Lakshadweep – An unexplored island in the otherwise huge mainland of India:
When it comes to islands, seldom do we think of India as a destination. That is mainly because there are very few islands within the country. One of those and probably the most scenic island (not just in India) but across the world is the Lakshadweep Island.
Lakshadweep, India’s Maldives
It is a group of 36 islands in the same archipelago. Lakshadweep is a Sanskrit word which means one lakh islands. It is the smallest union territory of India and is about 200 kms away from Kochi (the nearest major port in India). Though, Lakshadweep originally consisted of 36 islands; one of the islands Pirali which got submerged due to sea erosion.
Flying into Lakshadweep is a breath-taking experience as the flight lands on a narrow strip in the middle of a tiny island Agatti which is the only airport in Lakshadweep. It feels surreal as the plan descents into the midst of the blue green ocean. As soon as you land on the plane, you would know that you are here for one-of-a-kind experiences of living on one of the most beautiful and unexplored places on Earth. You have blue waters and white sands just besides the landing strip of the airport as you deboard the plane.
Lakshadweep is a group of beautiful islands that is probably the one and the only chain of coral islands in the Indian sub-continent. The islands are all made up of corals. The Lakshadweep Coral Islands are a result of accumulation of corals on a volcanic island on the surface of the great Indian Ocean. The volcanic island was submerged into the ocean millions of years ago.
The Lakshadweep, Maldives and Chagos archipelagos form a contiguous mountain ridge in the ocean. The Chagos-Laccadive Ridge (CLR) is a prominent volcanic ridge extending between the Northern and the Central Indian Ocean. This ridge is believed to be a continuation of the Aravalli Mountain range of Rajasthan and Gujarat since the late tertiary times.
From the beautiful mornings to the amazing sunsets, these islands are a feast for nature lovers. You can enjoy seeing the sun coming up from the horizon as the water colour slowly turns from white to deep blue as if someone is slowly pouring blue colour into it. With the sparse and controlled tourism, you can literally feel like you are almost alone on the island.
Nature’s Swimming Pool
As the sun rises and the day gets warmer, the water around the island is still very cool and inviting. You would like to simply dive into it at any point in time. It is like a personal swimming pool spanning 1000s of kms. Most part of the ocean near the island is very shallow and you can even see fishes, coral reefs and other marine life forms while you dive into this natural swimming pool.
For more professional divers, there is always an option to go scuba or do snorkelling in the midst of the ocean. There are even options to see some ship wrecks if you don’t mind going a little deep into the ocean. For people who don’t like dipping into waters, there is an option to go kayaking or sailing as well or do some fun water activities like speed boats, water scooters etc.
Imagine taking your kayak and landing on a nearby sand bank (a super tiny island) which has no vegetation or structures (just plain sand) and gazing at the sun set as the sun moves across the horizon to lighten some other part of the Earth. Sunsets on these islands as well as the night sky are as amazing as the beautiful days.
For star gazers as well, these islands will provide a life time memory of seeing a completely illuminated sky with millions of stars shining right in front of you. On a lucky day, you can see some planets, milky way or even a few shooting stars. Do remember to pack your telescope if you love seeing celestial objects.
With a population of 64,473, Lakshadweep has a sex ratio of 946 females for every 1000 males and a literacy rate of 92.28%. Most people of Lakshadweep are descendants of migrants from the Malabar Coast of southwest India and the islanders are ethnically similar to coastal Kerala’s Malayali people.
Corals are the most dominating part of the archipelago that amounts to 69 % of wetland area in Lakshadweep. Each island is fringed by coral sands, and is marked by huge, shallow, calm lagoon on the western side that separates it from incoming swells of the outer sea by the wall of a reef made up of massive coral boulders and live corals.
In Lakshadweep, the lagoons are very different from the mainland. In the sense that they are actually coral reef lagoons wherein the water body gets enclosed within a barrier reef.
A new study has found that in a few years from now a number of islands of the Union territory may face the threat of submergence due to rising sea levels. Sea levels around Lakshadweep will rise between 0.4 mm and 0.9 mm annually, causing coastal erosion in many of the islands. And possibly submerging the smaller islets according to the study.
Given the extreme natural beauty, serene marine life and breath-taking experiences which may not survive for long, an island lover must visit this place as early as possible.