Port Blair, the only town In Andaman and Nicobar Island, is situated along the east coast of South Andaman Island, lying at a distance of 1,255 Kms from Calcutta, 1,190 Kms from Madras, 1200 Kms from Vishakapattnam and 360 Kms from Rangoon the capital of Burma.
The present site of the town was selected by Lt. Archibald Blair, a marine Surveyor of the Royal Navy. The site was selected keeping in view the advantage of safe harbour for British ships which could take shelter in bad weather during voyage on the one hand and on the other the site was more or less in the middle -of the islands chain. Lt. Blair took possession of the Harbour in 1789, and established his headquarters at Chatham Islands, now a part of Port Blair town. However, present site of Port Blair was abandoned in 1792 and settlement was shifted to now Port Cornwallies in North Andamans and only to be brought back to Port Blair in 1796.
The outbreak of first Independence War in 1857 in the mainland of India added importance to these islands which could be used as isolated ward for devoted freedom fighters. Accordingly in March, 1858, Dr. J.P. Walker, Jail Superintendent arrived in Port Blair Harbour along with 200 convicts (mostly freedom fighters), along with a guard of 50 men of the old Royal Naval Brigade and cleared Chatham and Ross Islands. At a later date establishments in Ross Island was shifted and abandoned.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands remained in Japanese possession from March, 1942 to October, 1945. After re-occupation of these islands by Britishers In 1945, the penal settlement was abolished and general amnesty was granted to all peoples either to continue to settle in these islands or to revert to the mainland of India/country to which they belonged.
In 1951, Port Blair town was formed by comprising 9 villages viz., Chatham, Haddo, Buniabad, Phoenix Bay, Junglighat, Aberdeen Village, Aberdeen Bazar, South Point and Sadipur. In August, 1974, the villages of Lambaline, Minnie Bay, Nayagaon, Dudh Line, part of School Line, Corbyn's Cove and Good Will Estate were included in the municipal area.
The present area of Port Blair town was once the home of two major tribes viz., Andamanese and Jarawas. The Andamanese generally used to reside in the coastal areas whereas the Jarawas used to reside in the interior of South Andaman. The whole of South Andaman Island, actually, was the hunting place of these two tribes. Till date no authentic history is available relating to the origin of these primitive natives of these islands. There are different versions relating to their origin from various travellers viz., the Chinese, Malayasians, Indians, Portuguese, etc., who passed during their voyages through these islands. As per records, In 1901 Census report the Chinese and Japanese know these islands respectively as Yong-t'emang and Andaban in the first AD. Then comes Marco Polo with his Arabic dual form Angamanian in 1292 and Nicole Centi in 1430 with Andemania and after him almost all travellers and map makers with some form of Andaman. All these terms seem obviously to be based on the Malayasian name for the islands as Malays of the Peninsula have, for many centuries used these islands for their piratical practices and for a trade in Andamanese slaves to their own country and Siam and have known them by the term Handuman which most likely preserves the very ancient Hanuman as well known to the Indian Epics and carried down to the, Malays in story and translations.
In the Chinese History of Toan; Dynasty (618-906 AD) they called the land of Rakshasas and the Andamanese are today regarded as Rakshasas by the natives of India on being first seen and were so called at once when they appeared in the streets on a visit to Calcutta in 1883. Thus the tribal or primitive natives of these islands, are according to them, the descendants either of Hanuman i.e., monkey or Rakshasas.
Today many who are living in the present Port Blair are the people who had come from the main land and in the course of time settled here. Since many had come from the places connected by ship, ie., present day Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Andhra the language Bengali, Tamil, Telugu is prevalently spoken here. The Ramayana is known to the locals as could be seen the facts presented in the earlier note. Therefore it is no wonder they felt the need for place of worship for Sri Hanuman.
In the year 1977 Sri Angath Singh who was President of Janata Party built a small temple for Sri Hanuman at Aberdeen Bazar In south Andaman. The temple and Sri Hanuman are west facing. It is no wonder that the power of Sri Hanuman attracted many people of the island and temple become popular. With many devotees coming forward, the temple was enlarged. The temple was newly constructed in the year 2002. Maha Kumbabishekam was conducted on 27th June 2002.
The Hanuman idol is about four feet in height standing on a pedam of two feet. Lord is seen in standing posture looking straight. He is wearing Thandai in both the lotus feet. Lord is wearing dothi in katcham style. Two malas could be seen on His broad chest of which one has a pendent. Lord is wearing Yagnopaveetham. Necklace is seen close to His neck. Lord is holding Sanjeevi Parvath in His right hand, and His left hand holds mace which is unique to this temple. Lord is wearing kundalam in His ears. The eyes are cheerful and brilliant. The kataksham of the Lord bestows all mangalms on His devotees.
Have darshan of Lord who is compassionate, to be blessed with all happiness and mangalam.
Ed: Dec 2022
* Author Works for Anandaman Police
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