THE HOLIDAY ISLAND

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» South India
» Lakshadweep
Location : 400 kms west of the coast of Kerala
Status : Tiniest Union Territory of India
Language : Malayalam, English
Attractions : Kavaratti, Minicoy, Bangaram, Agatti

info about hotels, climate, travel, water sports in lakshadweep indiaKavaratti
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 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 pro- vides a background to the lagoons and the islands: within them. Some Water Sports like kayaking canoeing and snorkeling are available for tourists.

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 over- looks Pitti and Thilakkm, 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 specially rich in coral life.

Water Sport Institure _ KadmathKadmath
A particularly fine lagoon, of even depth and an endless shoreline, perfect for swimming, makes Kadmath 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. During the day, when the heat of the overhead sun becomes too strong, the feathery network of coconut palms provides a canopy throughout the island, through which light dimly filters, green and cool. 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 Kadmath. 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. With the Water Sports Institute, Scuba Diving Centre and the proposed augmentation of accommodation, the island is sure to become the focal point of tourist activities in Lakshwadeep.

Minicoy
Furthest from Kavaratti island, 200 km away to the south and also nearest to the Maldives, Minicoy has a lighthouse built by the British in 1885. Visitors are allowed up, right to the very top. Words cannot do justice to the incredible size of the lagoon, one of the largest in Lakshwadeep, the green of coconut trees, and the mirror-like surface of an inland lake as it nestles in one corner of the island. Minicoy has a culture very different from any other island - dress, language, food, all differ. Minicoy has a cluster of 10 villages, which are called Athiris, each presided over by a Moopan. 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. There is a tuna canning factory - signifying its importance in tuna fishing and boat building activity. Privately managed cottages have been built on the isolated beaches and are available for tourists.

Agatti
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. The island will shortly be opened for tourists.

Lighthouse MinicoyBangaram
There is something indescribably romantic about the very notion of an uninhabited island and Bangaram justifies that feeling. Tear-drop shaped, it 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 part of the day. There are three uninhabited islands in the same atoll consisting of Tinnakara, Parali-l, Parali-ll, perfect for a day's outing. All the islands share the same lagoon, an enormous bowl of turquoise blue. At twilight, the setting sun, a ball of crimson in a flaming sky, 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.

If one were to cut the poetry, eulogising the beauty of the island of Bangaram, then one would still be left with the essential fact that it is a breathtakingly beautiful island quite out of this world. Surrounded by one of the largest and safest lagoons with its calm, unimaginable blue- green waters, lie the white coral sands and the half-a-square kilometer rise of Bangaram.

And yet the lagoon is born out of a long coral reef that rings around three other islands as well, each easily accessible by out boarding, sailing, rowing and for the athletic, by kayaking or wind-surfing from Bangaram.

But that is not all. The warm, clear, deep waters of the Indian Ocean 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.

And quite important too is the philosophy of preservation of marine life in its state of indigenous purity, where the coral and the shell are left undisturbed and the fish merely observed. The more venturesome, however may espy a sleeping nurse-shark, as commonly seen as the grey and the white tipped or play with a friendly turtle.

Bangaram is also an experience of yet another kind. Of matchless peace and tranquility, of a sense of severance from; the 'civilised' world, of the visit of the muses that compel contemplation. To the sensitive and the romantic, embroiled in the cacophony of crowded cities, it offers a memorable escape into isolation, a moment of harmony with nature, an experience quite beyond anything similar on the mainland.

For those who think they know India, either by travel or reading, the islands of Lakshadweep and Bangaram in particular, beckon.

The Bangaram Island Resort is fast becoming a by - word among the island hoppers of the world. Opened only recently to foreign tourists the resort with its simple, but attractive housing has already become a circled spot in the brochures of tour operators and travel agencies all over. There are attractive package terms for the domestic tourists too.



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