NICOBAR GROUP OF ISLANDS
Separated from the Andamans group of Island by 145 Km wide 10 degree channel, Nicobar District collectively has an area with total of 1841 sq. km, comprising 22 Islands, 12 of which are inhabited.
The maximum length of Nicobar(s) is 310 Km and maximum width is 57.96 Km.
The extreme Southern most Pygmalion Point presently known as Indira Point which is also southern most point of India, is 310 Km from Car Nicobar and barely 140 Km from Sumatra Island (Indonesia).
The Nicobar islands were abandoned by the Danish Govt. in the later end of
1857. Since it was not under occupation of British, as mentioned in old British writings, if
they would have been abandoned earlier there would have probability of Kamorta Island and
vicinity to be examined for Convict settlement. Kamorta Island is mentioned in many
Colonial era writings to have fine harbour good for all seasons and far preferable as a
convict settlement to Port Blair.
The Nicobar islands are believed to have been inhabited for thousands of years.
The word 'Nicobar' may have been derived from the Chola dynasty name for the islands "Nakkavaram" (meaning - naked man in Tamil)
which is inscribed on the Tanjore inscription of 1050 AD. The history of organized European colonization on the islands
began with the Danish East India Company in 1754/56 when they were administrated under the name of Frederikserne from Tranquebar (in continental Danish India)
Missionaries from the Moravian Church Brethren's settlement in Tranquebar attempted a settlement on Nancowrie
and died in great numbers from disease; the islands were repeatedly abandoned due to outbreaks of malaria: 1784 - 1807/09, 1830/1834 and finally
from 1848 gradually. Between 1778 and 1783, Austria attempted to establish a colony on the islands on the mistaken assumption that Denmark had
abandoned its claims to the islands. Danish involvement ended formally on 16 October 1868 when the Danish rights to the Nicobar Islands were sold
to Britain, which made them part of British India by 1869. The whole of Andaman and Nicobar Islands were occupied by Japan between 1942 and 1945.
Together with the Andaman Islands, they became a union territory of India in 1950.
Inhabited Islands of the Nicobar
The major parts of Nicobar group of Islands are inhabitated by Nicobarese ( The Mongoloid tribals). Unlike the tribals of Andaman Islands the Nicobarese have flourished over a period of time since British occupation of these Islands.
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Un-inhabited Islands of the Nicobar
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Island Details :
Car Nicobar : Car Nicobar is remarkably flat except for some cliffs in the north and small
hilly areas in the interior. It is bordered by a silvery beach and areas of flat
ground consisting of coraline diluvium. Bigger ships cannot berth safely at car Nicobar. The ships anchor in Sawai Bay on North West of the island
during fair season and on Eastern side at Malacca anchorage during monsoons.
Nancowry and Kamorta, have a hilly terrain covered with grass, forming undulating meadows. Empress Peak is about 1.420 ft. high and is the highest in Kamorta. The Nancowry harbour, with two entrances towards the east and west, is one of the finest and safest harbours in the world. Katchal is one of the largest islands in the central group. It is abut 61 sq. miles in area. It is slightly hilly in the centre but has a remarkable flat area, like Car Nicobar.
Katchal has the most suitable soil for paddy cultivation. Trinket is another small flat island. It is located at the eastern entrance to Nancowry harbour.
Chowra is almost flat, except for a hill which is located at its southern tip. Like Car Nicobar it has no safe berthing and the coral formation around the
island is reported to be a great impediment to anchoring vessels.
Teressa and Bompoka (or Bambooka) are also hilly. The former has a considerable flat area, while the latter has a few flat spaces around the western coast. Tillangchong
has hills of elevations above 1,000 ft.
Great Nicobar is the southernmost land mass of the Nicobar group of Islands.
Most of this island is hilly and undulating. The main hill range runs from north to south. Mount Thullier which is about 2,105 ft high is the highest peak.
Galathea, Alexandra and Dagmar are the major rivers. Kondul and Little Nicobar are also hilly and undulating
History of the Nicobar Islands
Existence of the Nicobars has been known from the time of Ptolemy onwards but the place is having a long unwritten history. The inhabitants had been in touch with the
outer world through the trade of copra. However, the entry of the modern world into their lives started after the famous Vascodigama voyage to India. 17th century onwards Portugese
and French missionaries tried to propagate Christianity in Nicobars. In 1756 the Danes took possession of these islands and established their head quarter on Kamorta island, but
they abandoned the same in 1848. In 1869 the British formally took possession of these
islands. In 1870 they established a panel settlement at Kamorta which was closed in 1888.
The islands were included in the Chief Commissioner ship of A & N Islands in 1871.
This Administrative arrangement continued till the Pre-Independence period. During 1920s, the British Government appointed Mr. E. Hert as first Assistant Commissioner for
the Nicobar Islands. The impact of world war II and consequent Japanese occupation of the Islands from 1942-45 caused a great upheaval in the mind of the people. After a brief period of British repossession the islands achieved independence as an integral part of the Republic of India
on 15th August 1947, because they have been part of the old British Empire of India. John Richardson was ordained as Bishop in 1950. He also represented the Andaman and Nicobar islands as a nominated Member of parliament for the first time. Thus he became a modern architect of Nicobarese society. Soon after Independence the Government was keen to protect the interests of the Nicobarese and did not allow outside traders to exploit the people.
The regulation for the Protection of Aboriginal Tribes came into force in 1956 under which entry to the Nicobar Islands was strictly restricted. However in the late sixties the Administration started settlement of non-tribes in this group of islands, like the Andaman group of
islands, 330 ex-defense personnel were settled in some de-reserved areas of Great Nicobar island. Some Plantation Tamils were also brought in mid
70s for engaging in rubber plantation works in Katchal Island. Owing to increase in population, 165 Car-Nicobari families were resettled in 1973-74 to Little Andaman Island.
On 1st August, 1974, Nicobar group of islands was declared a separate district with its headquarter at Car Nicobar, where half of the population exists. Except three Panchayats
and one Panchayat Samiti in Great Nicobar, rest of the District is having its own local traditional Tribal Councils
The Nicobari Tribal Council/Village Council
: Tribal Councils are the traditionally elected body existing in Nicobars. This bodies are responsible for the welfare of the local people.
Every village in the tribal area is having a village council headed by 1st captain and who is assisted by 2nd and 3rd captain. The Captains
are elected democratically by secret ballot normally for tenure of 4 years. Every island/group of islands is having Tribal Council, which is
constituted by the 1st Captains of Village Council falling in their jurisdiction. These 1st Captains do select Chief Captain & Vice Chief
Captain of the Tribal Council. At present in Nicobar district, there are seven Tribal councils namely Car Nicobar, Katchal, Nancowry, Kamorta,
Teressa, Chowra and Pilobhabi. Village Council does play an important role in day-to-day life. They are the link between the Local Administration
and the tribal people of the island. As part of Administrations initiative gradually most of the developmental schemes are being routed through
Typical Nicobar Hut
Traditional Pig festival
island is 30 km south of Car Nicobar. No permanent inhabitants live in this Island but villagers from nearby car Nicobar visit here to collect
coconuts and arcenuts. Nicobari's have planted coconut and Arcenut trees on the Northern belt of the Island. A lighthouse is present in this Island.
is 15 km long and about 1 km in wide Island. It is the Eastern most island in the Nicobar Group of islands.
Tillanchang is an uninhabited island and has been declared a sanctuary by the Government of India.
There is thick vegetation on the island. On the coast, coconut palms have been planted by the islanders from Chowra and Teressa
who visit the island quite often. The island is infested by non poisonous snakes.