Ross Island, now known as Netaji Shubash Chandra Bose Dweep, was originally named after Captain Daniel Ross is a tiny island that is located in the south Andaman District, Port Blair. It is just five kilometers from the Water Sports Complex. It is one of the easiest inter-islands to visit during your trip to the Andaman Islands. When most of the tourist spots in Andaman Islands are popular for beaches, Ross Island is known for its history as well. First occupied in 1782, a sanatorium was built on the island. Britishers used it as an administrative headquarters for a total of 85 years. Various important government offices were made by them on this penal settlement during this time. But after an earthquake in 1941, these were abandoned.
The ruins of the old buildings constructed by Indian prisoners can still be seen in Ross Island. These are textured by thick roots of peepal trees that take all the visitors back to an era that is long gone yet still remembered. The place gives out a unique vibe that cannot be found anywhere else in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. You can witness magnificent man-caves, the old church, and a grim history. The whole experience gets further memorable with its protected forest that is a sanctuary of diverse birds and animals including peacocks and deer. So you are definitely going to have a good time there if you love walking around and enjoy your time in the lap of nature under the shade of tall tropical trees.
An important thing to know is that the civilian settlements of any kind are prohibited by the administration here. Therefore, there is no place to stay at night here. Everyone must leave the island before dawn.
The erstwhile capital of Port Blair during the British regime, Ross Island, is a tiny little gem in the Andaman Islands. It stands as a guard to Port Blair harbor. Currently, it houses reminiscent of the old British regime but all in dilapidated condition. Here, you can visit the ruins of antique structures such as Ballroom, Chief Commissioner’s House, Garden, Government House, Church, Cemetery, Hospital, Bakery, Press, Swimming Pool and Troop Barracks. You can also see a cemetery and a small museum that are managed by the Indian Navy. A collection of old records is on display at the museum.
You can have a glimpse of the remnants of an affluent past on this island. It is an ideal place for strolling amid sylvan surroundings with a diversity of flora and fauna. If you are lucky, then you can spot here deers, peacocks, exotic birds, etc.
Ross Island was the seat of power during the British days. Later, it was developed into a self-equipped township comprising all the facilities required for a civilized colony. The notorious and horrible penal settlement was established with a total of 200 convicts by Dr. Walker. The natives were persuaded by the British to start living on this island. Andaman House was set up for them in 1863. Later, aborigines had to provide their services to catch the escaping convicts from there.
A museum known as Smritika has been also established on Ross Island by the Indian Navy. It is highly popular among tourists. It is a must-visit among those who are keen on photography. They can get wonderful pictures of old buildings that are nearly collapsed and only their bare skeletal structures are left. The growing sturdy tree roots are holding them together. Such a sight cannot be missed!
It is a long walk to see the whole island and thus, you are advised to carry plenty of drinking water and snacks.
Places to visit and things to do in Ross Island
Let us expand your horizons giving you ideas about which places you should visit here and make it a superb excursion.
Explore the ruins
There is a lot of history associated with Ross Island, and this is the top reason to visit this extraordinary place. The island is home to some of the oldest British and Japanese structures in India showcasing the lavish life of Britishers after the occupied Andaman Islands. The island also served as the residence of the old Chief Commissioner. All operations in the isles, including the construction of Cellular Jail, were overseen from Ross Island.
The ruins include the following along with many others:
Looking at these remnants of our unforgettable past will take you back to the penal settlement age and remind you of our struggle for freedom.
Attend the light and sound show
This show will take you back to the past by presenting the history of how everything was planned and constructed in the islands. The show majorly showcases the penal settlement period including how Britishers came to the islands, what they focused on constructing, and setting the administration to rule the isles. The luxurious lifestyle of the Chief Commander and his family is also showcased in the show. It will also explain the difficulties faced by the inmate Indian workers who build the jail, only to be thrown in their cells later on. We recommend attending this show if you want to add a pinch of history to your vacation.
Visit the sanctuary
Located in the middle of the island, the sanctuary is home to deer and peacocks, which are protected under the Andaman administration. Their population across the Andaman Islands is the highest at Ross Island as these animals are taken care of on a daily basis by a caretaker appointed by the government. They live inside a reserved area filled with large tropical trees including coconuts and palms. Also, they can come out of the reserve to play around with visitors. Feeding or harming animals in any way is strictly prohibited here. If you are an animal lover and want to have a close encounter with them, then you should definitely visit this place.
Explore the man caves
These man caves are uniquely interwoven, and these were built all around Ross Island for helping the prominent British officers escape in case of an attack. Now, these caves are abandoned as they have run out of their purpose. At present, they act as a display of outstanding skills, effort and hardships faced by Indian workers in making them. The crucial offices and constructions throughout the island are connected by theses caves that follow several joint paths. If you decide to explore them, then you will be presented with a very mysterious vibe. In order to ensure safety and swift return and to avoid any complications that may occur, it is highly recommended that you visit there with a guide with you.
Visit the pond
There is no specific name and it is called a pond only! It is a huge pond where the water gets collected and stays for long periods. It has turned into green color. Used by the British a long time ago, there are a few small ruins near the pond. Tall trees surround the place from all sides. There is a comfortable little place where you can sit, relax, and appreciate the view. By following the signs in less than fifteen minutes of walking, you can easily reach this point of attraction.
Enjoy a calming lunch
There are a number of huts and small sheds built across Ross Island where tourists can take a break and spend some quality time amidst the shade of tall trees and shrubs. There is a diverse variety of bird species present on the island. They chirp and play around the visitors and present a wonderful scene. It is a good place to relax and have your lunch.
How to reach Ross Island?
Just take a ferry from Phoenix Bay Jetty, Port Blair. It will take nearly fifteen minutes. Ross Island is located very close to Port Blair. In fact, you can see the whole island from the Water Sports Complex. It is completely disconnected by land. Thus, it is not possible to reach there by road. You can reach Ross Island by taking a boat or ferry from the Water Sports Complex. It will take you directly to the jetty in less than fifteen minutes. The ticket fare varies from Rs. 150 to Rs. 500 based on the size and seat position. As the tickets get sold out very fast, you should make the booking in advance in order to ensure seamless travel. You can buy the tickets easily by visiting the Directorate of Shipping Services office, located at Aberdeen Bazaar & the private boat operators issue the tickets at the Water Sports Complex at Aberdeen Bazar. There is no place to stay on the island. Therefore, ensure to get a return ticket as well. Also, remember to keep your identity proof with you as it will be required for booking tickets. In case you are not an Indian citizen, then you need to carry your passport.
Planning a trip to Ross Island
By keeping the below-mentioned things in mind, you can easily plan a vacation in Ross Island. You can see the whole island easily in half day. Thus, you will have to visit another destination to complete the whole day. Most of the travellers include a trip to the North Bay Island too in their itinerary, which is the hub of water sports and activities. There are various ferries that ply to both the islands.
Best time to visit Ross Island
You should know what the best time to visit the Andaman Islands is. It enjoys a tropical climate and thus, it is a year-round destination. It is a perfect spot for both- adrenaline junkies and nature lovers. If you want to enjoy each and everything here, then make sure that you visit it when the weather is pleasant so that you can try all the water sports as well. October to May is a good time to visit Andaman Islands, as during this time, you can go for all the enthralling activities as well as relax at the azure beaches without stressing about rain.
The best time to visit Ross Island is from October to March. During these months, the weather in the Andaman Islands is clear and there is no chance for sudden rainfalls. Thus, you can do sightseeing without any problem.
Note: Avoid going in monsoons (July to September) as there are high tidal waves.
Entry ticket for Ross Island
There is an entry ticket of Rs. 30 and Rs. 25 for adults and children respectively to visit Ross Island. These prices change very often. You will have to pay for boat and light and sound show also, which will further add to your tour cost.
Where to eat in Ross Island?
You will see a small cafeteria and restaurant in Ross Island that serves both tourists and defense personnel. As the goods are transported there via a boat, the prices are a bit high when compared to Port Blair, the capital city. Don’t expect so many dishes. However, the restaurant serves vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian food with a decent menu. There are a lot of small vendors as well who offer fresh coconut water near the jetty. You can buy some refreshments on the island from them. Also, you can have some snacks when you reach the Water Sports Complex on your return trip. In case you ever need to refill your water bottle, there is an RO water purifier near the jetty.
Ross Island is a gem of which Indian Tourism is extremely proud of. This tiny piece of heaven offers you beyond your imagination whether you are travelling with your family, significant other, friends or solo. There is a lot to see and do! You can make the most of your time when vacationing here.