Green Islands of the Andamans and Nicobars

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Author: Protiva Gupta (Translated by Meena Gupta)
Pages: 292
Year of Publication: 2013
Price: Rs 400
978-93-5045-040-6 (9789350450406)

About the Author:
Protiva Gupta was born in 1918 and spent her childhood and early adolescence in Delhi and Simla. She graduated in the late 1930s, at a time when few women pursued higher education. Her marriage in 1942 to Sudhindra Nath Gupta, a civil engineer working with the government of India, gave her the opportunity to travel to different parts of India, including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands where they lived for four years (1961 to 1964). This was when she researched and wrote two books on the islands. Initially, these were published serially in two Bengali literary magazines; in the late 1960s, they were published as books to much acclaim. Mrs. Gupta passed away in 1998.

About the Translator:
Meena Gupta is the author’s daughter. A retired civil servant, she currently lives in Kolkata and Hyderabad.

About the Book:
During the time she lived in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Mrs. Gupta was captivated by their stunning beauty, their history, their connection with India’s freedom struggle, their ethnic groups (of whom little was known at the time and who were very different from other ethnic groups in mainland India) and how they were used to absorb refugee populations from the erstwhile East Pakistan. Her research took her to small habitations (where she spent time with its residents), the Cellular Jail at Port Blair as well as the varied topographies of the islands (from beaches to rainforests, waterfalls and volcanoes). All these aspects are discussed in the book. The four years she lived there were a time of critical changes and “development” for the islands with air service and a naval base being established.

This book will be of interest to any person who has visited and, in the process, been enraptured by the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It provides a historical and geographical study of the islands and also contains stories that form a part of their folklore.


Author’s Note / 11

The Andamans

The Journey / 15
History – Fact and Fiction / 22
The Early Settlements / 26
Our First Few Days / 37
The Town and Its Surroundings / 50
The Cellular Jail and Its Inmates / 59
The Surroundings / 83
Exploring the Islands / 92
The Aborigines / 97
The People and the Cultural Life / 113
Conversations with Ex-convicts / 120
Ross Island / 129
The Japanese Occupation / 132
A Little about Port Blair / 142
The Settlers / 147
The Volcanoes of the Andamans / 166
This and That / 169

The Nicobars

The Sister Islands / 181
Our First Visit / 189
History and Geography / 197
Some Sights and Sounds / 200
The Settlement of the Nicobars / 214
Ethnic Origins / 219
The Festival of Ka-na-na Houn / 223
The Shompens of Great Nicobar / 228
Social Customs / 234
Chowra and Teressa Islands / 240
Nancowry, Camorta and Katchall / 253
Back in Port Blair / 266
Goodbye / 276

Index / 279
Maps / 288-289

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