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Lakshadweep- A hidden gem of IndiaAuthor: Sindhu
Date of Trip: October 2015
Pristine white sand beaches, colourful underwater world, adventure water sports, coral gardens, seclusion from maddening crowd, lagoons of every shade of blue one would think of- you need not visit the great barrier reef of Australia or Maldives to experience all this. It is very much available in our own country. Yes, you can have all of it at Lakshadweep, one of the least known destinations in the tourist circuit of India. I fell in love with the islands of lakshadweep the moment I saw them from the window of my flight. The tiny islands with pristine white sand beach surrounded by the turquoise and aqua blue sea felt so magical.
Lakshadweep means ‘a hundred thousand islands’ in sanskrit. 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. However, tourists are allowed to visit only a few islands in Lakshadweep namely- Agatti, Kadmat, Kalpeni, Kavaratti, Minicoy, Bangaram and Thinnakara. A permit is required to visit each of the islands. The islands of Agatti, kadmat, kavaratti and Minicoy are inhabited where as Bangaram and Thinnakara are uninhabited.
Stay and Accommodation for tourists on Islands:
Resorts with AC and Non AC standard and Deluxe suits are available in islands of kadmat and Kavaratti. Islands of bangaram and Thinnakara have non-AC tents only.
Agatti has a few privately run resorts. SPORTS does not have any options for stay here. Since a permit issued by Sports is required to stay on any island, booking with private resorts always includes some risk. There have been instances where the booking was made with private resorts and the permit was not provided. So, it is wise to choose to stay on islands where SPORTS has setup accommodation.
Visitors can choose the cruise packages where the overnight stay is provided on the ships and the visitors are ferried to the islands during the day time.
Agatti is the only airport in Lakshadweep. Air india operates a 42 seater ATR-42 plane from Monday to Saturday from Bangalore to Agatti with a stopover at Kochi. The journey takes about 3 hrs from Bangalore to Agatti .from Agatti, the other islands are connected by speed boat or helicopter. Visitors can choose to travel to Lakshadweep islands by ship. The availability of ship for travel depends on the weather.
Water Activities and Sports:
Lakshadweep offers a host of water activities such as Scuba diving, Snorkelling, swimming and beach trek are the best activities to try at the lakshadweep islands. Apart from this, one can also try kayaking, canoeing, lagoon fishing, jet ski, speed boat ride, parasailing, banana boat ride etc.
Tourists are advices to dress decently. Too much of skin show is not encouraged.
Alcohol is strictly prohibited on all islands. Tourists are not allowed to carry corals – dead/alive or any shells back from the islands. Any attempt to carry corals might lead to punishment by law.
Very basic and tasty food is available at all the resorts. A typical meal for lunch /dinner will include roti/chapati + vegetable/pulses curry + rice + dal + one non- veg item (chicken/fish). You will be in great disappointment if you expect a lavish spread of buffet.
Jeseri is the dialect spoken in the Archipelago of Lakshadweep. It has some resemblances with Malayala with a hint of Tamil. Few people in the resorts in Kadmat and Kavaratti know English and Hindi.
Climate and peak season:
November to January is the best season to visit Lakshadweep. This season sees a huge tourist influx, mostly foreign tourists. The charges are also increased by 10-20 %.
The closest state to Lakshadweep on the Indian mainland is Kerala. And the culture of these two places are unmistakably similar to each other. Most of the people here are the followers of Islamic religion.
What makes Lakshadweep different from other places in India:
- It never gets crowded as the number of tourists allowed on the islands is always controlled with a permit. It is also possible that you are the only one staying on the uninhabited islands having the whole island to yourself.
- It has the best marine life diversity in India.
- The tourist islands are totally safe and secure. The locals are very friendly, helpful and hospital.
- Many tourist islands are surrounded by shallow lagoons which form best spots for scuba and snorkelling.
- It has the largest coral garden in India.
- Some of the cleanest and pristine white beaches can be found in Lakshadweep.
- One can find the best blue waters in the lagoons of Lakshadweep.
That was our itinerary during the visit to the coral paradise of Lakshadweep. The swaying palms, shallow lagoons, blue waters, corals, mesmerising sea life, the gorgeous sunset and sunrise- all of these have left a long lasting impression in me and I definitely wish to get back to the coral paradise soon. The next time I visit to lakshadweep, I also wish to complete my PADI certification for Scuba.
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