6 Indian Islands You Didn’t Know About

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Written by Anwesha Sanyal

Musing over exotic islands in foreign lands is passé. Back home, our pretty little dots have claimed our next vacation dates. Here’s why this might be the right time to introduce your kids to the treasures at home.

How often do we book into a glamorous island resort far away for a family vacay; Canary or the Caribbean, there is always that perfect celebratory travel plan pulling us away from that which is our very own. As ‘exotic’ gets crowded, turn to your own islands for a holiday inspiration.

1. Munroe Island - KERALA

Credits: Adam Blomqvist ; Getty Images

Photo of Munroe Island, Kerala, India by Travel+Leisure India & South Asia

Houseboats have never been prettier. Nor have the mangroves. Only 27 kms from Kollam, the backwaters of Ashtamudi Lake and Kallada River take you on a canal cruise to the island named after Colonel Munroe, the British President of erstwhile Travancore. The slow life of the Munroe isles is a sharp contrast to the buzz of the city watch fishermen take boats out early in the morning, ladies of the village make ropes with coconut fiber, an abundance of coconut trees lining the riverside, orange sunsets on the backwaters, and migratory birds flying into the horizon.

WHAT TO DO:

Book a deluxe houseboat on Queen Ashtamudi (queenashtamudi.blogspot.in) that takes you from Kollam to Munroe. The journey is as beautiful as the destination—introduce your kids to Keralite cuisine that is served onboard on a banana leaf.

2. Diu - GUJARAT

Credits: Anand Purohit ; Getty Images

Photo of Diu, Daman and Diu, India by Travel+Leisure India & South Asia

This little corner in India has a coastal length of only 21kms but has amassed greatly from its Portuguese history—the architecture and cultural identity—while being influenced by the Gujarati culture. The Diu Fort is its most famous attraction, but a visit to the Naida Caves behind it, the Church of St Francis of Assissi (the oldest church in Diu), and the secluded Gomptimata Beach for its serene stretch of white sand, is a must. Just beyond Gujarat, the union territory is also a major getaway from the state if you’re looking for a nightclub that serves liquor.

WHAT TO DO:

If Goa is not your ideal destination with the little ones, this less-crowded doppelganger has pretty beaches like Nagoa, Ghoghla, Jallandhar, Simbor among others where they can engage in water sports (banana boating, jet skiing, speed boating) or parasailing, and get an aerial view of the island from a hot air balloon.

3. Majuli - ASSAM

Credits: Shutterstock

Photo of Majuli, Assam, India by Travel+Leisure India & South Asia

If you care for breathtaking scenery, sublime sunsets, picturesque photographs, and to be on an island before it sinks (which it is), pay a visit to the largest river island in the world, situated between the Brahmaputra and Kherkutia Xuti tributaries in Assam. One of the least commercialized places in the country, Majuli is a harbinger of the 16th century Assamese civilisation for its festivals and prayer ceremonies. This is where you can learn a thing or two about the neo-Vaishnavite philosophy—22 Vaishnava Satras are located on this island. The local cuisine is unique in its Khar, Laksa, Tenga, and Pitha.

WHAT TO DO:

Time your vacation with one of the popular festivals like Raas Purnima which is not only a crowd puller, but because cultural dance troupes from all over Assam come to the island to showcase performances to depict Lord Krishna’s life. The other festivals to look out for are Paal Naam and Bathow Puja.

4. Netrani Island - KARNATAKA

Who knew this little island off the Karnatic coast could be the visiting waters for whale sharks, turtles, cobias, string rays, stonefish, the Napoleon Wrasse, and the Great Barracuda! Scuba diving here (the deepest being at 18 metres which requires an Advanced Level certification) opens the Arabian Sea up in ‘fishy’ ways, and you needn’t even go as far as the Lakshwadeep for an underwater experience. Accessible through a boat ride from Murudeshwara (on the mainland), Netrani Island is a popular day-trip for locals and tourists.

WHAT TO DO:

Introduce your children to the wondrous milieu of coral reefs. Scuba diving is appropriate for all ages, and there are numerous diving companies such as Adventure Nation (Rs 15,000 per person; adventurenation.com) and Barracuda Diving India (Rs 18,000 per person; barracudadiving.com) offer amateur and professional diving expeditions.

5. Havelock Island - RITCHIE’S ARCHIPELAGO

Go beyond the Greater Andamans and stumble upon this white sand paradise. A rich coral reef floating beneath the waters and a lush green forest proliferating beyond the beach, Havelock Island is one of the most popular islands in the Andamans, located about 39 kms from Port Blair, accessible by boat.

WHAT TO DO:

This stretch of the Bay of Bengal has a fascinating marine life, drawing travellers from around the world, especially between mid-January and mid-May. Some of the best diving sites are at the Lighthouse, The Wall, the Pilot Reef, and the Dixon’s Pinnacle, and getting there is easy on a speedboat; the beaches are lined with guides. When on shore, forest trekking routes claim your daylight hours. Book into the luxurious Wild Orchid Resort (wildorchidandaman.com), or Silver Sand (silversandhavelock.com).

Credits: Iztok Alf Kurnik ; Getty Images

Photo of Havelock Island, South Andaman, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Travel+Leisure India & South Asia
Photo of Havelock Island, South Andaman, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India by Travel+Leisure India & South Asia

6. Khanderi and Underi Islands - MAHARASHTRA

Old Portuguese forts surrounded by a shrubby terrain, Khanderi in Thal, seven kilometres from the Alibaug district of Maharashtra, and Underi near the mouth of Mumbai’s harbour, near Prong’s Lighthouse, are two fort islands whose histories date back to the 1600s. These forts have seen the Maratha and the British rule as well, and but they aren’t very talked about. Although, history buffs often find themselves walking around the walls of these forts.

WHAT TO DO:

Trekking the fort islands is taking that Alibaug weekend drive a bit further. Explore the drawings on the cave walls in Underi, visit the temple of Vetal, the tomb of Daud Pir, and the British-made lighthouse. The island is also accessible by a ferry.

This article was first published in Travel and Leisure India South Asia. To read more stories like this one click here.

3 Comment(s)
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There is no more scuba on Netrani island. I enquiried last year and it was closed BA use of border security reasons as data as I remember.
Sat 04 29 17, 01:40 · Reply · Report
the photos are downloaded
Thu 06 02 16, 10:55 · Reply · Report
I guess the photos of Majuli and Diu got exchanged.
Wed 06 01 16, 07:51 · Reply · Report