You should definitely visit Ross island in the Andaman Sea as it is the Ta Prohm (Angkor temple outgrown with trees, that featured in Tomb Raider) and Nara(Japanese city famous for it’s deer park), both rolled into one. Read this blog to know why it is worth bargaining a few more hours, and wonder at the ruins of the once mighty British empire, as they lay there, almost fully reclaimed by nature, and watch the freely roaming deer herds (feeding is not allowed but people feed them anyway).
The aftermath of Tsunami
The island suffered major devastation from an earthquake in the 1930’s, and the Tsunami of 2004 wrecked it completely. It is the growth of mighty trees making there ways through the buildings that make this island spectacular.
How to visit Ross Island in the Andaman Sea?
Located a few meters away from Port Blair, you can reach this island by a boat from Marina jetty located at the Andaman Sports Complex. The travel time is just 10 minutes. You will have to book through a local tour operator. To read more about the nuances of booking, read my blog post How to spend seven days in the Andaman Islands- Plan your own itinerary .
If you plan on coupling a visit to Ross Island with either North Bay or both North Bay and Viper, you are unlikely to get more than an hour, so book the trip to Ross Island alone. The boat driver will initially give you an hour and a half but if you insist, he would give you around 4-5 hours. You have to be back at the jetty at the designated time.
Entrance fee to be paid after disembarking at Ross Island is Rs.30/person. You can visit the official tourism website here.
Where to stay?
Well, nowhere. You can’t spend the night there,unless you are in Navy.
There is a water filter where you can refill your water bottle, there are toilets and a canteen where you can find reasonably priced food. I suggest that you make use of the amenities before starting as returning would be just a waste of time.
An overview of the area
The main route is the uphill road with ruins of bakery on the side along the beach. At the top, you will be able to see the church at a T-junction. On left is the Commissioner’s bunglow, the barracks and the view point. At the T-junction, if you turn right, you will see the church, a resting place, stairs leading down to the beach, the cemetery, and the pond. The path along the pond opens beside the canteen. You can go beyond the cemetery, the area is deserted and there were some stags there, so we decided to turn back.
Points of interest when visiting Ross Island in the Andaman Sea
The fauna of the island is breathtaking. It is after all the network of trees growing through the buildings, turning them to rubble, that is the highlight of visit to Ross island in the Andaman Sea. But other species of plants are incredible too. I wish I knew their names. Even the bushes( I think they are bushes) are huge, the leaves are huge, the roots are interconnected, trees on slope are slanting, almost parallel to the ground in many cases. I have overheard people treat these wonders as common place but I think these are the things that deserve more of our attention.
Visit the ruins of an empire reigned by nature
The island is dotted with informational boards that tell you about history of the island. The old pictures of the island in all it’s resplendence, when it was the British headquarter, when seen in contrast with the ruins, make one ponder over the transience of life, and the resilience of nature. The most fascinating are the bakery, the Commissioner’s bunglow, the barracks, and the Presbytarian Church. I would mention the swimming pool, cemetery and the pond as well. Though they are not as noteworthy, they are still relics from a past and you need these elements to recreate the picture of the island as it must have been.
You can see deer roaming freely in the island. It is prohibited to feed them and there is even a fine but many people fed them anyway to get pictures. They are not domesticated. We just enjoyed seeing them there , the foals were the cutest.
If you keep walking in the direction of the Commissioner’s bunglow, the water tank and the barracks, you will reach a small opening. You can get a stunning view of the sea down below.
If you continue walking in the direction of the church, you will see stairs leading down to a rocky beach. There was a heap of plastic bottles as well. If you do not like it at a tourist site, read my post Add these items for sustainable travel/living. There are benches along the way and you can enjoy a cool breeze. The slanting trees on the slope along the stairs will amaze you.
The museum is close to the port and has pictures of the island as it was in all its glory. We somehow forgot about the museum towards the end of our trip, even though we had enough time at our hands but I recommend it when traveling to Ross island in the Andaman Sea.
Light and Sound show
It takes place in the evening. You can ask a tour operator to book a tour for the same. I didn’t watch it so I can’t tell what it is like.