Lakshadweep:One of the world’s most spectacular tropical island system

0 Posted by - March 30, 2012 - Adventure Holidays, Beach Holidays, Family Holidays, Holiday, Hot Destinations, Sport Holidays

Lakshadweep means ‘a hundred thousand islands’ in Malayalam, the local language. However there are only 36 islands having a total area of 32 sq. kilometers. It is the tiniest Union Territory of India with 12 atolls, 3 reefs and 5 submerged banks. Ten Islands are inhabited. They are Agatti, Amini, Andrott, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadmat, Kalpeni, Kavaratti, Kiltan and Minicoy.

Theories about coral atoll formation is inconclusive. However the most prominent and perhaps most accepted one is given by the Sir Charles Darwin in 1842. According to him the base of the islands below the reef is a volcanic formation over which corals settled and built fringing reefs, which transformed to barrier reefs and finally to atolls due to geological submergence of volcanic base.

According to legends, small settlements started in the islands of Amini, Kavaratti Andrott and Kalpeni first and later people from these islands moved to other islands of Agatti, Kiltan, Chetlat and Kadmat.

The advent of Islam dates back to the 7th century. St. Ubaidulla of Mecca dreamt that prophet Mohammed wanted him to go to Jeddah, take a ship from there and go to distant places. While he was sailing near these small islands, a storm wrecked his ship. Floating on a plank he was swept ashore on the island of Amini. Ubaidulla started propagating Islam in the islands.

Still 93% of the inhabitants of Lakshadweep are Muslims.

People are mostly engaged in fishing and coconut cultivation. The islands are virtually crime-free The coral islands of Lakshadweep, a total of 36, of which 10 are inhabited, in recent years have become popular tourist destinations. One of the last places in the world where little has changed, Lakshadweep Isles in the Indian Ocean’s Lakshadweep sea are surrounded by lagoons and are known for their pristine beauty. Coconut trees abound, the beaches are silver crescents, and the sea is a crystal clear endless blueness. The coral formations underwataer form an amazingly colourful garden and the variety of fish that inhabit these waters is truly exotic. Tourism is restricted to ensure that the environment is not ecologically damaged.

The Lakshadweep arachipelago is located between 155 and 261 nautical miles (287 and 483 km) from Cochin on the mainland. Tourism is restricted to ensure that the delicate environment is not ecologically dameged.Only five islands are open for tourism-four to domestic tourists and two for international travellers.

Bangram, the resort for international tourists, is uninhabited. The four islands that are open for domestic tourism are Kavarattim the administrative capital; Kalpani with its rich coral and marine life; Kadmat with its very fine beach; and Minicoy which has one of the largest lagoons in the archipelago. Agatti has beautiful lagoons and the airport is located here.

Visitors can arrive by ship, enjoy a wide range of watersports, explore marine life, and relax. Tourism here is controlled by the Society for Promotion of Recreational Tourism and Sports(SPORTS).

History

The early history of Lakshadweep is not recorded; Local traditions attribute the first settlement on the islands to the period of cheraman Perumal, the last Chera King of King of Kerala. It is believed that the first setters were Hindus and Buddhists. Even Now, unmistakable Hindu social stratifications exist despite the influence of islam. Buddha idols are found in islands like Kavaratti and Andrott.

Floating on a plank he was swept ashore at Amini. Ubaidullah began propagating islam in the face of strong protests. From Amini, he went to Andrott where too he met with strong opposition. Finally he succeeded in converting the people to islam. Soon he went to other islands with the message of islam and succeeded in propagating it. He died in Andrott and his place of burial is a sacred place now.

Even after the influence of Islam, the sovereignty remained in the hands of the Hindu Raja of Chirakkal for some years. Form Chirakkal Raja, the control moved into the hands of the Muslim House of Arakkal around the 16th century. The Arakkal rule was oppressive and unbearable. Eventually in 1787, some islanders from Amini took courage and met Tippu Sultan at Mangalore, and requested him to take over the administration of Amini, Soon five islands came under the Sultan and the rest continued to be governed by the Arakkal family.

Lakshadweep BeachTour After the battle of Srirangapattanam in 1799, the islands were annexed to the British East India Company from Mangalore. In 1854, the Raja of Chirakkal handed over all the remaining islands to the East India Company. So came the British rule.

The Union Territory of Lakshadweep was formed in 1956, all islands now constitute on District for Administration with 4 tehsils. The administration head quarter is at Kavaratti. The Administrator heads the Union Territory. Each island has a democratic set-up in the form of Village (Dweep) Panchayat. At Union Territory level, there is a District Panchayat.

Tourist attractions

Kavaratti

The administrative headquarter; Kavaratti is the most developed island. 52 mosques are spread out over the island including the most beautiful Ujra mosque. It has an ornately carved ceiling believed to be carved from a piece of driftwood.

The Lagoon is ideal for water sports, swimming and there are sandy beaches for sun basking. Enjoy marine life exhibits at the Marine Aquarium, and a vast collection of specimens at the Museum. View the exotic underwater world without getting yourself wet, from the glass-bottomed boats. Hire water sports crafts like Kayaks and Sailing Yachts.

Tourist Huts, white sandy beaches, colourful lagoon await you.

“Taratashi” package is ideal for a visit to Kavaratti. One can visit the island in Coral Reef Package also

Kalpeni

Kalpeni has the largest lagoon among Lakshadweep islands. The lagoon is relatively shallow and ideal for all kinds of water sports. A peculiar feature of Kalpeni atoll is the huge storm bank of coral debris along the eastern and southeastern shoreline. The islanders are torchbearers in the field of education. It is here that girls started going to school when any formal type of education was taboo to other islanders. Kalpeni with the small islets Tilakkam, Pitti and the uninhabited Cheriyam with sparkling lagoon in between them are known for its scenic beauty. Koomel, the gently curving bay offers tourists facilities like bath huts, change rooms etc. You can swim, or engage yourself in water sports. Kayaks, SailBoats, Pedal Boats are available on hire.

Apart from regular day tourists, the island can accommodate staying tourists in four tourist cottages managed privately by the islanders. The island is part of Coral Reef package.

Minicoy

Southern most island of the group, Minicoy, is geographically isolated from other islands. Perhaps due to this, the culture here is a mix of Maldivian and South Indian. The language spoken is Mahl a form of Divehi, the language spoken in Maldives. It is a cousin of Indo-Persian languages whose script is written from right to left.

Minicoy, often called Women’s Island for the dominating position enjoyed by ladies in the society has a culture distinct from other islands. Here the village life has been democratic perhaps even before the words Democracy and Panchayat were known to them. It has a cluster of 10 villages each presided by a “Bodukaka”. The island has a rich tradition of performing arts. Lava dance, the most attractive among them, is performed on festive occasions. A visit to the tuna canning factory, the light house built by the British in 1885, and a long drive through dense coconut groves and winding village roads are part of the tour apart from the pleasures of one of the largest lagoons.
Traditionally the people of Minicoy are seamen working in international shipping companies. The pole and line tuna fishing was practiced here even before it was officially introduced. The men folk of the island are known for their carpentry and maritime skills and women are well known for their culinary and housekeeping skills.

The island is a part of the Coral Reef package with facilities to accommodate staying tourists as well as day tourists. A new twenty-bedded tourist resort has started functioning. The island is included in the Swaying Palms package.

Kadmat

Kadmat is a haven of solitude with its fine lagoon of even depth, a long stretch of shoreline ideal for swimming and well secluded tourist huts. Apart from the shallow lagoon on the west that forms an ideal spot for water sports, there is also a narrow lagoon on the east. This is the only is island in the group which has lagoon on both the sides. Thick green coconut palm leaves form a natural canopy over the whole area protecting you from sunlight.

The island has the finest diving spots in India. Considering the potential for water sports, a full-fledged Water Sports Institute and a Dive School with well-trained instructors have been set up in the island. Dive Package tours and regular staying package tours are arranged to the island. It can accommodate only 48 tourists at a time. Due to its exclusivity the island is increasingly becoming a haven for honeymooners. Kadmat is the only island apart from Bangaram and Agatti where international tourists are allowed. Visit the island in Marine Awareness programme. Special Dive packages are also arranged to the island by M/s Laccadives, Mumbai, India.

Agatti

Get into one of the most beautiful lagoons from here. A virtual gateway to the islands, Agatti has the only airport in the island. A twenty-bedded tourist resort has been set up here. Unlike other islands it is the only island where one can stay as long or as short as one wishes- an advantage given by the Indian Airlines flight operated from Kochi. Uninhabited islands of Bangaram, Thinnakara, Parali-I and Parali-II are just a hop away. Land in these tiny islands and enjoy an exclusive day excursion.

 

 

 

Bangaram 

Living in an uninhabited Island! The very idea unfurls several romantic thoughts. Bangaram is an island that does justice to all that romantic imaginations. This teardrop shaped piece of land is encircled by creamy sand. Even in the hottest part of the day, you won’t feel the heat as luxuriant coconut trees shade you from Sun’s rays. For a perfect outing, there are three uninhabited islands in the same atoll, Tinnakara, Parali-I and Parali-II. The deep, warm, clear waters of Indian Ocean with its myriad flora and fauna are an irresistible invitation to the scuba diving fraternity of the world. The exquisite coral formation including the black coral formations, the variety and number of coral fishes – the angel, the clown, the butterfly, the surgeon not to mention awesome -looking but harmless sharks, mantarays, sting rays moray eels and turtles make diving here an addictive experience, enough to make impressive any divers’ logbook with the stamp of the Diving School at Bangaram.

A hop away from Agatti airport by a speedboat, the Bangaram Island Resort caters to high-end international tourists. This 60-bed resort is well equipped with water sports equipment and has Lakshadweep’s first Dive School.

It is a real getaway from the cacophony of crowded cities and offers a memorable escape in to isolation.

Water sports

Lakshadweep with its vast lagoon around all the islands has emerged as a water sport destination in the country. Understanding the potential of water sports Department has been striving to make these islands a prime water sports destination not only within the country but through out the world. As such, the Department has been concentrating on developing the water sports facilities. While developing these facilities fragile ecology of these islands have been taken into consideration and only non intrusive water sports are encouraged. Therefore, the water sports like water scooters, etc has been deliberately kept out. Another feature of water sports in Lakshadweep is the development of high yielding adventure water sports like scuba diving and para sailing, etc.

The Department has set up a full-fledged waters sports Institute at Kadmat island. This Institute offers facilities for Kayaking, canoeing, yachting, snorkeling, wind surfing, water skiing and last but not least scuba diving. A full fledged scuba diving centres are operational at Kavaratti and Kadmat islands and these have emerged as a prime scuba diving destinations to the well heeled and adventurous tourists. 

Future Plan:
1. Acquisition of a dedicated cruise ship for tourists.
2. Opening of more islands for international and domestic tourists.
3. Construction of lagoon villas in the islands of Bangaram, Thinnakara, Cheriyam and Suheli.

To Reach

By Air: Indian Airlines connects Agatti Island, Lakshadweep’s only airport, with Kochi on mainland. Kingfisher operates from Bangalore and cochin

By Sea: Ship cruises are available as packages designed for the tourists. SPORTS(Society for Promotion of Recreational Tourism & Sports).

Facts

Capital Kavaratti
Area 32 sq. km.
Population 60,595
Literacy 87.52%
Languages Malayalam, Hindi, English
Airport Agatti
Weather Best time to visit is Octoober-may- Generally cool and pleasant.
Tourism Bangaram, Kavarati, Minicoy Islands, Pitti Islands.
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