The Tour of Andamans 2021 saw the two dozen participants have a gala time in this pristine archipelago of India. Here’s the story from one of the participants of the tour, Raj Kiran…
Andamans is a well-known archipelago in the Bay of Bengal. A place in the bucket list of tourists, known for its pristine turquoise waters, scenic beaches, mangrove creeks, rich anthropological sites and heritage hub. It’s where foodies, explorers, collectors, action seekers, culture shapers, and socializers meet – and new experiences are created every day. It has dense rain forests with an off-road rolling terrain making it one of the most challenging routes to test the mental and physical endurance of a rider with a bonus of breath-taking views around every corner.
Tour of Andaman is much more than the sum of its numerous attractions. It’s constantly evolving itself, with people who are passionate about cycling with new possibilities. The Tour spans 300+ km, through the entire Islands of Andaman from Port Blair in the South Andaman, Mayabander in the Middle Andaman, and Diglipur in the North.
Tour of Andamans: Day Zero
The pilot’s announcement woke me up to witness the aerial view of the Andamans and the different shades of blue left me spellbound. As we landed in Veer Savarkar Airport, the humid weather welcomed us with a crisp ocean breeze.
I was greeted by Team Parikrama volunteers at the airport and made our way to Diviyum Manor hotel. Once refreshed, there was an ice breaker session. The organizers had planned a day out and we were taken around Port Blair where we saw the Cellular Jail, North Island, Water sports complex and a beautiful sunset at the
In the evening, we had a brieﬁng session by the organizers and the unveiling of the tour jersey. They also made us realize that the event was a ‘Zero Waste Event’ – where there is absolutely no single use plastic items. The waste generated will be carried back to the mainland as Andaman does not have a recycling management unit. The riders were instructed to use the steel plates, glasses, spoons and cups that the organizers provided.
Day 1: Netaji Flag Hoisting Memorial to Chidiyatapu
Netaji Flag Hoisting Memorial or Tiranga Memorial is a heritage site as it was here that the Tri Color was hoisted for the ﬁrst time in India. Sri Subhash Chandra Bose was welcomed with great enthusiasm and he delivered a historic speech standing at this very spot.
The roads were excellent, giving us the ocean’s picturesque scenic beauty. Trafﬁc was minimal and as we advanced towards Chidiyatapu, we entered the reserve forest area which is rich in ﬂora and fauna.
One can see barking deer, spotted Indian Deer, crocodile, and endemic birds as well on the way.
Once this preliminary ride was completed, the riders boarded the Tempo Traveller and we made our way towards Baratang.
To reach Baratang, we took a convoy as we passed through the Jarawa Reserve. There two wheelers, walking and cycling are strictly prohibited. There are only two convoys – morning and afternoon.
Day 2: Baratang to Rangat
The day began with a healthy protein ﬁlled breakfast. The light showers made us take out the raincoats as we started our ride. We got a glimpse of the road conditions and mentally prepared for an off-roading setup.
We were cycling amidst thick foliage, tropical rain forests with minimal vehicle movement. The lush green coupled with showers made pedalling, much easier. The inclines were killing but once it was done, the sweat pouring down our face made us feel like it was worth it.
A distance of 20 km for the healing station and we reached the middle strait. The only way to cross this was through the ferry.
Upon crossing over, our ride resumed with more showers and potholes. Another 17 km for the next Jirkatang gate no. 05. The ride was beautiful with paddy ﬁelds and vegetation unlike the forest of the ﬁrst half.
This again was a Jarawa reserve and we had to board our cycles and riders into the TT. We were lucky to get a glimpse of the tribals sitting across the road.
The ride resumed and so did the inclines. One could hear the riders swear, shout, grind their teeth at these points. Just before Rangat, a descent of 2 km gave the riders the needed push and strength to carry on!
Day 3: Rangat to Mayabundher
A new dawn with light showers and hot coffee beckoned.
Riders were invited by a local school for planting a sapling, interacting with children, sharing our passion for riding and environmental awareness.
The faculty members greeted us with ﬂowers and tilak on forehead giving us a sense of acceptance and warm greetings.
The ride commenced with a quick stop at Morice Dera. Which is a small park which the forest department has developed as it is at this point a stream of fresh water and saline waters meet. The riders swam, splashed water on each other and relaxed in the cool fresh water.
After spending an hour there, we rode towards our lunch point – Billiground. This was a relaxing ride as the tarmac was good with ocean to our right and forest to our left. Less slush ensured that the riders didn’t have to strain their muscles a lot.
As we progressed from Billiground, the tarmac faded and potholes cheekily welcomed us. It was then we had the elevations to conquer. The inclines combined with rough roads made it an arduous and challenging ride. Every pedal was accompanied by a deep breath. The loose gravel didn’t let us zoom on the downhills.
Everyone was thrilled upon reaching the destination and could be seen with a sense of pride of having successfully completed the day’s ride.
Day 4: Mayabundher to Diglipur
We were told that it was the toughest riding days. The elevations were gradual and inclines steady, always keeping us on our toes. The tarmac disappeared as we waved goodbye to Mayabundher.
The under construction road coupled with the unforgiving scorching sun really tested the temperament of the riders. We cycled through a patch of reserve forest with hardly any vehicle movement. The electrolyte drink helped with the cramps.
One by one, the riders hopped on to the Tempo Traveller. By noon, out of 20 riders, only 5 riders pedalled on! Other riders cheered them and by 5 PM sun had already set. Our last rider made it by 5:15! What a sense of accomplishment these riders had!
The other riders looked at them with a sense of admiration and vowed to complete this stretch in Tour of Andaman – Edition 3.
The beach resort was beautiful. The closing ceremony was bustling with life, stories from the ride, most challenging moment and lots more. As everyone relaxed, sang and danced under the stars creating memories to cherish for a long time and leaving behind the footprints on the sands of time and Andaman!
Day 5: Sightseeing Ross & Smith; Sailing back to Port Blair
This ‘No Ride Day’ was heartily embraced by the riders!
The organizers had planned for a sight seeing trip to Ross and Smith Island. Upon reaching the aerial bay, we hopped on to a dungi making our way to the white sand beach. These two islands are connected by a sand bar and during low tides one can walk from one island to the next.
It is a shallow beach with turquoise blue waters and gentle waves. Nothing less than any wallpaper on the desktop.
The riders joyfully immersed themselves becoming oblivious to time and the outside world. Just as we were enjoying the pristine waters, an Indian Airforce Helicopter hovered above the sand bar swirling the sand in the air. It was a visual treat for the riders.
As everyone relaxed, we made our way back to aerial bay where we had to get tested before boarding the ship named Coral Queen. She was massive being recently refurbished and looking beautiful. For many it was the ﬁrst time sailing.
We waved goodbye to Diglipur and witnessed dolphins, turtles and many other ﬁsh on the journey back to Port Blair.
Our entire cycling trip came full circle as we had travelled by air, bike, TT, bicycle and ship! This tour taught us not to stop at ﬁnding out what we can do when we visit. Let our Passion for exploring show you what you can be when you’re here. Because we are where Passion meets Possibilities.
Text & Photos: Raj Kiran/ Team Parikrama