Wednesday 28 October 2015

Andamans 2015, Day 3, Middle Strait, Baratang

Day  3 was supposed to be most hectic. it included a trip to Baratang in middle strait. The road to Baratang goes through Jarwa tribal reserve and hence one has to travel in Convoys. The first convoy leaves at 6 AM and to reach the checkpost at Jirkatang, one has to start at 4 AM from the hotel.

We reached Jirkatang Checkpost by 5:20 AM. Baratang is closed on Monday, so there was a huge queue of vehicles even early morning.
Vehicles queued up at Checkpost
 There are some eateries near the checkpost gate and toilet facilities just outside the gate. Tourists are advised to not stop in forest reserve under any condition, so any bio break has to be done before you enter the reserve. This is also a nice place to have breakfast.

Convoy waiting for check-post to open

Dos and Donts
Here the the notice about what to do and what not to do while in the reserve. This is also constantly announced on the PA system near the checkpost.
Please strictly follow the following instructions while passing through "Jarawa Tribal Reserve".

  1. Drive the vehicles carefully and only in a convoy.
  2. Solitary driving risks your life and property as well as that of Jarwas
  3. Enter Jarawa tribal reserve only after proper entry at police check-posts at Jirkatang and middle strait.
  1. Do not allow the Jarawas to get into the Vehicle
  2. Do not give any eatables, clothes etc to Jarawas
  3. Do not indulge in photography, videography either in Jarawa Tribal reserve or of Jarawas, otherwise you will be liable for legal action including seizure of camera/mobile
  4. Do not stop vehicle in Jarawa Tribal Reserve otherwise you will be liable for legal action including impounding of vehicle.
It takes around an hour and half to cross the tribal reserve. The road is good but narrow, many places you have to halt to give way to oncoming vehicle.
At the other end of reserve, you would have to take your vehicle on to a ferry to cross the middle strait. On cross the strait, you can see many boats that take people to Mangrove forest and limestone caves. As I mentioned earlier, we had booked these trips through experience andamans and they take care of all the formalities that are needed to be completed.
The high speed boat ride is extremely good, you see mangroves on both the banks.

Reaching the walkway for Limestone Caves
Once you get down, there is a wooden elevated walkway to reach the entrance of Limestone caves. It is a one and half kilometer trek to the caves.
Trek to Limestone caves
It is a good idea to look around for information. There are notices all around providing information related to Mangroves and Limestone caves.

Fish from seas in that area
  • Sharks बदमाश 
  • Rays शंकर माछ 
  • Sardines थरानी 
  • Eels बाम मछली 
  • Barracuda परसा मछली 
  • Tuna कट्टा बेंगिड
  • Seer Fish सुरमई 
Small air roots can be seen extending vertically from the soils surrounding the trunk. These air roots are called pneumatophores. These extend upward from the underground roots above the soil surface. During low tides, air is taken up through open passages in the pneumatophores and transported to living root tissues.
Prop Root
These roots come out from the thick horizontal branches of trees such as rhizophora and grow towards the ground. On reaching ground they fix themselves and continue to grow both in depth in the soil and thickness in the air. These roots provide a strong support to growing tree branches.
Stilt Root
These roots arise in all directions from the nodes of the aerial stem, grow towards the soil, and provide diagonal anchorage to the plant. Ex. Pnadanus.
Services of Mangroves
  • Flood Control: Thick vegetation helps in slowing down flood waters
  • Silt trappers: Mangrove traps the silt and leaves as water passes through them on the way to sea.
  • Storm Breakers: Protects from huge waves and mighty wind attacks by forming a protective belt between the coast and storm
  • Natural nurseries: Fish, prawn and crabs find mangrove waters very safe to breed in as there is plenty of food available. Walking mangrove forests  create more land area by slowly inching their ways towards the sea. Each year a tiny bit of the sea is colonized by mangroves.
Finally after the trek we reach the lime stone cages.
Baratang Limestone Cave
The formation stems of limestone, which is observed and seen in limestone cave in Baratang are as below.
At baratang island there are huge deposits in caves and in the form of layers or beds. These deposits are either above the soil or under ground. The under ground deposits form the caves. Scientists are not in agreement on the sequence of formation of these deposits.

Limestone is a sedimentary rock that was originally formed at the bottom of the sea. It is formed by compression over millions of years by gradual deposits of any things like marine life, shells, skeletons and coral. These limestone deposits have different hues, textures and degrees of purity. A common characteristic of this rock is that it is easily dissolved by rain water.
When it rains, rain drops pick up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It hits the earth's surface and flows downward into small cracks. As it flows through air pockets in the soil additional carbon dioxide that is already present in the cracks due to rotting plants and soluble lime from rocks, gets mixes and thus makes the water slightly acidic. The mixture of carbon dioxide and water results in carbonic acid being formed.
The physical flow of rain water and chemical reaction producing carbonic acid forms underground rooms and chambers.

Finally we trek back to the speed boat which brings us back to the Jetty. Here we are told that Mud Volcanos are not active anymore, we still decide to make a quick visit to the place.

 We could see some small bubbles of mud flowing out of the volcanos. We were done by 12:25 PM, so our driver suggested that we quickly head back so that we can join the 12:30PM convoy, otherwise we will have to wait till 3 PM.
The evening sky also turned into interesting colors.

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