Visit to Lakshdweep :heady memories of a cocktail

Being an individualistic and self oriented person a  three day outing to an exotic   Island in group of nine persons with different backgrounds and different linguistic styles,  is not  my perception of  a dream holiday.  At a particular stage in life an outing is meaningful if it helps you in unwinding yourself. An isolated beach bed under the umbrella with periodical dips in the sea and your glass of beer by the side build up the true atmosphere for this kind of experience on an island. Long back when kids were small and we had a great eagerness to see every waterfall and mountain, sunset and sunrise point on the guide map then the outings used to be very hectic and different. But with passage of time we (meaning me and my wife) realised the importance of companion ship and solitude as the sole driving force for a relaxed holiday. But this time the chain of events was just beyond my control so this excursion to Lakshdweep group of Islands  happened to be different.

This  group of Islands located on West Coast of Indian Penisula are scattered in a rather haphazard fashion unlike other islands all over the world which are laid out from North to South. After an hours’ flight in a ten seater Dornier aircraft from Cochin we landed at Island of Agatti  which with presence of Air India and Kingfisher Airlines is  the only Airport in the Islands.  The Island also has a Govt Guest House with AC Rooms and excellent dining    facilities.

Agatti is a linear land mass of about 9 Km length and so narrow that one can see  sea waters on   both sides. One side has clear water and calm sea and the other side has uneven sea bed with     corals scattered all along. An enterprising  member of the group soon discovered the hotspots on Agatti which included a private beach with water sport facilities and boat ride for discovering corals on the sea bed. On this discovery everyone promptly marched to the destination. It was sunset time now and as the sun went down in the sea the skyline was painted with myriad shades of red and blue .Next morning was reserved for the boat ride to watch Corals through the fibber glass bottom of the boat . The half hour  bumpy ride in the   choppy sea was not without thrills. At one stage the motor boat engine stopped  and the operator appeared to be confused. His efforts in comforting us through the  information  that we shall not drown due to life jackets was in fact more frightening. Crisis situation was  however soon blown over and forgotten.

The Island of Kavaratti which has the Secretariat and District level offices and can be accessed through  a Pawan Hans chopper in a matter of 15 minutes was our next destination. Here we understood a bit of history and sociology. The Lakshadweep Islands are said to have been discovered when courtiers of Kerala king named Cherman Perumal ruler of Cannore came in search of the king who had suddenly disappeared from his kingdom. While the king remained untraced the incident opened up the Islands to the rest of the world, at a time even perpetuating an intense struggle for domination between Kings of various ruling dynasties. The Islands had a matrilineal system known as Maru Makkhatayam  for long and were ruled by Queen Arrakkal Bibi  for a long time with a firm hand.  The queen is understood to have prevented domination of other Kings and East India Company The Islands still seemed to have   spirit of the Queen hanging in the atmosphere since we had opportunity to interact with a fair number of dominant personalities from the fair sex. Kavaratti also has an aquarium with exotic fishes and a good fish museum showing collection of some fishes caught over the islands from time to time and some species are really interesting. The island has also started a new initiative for processing the sea water in order to make it fit for drinking by boiling it at low pressure.

Bangaram Island which is a great favourite with foreigners were not in our schedule. The Island is sought after due to water sports facilities and due to the solitude which it offers-the resort with six rooms is beyond the reach of upper end Indian tourists and the facilities for snorkelling and scuba diving are the same way too .Kadmat Island was our destination on the last day. A two and half hour ride in speed boat was a smooth experience in comparison to some disturbing predictions of sea sickness made earlier in anticipation of rough sea. The island does not have a jetty so we had to hop in another motor boat for reaching the destination. Kadmat has some air-conditioned tourist huts and inviting blue waters .However the option of swimming did not appear to be very attractive since there was only one more swimmer in sight and the sand appeared to be sinking below your feet all the time. Weather was really hot and an hours outing appeared to be enough for giving a tanned look even to the fairest members of the group.We returned to Kavaratti in late evening. Next day was our departure to hustle and bustle of city life. In the evening the beach was cool and the sunset was tantalizingly beautiful.

I dipped my feet in cool water and laid down on the sand with closed eyes .I seemed to have dozed off a bit while thinking of the islands past and the divine surroundings. It appeared that the pages of ancient history unfolded to my memory as I found myself with the courtiers looking for their lost king and then the ruler Arrakal Bibi charming but merciless ruling the small kingdom. The colourful pages of history dancing in kaleidoscope of natural beauty had a heady feeling. A once in  lifetime experience definitely.

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