Imagine a place so serene and pristine that you’re afraid that even your presence might taint it. Where virgin sand carpets the edges of shores that are intermittently splashed by turquoise waters. Where merely lying inert on a hammock to look at the horizon becomes a surreal activity. Welcome to the archipelago of Lakshadweep where 12 isles encapsulate all of this and more. Here’s what you can expect from each of them.
Kavaratti is the most developed of all the islands in Lakshadweep and the administrative capital of India’s smallest union territory. Apart from water sports and coral visits, Kavaratti is famous for its mosques. Don’t leave the island without checking out the massive Jamnath mosque and the popular Ujra mosque – well known for its striking architecture. While visiting the latter, take a detour to visit the aquarium nearby which houses a diverse variety of marine life (which kids will love!).
Quite a hub for visitors, the Kadmat Island is best known for the huge lagoon located on the west side of the island. With an abundance of marine life, the island is home to several dive sites. What adds to the allure is that most of these sites are still relatively untouched and parts of the coral reef still lie unexplored. Given the popularity of the island however, it’s essential to make prior reservations for stay-and-dive packages at least three months in advance. Best time to visit is between October and mid-May.
Home to the largest lagoon amongst the Lakshadweep islands, Kalpeni has shallow waters ideal for water-sports and snorkeling. Those fascinated by coral debris can make a beeline for the eastern and southeastern shores of this island. The picturesque islets of Tilakkam, Pitti and the virgin Cheriyam – which is largely uninhabited – are within a stone’s throw distance from Kalpeni. Shutterbugs will especially love the stunning lagoon on Cheriyam. Koomel Beach is a hub for water sports and conveniently has bath-huts and changing rooms right on the beach. Boat rentals are easily available too.
The second largest and southernmost island in Lakshadweep, Minicoy is often referred to by locals as Maliku Island. The inhabitants of this island are believed to have been the first to have come up with pole and line tuna fishing in Lakshadweep. The roads in Minicoy wind past coconut groves and villages offering a fascinating insight into the local way of life. Visitors can snorkel and dive here along the coral reef.
Home to the archipelago’s solitary airstrip, Agatti Island connects Lakshadweep to the rest of India (direct flights only to Kochi). Fishing is the primary occupation of the island’s residents and there’s a variety of seafood on offer. Famed for its stunning beaches – considered by many to be amongst the best in the world – Agatti is popular amongst those looking for a bit of deep sea fishing, scuba diving, sailing, skiing and even kayaking. The island also serves as an ideal base for exploring the uninhabited and serene isles of Bangaram, Thinnakara, Parali-I and Parali-II which lie in close proximity.
Opened to tourists only in 1974, Bangaram became a tourist favourite after the Agatti aerodrome was commissioned, making it easily accessible. The smooth white sandy beaches on this island offer a surfeit of water sports and there’s a lovely lagoon where corals are easily visible. When on the island, take the time to go bird-spotting.