Lakshadweep has a precious heritage in its ecology and culture. The local Administration always keeps the carrying capacity of the islands in mind. Similarly, in some islands the water-able is not sufficient to provide increased drinking water in significant quantities and so these islands have not been earmarked for tourism.
Government 'accommodation is available at Kavaratti, Kadmath and Agatti. At Kalpeni and Minicoy private entrepreneurs have taken up the task. Extensive use has been made of tiling roofs and coconut palm matting for external walls, and the effect is remarkable in the way the constructions blend with their surroundings.
High quality equipment of international standards has been imported for the Kadmath Institute of Water Sports. This includes snorkels, glass- bottomed boats, rowing and motor boats, equipment for wind surfing, scuba diving, Para sailing and water skiing.
Water sports facilities like kayaking, sailing, paddle boats, inflatable motor boats, glass - bottom boats and water skiing are available in the islands of Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Kadmath and Minicoy.
Traditional folk dances of the islands are performed by local men. Performances are available on request. No other form of entertainment exists except TV and Radio.
One interesting consequence of the Administration's concern for ecology is the promotion of the concept of day tourism. A passenger liner anchoring near an island provides both transport and accommodation. Tourists therefore have the best of both worlds- comfortable accommodation and service on board the ship, combined with the beauty of the island and water sports facilities during the day.
There is a regular ship service between Cochin and the islands according to a scheduled programme.
Location and General Information
In the Arabian sea, approximately 400 kms west of the coast of Kerala between 8 degrees and 12 degrees North latitude, and 71 degrees and 74 degrees East longitude, Lakshadweep is a Union Territory of India - its tiniest - and has the country's only coral islands. Of its 36 islands covering a land area of 32 so. km, 10 are inhabited.
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 a helicopter service is available. Some effect of the northeast monsoon is felt in October-November in the form of light transitory showers which cool the place.
It is important to see Lakshadweep in the light of what it is - a group of islands, far from each other and from the mainland. Most items of food supplies, rice, vegetables, tinned food etc. as well as a whole range of consumer goods have to be transported, at some pains, from Kerala. Hence the few shops that do exist cater very specifically to the everyday needs of the locals. Good brands of toiletries and cigarettes are available on major islands.. Books and periodicals in any language other than Malayalam are difficult to find but inhabited islands have excellent libraries. Biscuits, tinned milk and similar provisions are not difficult to find. However, Bangaram, having no local population, has no shops at all.
Tropical clothes throughout the year are sufficient. A waterproof coat during October- November will be useful.
There is prohibition on all the islands except in uninhabited islands such as Bangaram.
The language spoken in the islands is Malayalam except in Minicoy where it is Mahl, written in the Divehi script. The local population are all Sunni Muslims of the Shafi sect. Tourist guides and those people who come into contact with tourists as part of their job, speak English. Very little Hindi is spoken or understood except in Minicoy.
NEPC has started operating flights from Cochin to Agatti island for Bangarani. From Agatti, passengers are transported to Bangaram by fast boat and brought back to Agatti in time for their departure. A helicopter service links Agatti to other islands.
Vessels ply between Cochin and Lakshadweep. They have air-conditioned cabins for first class tourists and an air-conditioned Lounge hall with push back seats for tourist class accommodation. Rates vary according to the type of accommodation as well as the package chosen. Domestic package prices are inclusive of ship fare, meals on the ship and islands, ferrying charges between ship and island (the ship anchors 30-45 minutes away from each island), transport charges in the islands, sightseeing charges, lagoon cruising and accommodation on the islands. Every journey of the· ship-between Cochin and an island as well as between one island and another takes anything from 3 to 20 hours. Indian meals are served on board. Some cabins are fitted with a wash basin and have common bathrooms. First class AC cabins have attached toilets. Bed-linen and towels are provided. From October to April, Catamaran speed vessels operate as per monthly schedule between major islands in the northern group.
Board and Lodging
The tourist huts in each island are situated on the beach in ideal locations, Each hut has one or two twin-bedded bedrooms, overhead fans, and attached baths, Meals are served out on the beach, An extra bed can be provided in each room. (The tourist huts along with the entire island receives its electric supply from diesel generating sets.)
Tips For Travellers
Lakshadweep islands are India's only coral islands formed from coral rock, and beautiful formations can be seen all over the lagoons. Tempting as it is to pick one piece up as a souvenir, it is strictly Illegal, being punishable with heavy fines. This is because in doing so you are seriously endangering the environment. Local cuisine resembles food from Kerala for the spices it uses, and for the extensive use of coconut. Breakfast could consist or idlis or poorie subji and lunch and dinner of rice with a dry vegetable, sambhar and fish, chicken or mutton in a gravy. Tuna fish, curried, fried or barbecued is generally available from October to March, Vegetarian meals are available.
Telephone services are available on STD/ISD on major islands. Doctors and medical assistance are available on the islands and on the ship.