Chronicles of Andaman IV

The turtle called Admin stirred, stretched its legs and peeked out from underneath its shell to take a ‘look around’. It was shocked...where are the familiar buildings? where are my Europeans friends? what has happened to my Island? Is this Ross Island or have I floated elsewhere? It opened its eyes wide and saw the remnants of old building, broken walls, heaps of rubble, dilapidated and wasted. The splendor, the opulence, the grandeur all gone!

Close by the thick, surface root of a Rain tree saw Admin stir. It hated anything that moved, it wanted to capture it, entangle it in its vicious grip and subdue it. This Island is mine and only mine! I will spread my web, I will embalm it within me again. But that was not to be .......for Admin after nearly 30 years of slumber was wide awake and handed over Ross to the Indian Navy (Year 1979)....

When Admin woke up!

I (this is me, indoo!) must have taken umpteen number of pictures of Ross Island. Tell me am I to be blamed?

Imagine you are on a boat at the Aberdeen Jetty, Port Blair and what you see ahead is Ross Island. Half an hour later you reach Ross
Ross from Aberdeen Jetty

Ross Island was the administrative headquarters of the British while the cellular jail was being constructed in Port Blair Island. With the beginning of the uprising in 1857 the British found it difficult to deal with the rebels and wanted them out of sight and contact. The idea of forming a penal settlement in the wild Andaman Islands took birth.
On 10th March 1858 an experienced jail superintendent Dr. James Patterson Walker arrived at Ross with 773 freedom fighters, an Indian overseer, 50 naval guards and 2 doctors. The 773 freedom fighters were ‘offloaded’ in the wild jungles of Ross and were made to clear it, build accommodation for them while they relaxed and lived on-board the ship.
Soon structures were up - the jail superintendent’s bungalow (Government House), Anglican Church, Power house, houses for Officers, barracks for British soldiers, Library, Bakery, Store house, separate club houses for senior officers and sub ordinates with swimming pool and tennis court and some accommodations even for the British employed Indians. Once the work was done, the workers were moved to Viper Island. The gallows awaited them.

Here are some old pictures
Bazaar on Ross Island - 1880
Abandoned Bakery


Can you see people swimming?

In 1942, the Japanese army arrived at Ross and the English had to abandon it, some were taken as prisoners and some were executed. Ross was ravaged again this time by the Japanese, they built bunkers and under ground tunnels and guess who did all the work? The Japanese Admiral lived at the Government house and ruled. At the end of World War II they surrendered and Ross, once again, belonged to the British but they never returned.
A tired, worn down and war torn Ross was slowly forgotten. Nature to its delight took over, several trees and branches started creeping and crawling to take their possession back. Earthquakes rocked, the sea ravaged around it and some weak, uncared-for buildings fell, giving Ross the haunted look.
Admin didn't realize that the memories of our history were being erased and all the painstaking hard-work, of our freedom fighters, was disappearing......... it was fast asleep.

I am in-charge

Steeple of the Church

Behind the Bakery

As the board says Power House
Officers Quarters

Navy took it upon itself to restore the buildings and maintain the Island when it was handed over in 1979. Our history is kept alive by them to this day.

This will greet you when you get off the boat
Partly restored officers quarters

The restored bakery
Remember the swimming pool from above

The beauty of Ross is a potpourri of roots, branches, trees, buildings, rubble, stairs leading nowhere, tunnels and bunkers.  

Today many people visit Ross to hear the only guide Anuradha Rao talk about Ross in Hindi and smattering of English. She is the fourth generation of her family to be associated with Ross. She doubles up as a caretaker of the birds, animals and fishes of the Island. Here are some more pics

Anuradha in Action
(Picture posted with permission)

Anuradha's dear deers

So what do you think, am I to be blamed?