Lakshadweep means 'a hundred thousand islands' in Malayalam, the local language. This island is located at 8° and 12° North Latitude and 71° and 74° East Longitude. It is 220 to 440 km off the Malabar Coast in Kerala, India. There are only 36 islands. It is a uni-district union territory with an area of 32 sq.kms and is comprised of ten inhabited islands, 17 uninhabited islands attached islets, four newly formed islets and 5 submerged reefs. The Lakshadweep islands are India's only coral islands. 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. There are plenty of opportunities for Scuba diving, Yachting, Pedal boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Swimming, Snorkeling and sunbathing at Lakshadweep. One may also visit local houses, Marine museum, Light House and few local industries. Consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in all islands except Bangaram. Picking up Corals is a punishable crime.
Densely covered with coconut palms and threaded by an unbroken line of creamy sand, each island floats serenely in a sea whose water ranges from palest aquamarine and turquoise to deepest sapphire and lapis lazuli. Due to non-availability of drinking water, only ten Islands are inhabited. They are Agatti, Amini, Andrott, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadmat, Kalpeni, Kavaratti, Kiltan and Minicoy. Bitra is the smallest of all having only a population of 225 persons (1991 census).The uninhabited island Bangaram has been enumerated during 1991 census operation and has a population of 61 persons.
Agatti has one of the most beautiful lagoons in Lakshadweep. This is where the airport is built. A virtual gateway to Lakshadweep, a 20 bed tourist complex has been set up here.
Tear-drop shaped, this island is encircled by a continuous halo of creamy sand. Like all the other islands of Lakshadweep, luxuriant plantations of coconut provide coolness even during the hottest time of the day.
The administrative capital, Kavaratti is the most developed of the islands with the highest percentage of non-islanders as residents. Fifty two mosques are spread out over the island, the most beautiful being the Ujra mosque. A well, within its precincts, is believed to contain water of curative powers. The island 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. Some Water Sports like kayaking canoeing and snorkelling are available for tourists.
Kalpeni has three uninhabited satellite islands, all surrounded by an immense lagoon of spectacular beauty. Koomel, the gently curving bay where the tourist facilities are located, directly overlooks Pitti and Thilakkm, two of the islands. Here, tourists can swim, reef walk, snorkel or use water sports equipment like kayaks, and sail boats.
The even depth and an endless shoreline make Kadmath a heaven of solitude. This 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 Kadmath.
Farthest from Kavaratti island, 200 km away to the south and also nearest to the Maldives, Minicoy has a culture very different from any other island. It has a cluster of 10 villages, which are called Athiris each presided over by a Moopan. Minicoy is renowned for its dance tradition: the lava dance is performed on festive occasions. The tuna fishing and boat building activity is interesting. Minicoy has a lighthouse built by the British in 1885. Visitors are allowed up, right to the very top.
The population is only 60595 as per 2001 census, of which 95% are Muslims. Ethnically, the people of the islands are very similar to the people of the state of Kerala and mostly they speak Malayalam except in Minicoy where Mahli is spoken. 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. Coconut cultivation and fishing, are the chief occupations of the people, whose folklore and customs are, not surprisingly, largely derived from the sea. The people of Lakshadweep are often commended for their honesty. The islands are virtually crime-free.
Lakshadweep has a tropical climate, with summer temperatures ranging from 35 degrees centigrade to 22 degrees centigrade and winter temperature between 32 degrees centigrade to 20 degrees centigrade. During monsoons, ship-based tourism is closed but helicopter services are available. Some effect of the northeast monsoon is felt in October-November in the form of light transitory showers which cool the place. Tropical clothes throughout the year are sufficient. A waterproof coat during October-November will be useful. October - May for the ship based tour packages. Agatti and Bangaram may be visited throughout the year.
NEPC Airlines operates flights from Cochin to Agatti Island. Tourists are ferried from Agatti to other places, by fast boats. Also, a helicopter service links Agatti to the other islands.By Ship
Vessels ply between Cochin in Kerala and Lakshadweep. Rates vary according to the type of accomodation.
F-306, Kasturba Gandhi Marg Hostel,
New Delhi - 110001
Tel : 011-3386807
Fax : 3782246
|Lakshadweep at a glance|