Ross Island – An Abandoned Indian Ocean Island

You might have heard some talk in recent years about the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It had been suggested by a number of news sources that the missing Malaysian airliner MH370 could have potentially landed there, certainly not the type of attention the remote island group desired.

Originally a Danish colony before being sold to the British in 1868 and merged into British India the following year, Ross Island was the administrative capital of the islands however in 1941 it was rocked by an earthquake and abandoned with the capital moving to Port Blair. People are no longer permitted to live on the island but may visit with the permission of the Indian navy.

The island has become a favoured tourist destination for explorers and the ruins of many of the British colonial buildings remain including the state ballroom, the chief commissioner’s house, the hospital, government building and many more. The islands served as a penal colony during the British occupation of India and much of the administration work was done on Ross Island. The hospital and sanatorium for the islands was located here.

The capital had originally been established in Port Blair however water scarcity meant a move was made 2km east to Ross Island. The prisoners built many of the buildings on the island before being transferred to Viper Island where the first jail was built.

A year after the island was abandoned, the Japanese occupied it until the allies reclaimed it in 1945. The British decided not to return to Ross Island and instead concentrated the island’s administration in Port Blair. Following the independence of India and Burma, the British initially planned to resettle their colonial population in Southern Asia on the islands however that plan never materialised and they were ceded to India in 1950.

The Indian Navy took over in 1979 and they maintain the island. There is a small museum now for visiting tourists and a guest house for Navy officials.

Location: Ross Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

Abandoned: 1941

Nature has begun reclaiming building on Ross Island

A colonial era building on Ross Island

A church being retaken by nature on Ross Island

Beautiful palm trees on the abandoned Ross Island

A building overtaken by nature on Ross Island

The landing pier on Ross Island

A view of Ross Island from a boat

 

 

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