Posted by: getaway2india | May 13, 2012

Lakshadweep – India’s Only Coral Islands

Lakshadweep

The archipelago’s name comes from the Sanskrit word for the number 100,000 – “lakh”. Poetic licence wins out over numerical accuracy, as in reality there are just 36 islands in Lakshadweep. Maybe many centuries ago there might have been more islands which are now under the sea..

About 220 to 440 Kms away from the cost of Kerala lie one of the world’s most spectacular tropical Islands systems in a scattered group of 36 coral islands collectively known as Lakshadweep. They form part of the Union Territory of India and are one of the country’s newest tourist destinations. Of the 36 only 10 of the islands are inhabited by simple, peace-loving folk whose language is close to that spoken in Kerala. From that 10 Islands only 5 are open to Tourist and from the 5 only one (Bangaram ) is open to International Tourist. This is how exclusively protected the Islands are so as to ensure that the way of life of the islands is not disturbed by external influences. It is India’s only Coral Island Chain. Most of the islands have on their western side a lagoon enclosed by a coral reef. The lagoon runs through the entire length of the island and differs in width and depth.

Lakshadweep in India

The islanders have lifestyles and occupations that revolve around coconut cultivation, coir matting and fishing. The main focus of Lakshadweep Tourism is on water sports, as each of the island is surrounded by a coral reef providing large areas of crystal clear water for everything from snorkeling to wind surfing. The five islands which are open to tourists have simple accommodation in the shape of beach cottages. Permits to visit Lakshadweep can be obtained from the Lakshadweep tourist office in Cochin. What seem so tiny are actually the tops of an enormous undersea mountain range in the Arabian Sea. Regular flights operate from Cochin to one of the islands, as well as modestly priced ship cruises which stop at all the islands open to tourism. These cruises begin and end at Cochin.

MAP of the Islands

Lakshadweep is the perfect holiday for those who want to get away from the artifices of the world and enjoy a few days in simple yet stunningly beautiful surroundings. While equipment for water sports is available at the islands themselves, not much in the way of shopping and entertainment is possible as yet. Still some of the most experienced divers around the world have certified the virgin reefs of this island as the best diving location. Even if you are a novice, you can have diving sessions within safe depths. Cottages are made of indigenous materials with their palm thatched roofs.

Mind you Lakshadweep is not a budget tourist location due to the remoteness and also due to the scarcity of drinking water the price for 2 day at the lagoons would be as much as Rs 35,000. The cheapest sports tours start from Rs10,000 (all inclusive) for four days.

Best Season:

Between November – April

The Resorts of Lakshadweep are open all year round. Lakshadweep enjoys a pleasant tropical climate with summer temperatures ranging from 22° C to 33° C and winter temperatures from 20° C to 32° C. Southwest monsoons from June to September bring plenty of rainfall to the Islands. The rains (May to Sept) make the ship ride a little more difficult, make sure you carry a raincoat during this season. During monsoon you might actually get marooned if the rains suddenly starts and ships / flights close down!

General Information:

Area: 32 sq. km.

Capital: Kavaratti

Languages: Malayalam

Scenic Lakshadweep

Location:

The Islands lie spread out in the Arabian Sea about 220 to 440 Kms off the Kerala Coast between * and 12 Degree North Latitudes and 71 and 74 degrees East Longitudes. This Archipelago consists of 36 Islands, 12 Atolls, 3 reefs and 5 submerged banks. The Islands have a total area of32 Sq. Kms and the lagons are enclosed by the atolls.

Everybody requires a special permit to Visit Lakshadweep. Booking through Government tour operator S.P.O.R.T.S is the easiest way. Booking through online hotels is another way. Accomodition booked in advanced is a must for foreign tours to visit the islands.

Lakshadweep has the whitest Sand you will ever see.

Getting In:

Getting there isn’t easy. Your options are the overnight ferry from Kerala’s main city, Cochin – which requires a ship-to-shore transfer in a diesel-chugging converted fishing boat – or flying to the Lakshadweeps’ only airport on Agatti Island (also from Cochin) before completing your journey with a two-and-half-hour high-speed boat ride. Either way, it’s hardly convenient. This, presumably, is how the Maldives used to be.

Lakshadweep – One of the best places in the World for Scuba Dive

Plane:

Indian Airlines and Kingfisher Red has daily flight to Agatti. Kingfisher Red has a daily flight from Banglore.

Ship:

The Trip takes around 18 hours Most of the ship operate from Kochi like:

  • MV Tippu Sultan (the better one of the lot) has AC Cabin, AC Reclining Seats & Deck also Cafeteria snack bar etc.
  • MV Bharat Seema
  • MV Amindivi
  • MV Minicoy

The plublished sailing schedules are subject to sudden changes. The boats may arrive a day late or leave a day early!

Lakshadweep Beautiful Lakshadweep

Places of interest:

Kavaratti:

The administrative capital, Kavaratti is the most developed of the islands with the highest percentage of non-islanders as residents. The Island has 52 Mosque the most beautiful being the Ujra mosque. A well, within its precincts, is believed to contain water of curative powers. The Ujra mosque has an ornately carved ceiling, said to have been carved from a piece of driftwood. Kavaratti also has an aquarium with several colourful species of fish. There is a glass bottom boat for viewing marine life and an array of remarkable coral formations that provides a background to the lagoons and the islands within them.

Kalpeni:

Kalpeni has three uninhabited satellite islands, all surrounded by an immense lagoon of spectacular beauty. Sunlight on the water causes it to sparkle and flash like a million aquamarines. Koomel, the gently curving bay where the tourist facilities are located, directly overlooks Pitti and Thilakkam, two of the islands. Here you can swim, reef walk, snorkel or use water sports equipment like kayaks, and sail boats. Now the tourist facilities have been augmented and tourists can stay on the island in privately managed huts, depending on the package. This lagoon is especially rich in coral life.

Kadmat:

A particularly fine lagoon, of even depth and an endless shoreline, perfect for swimming, makes Kadmat a haven of solitude. The tourist huts are situated some distance away from habitation, with only the splash of the waves to break the silence. It is the only island with lagoons on both eastern and western sides.

A Water Sports Institute providing water sports facilities has been set up in Kadmat. Accommodation consists of AC and non AC tourist huts aesthetically situated in the coconut palm groves on the beaches. The island is becoming increasingly popular for honeymooners. As a testimony to its Water Sports potential, a Scuba Diving Centre has been set up there.

Motor Vehicle – Minicoy

Minicoy:

The traveller Marco Polo described Minicoy as the larger of the Islands and as the “Island of women” due to its dominance of females. Here familes take the woman’s name as the family surname and manage most family matters. Furthest from Kavaratti Island, 200 Kms. away to the south and also nearer to the Maldives, is the incredible size of the lagoon, Minicoy is one of the largest in Lakshadweep. It has a culture very different from any other island – dress, language, food, all differ. A walk through the winding lanes of the villages is an indication of the culture here. Minicoy is renowned for its dance tradition: the lava dance is performed on festive occasions. Privately managed cottages have been built on the isolated beaches and are available for tourists. There is also a Lighthouse built by the British about 100 years ago.

Minicoy is the only island in Lakshadweep having three large ship wrecks believed to be that of S.S Hoechst and other ships, within 8 mtrs depth on the island reef. It is believed that these ship wreck initiated construction of light house In 1885. These wrecks are virtual underwater museums and fish species found here are larger than average normal size found else where perhaps due to consumption of Ferrous of the wrecks.

Strangely Shaped Boats
Lakshadweep

Agatti:

Agatti has one of the most beautiful lagoons in Lakshadweep. This is where the airport is built. A virtual gateway of Lakshadweep, a 20 bed tourist complex has been set up here. The Island Will Shortly be opened for tourists. Helicopter Transfers are available for US$150 return).

Lakshadweep

Bangaram:

There is something indescribably romantic about the very notion of an uninhabited island and Bangaram justifies that feeling. Teardrop shaped, it is encircled by a continuous halo of creamy sand.

At twilight, as the setting sun, casts its reflection on the water, and with the ever present coconut palms as a black silhouette, Bangaram is at the height of its allure.  That is the hour when every visitor promises himself another visit someday.

The warm, clear, deep waters of Arabian Sea with its myriad marine flora and fauna are an irresistible invitation to the scuba diving fraternity of the world. The exquisite coral formations including the black coral formations, the large variety and number of coral fish-the angel, the clown, the butterfly, the surgeon, the groupers, not to mention the abundance of the awesome, but harmless sharks, mantarays, sting rays, moray eels (morena) and turtles, make diving here an addictive experience, enough to make impressive any diver’s logbook with the stamp of the Diving School at Bangaram.

Bangaram is surrounded b one of the largest and safest lagoon with its calm unimaginable blue-green waters. And the whitest beach sand you can imagine.

Onwards flights from Kochi are available to most of the Airports in India and International destination. Helicopter transfer is available from Agatti to Bangaram Island Resort during monsoon and to Kavaratti throughout the year. Flights from Cochin to Agatti take approximately one hour and thirty minutes.

Presently it looks like Bangaram Island Resort is closed due to some governmental action the resort owners are trying to get it reopened through the supreme court, check here for more details and update:

Lakshadweep – Administration Office

http://www.cghearth.com/bangaram-island

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WATERSPORTS

Scuba Dive

All the 5 Islands offer Kayaks, Canoes, Pedal Boats, Sail Boats, Wind Surfers, Snorkels Sets Glass-bottom boats etc for the Tourist to entertain himself.  Kadmat, Kavaratti Bangaram have facilities for Scuba Diving. Deep sea fishing buffs can pursue big game fishing. Barracuda, Sail Fish, Yellow Fin Tuna, Triveli and sharks are abundant in the seas around Lakshadweep.

Scuba Dive

Alcohol:

Consumption of Alcohol is banned in Lakshadweep except in Bangaram.

Sleep:

There are only 3 full service Resorts:

  1. Bangaram Island Resort (Closed as of now)
  2. Kadmat Island Resort
  3. Agatti Island Resort

Bangaram Island Resort (Closed as of now)

Presently it looks like Bangaram Island Resort is closed due to some governmental action the resort owners are trying to get it reopened through the supreme court, check here for more details and update:

http://www.cghearth.com/bangaram-island

Kadmat Island Resort

It was Lakshadweep’s first scuba dive facility. Now it is the choice of scuba divers. There are 22 Executive Huts, 26 Family Huts. The facility is Government run and Basic. Cost around Rs 4,000.

Agatti Island Resort

This 6km long Island is located 459 Km away from Cochin. Fishing is the main occupation here. This island has some of the best beaches in the World. Tourist can Swim, Snorkel, Scuba dive, Deep Sea Fishing, Sailing, Boat rides, Water Skiing and Kayaking.

Diveline Agatti  which operates the diving shop in Agatti Resort charges Rs 3,000 per dive.

Get out

The only way out is back to Kochi.

Lakshadweep Resorts

Tour Packages:

Agatti Govt Cottage

For 2 Persons (double occupancy basis)

  • 3 Nights          –           Non AC= Rs15,000    AC=21,000
  • Extra Bed        –           Non AC=Rs2,250       AC=2750
  • Plus Heritage Fee = Rs 200 per person
  • Plus Entry Permit = Rs 250 per person
  • Add Airport Transfer Rs1,000 per person.

5% Service Tax

It could add up to:

Room for 2 x say Rs15,000 x 2 = Rs30,000,

Entry Permit = Rs250 x 2 = Rs500

Plus Heritage Fee = Rs 200 x 2 = Rs 400

Add Airport Transfer Rs1,000 x 2 = Rs 2,000

So for 2 person it could be above  Rs 33,000 (Rs 30,000 +500+400+2000 = Rs 32,900)

Agatti is cheaper as it is around the Airport traveling to other islands will incur Speed boat transfer which will be another Rs3,500 per person.

Tour Packages

Note:

  • Liquor is strictly prohibited and so also is collecting corals.
  • Timings of Plane and Ships are bound to change from time to time.
  • Visibility underwater could be poor in off season (Rainy seson) and not great time for scuba diving or snorkeling.
Lakshadweep

SPORTS provide comfortable A/C & Non A/C accommodation in the islands and onboard the ships. The tourist cottages in the islands are clean and well maintained. For certain packages like Coral Reef, overnight accommodation is provided on board the ship. The tourists cottages in the islands are built on the beach front and provide a breath taking lagoon view. Food provided is hygienic and wholesome. During day visits to islands, food is served ashore. While catering to all the comforts of the tourists, intrusive ultra modern gadgets have been avoided by design to provide a really exclusive get away feeling.

Website:

http://lakshadweeptourism.com/

Update yourself with the Lakshadweepforum

http://www.lakshadweepforum.com/

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