Just off the coast
of Kerala are a widely scattered group of coral islands - 36 of
them - collectively known as Lakshadweep. They form part
of the Union of India and are one of the country’s newest
tourist destinations. Ten of the islands are inhabited by
simple, peace-loving folk whose language is close to that spoken
in Kerala. The islanders have lifestyles and occupations that
revolve around coconut cultivation, coir matting and fishing.
Even today, nothing is actually produced in the islands
themselves, and everything comes from the ’mainland’, as India
is somewhat quaintly referred to there. Tourism’s major focus is
on water sports, as each of the islands are surrounded by a
coral reef providing large areas of crystal clear water for
everything from snorkeling to wind surfing. The five islands
which are open to tourists have simple accommodation in the
shape of beach cottages. Permits to visit Lakshadweep can be
obtained from the Lakshadweep tourist office in Cochin. Regular
flights operate from Cochin to one of the islands, as well as
modestly priced ship cruises which stop at all the islands open
to tourism. These cruises begin and end at Cochin.
While equipment for
water sports is available at the islands themselves, not much in
the way of shopping and entertainment is possible as yet.
Lakshadweep is the perfect holiday for those who want to get
away from the artifices of the world and enjoy a few days in
simple yet stunningly beautiful surroundings.