On a busy Sunday before Diwali last year in 2012, my family suddenly made plans to visit Saurasthra to meet our relatives staying there. Jamnagar was selected to be one of the destinations. I personally wanted to visit this place for its history as well as its much acclaimed Pirotan Island.
The Geography of Pirotan Islands
The Pirotan Island is an Arabian Sea Island and is declared as a Marine National park by the Government. I had heard a lot about the place from my friends and so wanted to have a look and do some photography. I did some research on the island before we set sail for the place. This island is located about 22 km or 12 nautical miles from the coast of Bedi Port and is surrounded by mangroves. Pirtoan Island is one of the 42 islands located where tourists are allowed.
As informed to us, the Marine national park of Jamnagar is about 162.8 sq km and 455 sq km of Marine Sanctuary in Jamnagar is worth to watch.
Some casual information on the Pirotan Islands
On reaching Jamnagar, we were told by my relatives that one has to obtain permission from the forest department and other authorities to visit the island as it is protected. I learnt about the history of the island and its name. Originally, the Island was known as “Pir jo than” That is, the abode of the Saint Khwaja Khizer Rahmatullahialaih. The saint’s shrine is still located on the island.
Permissions were duly obtained for me. I along with my cousin went to the island. The idea was to see the wonderful sea life and wildlife and do some nice photography. We learnt that there are no routine ferry services to the island and instead, people have to hire boats that can take up to 1.5 hours to reach the island. There will be issues with the boats sometimes, as they cannot leave for the island and from the Island back without high tides.
Luckily we got a local man who started acting as our guide. We felt no need for concern as we were anyway looking for one. He told us that there were different species of Mangroves in the Islands. The sea life consists of birds as well as sea creatures.
The sea life and the birds at the Pirotan Islands
The birds like Gray Heron, Avocet, Flamingos, Cranes, Storks, Sea Gulls, the local crows, waders, plovers, eagles, etc. can be seen here flying around and fishing. The sea life consists of Octopus, Seahorse, Sea Anemone, Squid, Sea Slug, Mud skipper, sea urchin and others. I forgot the names of these in Gujarati as he was telling it speedily but luckily, I got the names in English.
Interestingly there are 94 species of water birds along with 78 of the terrestrial birds. That is why the island is a protected place.
We however saw octopus and sea horse, jelly fishes, star fishes, Mud Skipper and some colourful fishes along with crabs. We were on the lookout for dolphins but could not spot them. We also noticed some corals of different types. We noticed fishes like Puffer fish, coral fish, Squids, lobster fishes, Turtles, pistol fish, scorpions etc. However they are protected. There are more than 250 species of fishes available at this place. We noticed sea snakes from a distance.
The coral reefs species at the Pirotan Islands
Our guide informed us that overall, one should not miss the coral reefs of the islands, as they provide a wonderful sightseeing and a good chance of photography. He further informed us that there are about 37 hard and soft coral species, about more than 70 species of sponges, 27 species of Prawns and crabs and 3 species of sea mammals. The crabs include king crabs, ghost crabs and other such species.
Best time to travel and camping facilities at the Pirotan Islands
Luckily there were very few of us, who were interested in watching and doing serious photography. I learned some new photography tricks from a professional, who was a regular at this place from last 3 years and had shot great pictures.
The best time to travel to the Pirotan Islands is from October to April after Diwali and before the end of the summer. One must be sure and aware of the tide timings for planning of the trip. Some hotels nearby make appropriate arrangements for their guests for a tour of this island. It is best to take a water bag with you for drinking as water is sometimes not available. One can also pack food, but remember to throw the uneatable food in the dustbin instead of polluting the place and killing the octopus
Camping facilities are also available on request to the forest department for a day or two with the help of a hotel nearby. The authorities have banned people from bringing the corals back from the Island, so one can only see and photograph them. We also saw an old lighthouse, which I suppose was more than 22 mt high. We learnt that it was converted from diesel generator to solar power.
Important things to take note of for travelling to Pirotan Islands
For safety reasons, one is advised to wear thick shoes, carry enough food and water, and some jacket for the evening, as it may get cold after dark. Sun cream and mosquito cream are a must here. Interestingly a basic trip can here can cost from Rs 2000 to Rs 2500 for the tourists that can include the eater, food packed, boat rents permit etc.
Since we had started early from 4 30 am and reached the island from 6 am, we could finish the whole trip with resting, eating, photography at 6 pm and would go back only after the high tide came back. But it was one good experience and I did some good photography and made a couple of friends. The Government has truly done a remarkable task of protecting this place from outsiders and interference. We then proceeded with our journey to the Somnath Temple after 2 days.
Connectivity to go to Jamnagar-Pirotan Islands
For people who want to visit this Pirotan Island, they can go to Jamnagar by:
Road: Well connected buses from various cities of Gujarat as well as Private Vehicles also.
Railway: Jamnagar Railway station is connected with Ahmedabad, Baroda, Mumbai and other cities.
Air: The airport is about 10 km from the city of Jamnagar.