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Andaman and Nicobar Islands History

     A British Discovery

Every individual knows the saying that the sun never sets in the British Empire. This is true as the Britishers conquered the whole of the world, established their rule and supremacy which resulted in a lot of changes all over culturally, traditionally, politically and economically. They explored throughout the world colonized many islands discovered by them. In the year 1789, they first discovered the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. But due to the natural calamities, they left the island by 1796. Nearly 6 tribal groups occupied the islands then. The Nicobar Islands were thickly populated by the Nicobari tribes especially in Car Nicobar, Nancowrie, Camorta and Katchal islands. The other groups of tribes are the Shompan tribes who lived in Campbell Bay at Great Nicobar.

These tribes were of Mongolian origin .apart from the Nicobari and Shompan tribes, four other tribes namely Jarawa, Ongi, Sentinel, and Andamanese were the Negroid Tribes who lived in south Andaman, central Andaman and north Andaman Islands. The Andamanese groups of tribes were many in number. The others lived in small groups in and around the dense forests. They hunted animals and birds ate fruits and vegetables to fill their stomachs. They were skilled in fishing and collecting honey. They made boats. The weapons they used were bows, arrows, spears and swords. They were skilled in making pots and other clay goods too. They were primitive, uncultured and roamed around naked. The Britishers established their colony in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for the second time in 1858.During this colonization the British Officials and soldiers settled in large groups.

But the tribes did not like the Settlement of these foreigners and they were terribly annoyed. They had the feeling that the settlers would empower them and they were scared The Britishers used the sign language to interact with the tribes to befriend them. But these refused to accept them and shot them with poisoned arrows. In turn these British soldiers fired the tribes using guns and many tribes died. The fight ballooned to a weary battle. Fearing the Britishers by their extra-ordinary weapons such as guns, the tribes moved into the dense forests for Refuge. Few tribes died of diseases. The natures were pathetically defeated in the battle of Aberdeen. The rest of the natives gradually faded away. During the Britishers supremacy in the sub-continents, they sent the convicts from India and Burma to the island.

They separated the Indians who fought for the country’s independence and were sent to these islands by ships. They were chained and were sent into the dense forests to fell the trees and clear the lands. They were allotted stipulated time and were ordered to complete the works within the stipulated time. It was a tortuous treatment. The prisoners who protested were hanged to death.

The first Prison and Hangman’s Noose (place where people were hanged) were built at a small island named Viper. There were no sufficient cells to prison the convicts and so they built a new prison in Atlanta Point at Port Blair. In 1896 they started building a three storied prison wherein hundreds of prisoners were made to work in the construction of the prison and the herculean task was completed within ten years by 1906. The cellular jail had 698 rooms with heavy security. This jail had imprisoned the Maharastra freedom fighter Damodar Veera Savarkar, his brother and many others.

The Britishers were rude, tortured the prisoners and killed plenty of prisoners. Those who protested were put in separate cells. Whenever a Prisoner was brutally killed by hanging to death; the prisoners in a passionate cry echoed the slogan ‘Vande Martharam’. The cry of the Slogan was very loud and repeated. The whole of the country’s populate protested against the cruel treatment by the Britishers in these cells. They were against freedom fighters being sent to the Islands. The prisoners held a hunger strike and in result many lost their lives in the struggle. The father of the Indian nation mahatma Gandhi sent a letter to the prisoners requesting those to give up the strike and the prisoners nodded to the request of the mahatma. By 1937, the Britishers gave up the practice of sending the prisoners to the Islands and in 1938 the prisoners were released and sent To their states and the Britishers left the Islands. Those prisoners who had a Good name with the Britishers enjoyed much welfare and settled in various parts of the island.

According to their education and their skills, they worked in Government office; illiterates were given farmlands for cultivation and they settled in these farmlands. Some went back to their, got married and came back to settle down in the islands. Many towns were established. The Britishers provided food and other provisions for the rehabilitated prisoners. In the early 1940s, the Japanese landed in the islands. Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose visited the island, and hoisted the flag of Independent India on December 29, 1943. He also created the first Independent Government. Col. Loganathan a Tamilian was the first presiding official of the island. This island is also considered as the first independent state of India. In 1945, the Britishers recaptured the island. When India got freedom the island was retained back by India and was declared as a Union Territory.

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