A tourist pokes a praying monk for a selfie and one wonders where did world peace go
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If you look up sunset in the Andamans, you’re sure to stumble upon Chidiya Tapu, a little island at the southern tip of South Andaman island. An hour’s drive away from Port Blair, the island is teeming with rare bird species, which lend it its name (Bird Island). I was on this serene isle in January this year to become a certified open water diver and subsequently try my hand at underwater photography. Havelock is the favoured Andamans destination for scuba diving; Chidiya Tapu is less known and thus far from the madding crowd.
While diving here is absolute bliss, the view from above the water is spectacular as well. At a local’s suggestion, I decided to try out a vantage point called Munda Pahad, an elongated black-rock cliff at one end of the island. The hike there is a surreal mix of forest and ocean—two of my favourite things. The trail starts from Chidiya Tapu beach and goes uphill through the woods—the floor rustling with leaves and the air filled with birdsong. The trail is a 45-minute walk, with the tree canopy blocking out daylight completely from parts of it. There are a couple of clearings on the way which give you a teaser of the view to come.
During my leisurely walk spanning almost an hour, I encountered not a single soul through the woods and went by instinct on a couple of forks. The silence was absolute, as far as man-made sounds are concerned; the ocean’s hum lingered in the air perpetually. When I finally reached the clearing at the edge of the cliff, I was greeted by a roaring wind. That, combined with a panoramic view of the ocean—the sun just about to dip behind Rutland Island and a lone boat floating idyllically in a palette of blue shades—made the walk totally worth it.
A handy tip: carry enough water and a snack for what can be a 90-minute trek to and fro. Also, start early so that the return trek can be made before absolute darkness descends on the woods. Carry a torch.
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