The earliest archaeological evidence documented of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands goes back 2,200 years, however the indications from genetic, cultural and linguistic studies point to habitation going back 30,000 to 60,000 years.
In the 18th century, the fearless Marathas admirals Kanhoji Angre, based himself on the islands and from this strategic outpost attacked passing Portuguese, Dutch and English merchant vessels enroute to their colonies in the East Indies. Despite many efforts by the British and Portuguese naval forces, Kanhoji Angre was never defeated until his death in 1729. The mighty Cholas too used parts of these alluring islands as a base and accounts relate that Marco Polo was among the first from the West to set foot on these emerald shores.
The more recent history of the Andamans begins post the Great Indian Mutiny of 1857, when the Crown took over the running of the Indian empire and annexed the islands in the 19th century. They turned them into a penal colony for Indian freedom fighters, giving them their ubiquitous nickname "Kalapani" or "Black Waters". Completed in 1908, the infamous Cellular Jail stood a mute witness to the torture, execution and atrocities meted out to hundreds of anti-British Indians.
With the Second World War, Japanese troops occupied the islands and the local tribes initiated guerrilla activities to drive them out. On 29th December 1943, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose hoisted the flag of independent India on the island and established the first independent government here. When India achieved independence in 1947, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were incorporated into the Indian Union.
Today, these relics of the past hold both historical as well as an educational value. The Cellular Jail is a major tourist attraction receiving numerous visitors during the day and in the evening the saga of the Indian freedom struggle is brought to life with the popular ‘Sound and Light’ show. Ross Island, the erstwhile capital of Port Blair during the British regime although in ruins is a well liked day excursion to undertake and Viper Island where the gallows were located is often visited intrigued tourists.