Lakshadweep, India’s smallest Union Territory is an archipelago consisting of 36 islands with an area of 32 sq km forming 12 atolls three reefs, five submerged banks and ten inhabited islands known for its exotic beaches and lush green landscape. The name Lakshadweep in Malayalam and Sanskrit means ‘a hundred thousand islands’.
All Islands are 220 to 440 km away from the coastal city Kochi in Kerala.
What are the main islands of Lakshadweep –Agatti, Amini, Andrott, Bangaram, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadmat, Kalpeni, Kavaratti, Kiltan and Minicoy (southern-most island of Lakshadweep). These are inhibited islands and based on the drinking water availability.
Telecommunication - Only BSNL and Airtel provides telecommunication services to Lakshadweep Islands. BSNL provides connectivity in all 10 inhabited islands whereas Airtel provides connectivity to Kavaratti and Agatti islands.
The amazing history of Lakshadweep full of stories
Early history of Lakshadweep is unwritten. Local traditions attribute the first settlement on these islands to the period of Cheraman Perumal, the last king of Kerala. It is believed that after his conversion to Islam, at the behest of some Arab merchants, he slipped out of his capital Cranganore, the present day Kodungallor – an old harbor town Kochi, for Mecca. When his disappearance was discovered, search parties went after him in sailing boats and left for the shores of Mecca, in search of the king from different places. It is believed that one of these sailing boats of Raja of Cannanore was struck by a fierce storm and they were shipwrecked on the island now known as Bangaram. From there they went to the nearby island of Agatti. Finally the weather improved and they returned to the mainland sighting other islands on their way. It is said that after their return another party of sailors and soldiers discovered the island of Amini and started living there. It is believed that the people sent there were Hindus. Even now unmistakable Hindu Social stratification exists in these islands despite Islam. Legends say that small settlements started in the Islands of Amini, Kavaratti, Andrott and Kalpeni first and later people from these islands moved to the other islands of Agatti, Kiltan, Chetlat and Kadmat.
Another story –
The advent of Islam dates back to the 7th century around the year 41 Hijra. It is universally believed that one St.Ubaidullah(r) while praying at Mecca fell asleep. He dreamt that Prophet Mohammed(s) wanted him to go to Jeddah and take a ship from there to go to distant places. Thus, he left Jeddah but after sailing for months, a storm wrecked his ship near these small Islands. Floating on a plank he was swept ashore on the island of Amini. He fell asleep there but again dreamt of the Prophet asking him to propagate Islam in that Island. Ubaidullah started doing so. But this enraged the headman of the island and he ordered his exit at once. St. Ubaidullah(r) stood firm. Meanwhile, a young woman fell in love with him. He gave her the name Hameedat Beebi and married her. This further offended the headman and he decided to kill him. It is said that the headman and his henchmen surrounded Ubaidullah(r) and his wife to kill them. At once St.Ubaidullah(r) called up on the Almighty and the people were struck blind. At this time St.Ubaidullah(r) and his wife disappeared and as soon as they left the island people regained their eye sight.From Amini St.Ubaidullah(r) arrived at Andrott where he met with similar opposition but he succeeded finally in converting the people to Islam. He next went to other islands and successfully propagated Islam and returned to Andrott where he died, and was buried. The grave of St.Ubaidullah(r) is today a sacred place. Preachers from Androttare respected deeply in far off lands like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Burma etc. It is a marabout or Mukbara.
Another story of Laccadives–
The Arrival of the Portuguese in India again made Laccadives an important place for seafarers. It was also the beginning of years of plunder for the islands. The finely spun coir was much sought after for ships. So the Portuguese started looting island vessels. They forcibly landed at Amini to procure coir sometime in the early 16th century, but it is said that the people killed all the invaders by poisoning, ending the Portuguese invasion.
Even after the conversion of the entire islands to Islam, sovereignty remained in the hands of the Hindu Rajah of Chirakkal for some years. From the hands of the Chirakkal Raja, the Administration of the island passed on to the Muslim house of Arakkal of Cannanore around the middle of the 16th century. The Arakkal rule was oppressive and unbearable. So sometime in the year 1783 some islanders from Amini took courage and went to Tipu Sultan at Mangalore and requested him to take over the Administration of Amini group of islands. Tipu Sultan at that time was on friendly terms with Beebi of Arakkel and after deliberations, the islands of Amini group were handed over to him. Thus the islands suzerainty came to be divided as five came under the rule of Tipu Sultan and the rest continued under Arakkal house. After the battle of Seringapattom in 1799 the islands were annexed to the British East India Company and were administered from Mangalore. In 1847, a severe cyclone hit the island of Andrott and Raja of Chirakkal decided to visit the island in order to assess the damages and for distributing relief. ANOTHER BRITISH GAME An officer of the East India Company Sir William Robinson volunteered to accompany him. On reaching Andrott, the Rajah found it difficult to meet all the demands of the people. Sir William then offered the Rajah help in the form of a loan. This was accepted. This arrangement continued for about four years but when the interest started mounting, the English asked the Rajah to repay them which he could not. In 1854 all the remaining islands were handed over to the East India Company for Administration. so, came the British rule.
The Union Territory was formed in 1956 and it was named Lakshadweep in 1973.
Lakshadweep Permit - The entry to Lakshadweep islands is restricted. One requires an entry permit issued by Lakshadweep Administration to visit these islands.
Foreigners are restricted to the islands of Agatti, Bangaram and Kadmat, plus transit only (maximum of 12 hours) in Kavaratti. Indians may visit the other islands as well, but accommodation is very limited
How to get around on Lakshadweep island
Boat and helicopter transfers are available from Agatti to Bangaram and Kadmat. The helicopter (USD 150 return) may be the only option in monsoon season from May to September.
By boats/ferries: These can be used for getting around from one island to the other but are very costly.
Once on an island, there aren't too many options as the islands themselves are very small: most of them are less than 10 km in length and less than a kilometer in breadth between their extremes. You can travel by foot or hire a bicycle.
Where to stay
There are three full-service resorts in Lakshadweep (though one of them, the Bangaram Island Resort, is currently not operating), which are also the only places where foreigners can stay. All prices listed below are for double rooms and include all meals.
In addition, basic government resorts open to Indian citizens only are available at Minicoy, Kavaratti and Kalpeni. Some packages offered by sports include accommodation on board the ship, with only day visits to the islands.
How to reach Lakshadweep
Lakshadweep Island can be reached by ships and flights operated from Kochi. For all tourist purposes Kochi is the gate way to Lakshadweep. Agatti and Bangaram islands can be reached by flight from Kochi. Indian Airlines operate flights from Kochi. Onward flights from Kochi are available to most of the airports in India and abroad. Airstrip is there in Agatti island only. From Agatti boats are available to Kavaratti and Kadmat during fair season October to May. Helicopter transfer is available from Agatti to Bangaram Island Resort during monsoon and to Kavaratti throughout the year. The flight from Cochin to Agatti takes approximately one hour and thirty minutes.
Six passenger ships - MV Kavaratti, MV Arabian Sea, MV Lakshadweep Sea, MV Amindivi and MV Minicoy operate between Cochin and Lakshadweep. The passage takes 14 to 18 hours depending on island chosen for journey. The ships offer different classes of accommodation: A/C First Class with two berth cabins, A/C Second Class with four berth cabins and push back/Bunk Class with A/C seating. A doctor is available on call on board. MV Amindivi and MV Minicoy also offer comfortable A/C seating ideal for a night’s journey.
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