I first heard of Ross Island when Tsunami struck the Indian shores on a fateful morning in December, 2004. There were stories of Ross Island taking it all on its chest and protecting Port Blair from the onslaught of the natural disaster that would have otherwise wiped out Port Blair and most of the population of Andaman. The name stuck in my head and while planning the trip to Andaman, I knew I had to visit Ross to see the great eastern wall along Ferrari Beach which stood guard for the Aberdeen (the jetty in Port Blair across Ross Island)
How to Reach
Ross Island can be seen from Port Blair. Ferry services are available from Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex from around 8.30am in the morning and there after every hour until 4pm. Ross Island can be visited in isolation or as a 2 island (Ross+North Bay ) or a 3 Island (Ross +North Bay+ Viper) package. The cost of a ticket for Ross Island is around Rs 200/- and the package costs are about Rs 550/- for 2 Islands or Rs 750 for 3 islands.
Around Ross Island
Our Ferry docked in Ross Island around 9am in the morning and were given an hour to tour around. After paying the mandatory Rs 30/- access fee, we stepped into the island maintained by the Indian Navy since 1979 and opened up to tourists in 1993. I preferred to walk around the well marked trails to get closer to the ruins. However, there is a gold cart service that takes visitors for a guided trip around the island for Rs 75/- I would highly recommend that to senior citizens or anyone not so keen to walk.
I walked through the coconut grove towards the erstwhile bakery, swimming pool and water purification plant. The buildings which throbbed with life until about the great earthquake of 1941 was now in ruins. As I walked ahead, a pea hen majestically crossed my path leading me towards the subordinates club which seemed like a deserted barrack. Hearty conversations, sounds of tinkling wine glasses, throaty laughter and foot steps of ball dance from a hundred years ago are lost in those bricks in the annals of time. I continued walking ahead until I reached the church where a group of deer stood guard. The structure still intact, the sound of wind and waves made up for the missing church bells.
A few steps ahead and I could see the Ferrari Beach down below. It was a pleasant sight through the trees with tourists romancing with the mellow waves. On my right the large uprooted trees that were hanging from the ledge towards the beach bore silent testimony of that fateful morning when Tsunami ripped through the Eastern Coast of India.
I walked along the rugged high path that was nearly parallel to the beach occasionally stealing glances towards the varying shades of blue that gleamed under the morning sunlight. The fluttering of wings through the trees forced me to look up and there it was the state bird Andaman Wood Pigeon rocking on a branch.
I kept walking till I reached the Japanese bunker at the far end. The small structure and the short narrow door was befitting of the Japanese frame. On my way back, I joined the party with the deer and peacock prancing around in the garden. I had to literally chase the peacock for a while until it found its pride of place on a wall and obliged me with a ramp pose.
It was almost 10am and had to literally race back for the ferry pausing for a few seconds near the pond where the lotus blooms. I controlled my urge for a quick swing in the park for kids and headed straight to the jetty. It was hard to say bye to such beautiful natural surroundings. I wish I could spend a little more time around this island which was referred to as the “Paris of the East” by the British settlers.
History of Ross Island
Ross Island known as Chong-Ekee-Bood in local Andamanese dialect was named after British Marine Surveyor Daniel Ross. After the great uprising and Sepoy mutiny of 1857; 200 Indian freedom fighters were brought into Ross Island from mainland India. They were engaged in clearing out vegetation and constructing settlement for the British, the ruins of which can be seen now. The island buzzed with activity in the clubs and bazaars specially in the evenings when the island was lit up resembling a ship from afar. Life was merry and good for the British settlers in Ross Island as their home away from home was evolving as the Paris of the East. The spotlessly clean island which was the head quarters for the British was ripped apart by an earthquake in 1941 during World War II. The Japanese quickly took over as the British retreated and used it as their base during World War.
Best Time to Visit
- The island is closed on Wednesday every week so plan your trip accordingly.
- Though I visited in the morning, I would recommend visiting Ross Island in the late afternoon and cover the Son et Lumiere (Sound and Light) show as well. A ferry leaves around 4pm for Ross Island and returns by 7pm to the jetty in Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex.
North Bay Island ~ To Go or Not to Go
The only purpose of visiting North Bay Island is for the adventure activities. After a week long tour of different islands in Andaman, I realised that this trip could have been avoided. I would rather spend the time in other places of interest.
The activities held here is also done in other islands. If any of those is in your itinerary, consider dropping this island visit from your itinerary