Ross Island, now known officially as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Island, was the capital of most of the Andaman Islands from 1858 until an earthquake in 1941. Ross Island was also the base for the British Administrator of the penal colony in Port Blair. In 1941, the Japanese converted the site into a prisoner-of-war camp and built war installations, remnants of which can still be seen. It now lies deserted, and the few signs of its colonial glory, such as the Chief Commissioner's house and the Presbyterian church, are dilapidated and overgrown. The area is now under the control of the Indian Navy.
The Presbyterian Church at Ross Island was a protestant church built of stone and the windows had frames made of Burma teak. The glass panes behind the altar were made of beautifully etched stained glass from Italy. The quality of the wood was so good that it survived the vagaries of weather for over 100 years. A small structure south of the church was built to accommodate the parsonage.
In March/April (the best time to go there) it's generally very hot and humid. But the scenic beauty and landscape will soothe it. Do wear sunscreen and sunglasses. Also, wear a cap. You can carry an umbrella while you walk.
- Ferry takes 15 min from Rajiv Gandhi Water Sports Complex jetty. Boat fare is ₹90 for a to and fro journey. Go on your own. If you are taking a guide, take a package tour from Rajiv Gandhi jetty (₹360 per head, will cover Ross, Viper and North Bay Islands, 9AM to 5PM every day).
You can also pay the local fishermen to take you on day trips to mangrove creeks (Bridget Creek is nice) or places like Mt Harriet National Park (where you can beach your boat and go birdwatching). Don't pay more than ₹2000/day for the boat, and you can often bargain it down to much less. Check with the Forest Dept before heading out, as many destinations require certain permissions.
Please note that the permissions required to visit certain destinations near Ross Island and can be really strict. Avoid going with unauthorised personnel like fishermen for the trip as suggested above, as they usually don't know much about the rules and don't have proper licenses.
The area surrounding Ross Island and Port Blair is controlled by the Navy and strict actions are taken against unauthorized boat service providers without proper tourist boat licenses.
The prices also change several times a year by the Association of Tourist Boat Operators in Andaman, updated information of the pricing of boats to Ross Island can be found on the official website.
Fees and permits
Walking is the only option. It's a small island.
Ross Island was the headquarters of the Indian Penal Settlement for nearly 80 years. It had everything — a bazaar, bakery, stores, workshop, water distillation plant, church, tennis court, printing press, secretariat, hospital, cemetery, open-air theatre and what have you. Today, everything has disappeared except some buildings, which housed some of these landmarks. Also, do walk to the other side of the island to Ferar beach and the old jetty. Farzand Ali Store here is famous. It is now maintained like a museum, has a lot of pictures of the British era and their activities in the Andaman Islands. You will be surprised to find out that the British had built up tram lines in Andaman too. There is a Ross Island Memorial documentary shown inside the bakery (times 9:30-9:45AM, 11:30-11:45AM ). A documentary on the Andaman Islands is shown from 3-4PM.
Also, see the Japanese bunkers. You will find a lot of tunnels here.
You will find a lot of deer and stags in the forest over here.
Eat and drink
Ross Island boasted a superb bakery which offered one of the best confectioneries, bread loves, buns, cakes, croissants and many other delicacies of those times. The bakery was a tastefully constructed building based on 19th-century British architecture with all the modern facilities of the times including a self-contained cookhouse.
There is an aqua guard on the jetty. Also, you will get a lot of coconut water (₹15-20).