A One-Week Holiday in Lakshadweep – Part 1
Posted on: October 19, 2019.

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How it began…

For a long time, I’d wanted my family to plan a visit to some Asian island holiday destination. We would sit discuss the idea when we found time. Popular destinations like Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Seychelles, Maldives, the islands of Indonesia, Philippines, and our very own Andaman and Nicobar Islands were considered.

Eventually, however, our interests zeroed in on Lakshadweep, a destination which had never occurred to us in the first place. Subsequently, we decided to plan and proceed for a one-week stay at the islands.

What actually is Lakshadweep…

It is a group of islands—earlier known as Laccadive, Minicoy, and Aminidivi Islands, as I recall having studied in school geography—on the Arabian Sea, about 400 kilometres off the western coast of South India. The name literally means ‘one lakh or one hundred thousand islands’. However, the numbers in its name is nothing real. It is actually a tropical archipelago of 36 islands (“atolls” and coral reefs) in the Laccadive Sea, off Cochin, Kerala.

Of the total 36 islands, only 10 are inhabited islands of Lakshadweep, only six is accessible to tourists—Kavaratti, Agatti, Bangaram, Kalpeni, Kadmat, and Minicoy. Originally belonging to the Maldives Islands, Lakshadweep is a vast distance away from Maldives and was handed over to India, which was much nearer, for better administration. Kavaratti is the largest city, capital, and chief seaport of Lakshadweep. Agatti Island is the gateway to and from the island group—Agatti Airport is its only airstrip.

A brief history of the place…

Arabs, Portuguese and finally the British had, according to the recent history of the place, successively invaded and captured the islands. Hindu and Muslim influences were predominantly and evidently visible in the culture here, and the descendants were of either Indian or Arab ethnicity. The local language in the islands of Lakshadweep is a dialect derived from Malayalam, most obviously an influence of mainland Indian State of Kerala. A recent phenomenon on the islands, we learned, was tourism.

Getting to Lakshadweep…

While discussing on the best possible mode of transport to get to our holiday spot, we found that seven passenger ships—MV Arabian Sea, MV Dweep Setu, MV Kavaratti, MV Bharat Seema, MV Minicoy, MV Lakshadweep Sea, MV Amindivi Sea—are operated from Cochin to Kavaratti which takes around 14 to 20 hours. The prospect of “travelling long hours to a distant island aboard a passenger ship” greatly excited us, and we decided to go ahead with it.

Consequently, we had to obtain a tourism permit from Cochin to visit Lakshadweep. For those who prefer a safe and quick mode of transport, Air India operates flights from Cochin to Agatti Island, six days a week, with a journey time of an-hour-and-a-half. Allegedly, helicopter transfer from the mainland to the island is also available for those who love some airborne thrills.

When seen from the sky, the scattered islands of Lakshadweep appear like emeralds strewn upon a silky fabric of turquoise (“the sea”) blended with deep sapphire (“the ocean”) …

…continued in the next part

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