History of Andaman
The history of Andamanis not very well known by many. There is very little information available regarding when and how the first inhabitants came to the island. Some of the earliest archeological evidence that has been documented goes back some 2,200 years. However, various genetic and cultural studies come to the conclusion that the indigenous Andaman people may have developed in complete isolation with rest of the world since the middle Paleolithic (Old Stone Age). During that period, the Andamanese people may have diversified into several distinct linguistic, cultural and territorial groups, known as tribes.
The first empire that claimed its sovereignty over these islands was the Maratha Empire. One of the most influential rulers of the Chola dynasty, RajendraChola, conquered these islands to further base it as a naval base against the Sriwijaya Empire (located in Indonesia).
They referred to these islands as Tinmaittivu or the impure islands. Most of what we know about these islands is from the post-colonial period. The history of organized settlement of Europeans started with the arrival of the Danish settlers of the Danish East India Company on 12 December 1755. It was on 1 January 1756 that these islands were officially made a Danish colony which was at first named New Denmark. However, this colony didn’t last long as most of the then Danish Empire was wiped out by a massive outbreak of Malaria in 1848.
It was not until the arrival of Britishers that these islands became truly colonized. In 1789, the British established their first colony in these islands. But, this island was abandoned once again in the year 1796, yet, the British regained their control over the island in the 19th century.
During the 19th century, the British used Andaman and Nicobar Islands as penal colony, which was famously known as ‘Kalapani’ or the Cellular jail. History books reveal that the criminals who were convicted of crime against the East India Company were sent to these islands, mostly to serve a life sentence.
The prisoners were forced to live in complete isolation in the Kalapani. As the British rule came to an end and India gained its independence, the ‘Kalapani’ gave way to a band of beautiful islands. Andaman and Nicobar Islands became an integral part of the Indian Union in 1947. Today it is one of the seven union territories governed by India.