Turquoise blue water and endless lagoons make Lakshadweep serene and peaceful. Lakshadweep means “one hundred thousand islands” in Sanskrit and all these islands are results of various coral activities from millions of years. It has an archipelago of 36 coral islands, with 3 reefs which makes the aquatic life more unique than rest of India. There are only 10 inhabitant islands, namely, Andrott, Agatti, Amini, Bitra, Chetlat, Kavaratti, Kadmat, Kalpeni, Kiltan and Minicoy, and other islands are used for fishing, coconut procuring, etc. Being unspoilt, and untouched, very few tourists know about this place. Being 400 kms away from Kerala, you can reach here through cruise, flight and helicopter arrangements by Lakshadweep tourism board. The islands are fringed by snow-white coral and diverging ranges of hues of blue water due to depth and shallowness of the water. Having water in abundance, Lakshadweep sport authorities run various activities like scuba diving, snorkelling, windsurfing, parasailing and water skiing etc.
1. Scuba Diving in Kalpeni Island
Lakshadweep Water Sports authority runs various water activities on all these island. Scuba diving is the best way to explore the wealth of marine life. Being considered as one of the best unexplored sites in world, you can see unique species of coral, school of fishes , turtles, etc., which you might have either seen only in books or the National Geographic channel. The PADI scuba divers take some 2o-minute sessions to teach the basics of Scuba diving – like breathing under water through a mouth pipe and various other important things to dive and see in the underwater world. You will come across more than 100 species of coral and more than 2,000 species of fishes. The price range for Scuba diving differs from island to another island and mostly ranges between Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 2,500 with equipments and underwater photography.
2. Lighthouse, Minicoy Island
Minicoy, being the farthest island from other islands, is an island one must not miss. A 300-foot tall lighthouse built in 1885 on crescent-shaped island which makes viewing the north of the island from top marvellous, along with the reef and hues of blue water. It is a majestic landmark for this island. This lighthouse was created by the British government to keep a watch on ships enroute from Aden to Colombo. There were many shipwrecks found around this island before 1928. The light source in 1885 was through kerosene wick lamps, then it progressed to petroleum vapour burners and now they have electric power for it. Currently since some years, they have shifted from using incandescent lamps to metal halide lamps. The Lighthouse in-charge mentioned that it is a revolving optic and a clockwork mechanism for rotation and the lamp is fixed. The lighthouse got independence from British control not when India got independence in 1947, in fact the India flag was hoisted in 1956 itself. If you do not like climbing steps, then you should avoid this place, as you will have to climb more than 120 steps. The outer side of the lighthouse has been developed for current tourism and a concrete road is made outside, leading to the boat jetty for locals.
3. Fish Hatchery, Agatti Island
Not very known to people or on the internet, you can actually see how a fish hatchery is being tested in Agatti Island. Since in city life, we do not usually know the importance of aquarium fishes we buy and how does it comes to us. Marine Aquarium fish trade has been witnessing continuous steady growth across world which involves major movements of wild reef fishes all over the world. There are more than 15-30 million from 1,000 species marine fishes which enter the trade every year. Wildly caught clown fish attracts the aquariums because of its distinctive colour. So here, they show how more fishes can be reproduced in different tanks and bred and reared.
4. Canoeing, Minicoy Island
As water is abundant and clearly seen as turquoise water around this island, also being close to Maldives, various activities are performed here. Canoeing is one activity, which I would suggest as you can see various turtles, corals and various colourful fishes following you, while you row. Since the water depth is only 2 metres around the island, you are definitely not going to fall in the water. When silver sand and the sun heats the water beneath, water looks like emerald.
5. Watch Parelli Island, filled with Hermit Crab
This sight could be scary or even stimulating. You would be walking across millions of hermit crabs, from different sizes to colour while you take jetty and go from Tinnakara Island. The crabs play a great, raw hide and seek, some also scurry about realizing a different specie coming along. I’m sure, just as I behaved like a 15-year-old, you too would wait till they come out from burying themselves in the sand and chase them till they reached the water. Sometimes, the water is so low, that you can actually stride to this uninhabited island. When you find yourself unaccompanied on this island and encircled by various mysterious birds, crabs, coconut trees, shells, etc., you might discover even a shell entailing pearl, and you automatically do not want to return back to the wearisome city life.
6. Kite Surfing , Kadamat Island
If you do not like water or strong wind, then this water activity might not for you. You definitely need to practise as you keep falling in water every time you try to be steady on the board. This island also serves great place for snorkelling and scuba diving. The PADI certificate for scuba diver is conducted at Kadamat island only. While snorkelling, you might be lucky to see an olive ridely sea turtle swimming next to you.
7. Smile and shy away with tribals in Lakshadweep
Being away from the despicable world, living a life of nomad till some years when technology came, people of Lakshadweep are very introvert. Men and women have very different role in the daily life to play. Here, women play an important role in the family, where after marriage men take women’s last names and also shifts into the wife’s house. Since the main occupation of the people is fishing and coconut cultivation, tuna exporting, you can spend your time with the tribals here learning these things.
8. Wilderness with endless blue lagoon aross Kadamat Island
If you are a photographer, then you would be spoilt to click through the lens. The island being faraway from preying eyes of tourist, experience the joy of eyes going wide to see how beautiful the lagoon is. Just a 10km island would be distance from your grocery shop to your home, this accommodates people of Lakshadweep. One’s solitude nature can be discovered in this endless lagoon. The eastern side of the island resides with large lagoon which dries up in low tide and the silver-coloured corals can be seen shining.
9. Local delicacies influenced by local life Lakshadweep being a dominantly Muslim community, the cuisine itself is influenced from it. Definitely being close to water, there is lip-smacking sea food with a touch of coconut. Certain dishes which you must try are octopus fry – a variety of fish fry freshly caught from the water; for vegetarians, beans curry and coconut rice is must. Predominately being close to sea, it is delightful for non-vegetarians to get such great sumptuous sea food. Even evening snacks are mixed of savoury and sweet. A must try is coconut bondas and moah appam. The local dishes have the culinary influence of Kerala, because of the proximity of the state.
10. Tribal Dance, Kalpeni Island
Each island has different traditions and different costumes too. Kolkali is group dance for men performed during marriage to rhythmic music created by the beating of two sticks. It starts at a low pace and then all of a sudden, towards the end, it picks up the momentum. Each island has various forms of dance. Parichakali, Kolkali, Daffumuttu, Attom and Ulakkamuttu are some famous dance forms in the inhabitant island. Only one island is very different from others is Minicoy. They even speak a different language, Mahal, from the others.