Tucked away in the embrace of the Arabian Sea lies a pristine archipelago that often escapes the global spotlight. Welcome to Lakshadweep, a hidden gem of India that rivals, and some might say, surpasses the renowned beauty of the Maldives.
A Glimpse into Lakshadweep
Lakshadweep, the group of 36 islands is known for its exotic and sun-kissed beaches and lush green landscape. The name Lakshadweep in Malayalam and Sanskrit means “a hundred thousand islands”.
India’s smallest Union Territory Lakshadweep is an archipelago consisting of 36 islands with an area of 32 sq km. It is a uni-district Union Territory and comprises 12 atolls, three reefs, five submerged banks and ten inhabited islands. The islands have a total area of 32 sq km. The capital is Kavaratti and it is also the principal town of the UT. All Islands are 220 to 440 km away from the coastal city of Kochi in Kerala, in the emerald Arabian Sea. The natural landscapes, the sandy beaches, abundance of flora and fauna and the absence of a rushed lifestyle enhance the mystique of Lakshadweep.
Only BSNL and Airtel provide telecommunication services to Lakshadweep Islands. BSNL provides connectivity in all 10 inhabited islands whereas Airtel provides connectivity to Kavaratti and Agatti islands.
The entry to Lakshadweep islands is restricted. One requires an entry permit issued by Lakshadweep Administration to visit these islands.
Best Time To Visit: October – February
What To Expect: Comfortable weather with the temperature not rising above 30C.
Things You’ll Love: Pleasant sea breeze and the soothing sunny mornings on the beach.
Islands of Lakshadweep
Kavaratti – The Capital of Lakshadweep
One of the most developed Laccadive islands, Kavaratti is coral paradise. The supervising tourism board offers two packages called ‘Coral Reef’ and ‘Taratashi’. The island is home to a total of 52 mosques.
Surrounding calm lagoons are the ideal spots for water-sport enthusiasts. The island also houses the Dolphin Dive Centre for scuba divers. Enjoy a refreshing round of jet skiing or laze around on the white pristine beaches.
- Pay respects at the ornately adorned Urja Mosque
- Don’t forget to visit the marine museum present here.
- Take a dip in the clear sea and get that holiday tan with a sunbath.
- Alcoholic beverages are banned on the island.
Andretti – Untouched Laccadive Beauty
Also known as Andrott island, Andretti is the largest island of the Lakshadweep archipelago and lies closest to the Indian mainland in the east-west direction. The island is quite popular for preserved ancient Buddhist archaeological remains.
- Whisper a prayer at the Saint Hazrat Ubaidullah tomb.
- Carry enough cash as the island has no ATMs.
- Enjoy a refreshing session of sunbathing in the scenic setting.
- Foreign tourists are not allowed to visit the island.
Agatti – A Coral Isle
Agatti is the only island with an airport that makes travelling to Lakshadweep extremely convenient. It is one of the few inhabited islands of the archipelago. The shimmering sand, azure water and a clear blue sky calls for a reviving sunbath. Witness the colourful oceanic creatures with scuba diving and snorkelling or go for a ride in the glass-bottomed boat.
- Permit is required to enter the island. Download online form and submit to the Administrator at Lakshadweep Office in Wellington Island, Kochi.
- Carry enough cash as just one ATM is present on the island.
- Take a stroll on the coconut tree-clad beaches or hire a bicycle.
Minicoy – Second Largest Lakshadweep Island
The island lies the furthest from others in the southernmost part of Lakshadweep with Viringili. Locally called Maliku, the island is situated close to 90 Channel, one of the busiest shipping ports in the Arabian Sea.
Untouched by the commercialisation of tourism, this hidden gem offers beaches of silver sand fringed with tall palm and coconut trees. Don’t miss to catch the surreal view of an infinite sea and Virgin island from the lighthouse.
- Pay respects at the ancient Jama Masjid.
- Witness the mesmerising coral reefs while scuba diving.
- Spend an adventurous day kayaking on traditional boats.
- The island lacks nightclubs and alcohol is banned here.
Kadmath – Treasure of Marine Creatures
The tear-drop shaped Kadmath atoll is part of the Amindivi subgroup of islands and is longest in the band. The islet is home to stunning coral reefs with seagrass and marine turtles that nestle and breed here.
The shallow lagoon towards the west of Kadmath is the spot for various enthralling water sports such as kitesurfing and parasailing. The sandbanks on the southern tip of the island are a major attraction.
- A Water Sports institute and dive centre is present on the island.
- Explore the stunning underwater with a glass-bottomed boat ride.
- Non-Indians are also permitted to visit the island.
- Try your hand at deep sea fishing.
Kalpeni – Uninhabited Cheriyam Islands
Two small islets of Tilakkam and Pitti form a single atoll with Kalpeni. The island is also known as Koefaini and is popular for the enormous bay of coral debris believed to be deposited by a violent storm in 1847.
Tourism facilities are located along the curved bay called Koomel. Kalpeni also features a beach at its northern edge called the Tip beach which is a popular spot for tourists to snorkel. Bathing huts are also present here.
- Don’t forget to try reef-walking for a memorable experience.
- Enjoy bird watching and photography at the Pitti Bird Sanctuary.
- Relax on the white sand with views of coral boulders along the south-eastern shoreline.
Bangaram – Stunning Coral Atoll
A 20-minute speed boat ride from Agatti island, the Banagaram atoll thread includes tiny islands of Thinnakara, South Bangaram City, Pirili 1 and Pirili 2. The teardrop-shaped island is linked to Agatti with a shallow underwater ridge.
Long stretches of silver sand and sparkling turquoise water are encircled by a mesmerising lagoon and clear coral reefs. Lined by tall palm trees, the island offers adventure sports like snorkelling, kitesurfing etcetera.
- Alcohol is legalised only at the Bangaram island in Lakshadweep.
- Interested people can take diving courses. A dive centre is also present.
- Don’t forget to capture the scenic sunset by the beachy rocks.
- Indulge in a fun game of volleyball at the court present here.
Why To Choose Lakshadweep Over Maldives
- A Marine Wonderland
- Cultural Affinity and Accessibility
- Support for Domestic Tourism
- Conservation and Environmental Impact
- Exclusivity and Uniqueness
A Final Note
In essence, Lakshadweep stands as India’s hidden paradise, rivalling and perhaps even surpassing the allure of the Maldives. Whether it’s the enchanting underwater world, the vibrant culture, or the untouched natural landscapes, a journey to these islands promises an unforgettable experience. Lakshadweep beckons to those seeking an exclusive escape, offering a slice of paradise that remains unspoiled, closer to home yet equally enchanting.
Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast, a nature lover, or someone looking to unwind amidst breathtaking vistas, a visit to Lakshadweep promises an experience that is both unforgettable and rejuvenating.
So, plan your trip to this paradise, immerse yourself in its beauty, and let Lakshadweep enchant you with its charm—the Maldives of India awaits your discovery.