With stunning beaches, coral reefs and resorts the Andaman Islands are often referred to as India’s answer to the Maldives. Although part of India, the Islands are in fact nearer to Myanmar.
Sadly, many people know of the Andamans from a tragic news report, when on 26 December 2004, an earthquake in the Indian Ocean caused a tsunami to devastate certain parts of its coastline, resulting in the death of 2,000 people. Today despite the risk of natural disasters and the growing threat of climate change, tourist numbers and development have increased.
Although some of the islands (Port Blair, Havelock and Neil) are open to tourism, many are strictly off limits. Some of the no go islands are used by the Indian navy, some are volcanic and so unsafe, but others are home to indigenous Andamanese people, some of whom (The Sentinelese people) have never had contact with the outside world.
Tourists enter the Andamans via Port Blair, which was at one point part of the British Empire who established a naval base and penal colony there. The imposing Cellular Jail which was built by the British to house Indian political prisoners/freedom fighters, is now a popular tourist attraction.
Acknowledging this troubled history, the images here are purposely in contrast to what one would expect to see represented as an island paradise.
From 1858 until 1942 Ross Island was the Administrative Headquarters of British power for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In 1941 an earthquake caused the headquarters to be relocated to nearby island Port Blair and in 1942 Ross Island fell under the occupation of Japan until allied forces reoccupied it in 1945. It was later abandoned and is now a tourist destination and museum run managed by the Indian Navy.
Remnants of the islands opulent past are still evident today in the ruins that remain. But the ruins that have remained since 1945 are being taken back by nature. The church is crumbling, parts of the troop barracks are now just bricks and other newer parts are starting to show decay, while the chief commissioner’s residence with its once huge gardens and grand ballrooms are now barely recognisable covered in trees and roots.
A selection of Ronan Haughton’s photography from the Andaman Islands is available for commercial, editorial or personal use on Alamy, click here for further information.
Copyright Ronan Haughton