Art & Entertainment

After PM Visit, Celebs Pitch Lakshadweep As Must-Travel Destination; Slam Maldivian Leaders' Remarks

Indian cine stars such as Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Shraddha Kapoor along with other prominent personalities on Sunday appealed to fans to "explore Indian islands" and coastal destinations, amid row over disparaging remarks by Maldivian ministers after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Lakshadweep.

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Celebs on Lakshwadeep
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Indian cine stars such as Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Shraddha Kapoor along with other prominent personalities on Sunday appealed to fans to "explore Indian islands" and coastal destinations, amid row over disparaging remarks by Maldivian ministers after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Lakshadweep.

In social media posts, Kumar, cricketer Hardik Pandya and veteran player Venkatesh Prasad also urged people to support the Indian tourism sector as they condemned the comments by Maldivian ministers on X that have triggered a row with Internet users pitting Lakshadweep and Maldives as rival tourist destinations. 

The Maldivian government on Sunday distanced itself from "derogatory remarks on social media platforms against foreign leaders and high-ranking individuals". 

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In an X post, Salman Khan said it was "cool" to see Modi enjoy the clean and stunning beaches of Lakshadweep.

"... and the best part is that yeh hamare India mein hain," the "Tiger 3" star wrote.

Tiger Shroff said the Lakshadweep islands had captured his heart. 

"The rich culture, tranquil beaches, and the genuine warmth of its people create an enchanting allure. Join me in celebrating the inclusivity and unparalleled beauty of these islands - a treasure trove waiting for us to explore!" he posted.

Shraddha Kapoor and other stars shared posts on X using the hashtags 'Explore Indian Islands' and 'Lakshadweep'.

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"All these images and memes making me super FOMO now. Lakshadweep has such pristine beaches and coastlines, thriving local culture, I'm on the verge of booking an impulse chhutti. This year, why not #ExploreIndianIslands (sic)" Shraddha shared on X.

Akshay Kumar, who rang in the New Year in the Maldives with his family, condemned the "hateful and racist" remarks by prominent public figures from the Maldives. 

"Surprised that they are doing this to a country that sends them the maximum number of tourists... We are good to our neighbours but why should we tolerate such unprovoked hate? 

"I've visited the Maldives many times and always praised it, but dignity first. Let us decide to #ExploreIndianIslands and support our own tourism," the actor wrote on the microblogging site.

Speaking in the same vein, former cricketer Venkatesh Prasad posted, "A deputy minister using such language for our country. Maldives is a largely poor country largely dependent on upmarket tourism with over 15% tourists from India."

"India has very many unexplored beautiful coastal towns, and this is a great opportunity to develop many of them into tourist destinations," he added in his X post.

Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar said he rang in his 50th birthday in Sindhudurg and the coastal town in Maharashtra offered everything "we wanted, and more".

"Gorgeous locations combined with wonderful hospitality left us with a treasure trove of memories. India is blessed with beautiful coastlines and pristine islands. With our 'Atithi Devo Bhava' philosophy, we have so much to explore, so many memories waiting to be created," Tendulkar added.

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Pandya said it is "extremely sad" to see what's being said about India. 

"With its gorgeous marine life, beautiful beaches, Lakshadweep is the perfect get away spot and surely a must visit for me for my next holiday," he added in his X post.

Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar and actors John Abraham, Kangana Ranaut, and Randeep Hooda were also among some of the Indian film personalities to promote Lakshadweep through social media.

Ranaut called Lakshadweep an "almost untouched, unexplored and unexploited natural island".

Hooda, who shot his upcoming film "Veer Savarkar" in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, said he was awed by the pristine beauty and the rich history of the region.

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"Incredible India is not just a tag, our beautiful country has some of the most incredible and stunning locales and #Lakshadweep is an example of it- a heaven like place in India itself! Can't wait to explore this beautiful Indian island," Kartik Aaryan wrote on X.

"With the amazing Indian hospitality, the idea of 'Atithi Devo Bhava' and a vast marine life to explore. Lakshadweep is the place to go," said Abraham.    

Modi was in Lakshadweep on January 2 and 3 to inaugurate several projects.

The prime minister, who also went snorkelling to explore undersea life, posted pictures of his undersea exploration on X and early morning walks on the pristine beaches.

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"For those who wish to embrace the adventurer in them, Lakshadweep has to be on your list. During my stay, I also tried snorkelling - what an exhilarating experience it was," he wrote.

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