruit Salads are very famous.
Golpark Crossing : FISHY PERSON
Fish Fries are one of the best delicacies in Kolkata. On the Gariahat side of the Golpark 5-Point crossing, a small shop sells heavenly Butter Fish Fries.
Lord Sinha Road, Mayaram’s : PAV BHAAJI! OH YES IN KOLKATA!!
While you have Golas and Chustis too in Lord Sinha Road, don’t forget to visit this place as you just can’t handle the smell of enchanting buttery Pav Bhaajis in here!!
S. P. Mukherjee Road, Balavant Singh Dhaba : MASALA / KESAR TEA
If you are a late night person or an early morning bird, you can get pampered by its Kesar Tea at any point of time; and happiness comes in different sizes of “bhnaar”. Doodh Cola is also a unique thing found in here.
Camac Street : FRUIT KULFI
This master-piece can be found somewhere in between Camac Street Pantaloons and St. Xavier’s College; having the most low-key establishment, this place ensures the highest foot fall of the youngsters of the city.
Rabindra Sadan Metro Exit : MOMOS
A line of small to big establishments can be found over here, Tibetan cuisines are very famous within the people in this city. They can be found everywhere but for some heavenly Pork Momos you definitely have to come here.
As George Bernard Shaw said --“There is no sincerer love than the love of Food”. On the lighter note, this becomes really truthful for this city of heart. Kolkata is really the paradise for SOLE FOOD LOVERS!!!