LAKSHADWEEP, A Paradise Of Islands

Tripoto
11th Nov 2017
Photo of LAKSHADWEEP, A Paradise Of Islands by Kritharth Pendyala

FOREWORD:

A trip to Lakshadweep is one of its kind, thanks to all the planning and several things to have in mind before the final countdown to the trip. Plan well in advance and ensure you have a good 45 days before you take your flight or ship onward from Kochi. It needs a lot of papertrail and effort in order to clear the entry formalities. Lakshadweep is one of the few places in India that requires a visitor’s entry permit. To enter the Union Territory of Lakshadweep as a traveller, you require an entry manifest issued by the Administrator’s Office in Kochi, Willingdon Island. Do keep in mind that the permit is the most important document to visit Lakshadweep Islands. This is one such trip where I thought that the precursor to the trip is as exciting as the trip itself, a lot of planning and prepping isn’t always good, but as I said, the trip to Lakshadweep is one of a kind! To obtain the permit, you either need to have contact access with a local travel agent in Kochi, or go to Kochi personally and get the permit issued. Permits require certain documents, which may be quite a task to obtain, but believe me, it is definitely worth the effort! You require a police clearance certificate issued by the local police station, whose jurisdiction you live in. Mumbai police aren’t very helpful in this regard, for they did not know the procedure at all. This certificate has to be submitted to the office in Willingdon Island who will issue the permits. Married couples can be accomodated on a single permit whereas all others travellers would require a seperate permit. There is also an option to skip this entire procedure and book your trip with the government authorised tourism department named SPORTS, Lakshadweep Tourism which is a part of Lakshadweep Government. They will issue a permit which is in total accordance with your itinerary, and guess what, you don’t require to submit any document whatsoever if you book through them. We chose to go with SPORTS, and it was very breezy to obtain the entry manifest/permit. Going ahead with a travel agent will seem easy, but with the experience we had, going through SPORTS, was the best decision of our trip. They have access and internal contacts everywhere(Boats,any special requirements,etc.). The food, service, and their will to always welcome people is simply brilliant. So please be well informed that visiting Lakshadweep and experiencing it through SPORTS, is the best way possible. Booking through SPORTS is costly, but worth because of the beautiful properties they own in each of the islands. Alliance Air, the regional wing of AirIndia, operates the only flight to Agatti Island. This is a morning flight from Kochi. Landing on the Agatti airstrip is an experience in itself, because the tiny ATR which is loaded with only about 80% of its entire capacity lands on a 1200 metre runway, making it the one of the most difficult places to land in the world!!! Get yourself booked on window seats for the best experience preferably in the first half of the aircraft. Please keep in mind, that the connectivity is limited to Airtel and BSNL in Agatti, Kavaratti and Bangaram, and only BSNL in all other islands. Do not expect anything over 2G internet. Some of the SPORTS resorts have WiFi connectivity, subject to network availability.

Day 1

Kochi to Agatti and Kavaratti

(11th November 2017):

Yet to recover from the amazing landing here at Agatti airstrip, stunned by the silence of the emerald isle of India, you will find yourself in Lakshadweep. A group of 36 coral islands, with 10 of them being inhabited and only 6 of them open for tourism, The Union Territory of Lakshadweep is the most pristine and virgin beach destination in India. Agatti is not open for tourism, so all that you can do is a day trip here. Some of the best turquoise beaches, lagoon shores and coral reef walls and fine white coral sand are owned by Lakshadweep. Trust me, A blog or even some photographs do not do justice to the place, you have to breathe here to actually sink in the feel!!! We had to move to Kavaratti, but some delay in the vessel timings ensured that we had a great daytrip at Agatti, visiting all the places. SPORTS will treat you extremely well, ensuring everything is in order and planned out well in advance. High speed AC vessels or crafts as they are called are most commonly used to transit from island to island. There is a schedule, which is published and strictly adhered to, by the government. After lunch we departed for Kavaratti. It takes 2 hours by the high speed vessel. The SPORTS resort is right in the centre of the island pretty much near to the jetty. It is a beautiful property facing the lagoon beach. Crystal clear waters of the Laccadives Sea are calm inside the lagoon, but ferocious once you are out in the open sea. It was already evening by then. A view of the sunset, a walk round the village, and some quiet relaxing time by the beach ended our first day in Lakshadweep!

The ATR at Agatti Airstrip, after landing

Photo of Agatti Airport, Agatti, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala
Day 3

Kavaratti to Kadmat

(13th November 2017):

The vessel was scheduled to leave Kavaratti at 6.30am. We reached Kadmat at 11am. Kadmat is also an inhabited island with a population of 7000. We spent our time lazing around and basking in the sun. The property of SPORTS is huge here. It has a private beach with several hammocks and a wide variety of activities. A windy evening was the perfect set-up for a Yacht ride with the sails onboard. It was more of a topsy-turvy ride full of thrill. We returned to the shore by sunset. To top it all, a lovely dinner followed, by the beach side. This day was more of a leisure filled day just for relaxing!

View from our room at SPORTS resort, Kadmat

Photo of Kadmat Island, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala

Getting the Yacht ready for a sail!

Photo of Kadmat Island, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala
Day 2

Kavaratti

(12th November 2017):

Kavaratti is the capital of the union territory of Lakshadweep. It is inhabited and has a population of about 12000. It has a few shops and clear signs of settlement. It houses most of the government offices, has a good hospital and 2 Air-Ambulances for an emergency on any island. The locals have to bring everything from the mainland(Kochi), since there are only 2 things available locally, coconuts and fish. The morning was set aside for watersports. We snorkelled and I went for my first SCUBA Dive. I had to go for the try-dive with a 3 metre depth, because of the rough weather conditions in the open sea outside the lagoon. It helped in a way because it was my first time. You can see a completely different world altogether, underwater. It is so amazing and beautiful in a way that cannot be conceived by anything, except the mind and that too only with a firsthand experience!!! It was so beautiful, that it took me an entire day to recover from this beautiful and enthralling hangover. We spent some time around the village, visiting the lighthouse, and a local hatchery. We quickly retired for the night, to leave for Kadmat next morning.

View from our Room at Kavaratti SPORTS Resort

Photo of Kavaratti Island Beach Resort, Kavaratti, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala

A fantastic sunset at a magical place in India

Photo of Kavaratti Island Beach Resort, Kavaratti, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala
Day 4

Kadmat

(14th November 2017):

Waking up to a beautiful sunrise, with two groups of dolphins welcoming us to this beautiful archipelago of coral lagoons was no short of a dream! The waters in Kadmat are home to a wide variety of marine life. Beautiful corals and some awesome sights of fish in water compelled me to go for another SCUBA dive here, in the open sea. Diving in the open sea is one of the best experiences in the world, and Lakshadweep stands amongst the best places to go for an open dive. This particular dive-site had a view to a 40 metre deep trench which is clearly visible. You can see several schools of fish in complete harmony and swimming all across in the same rhythm, and its just so silent that you feel you are in a completely different world altogether. This is a lifetime experience and I would definitely try to have a go at it in all the different seas across the world. We went for a village tour in the evening and witnessed some octopus hunting by the local beach folk. The resort officials were kind enough to arrange for a local traditional dance program in the evening, which had the real taste of the Laccadive culture. This event was followed by dinner and we were off to retire for the day.

Southern tip of Kadmat Island

Photo of Kadmat Island, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala

SCUBA DIVE at Kadmat

Photo of Kadmat Island, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala
Day 5

Kadmat to Bangaram

(15th November 2017):

Our day started pretty early at 4.00am, we had to board a speed boat to reach Bangaram, the next island on our trip. We reached Bangaram by 8.00am in the morning. Bangaram was the most beautiful island in our trip, because of the excellent views it has on offer. Calling it gorgeous would be an understatement, making it a must visit place on one’s itinerary to Lakshadweep. It is totally uninhabited, which means there is nobody on this island except for travellers who choose to visit Bangaram and the staff of the resort. The water periphery here matches the colour of the clouds, so one cannot identify the partition between the clouds and the ocean at Bangaram. It is that beautiful. White sands, pristine waters, deep blue and turquoise waters are a common sight in Lakshadweep, but for people like us, who are a part of continuous urban pandemonium, it will take a while to sink in. Bangaram Island Resort has thatched roof huts for accomodation. We went for a turtle chase, where we chase the turtles in a speed boat, and when the turtle is tired, it comes up to the water surface to breathe, and then we can see it entirely. We also went for a shipwreck snorkel activity which is exclusive to the Bangaram island. There is a shipwreck of more than a hundred years old which is home to a lot of marine life. The site of the shipwreck itself is an entire ecosystem. There are corals growing on the rusted iron grids of the ship. It is nature’s wonder and its power that creates a wrecked and damaged piece of waste, useful to various forms of life. Once in Bangaram, the shipwreck snorkel is an activity, one must go for. A serene sunset and some time along the beach was followed by a sumptuous local dinner. We can see bio-luminiscent plankton here on the beach at Bangaram, they shine and emit blue coloured light which is simply divine to see. Of all the other beaches only this lagoon beach at Bangaram is home to such micro-organisms, and they can clearly be seen in the silent darkness of the night. Lakshadweep fulfilled many of my bucketlist checkpoints that I thought were barely possible owing to the damage and impact we’ve had on our environment, it feels really proud to have such a beautiful destination in India.

Sunrise amidst the Arabian Sea

Photo of Bangaram, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala

View from our Room at Bangaram Island Resort

Photo of Bangaram, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala
Photo of Bangaram, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala

Bio-Luminiscent plankton or Phytoplankton on the shore of Bangaram

Photo of Bangaram, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala

Birds Of Bangaram

Photo of Bangaram, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala
Day 6

Bangaram

(16th November 2017):

Waking up to the beauty of Bangaram, and a beautiful sunrise, we spent some time lazing around on the pristine beach. From Bangaram, you can clearly see atleast 3 different shades of water in the Laccadives Sea, indicating the depth in each region. I went for another SCUBA dive, this time in one of the best places in Lakshadweep for SCUBA. The dive masters zeroed in on a dive site known as the Shallow point. It is 12m deep and has a variety of marine species. Visibility was low, but I enjoyed every moment of my underwater dive, in the silence of the deep sea and the under-water world. SCUBA drains you of energy, but it also leaves you yearning for more time underwater. A relaxed and a beachy evening followed. The sunset point is at the back of the island and it gets really scenic during the evenings, which is a low tide period and there is a sand bank near the island which you can reach by wading through knee-deep crystal clear water. There are several hermit crabs which are really beautiful to see on this island. Another day on this beautiful set of islands ended with a beach side dinner.

The Sandbank of Bangaram

Photo of Bangaram, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala

A tiny Hermit crab

Photo of Bangaram, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala

Sunset at Bangaram

Photo of Bangaram, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala
Day 7

Manta Point Dive and Thinnakara

(17th November 2017):

Thinnakara is really close to Bangaram and you can reach there in 15 minutes from Bangaram. I had planned another dive at a fantastic dive site to spot sharks. This was the Manta Point. It lies to the North-East of Bangaram, and has some very good shark sightings. Soon we were 12 metres underwater and once we went towards the actual point, there was a huge stingray basking on the sand underwater, also the divemaster who was assisting me with the dive had pointed out towards a deeper point, and there was a mid size white tip shark. The effort and time was finally worth it, once we were up and floating after the dive was over, it took me a couple of hours to recover from the fantastic experience that I had just been in! We had reached the last leg of our trip and headed to Thinnakara for the last few hours on this heaven in India. Thinnakara is also an uninhabited island. The resort in Thinnakara will accomodate you only in tents, and it is a nice experience to stay in one of them. The beach at Thinnakara cannot be enjoyed completely because there is too much of seaweed that is washed onto the shore, owing to the location of the island. The water is brown because of the moss and algae accumulation, but this does not take anything away from the island or the waters of Lakshadweep, because they are clean as ever with pure white coral sand and crystal clear water all around. We went to a small secluded island which is right next to Thinnakara. It is called Bada Parali. There is also a smaller island called Chotta Parali nearby. Both of these are also uninhabited. Walking and wading through the water is a fantastic experience as we could see a lot of sea-cucumbers, and baby eels. The water is as clear as it can get, so you can see the underwater life. As the darkness of the night approached, I could sense the last day in Lakshadweep come to an end.

A last sunset in this beautiful place!

Photo of Thinnakara, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala

My last SCUBA DIVE in Lakshadweep at the Manta Point

Photo of Thinnakara, Lakshadweep, India by Kritharth Pendyala
Day 8

Thinnakara to Bangaram/Agatti and the return back to Kochi

(18th November 2017):

We left in the local boat for Bangaram and from there onto a high speed craft for Agatti, to catch our flight back to Kochi and eventually enter into the urban cacophony of Bombay. With a strong will to come back to this beautiful archipelago again, our trip ended!!!

A CLOSING NOTE ON LAKSHADWEEP, IT'S PEOPLE, AND WHAT IT OFFERS FOR TRAVELLERS:

We should be proud of the fact that Lakshadweep is a part of India, and promote tourism to these islands.

Be prepared to be in awe of the beaches, the sand, the lagoons, the coral life and reefs, the marine life and everything else.

Try to spend most of your time underwater since it is a completely different world down there!!!

The people of Lakshadweep take their hospitality and tourism very seriously and hence they are the most courteous bunch of people we can ever find. They will readily accept any demand put forth by the guests. They are the nicest people I have come across from all the various regions I have visited. I can say that I have definitely made a few friends there!

Since everything comes from the mainland, there is very little available here, please try not to waste anything in these beautiful islands!

Please visit the below link for further details and mail them for your stay at Lakshadweep, it has details of the government operated tourism office.

http://www.lakshadweeptourism.com/contact.html

1 Comment(s)
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Lakshadweep has been my dream destination for awhile now n I def intern to visit this heaven on earth soon:) Your piece def s an inspiration... Cld you pls temme how much the entire trip cost ya, roughly?!
Tue 12 12 17, 07:25 · Reply (1) · Report
Lakshadweep is a place where tourism is a major source of revenue, so it tends to be a tad costlier than most other places. The trip costed 60k per person all inclusive, and I felt it was more than worth it!!! Happy Travelling!!! And thanks a lot for your kind words :)
Tue 12 12 17, 13:33 · Report