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of Kerala; even their language is the same except in Minicoy where Mahl is spoken. As Muslims, they have conservative customs and traditions and yet they are liberal in approach.
Not much is known of the early history of Lakshadweep. From the 7th century onwards, however, enough evidence exists to piece together a history of the islands. The people converted to Islam under the influence of Hazrat Ubaidullah who set off from Mecca after Prophet Mohammed appeared to him in a dream, commanding him to leave for distant shores to propagate Islam. The ship on which Hazrat Ubaidullah was sailing was wrecked and after drifting on a plank of wood he reached the island of Amini where his mission met with fierce opposition.
After many difficulties he was able to carry out his mission, and to this day, the people of Lakshadweep follow Islam. Traces of the old culture still linger however; despite the influence of Islam, a caste system still prevails based on occupation- landowners, sailors and cultivators. Although Madrassas in all the islands impart religious instruction to school-going children, many individuals bear two names.
Boat building was once an important skill. Sadly, after the advent of motorized boats, this has reduced considerably. However, majestic wooden boats anchored along the shore stand silent testimony to a fragment of the past. Boats were built for fishing, for navigation from one end of the island to another, for inter- island communication, for transporting coconuts and dried fish to the mainland and returning with food supplies, as well as for friendly competitive races Each boat was built differently, according to its function and every island has its own slight variation in design. This meant that just sighting a boat approaching the shore was indication, enough of which island it, came from. The people of Lakshadweep are often commended for their honesty. The absence of crime in the islands is laudable. The most obvious testimony to this is the profusion of gold ornaments worn by the women, young children are allowed to wander around alone wearing chunky jewelry is a pointer to a way of life that one hopes will continue into the future.
Location: 400 kms west of the coast of Kerala
Status: Tiniest Union Territory of India
Language: Malayalam, English
Attractions: Kavaratti, Minicoy, Bangaram, and Agatti
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.
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 especially rich in coral life.
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 Center has been set up there. With the Water Sports Institute, Scuba Diving Center and the proposed augmentation of accommodation, the island is sure to become the focal point of tourist activities in Lakshadweep.
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 Lakshadweep, 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.
uninhabited island and Bangaram justifies that feeling. Teardrop 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, and 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, eulogizing 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, lay 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 'civilized' world, of the visit of the muses that compels 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, and an experience quite beyond anything similar on the mainland.
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.
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.
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