Solomango Travel Feature: Drifting on Little Andaman
Photographer Brook Mitchell takes a look at life on Little Andaman Island, a remote Indian territory, home to a fascinating mix of settlers and indigenous tribes now coming into contact with a steadily growing number of visitors.
Sitting close to the epicentre of the 2004 Boxing Day earthquake and resulting Tsunami, yet perhaps furthest from the world’s consciousness in the wake of the disaster, Little Andaman is a remote and largely forgotten speck of land a long way off the main Indian tourist trail. TheIsland was devastated by the tsunami with its infrastructure reduced to virtually zero and the majority of residents relocated. Those residents are just beginning to find their feet again with many returning to new government housing pushed back into the hills away from the beach where life was focused before.
Little Andaman is actually one of the largest of the Andaman’s chain, a string of lush tropical islands claimed by India yet geographically distant from the mainland, actually sitting closer to Thailand than it is to India; the closest Indian state capital is Chennai.
A flight to Port Blair, the Islandsbustling capital, and an 8 hour ferry ride south finds you in a place as far removed from the everyday as you might think to still exist. Currently home to around 25,000 Indian settlers Nicobarese Islanders from the south relocated here after the tsunami and the native Onge tribe who number just 75 individuals. One of the oldest living cultures on earth, the Onge currently reside in a reserve named Dugong Creek in the North of the Islandand is strictly off limits to outsiders.
Outside the busy port town of Hut Bay, Little Andaman is a wild place, home to spectacular untouched beaches, hidden waterfalls and a healthy population of salt water crocodiles to keep visitors on their toes.
As Islands further North in the island chain become increasingly popular, a growing number of visitors are making the trek here to find a place that’s truly off the beaten path.
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