Monday, August 15, 2016

Jarawa territory

Even though we were in the Andamans right in the middle of monsoon, we were lucky enough to get abundant sunshine throughout the week (with intermittent rain in the night)

The early morning view from our window was just magnificent. 

There was this little bird who always took his morning walk religiously. I noticed that he was very shy and scooted off at the slightest sound of anyone approaching. 

Left Port Blair to see the Baratang limestone caves. But the interesting part is how you reach there. After an hour’s drive from Port Blair, there is a check point where all the vehicles have to stop. As we are entering the Jarawa territory all vehicles will have to move in a convoy. The convoy proceed at fixed times with a periodic interval of 3 hrs. (only during day time) We were all set for the 9.00 am convoy. 

All have to carry photo ids and a detailed form has to be filled up with the detail of passenger in each car. While that was being done by our driver we had real hot puri bhaji at these stalls 

While writing this blog, I did some reading on the Jarawa. 
Some interesting facts:

They left Africa 70000 years ago. The most ancient people in the world.

The existence of the Jarawa has been recorded in the diaries of Lt Col Broke (1789-90) and Blair (1889-96)

Originally not as hostile towards the settlements, the Jarawa became aggressive when the British befriended the other tribes, apparently their enemies.

The Jarawas underwent another phase of unequal conflict with the outsiders, when during the period of Japanese occupation from 1942-45 their areas were bombed from the air.
Between 1946 and 1961 there were 76 encounters with the Jarawa in which 15 settlers and “many” Jarawa were killed.

The next phase started in the 1960s with the laying of the Andaman Trunk road through the Jarawa territory began. The tribals resisted the project from the beginning and the government was adamant to get it done. There were skirmishes and ambushes and no one knows the number of casualties on both sides. 
Here is a picture of the Jarawa exhibited at the Naval Marine Museum.

One evening a Jarawa boy called ‘Enmey’ fell into a ditch while collecting bananas from a village house in Kadamtala area adjacent to the Jarawa reserve. The boy was injured and rescued by the local police. He was sent to Port Blair for treatment. During his convalescence, he became friendly with the doctors, nurses and the attendants. He started taking cooked food and even picked up a few words in Hindi. The anthropologists and the tribal welfare department dealing with the Jarawa also interacted with the boy and gradually a good rapport developed between the boy and them. The Jarawa community was full of gratitude when he finally rejoined them. This helped in furthering contacts with the whole Jarawa community. Though the Jarawa continued to remain aloof they have, over time, come to accept the presence of civilized world in their reserve as non threatening and also allow occasional interaction with the officials of Andaman and Nicobar administration. In the photograph, Enmey is seen posing proudly with his family. 

As photography was strictly prohibited, I did not click till we reached the other end. But it was a wonderful drive through the tropical rain forest of Jarawa land. We did see a few young Jarawa boys on the way in the morning. On our return trip in the evening we saw more of them especially one extended family standing at the side of the road. In a way I felt sad as it looked as if they were expecting something, maybe some gift or food from the passerby. Maybe that was happening on a daily basis as the escort (police) was only at the start and end of the convoy. Here is a video on YouTube by Alexandre Dereims which will give you some idea of Jarawa and what they have to say.

This two hour drive gets you to a place called Middle Straight where a government ferry takes you across to Baratang. While on the ferry you can take in the lovely greenery just kissing the waters. 

From there you hire a speed boat which takes you to Baratang limestone caves. Again the identity card, paper works etc. (it costs Rs 450/- per head for the speedboat) We were in the boat named Sanjana 

The outboard really zips you through the mangrove forests. We did see an alligator basking in the sun but the boat was too fast for me to click. As you near your destination the boat slows down and you wind your way through the smaller lanes of the mangroves. It’s a wonderful sight and one is reminded about the movie “Black Water” 

Some information regarding the roots

You get off the speed boat near the mangroves and walk. It’s a good trek for about 2 kms with tall trees and lush greenery all around you.

If you slow down the pace and look closely you can see some finer things like a cobweb or the tiny leaves growing on the stones.

The path twists and turns till you reach the limestone caves.

You get to see more stalactites than stalagmites. It is a good place for people who are interested in geology.

I would advice tourists visiting the caves to carry a powerful torch. Walking shoes is an added advantage for the trek.
Have made a six minute video on the journey.

Like I said before, travelling to the place is more fun than the caves (especially when passing through Jarawa territory)         


Sandee said...

What a beautiful view. I also would have loved to have gone to the caves. Looks like a very fun outing.

Loved the video. The music was very good too.

Have a fabulous day. ☺

Anonymous said...

Wow.... what a journey.
I like the way that bird scoots away in the video.

magiceye said...

Fascinating post!

Gail said...

Thank you for showing me your world through your eyes. I enjoyed the trip with you. Fascinating. I have always loved rocks, caves and water so this trip would be perfect for me.

We have had gentle rain for three days.

Mary Kirkland said...

You really took some great photos. I love the caves.

Lowell said...

This is a most interesting post. Love your photos which are excellent - esp. that view from your window! And I learned so much about the Jarawa - I've never heard of them before. So, thank you!

Lisa Isabella Russo said...

Wow, what an amazing journey! Thanks so much for sharing it and the pictures and information. This is an incredible post.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Everything in this interesting post was new to me... Well, except for the mangroves ... We have those in Florida, so that I knew about.

Gomathy S said...

Brilliant photos , loved your write up. Sounds like an exciting trip. It is amazing to see such a close knit tribe even in this century. I think simple living gives happiness to them.

Sujatha Sathya said...

what a beautiful post! You tagged us along very well with you pics, history and the details

manali - himachal pradesh said...

Very informative post about Jawara territory and people who live there, and your pics are also shining like sunlight of monsoon. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Dear Joe,
As always, very uplifting pictures and an evocative description, characterize your blogs! This one too is no exception.
Keep it up.

Insignia said...

Fascinating. I have always wanted to visit the Andamans. Your posts are only making the wish more stronger. Awesome photos and video.

Rajlakshmi said...

this looks like a completely different world. The people, nature and its history ... Fascinating place!!

Anonymous said...

Interesting info and stunning pictures. You took me there.

Anvilcloud said...

This is quite fascinating. I have never heard of this group before.

sprinkles said...

Beautiful view!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog. I've been meaning to check out your blog a lot sooner. I just started a new job though and have been busy with that.

Maniparna Sengupta Majumder said...

Beautiful pictures and thanks for the facts on the Jarwa tribe. They have now become a lot more friendly and civilized... :-)

The mangrove roots always make me wonder. They are such a perfect example of the "survival of the fittest" theory. Have you even been to the Sundarbans? The dense mangrove forests is a great sight there.

Kim@stuffcould.... said...

What an interesting trip! Beautiful view, neat black roots, wow what a way to travel on a convoy. I never heard of the Jarawa people but I have now!

Lowcarb team member said...

Thank you for sharing this trip and your photo's with us.
A powerful torch and comfortable walking shoes sound very good tips for a trip to the caves

All the best Jan

Pooja Mahimkar said...

Very nice post, the pictures are so beautiful

Barbara Fisher said...

Fascinating, thank you for sharing your trip.