Every one inherently has a “happy place”. It can be the place you mentally transport to from your desk at office, a state of mind that can instantly calm you down and encompass you with a sense of serenity no other place can provide. Physicality begins to matter less when it comes to places like these.. and over time one starts to develop a real sense of belonging to this one place, this one point in time, this one feeling that dimension brings and this one sensation that is unique to anything one may ever feel in the crossroads of time spanning across our lifetimes. In simpler words, its the place you find yourself in when you’re sitting in counselling sessions with your shrink 😉
My happy place can be described in one word- Havelock.
Imagine palm tress swaying in he mellow summer breeze while you lay in the sand, just staring up at the emeralds in the sky. It is a sense of freedom that comes to stay deep in the depths of ones dark soul, lighting up the shadows and letting the gentle crashing of waves carry away the weights from our hearts and mind. This is what Havelock is to me.
My tryst with Havelock has been a story of a lifetime..virgin, untouched lands growing in the middle of the ocean. I would like to think I’am meant for the island life, but something tells me anyone that has been to Havelock will probably feel the same way. the ferocity with which the locals protect the islands is something to watch and imbibe. It is incredible and almost surreal to be in a place so isolated from the usual driving forces in the world, ambition, success, greed, desire. Havelock just is. It simply exists, transcending time and everything that it brings along with it.
Beach number 1 / Beach 2
Goving Nagar beach, welcome to kayaking through swamps to the mouth of the open sea and descending into the depths of ice blue coral reefs for Scuba! Barefoot at Andaman is located on this beach, and my day with them was spent exploring the shallow depths of the crystal waters with team Barefoot.
We watched the sunrise at this beach and then headed through dense swamps standing glorious and proud here since ages, to the open water. The walk itself was mesmerizing. Everything you pass will tell you a story, you have got to listen, you absolutely must. For adventurous souls seeking thrills across the world this walk is a remnant of the stories we read as kids, stories of untold stories, unsolved mysteries, characters and creatures deep in hiding, layers under layers of ancient heritage, open skies watching over all that you will probably never know of.
Once you cross the mangrove swamps spread out over white crystals of sand, you magically come across the dark rocky patches in stark differentiation from the scene you just encountered and you know its time to get acquainted with the most diverse range of creatures just beyond the surface of the water patiently waiting to show off and stun the life out of visitors.
The Day I forgot to breathe.
The dive was absolutely enchanting. we graduated from the shallow waters into the the world of corals, rainbow fishes, sea anemones and creatures I never thought even existed until now. I remember my first thought when I finally immersed myself completely. Ive always been an emergency quad, you know the kind of person that always has a back-up. a plan B always exists in my mind and I was ready to end my game if needed. With this thought in mind, I went ahead but the moment I looked down it took me 15 seconds just to take in the massive hills of corals that lay waiting for me. There was no looking back. Its like when you fall in love, once it happens.. there is no other way. no matter how you roll the dice, its got to be. from then on, I remember feeling I could live there. There was a point in tine down under when I actually forgot to breathe, it just seemed very trivial compared to what was around me.
Large boulders of corals in surreal colours, shapes and massive sizes. Stunning. I have always had a very vivid imagination, but here it seemed like my imagination was coming alive in HD! the corals were breathing! That is exactly what it looked like and I do not exaggerate. the pored in the corals were lined with clams, opening and closing rhythmically with time- like a flower opening and closing in all its delicacy and discipline. Wherever I went, they were alive. They were all around me and the life in them took my breath away! That is when I came across the clown fish.. Neon, chrome, interactive. The clown fish lives in a web of tentacles that it uses as a defense mechanism against predators. the tentacles are meant to sting the hunters while having no effect on the clown-fish itself. I love animated films for the simple reason they are closest to the imaginative filter I was earlier talking about. The moment I say the clown fish I looked at my “buddy” and gestured- I’ve found Nemo! He gave me sometime with Nemo almost as condolence to the death of humor and sanity and then the inevitable happened! I spotted the fish that was NOT supposed to be there, that everyone wanted to see but no one was expecting the superstar to show up during that time. But he did, despite the high tide, despite the irregular water flow, despite the odd time of travel for it- it appeared in all its glory and size- the Hump-head parrot fish!!!!! Every second under water was accounted for, increasing its worth and value continuously with the appearance of the seven colored Parrot fish, scallops, blood cockles and soft, hard corals, brain corals, Black Corals!!!!
Beach number 4- Kala Patthar
Dont let the name fool you. The beach may have massive black rocks lining its shore for most of its coastline which gives it its name, but kala patthar beach is predominantly an array of whites and the brilliant blues. Broken pieces of corals make most of this beach almost impossible to walk on, and yet the entire stretch of what remains is visually stunning. The Kala Patthar beach is one of the best beaches to swim into the sea and crash into incoming waves.I remember the afternoon spent swimming into the open waters and feeling the sand softly, silently slipping beneath my feet.
Beach Number 7- Radhanagar beach
Saving the best for last. The Radhanagar beach, also one of the most beautiful beaches of Asia is unbeatable. When I say Havelock is my Happy place, I mean beach number 7. Flawless. Radhanagar beach is the treasure of Havelock which is protected ferociously, and with reason. The sun rays play with the ocean here like nowhere else. The waves change hues in a spectacular array like never seen before. The sand here is pure white and a swim in the sea is like a dip in the divinity of untouched nature embracing you like you’ll never know again. Elephant beach is a ferry ride away, but here’s a secret you need to know… if you must go there, walk into the rarely treaded mud trail leading through the forests of Havelock.
The Radhanagar beach is spectacularly clean allowing no use of plastic or any other consumables, and all that is found for miles is heaps of fruits, coral accessories and wildlife. We were lucky to be staying in cottages by the Radhanagar beach and the walk down to the beach and back in stark darkness only guided by the stars and almost visible milky way (clearly visible from Neil Island) was one of the highlights of the stay.
Havelock is one of those places you may go to but never really come back from. Not sure if it is the irresistible calling of the Island life, the golden opportunities to star gaze, the peace and serenity that transcends into the soul from everything around it, or the sense of unity one has with nature….. or maybe all of it. Once in Havelock, I was in a tropic love, and to be honest I never really fell out of it. So yes, everyone has a happy place. so far and up until Andaman Islands, it was a sense of “fernweh” I related to, but after falling in love with Havelock I knew I had found my happy place. Finally, I was home.