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Discover the Fascinating History of Ross Island: Once Administrative Headquarters of British India.


Ross Island, a tiny area of land in India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is home to a rich portion of British India's history. Ross Island, which served as the British government's former administrative center for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is a living reminder of colonialism's influence on the area. It offers insights into its unique past today and is a fascinating site for tourists and history buffs alike.


Ross Island's lengthy and fascinating past goes all the way back to the 18th century. It bears the name of maritime surveyor Daniel Ross, who came to the island in the late 18th century.. In 1789, the British established a penal settlement on Ross Island to detain convicts and prisoners from mainland India. However, it was not until 1858 that Ross Island became the capital of the British administration in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.


During its time as the administrative headquarters of British India, Ross Island was transformed into a bustling town with grand colonial buildings, churches, a bazaar, a secretariat, a church, a bakery, and other amenities. It served as the nerve center of British rule in the region and was a strategically important location for the British East India Company.


The island was developed with various facilities to cater to the needs of British officials and their families. It had a well-laid-out infrastructure with a well-maintained water supply system, electricity, and other modern amenities that were rare during those times. The British officials and their families lived a lavish lifestyle on the island, with grand mansions, clubs, and recreational facilities.


Ross Island also served as a center for various cultural and social activities. It had a theater, a club, and a tennis court, where British officials and their families would gather for socializing and entertainment. The island was also known for its beautiful gardens, which were meticulously maintained and featured exotic flora from different parts of the world.


However, the history of Ross Island took a dark turn during World War II. In 1942, during the Japanese occupation of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Ross Island was abandoned by the British as they fled the island. The Japanese used the island as a military base and damaged the British buildings and infrastructure.


After India gained independence from British rule in 1947, Ross Island lost its significance as the administrative headquarters. The capital was shifted to Port Blair, the present-day capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Ross Island was gradually abandoned. Over the years, the island was reclaimed by nature, and the grand buildings and infrastructure fell into ruins.


Today, Ross Island is a popular tourist destination that provides a glimpse into its captivating past. Visitors can explore the ruins of the once-grand colonial buildings, walk through the overgrown pathways, and imagine the bustling life that once existed on the island. The remnants of the church, the bakery, and the bazaar stand as a testimony to the island's past glory.


One of the major attractions of Ross Island is the Ross Island Museum, which was opened in 2017. The museum showcases the history of Ross Island and its significance during the British colonial era. It houses a collection of photographs, documents, and artifacts that provide insights into the island's past and its role as the administrative headquarters of British India.


Apart from its historical significance, Ross Island also boasts stunning natural beauty. The island is covered with lush greenery and has beautiful beaches, making it a perfect spot for leisurely walks and picnics. The pristine waters surrounding the island offer excellent opportunities for snorkeling and diving, allowing visitors to explore the underwater world.


Visiting Ross Island is a unique experience that takes you back in time to the colonial era of British India. It offers a fascinating insight into the history of Ross Island and its significance as the once administrative headquarters of British India in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Exploring the ruins, strolling through the overgrown paths, and learning about its history at the museum is a journey into the past that allows you to appreciate the rich heritage of this island.


As you walk through the remnants of the grand buildings, you can imagine the British officials and their families going about their daily lives on this remote island. The church, which was once the center of the island's religious activities, still stands tall, albeit in ruins, with its walls echoing the stories of the past. The bakery, where fresh bread was baked for the British residents, is a testament to the island's self-sustainability and the amenities that were provided during that time.


The Ross Island Museum is a treasure trove of information about the island's history. It showcases photographs, documents, and artifacts highlighting the island's significance during the colonial era. From the early days of the penal settlement to its transformation into the administrative headquarters of British India, the museum provides a comprehensive overview of Ross Island's past.


Apart from its historical significance, Ross Island also offers breathtaking natural beauty. The island is covered with dense vegetation, including tall trees, creepers, and ferns, providing a serene and picturesque environment. The beaches with their pristine white sands and turquoise waters are perfect for relaxation and enjoying the coastal beauty. The clear waters around Ross Island also offer excellent opportunities for snorkeling and diving, allowing visitors to witness the vibrant marine life that thrives in the Andaman Sea.


Ross Island is also home to various flora and fauna, including deer, peacocks, and a wide range of bird species. As you explore the island, you may come across spotted deer grazing in the open clearings or peacocks displaying their majestic plumes. The island's rich biodiversity adds to its charm and makes it a paradise for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.


Visiting Ross Island is a journey back in time, where you can unravel the fascinating history of the island and its significance during the colonial era. The peaceful and serene surroundings, combined with the remnants of the past, create a unique and captivating experience for visitors. As you walk through the ruins, you can almost feel the echoes of the past, transporting you to a bygone era of British India.


To visit Ross Island, you can take a ferry from Port Blair, which is the entry point to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The island is open to tourists during specific hours, and a guided tour is recommended to understand the historical significance of the place better. It is advisable to carry water, sunscreen, and insect repellent while visiting the island, as facilities are limited.


In conclusion, Ross Island is a fascinating destination that offers a glimpse into the history of British India in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. From its days as a penal settlement to its transformation into the administrative headquarters, the island has a rich and intriguing past that is worth exploring. The ruins of the grand colonial buildings, the Ross Island Museum, and the stunning natural beauty of the island make it a must-visit for history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and anyone seeking a unique and enriching experience. So, plan a visit to Ross Island on your next trip to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and discover the captivating history that unfolds on this small piece of land.

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