Kalpeni island, Lakshadweep

Photo of Kalpeni island, Lakshadweep by Wriddhi Bagchi

Kalpeni island was part of our 5 days/4 nights Lakshadweep trip by ship. We were spending the whole daytime at the island and were coming back to ship by evening and travel to the next island by this ship during night time.

It is a very amazing feeling when you are on a deck of a ship at night with the sky above filled with thousands and thousands of stars and the mighty ocean at the bottom, with no land probably in hundreds of kilometers in any direction and no other light around. You feel small, you feel helpless, but you feel enlightened, wise and lucky. All your life's problems accumulated doesn't stand anywhere in front of this. The waves created by the ship shows fluorescent white color in the moonlight, and it hits back the ship and smashes on its body. The more you concentrate on the sky, the number of stars you can see. Eventually, the sky looks to you as a black velvet paper losing its color and becoming partially white in multiple places.

On the island

With no exception, my day started even before the alarm triggered at 5:30 am. The ship was already floating near an island, the sun was yet to rise, and the lighthouse light from the island was prominently visible. After a tour of the upper deck and getting fresh, I headed to the back deck to see the sunrise. On the last day, the sky was a little cloudy during sunrise but this day it was completely clear and was able to see the sun popping up from the ocean horizon. I was watching the sunrise from the sea while floating on the sea, nice to think about that it, isn't it!

The announcement for proceeding to embarkation door was sooner this day. Just to let you know the rule, the locals of any island get onboard and offboarded first, tourists are the last one. Locals also don't have the life jacket wearing while on the shuttle boats, so it is easy to differentiate them from the tourists. The boat took us to the island jetty and cars were waiting there for us.

Photo of Kalpeni, Lakshadweep, India by Wriddhi Bagchi

We were welcomed by coconut water at the beach resort. Few others also welcomed us there, the spellbinding view of the lagoon, the color of the water, the reflection of sunlight from beneath of the crystal-clear water, and small pieces of white sand lands scattered throughout the lagoon raising their head from the water. Some of the pieces of land were so small that only 2-3 trees are there. As described by the SPORTS's person, we were going to one of these pieces of land, which the locals were calling something sounds like 'Pitti' island, for snorkeling and kayaking. You know, when your tour operator is overprotective, you wear life jackets even when you can walk from one island to the other. Yes, I meant 'walk' and not 'swim'. The water in between the islands was crystal clear and only up to your waist. The depth of the water was so less in some of the places that the boat had to take a round trip to reach the other island and we had jumped into the water on the other island as the boat wasn't able to reach the land. The surroundings of Pitti island, or whatever its actual name is, is full of living corals and broken pieces of it (thanks to us human for the broken ones). So, it is better if you wear slippers to save yourself from a foot injury.

We collected snorkeling equipment and jumped back to the lagoon. It is a region where you can roam around freely as far as you want, watching the living corals underwater. We, fortunately, got a guide who took us for a snorkeling tour much far from we thought of going and he was being an expert of the location showed us a lot of things. I and my wife both had snorkeling experience in Andaman, but Kalpeni proved the name 'The Coral Paradise'. We saw lots and lots of living corals of different types, lots of colorful fishes, huge seashells living inside the curves of corals, different kinds of sea cucumbers and many other sea organisms we don't even know names of and only had seen in TV. These all just by snorkeling in the water of depth 2-3 ft. Once the guide completed his tour, we again went back to roam around in the water with the snorkeling kit. Every meter we proceeded in this water brought us with a new surprise. Have you ever seen a horn coral with lots of colorful fishes living in its gaps! Have you seen a rugby ball size seashell closing itself when you are nearby and opening when it feels comfortable! Have you seen violet color coral with flower looking peaks! This might be something that happens only a few times in life and sufficient to justify it. The more you swim around and surprise yourself, you increase the guilt level rising inside that you are also contributing to the destruction of this immense beauty as the more you move around, the more you step on living corals or touch them and the more you hamper their growth.

We did kayaking on the same island. This was our first time for kayaking. This is a funny one. Until both of you synchronize, the boat goes left and right. It takes a little time to get adjusted but then it is a very soothing experience. We went as far as possible and even crossed the notch of the island and pocked our nose on the other side of the island. While on a trip, my wife always wants to go in a direction not asked or planned for. In this case, once back from kayaking, she wanted to roam around in the light jungle behind the beach. With no willingness in mind I had to join her (what to do, I am a husband!). The island was so narrow that we just went inside in the jungle to roam around and unknowingly reached a beach on the other side of the island. This side of the beach had the open sea nearby and has small waves in it.

Once back from the Pitti island to the main island, my wife went for getting ready for lunch and I utilized the time to swim back in the lagoon. I jumped into the water from the floating jetty itself, but it is tough to sustain in the water when all other human beings present are watching you from land sitting on their easy chairs and all you have to swim with are motorboats and speed boats. One boat guy is pushing me on one side and the other is requesting to go to another part. Few birds, I guess, though I am a big fish and came very near to see me. At last, I had to come out of the water, partly disturbed by the boats and partly because there is something called lunch very important to keep you going until dinner.

Photo of Kalpeni, Lakshadweep, India by Wriddhi Bagchi

Lunch was good with me filling myself with lots of tuna fishes. After lunch, folk dancers started performing in one part of the beach resort. This song and dance were quite different from the Kavaratti one. There were 9-10 men wearing colorful pieces of cloth as dhoti and having wooden swords and shields in their hands. One person was having metal plates as the musical instrument. They were singing and dancing and using the sword and shield as instruments while pretending to fight. Their language was a dialect of Malayalam and they were singing and dancing on songs of war, fishermen's songs and religious songs, as one of the Malayali tourists sitting beside us mentioned. That Malayali person also mentioned that, as he knows, this island's language doesn't have their script and when they write, they use alphabets from 8 different languages and even Malayali people can't read it properly. We all enjoyed the performance and many tipped the performers.

After the performance, we were supposed to visit some coconut factory and hosiery factory. I was anyway never interested in leaving the beach, adding to it, last day's aquarium experience made me determined to stay back at the beach and enjoy the beauty. But again, I am a husband and my wife didn't want to miss anything. So, I accompanied her. The coconut factory was a point on my side of the argument and the hosiery factory too, but man, then they took us to Tip beach which they never mentioned earlier and what a place it was!

When you are on a trip, some places you visit might be just good, at some you feel great, and very few places of this kind, where you feel like just keeping quiet and feeling it, taking as much memory of the place as possible. No word is enough to describe the beauty of this place. There was a moment when I felt like crying. Nothing better was left to see in life.

Photo of Kalpeni, Lakshadweep, India by Wriddhi Bagchi

As the name suggests, this beach is the tip of the island. Both sides of the beach were water. On one side, it had open sea with lagoon nearby and on the other, deep-sea far and lagoon with scattered corals submerged in water. At the tip, a small piece of land was visible in a walkable distance separated by knee-deep water. The sand was white with a mix of chili powder and pink colored shell dust. Tiny to small size crabs of different colors were walking on the sand while hiding inside the same colored dead seashell's shell. We were immersed in the view and sitting speechless at the tip of the beach, and that is when our white huge ship started raising its head from the horizon.

SPORTS' people with a walkie talkie in hand started vibrating and started requesting us to go back to the resort and get ready to go back to ship as the ship has arrived. Arrived! I thought it was always floating there where it offboarded us. It came out after that after it leaves the tourists on one island, it goes to other islands with locals as inter-island ferries. Anyways, I would have been happier if it would have forgotten to take us back but fortunately or unfortunately, it didn't.

We came to know that the island is only of 4-5km in length and 2-3km in width, that too not all places. The population is just 4k, much lesser than my office campus employee capacity ('office' is a strict no word while on a trip for me but my wife drew this analogy). When we asked about primary occupation, as per the person, the literacy rate is very high on the island and claimed to have 4-5 hundred doctors and engineers from the island itself, though not working on the island now. Tourism and fishing are certainly other important occupations.

Photo of Kalpeni, Lakshadweep, India by Wriddhi Bagchi

There was nothing much time left after we reached the resort back. We had to rush to go back to ship. But people feel hungrier when the food is included in the package. A set of tourists started demanding evening snacks samosa as it was over by the time our last car reached back the resort. The time for snacks was over too but somehow the resort people arranged some for them. After coming back to ship our schedule was like other days, but what changed was the best place I ever visited, it became Kalpeni Island, Lakshadweep.

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