Rutland Island: dive here and fall in love

This stunningly beautiful and non commercialized island has an area of 110 sq km and is separated from Little Andaman by the Duncan passage. The MacPherson Strait separates it from Chidiyatapu. Rutland can be reached by boat in about 30 minutes from Chidiya Tapu. But since it is a declared restricted area, one has to take a permit for travel to the island. Like other far flung remote areas, Rutland too offers simple basic stay.

Rutland was once home to an indigenous Andamanese tribal group referred to as ‘Jangil or Rutland Jarawa’. According to the old British records and accounts, the tribe kept aloof. Barring a few instances, there were no interactions of the outside world with them.

As a result, not much could be found out about them. The last documented interaction was in 1907. Unfortunately, all efforts to contact them in later years failed and by 1920 it was confirmed that the ‘Jangil’ had become extinct. Furthermore, the forced relocation of the other tribes like Onge and Great Andamanese to the protected area resulted in the total absence of indigenous settlements here.

Today, the inhabitants are an amalgamation of people from mainland India, Bengal, Bangladesh and Myanmar and the languages spoken are Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Uroan.

Rutland has open jungles, dry sandy soil and a long coastline with shallow waters near the island. The waters surrounding the island are rich in marine life and make good dive spots. Yellow Tuna, Big eye tuna, Wahoo Barracuda and groupers are some of the fish found here in abundance making this a haven for fishing and game fishing.

Training for Open Water Divers is also conducted here. Some of the famous beaches here are Jahaji beach, Bada Balu, Photo Nallah and Dani Nallah. It has been said that Photo Nallah is frequented by saltwater crocodiles.

According to the locals, Rutland has an old rainwater harvesting unit from where fresh water was pumped to ships at an old jetty there, called the R.M Jetty. The jetty collapsed sometime in 2014, a few years after it was stopped being used. The collapse caused some damage to the underlying corals but most of the ecosystem is still intact.

Another local story says that along one of the beaches is an underground fresh water spring, right at the edge of the sea water. For SCUBA divers, these dive spots hold the beauties of reefs populated with colourful wrasses, parrotfish, butterflyfish and triggerfish among many others.