Lakshadweep

The coral Island of Lakshadweep, a total of 36 of which 10 are inhabited have in recent years become one of the country’s popular tourist’s destinations. One of the very last place in the world where little has been changed in the face of rapid development, the Lakshadweep Island in the Indian Ocean are surrounded by the Lagoons & are known for their pristine beauty. Coconut trees abound, the beaches are silver crescents & the sea is a crystal clear endless blueness. The coral formation underwater forms an amazingly colorful gardens & the variety of Fish that inhabit these waters is truly exotic.

The Lakshadweep archipelago is located between 155 & 261 nautical miles from Cochin on the mainland. Tourism is restricted to ensure that the delicate environment is not ecologically damaged. Only five Islands are open for Tourism. Four to domestic tourists & one for International Tourists

Lakshadweep Island



History

The early history of Lakshadweep is not recorded; Local traditions attribute the first settlement on the islands to the period of cheraman Perumal, the last Chera King of King of Kerala. It is believed that the first setters were Hindus and Buddhists. Even Now, unmistakable Hindu social stratifications exist despite the influence of Islam. Buddha idols are found in islands like Kavaratti and Andrott.Floating on a plank he was swept ashore at Amini. Ubaidullah began propagating Islam in the face of strong protests. From Amini, he went to Andrott where too he met with strong opposition. Finally he succeeded in converting the people to islam. Soon he went to other islands with the message of Islam and succeeded in propagating it. He died in Andrott and his place of burial is a sacred place now.

Even after the influence of Islam, the sovereignty remained in the hands of the Hindu Raja of Chirakkal for some years. Form Chirakkal Raja, the control moved into the hands of the Muslim House of Arakkal around the 16th century. The Arakkal rule was oppressive and unbearable. Eventually in 1787, some islanders from Amini took courage and met Tippu Sultan at Mangalore, and requested him to take over the administration of Amini, Soon five islands came under the Sultan and the rest continued to be governed by the Arakkal family.

Lakshadweep Beach Tour After the battle of Srirangapatnam in 1799, the islands was annexed to the British East India Company from Mangalore. In 1854, the Raja of Chirakkal handed over all the remaining islands to the East India Company. So came the British rule.

The Union Territory of Lakshadweep was formed in 1956, all islands now constitute on District for Administration with 4 tehsils. The administration head quarter is at Kavaratti. The Administrator heads the Union Territory. Each island has a democratic set-up in the form of Village (Dweep) Panchayat. At Union Territory level, there is a District Panchayat.

Geography

One of the world’s most spectacular tropical island systems, Lakshadweep is tucked away at 220-240 kms of the Malabar Coast. The island comprise of 4200 sq. km of lagoon rich in marine wealth and 36 Islands in an area of 32 sq. km each island here is fringed by snow white coral sands the crystal clear water and the rich marine flora and founa enchance the mystique of these islands. Against the vast blue sea, the island looks like emeralds. The huge wall-like reef bordering the outer side of the shallow lagoons blocks the incoming swells of the sea.The island are link to the main land by ship helicopter passanger plans and mechanized sailing wooden vessels. Agati and Bangaram can be reached by air and the other by ship from Kochi. The temperature increases frm south to North; April and May are the hottest with temperatures averaging at 32o C.

The relative humidity is 70-75 %.Generally the climate is humid, warm and pleasant. The climate is equable and no well-marked, distinct seasons are experienced. From Jun-October the south-west mansoon is active. The average rainfall is 10-40 mm. Annual rainfall decreases from south to North. On an average 80-90 days a year are rainy. Winds are light to moderate from October to March. The Lakshadweep Archipelago has 12 atolls,3 reefs and 6 submerged banks. The name Lakshadweep or its anglicized from Laccadives is of resent origin. The early geography and Arab Travelers have alluded to the island as divis or Dibatat covering both Maldives and Lakshadweep. By several accounts the cultural and geographical affinities of Lakshadweep are closely linked to Sri Lanka, Kerala, Maldives and Tamil Nadu. The whole group of Islands is one vast coconut garden with 100 trees crowded per acre. There are no boundaries between individual plots and almost no ground vegetables. The houses are spred out throughout the Islands

Lakshadweep General Information

  • Area: 32 Sq. Km.
  • Population:60595
  • Temperature:
  • (Min 25.6 Max 30 o C)
  • Altitude: 2,133 m above sea level
  • Rainfall: 0.8 mm average
  • Clothing: Warm climate Cotton cloth throughout the year
  • Languages: Malayalam & Mahl
  • Best time to Visit: October to May

How to Get There

By Air

Indian Airlines connects Agatti Island, Lakshadweep's only airport, with Kochi on mainland.

By Sea

Ship cruises are available as packages designed for the tourists. SPORTS (Society for Promotion of Recreational Tourism & Sports)

Best Time to Visit Lakshadweep

Winters (November-Feb) and Early summers (March-May) are the best time to visit Lakshadweep. During the monsoons it is really wet and a lot of activities are shut down during this period.

Season Months Temperature
Summers March to May 22°C - 36°C
Monsoon June to August 25°C - 35°C
Winter December to March 20°C - 32°C

ENTRY FORMALITIES

Indians

All visitors to Lakshadweep require entry permits from Lakshadweep administration. Out of 10 inhabited isalnd only 4 islands viz., Kalpani, Kavaratti, Minicoy, ad Kadmat have been opened for domestic tourists and SPORTS, a wing of Lakshadweep Administration is organising package tours by ship covering the above 4 islands from September to May every year and suspended during the monsoon period.

Foreign Tourists

Foreign tourists are allowed to visit Bangaram Island and Kadmat Island only. They are not permitted to visit any other islands in Lakshadweep. Foreign tourist has to submit the detail as mentioned below for booking of hotel:

  1. Full Name
  2. Address
  3. Place/Date of Birth
  4. Nationality
  5. Passport Number
  6. Date of Issue/Expiry of Passport

Society & Cultural

The glorious colors of Lakshadweep sunsets can be matched only by the colorful dresses of the women of the islands. They wear a Kachi around the waist tucked in a thread wound with solid gold or a silver waist belt.

A silk Kachi is usually red with a black border. Others are black or white with a dark border. While a tight fitting embroidered jacket covers the body above the waist a colorful scarf with silver and gold threads is slung loosely over the head. The scarf is called “Thattam”. The men are simply dressed in a “lungi” except in the Minicoy Island where the young prefer jeans.

Arts & Crafts

Kolkali and Parichakali are the two popular folk art forms in the Territory. They are an integral part of the cultural milieu except in Minicoy where “LAVA” is the most popular dance form. Some of the folk dances have a resemblance with those in North Eastern India. For marriages “OPPANA” is a common feature, a song sung by a lead singer and followed by a group of women. Picnics are a common leisure activity in Minicoy. The most widely celebrated festivals are Independence Day and Republic Day, Milad - Ul – Nabi, Idulfitr, Bakrid, and Muharram in that order. Interestingly Independence Day and Republic Day are celebrated for days with religious fervor.

Fair & Festivals

It is during the festivals that Lakshadweep puts on display the rich and long running culture of its people. Majority of the population residing in Lakshadweep follows Islam. So it is during the Muslim festivals that Lakshadweep islands are at its most exuberant and colorful. Though many tribal festivals are also celebrated here, their celebrations are not as visible as those of Ids that are celebrated here. The best place to witness these festivals is the many mosques that are spread in almost all parts of the islands. Among all Id-Ul-Fitr celebrated in the month of Ramadan is one festival that is celebrated by every soul on the island. This is one festival which is celebrated by every soul on the island. Even if you are just a tourist, visiting Lakshadweep for quiet and calm vacations, you will not be able to hold yourself from being a part of these exciting and exhilarating celebrations. The sudden and splendid change of a serene locality into loud vicinity will surely sweep you off your feet.

  • Id-Ul-Fitr
  • Bakrid
  • Milad-Ul-Nabi
  • Muharram

What's a Coral?

The mighty reef that withstands the combined might of tidal waves & storms is the lovely soft-bodied microscopic polyp. It is no differentiated head, respiratory, circulatory & accretionary systems. The reef building corals survive only in shallow warm tropical waters & are distinguished by the symbolic algee: Zoo – Xanthalle & Ostreobium. Both these need sunlight for survival & the reef building occurs closes to the surface & not deep down.

Corals are carnivores, feeding on planktons. So, coral growth depends on the supply of planktons conducive to coral growth. Reefs & atolls have attained the present’s state after millenniums of evolution. The fragile nature of the islands comes from their dependence on the atolls & reefs. The survival of these islands is dependent fully on the health of the long stretch of corals.

Fauna & Flora

The flora of the islands include Banana, Vazha, (Musaparadisiaca), Colocassia, Chambu (Colocassia antiquarum) Drumstic moringakkai (Moringa Oleifera) , Bread Fruit, Chakka (Artocarpus incisa) wild almond (Terminalia Catappa) which are grown extensively. Some of the shrub jungles plant like Kanni (Scaevolakeeningil), Punna, (Calaphylluminophyllum), Chavok (Casurina equisetifolia), Cheerani (Thespesia Populnea) are unevenly grown throughout the island. Coconut, Thenga (Cacos nucifera) is the only crop of economic importance in Lakshadweep. These are found in different varieties such as Laccadive micro, Laccadive ordinary, green dwarf etc. Two different varieties of sea grass are seen adjacent to the beaches. They are known as Thalassia hemprichin and Cymodocea isoetifolia. They prevent sea erosion and movement of the beach sediments.

The marine life of the sea is quite elaborate and difficult to condense. The commonly seen vertebrates are cattle and poultry. Oceanic birds generally found in Lakshadweep are Tharathasi (Sterna fuscata) and Karifetu (Anous solidus). They are generally found in one of the uninhabited islands known as PITTI. This island has been declared as a bird sanctuary.

Molluscan forms are also important from the economic point of the islands. The money cowrie (cypraea monita) is also found in abundance in the shallow lagoons and reefs of the islands. Other cypraeds found here are cypraca talpa and cyprea maculiferra. Among crabs, the hermit crab is the most common. Colorful coral fish such as parrot fish (Callyedon sordidus), Butterfly fish (Chaetodon Auriga), and Surgeon fish (Acanthurus lineotus) are also found in plenty.

The following animal, bird, and tree are declared as state symbols of Lakshadweep

Animal - Butterfly fish (Chaetodon Auriga) locally known as "Fakkikadia". Bird-- Sooty tern (Anus solidus piletus) locally known as "Karifettu".Tree - Bread-fruit (Artocarpus Incise) locally known as "Chakka"

Dishing out a delicious variety of sea-food with ample mix-up of coconut is the specialty of Lakshadweep Cuisines. From spicy non-vegetarian stuffs to healthy vegetarian delicacies, the island is ready with every possible kind of mouth-watering dish. The culinary influence of Kerala is quite evident in the cuisines of Lakshadweep.

Since the island has a close proximity with Kerala, hence the cuisines reflect the taste of the inhabitants of that place. The local food of Lakshadweep primarily comprises of coconut and sea fish. The people of the island have a great inclination towards the coconut water as it is the most abundant aerated drink of the place. As a tourist destination, Lakshadweep is one of the most-visited spots of India. People from all over the world come to this island to explore the unexplored coral reefs, the virgin forests and the surrounding serenity. In order to cater to the needs of the tourists the governing authority of Lakshadweep, along with several private bodies have established quite a number of restaurants and eatery joints. Apart from specializing in local food, these restaurants also serve a series of inter-continental dishes. From Chinese and Thai to Indian and Korean, the eatery corners of Lakshadweep provide a lip-smacking array of delectables to those who wish to have a taste of global cuisine. Apart from multi-cuisine eatery zones, one can also get the original taste of Lakshadweep during major festivals when the people of the island prepare special dishes in their own home.

Languages, Manners & Customs

A dialect of Malayalam is spoken in the inhabited islands. In Minicoy, Mahl is used. There is very little difference in the customs of the people despite a few cultural variations. Marriage are arranged mostly, except in Minicoy, where courting is prevalent. In arranged marriage, the bride’s family takes the initiative in marriage discussions. In Minicoy, the wedding ceremony is simple. The wedding expenses are borne by the bridegroom’s family

Shopping

Lakshadweep is not a destination to offer you typical shop-till-you-drop experience. People visit the island not as much for shopping in Lakshadweep, as they do for spending an unhurried leisure and scuba diving. If you are still keen on shopping in Lakshadweep, taking back some souvenir to remind you of the great holiday you had, you can look for classic beach handicrafts made corals shells and oysters. Not also there are many shopping joints or large emporia or plush malls for shopping in Lakshadweep, you need to drop in some odd shop anywhere in the island. Or you may come across some local inhabitant with a roadside stall.

Scuba Diving

To see the life under sea, untouched and unspoilt.

Deep Sea Big Game Sports Fishing

Deep sea fishing available from October 1st-May 15th only.

Boat Trip within Lagoon

Glass bottom boat excursion to nearby uninhabited islands and /or snorkeling at shipwrecks