With an entire year of being unable to fulfil their plans, travel enthusiasts all over the world are already seizing this new chapter titled 2021 that is seeing travel restrictions ease out in certain countries. While the new strain of the virus sprang up as an early setback for people looking forward to make the most of 2021 to globetrot, travelling within the country and exploring its hidden magnificence sounds like an intriguing idea in itself. Don’t get your head wrapped around just Andaman and Nicobar, India has quite a few beautiful island vacay destinations that are a little less explored.
Sleepy Roads, Sounds of Nature and a Quaint Village Charm: Divar Island
India’s party capital Goa, wrapped in few shades of the Portuguese culture, is not only popular for its vibrant nightlife and sun-kissed beaches, but is also home to a quiet, charming island. Nestled towards the south of Goa on the river Mandovi, the Divar Island is still untouched by the swarm of tourists that generally flock to the Calangute or Baga beaches. Deriving its name from the combination of the Konkani words ‘dev’ and ‘vaddi’, which translates to—the Place of Gods, Divar is the less-explored delicacy on the Goan platter.
Paddy fields, serenity, warm sun-lit mornings and a dense patch of jungle are what define this little island inland from Panjim. If you plan on staying for a day or two or even more, the Piedade village should be your base. While in Divar, there are a lot of places worth visiting such as the Church of Our Lady of Compassion. When you start at Piedade, you will find this church at the top of the hillock. Dating back to the 1700s, the Church of Our Lady of Compassion is a blend of architectural excellence and history. For ornithology enthusiasts, Divar Island offers you a birdwatching experience at the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. There are motorboats that carry tourists on this birdwatching trail with views of storks and kingfishers. If sleepy roads, sounds of nature, a taste of Portuguese culture and the quaint charm of a village is what you are looking for, your search ends at Divar.
Breathtaking Sunrises, Amazing Antiques and Authentic Assamese Cuisine: Majuli Island
Nestled in the northeastern state of Assan, Majuli or Majoli, is a river island in the state of Assam. With waters of the river Brahmaputra and Subansiri encircling it, ferries crossing by, Majuli is tucked away in its own slow comfort from the busy city life. Fields and forests are the USP of Majuli. The world’s largest river island, Majuli has its own unique culture, often lending it the title of ‘the cultural capital of Assam’. If you are visiting this Assamese island, you cannot miss ‘Raasleela’, the festival that lies at the heart of it. Assamese cuisine, on the other, is a significant part of the ‘Ali Aye Ligang’ festival where one can taste local food and beverages.
There are plenty of sightseeing opportunities awaiting your visit to Majuli, like—the Kamalabari Satra, the Dakhinpat Satra, the Auniati Satra and Tengapania. These ‘satras’ are centres of dance, art and culture. They also house old Assamese utensils, traditional weapons, manuscripts, jewellery, and handicrafts and offer an immersive experience into the culture of this State. Naghmar is the main village of Majuli, and is a centre of several cultural activities and celebrations. If you're craving a pollution-free and a deeply cultural travel experience, Majuli won’t disappoint you.
Lagoons, Beaches and Coral Panorama: Aggati Island
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Embedded in the Lakshadweep group of Islands, Aggati is another on the list of offbeat vacation islands of India. Aggati is placed on a coral isle and is a geographical wonder to look at. Stretching over approximately 8 kms, the population of this Island is around 8000. It is small as compared to the other islands in the Lakshadweep chain, but arrests the travellers’ hearts with its naturalscapes. With an airport, Aggati is a highly accessible location for travellers from around the world. Aggati is a paradise for water sports enthusiast with activities like scuba diving, kayaking, water skiing, swimming to indulge in. If the depths of the blue waters interest you, you can even try out ‘Deep Sea fishing’ and ‘glass bottom boat ride’ at Aggati Islands. White sand beaches combined with a clear blue and white skyline, blue lagoons, coral reefs and catching a glimpse of rare aquatic life- if the underwater sounds like a universe you want to explore, there is nothing better than this hidden island of India.
A Rejuvenation of the Mind, Body and the Spirit- Pamban Island
Connecting peninsular India to Sri Lanka, this offbeat island lies approximately 500 km south of Chennai. The Pamban Bridge connects the mainland to the island, offering a stunning view of the Bay of Bengal. Pamban is a location wrapped in historical significance, and one can spot the Rama Setu (now submerged) from Adam’s Bridge. The story of the Setu is deeply seated in the grand mythological episodes of the Ramayana. If you are an explorer by spirit, there is an interesting backstory to the abandonment of the town of Dhanushkodi, lying towards the south-east of Pamban Island. Old relics in the shape of the remnants of buildings, picturesque views and clear pristine waters Pamban is also known as the Rameshwaram Island.
The Pamban Bridge, Adam’s Bridge and Kurusadai Island are the major attractions here. This island has also stood witness to different dynasties and rulers, like the Cholas, The Jaffnas, Mughals and Turks. Pamban has a huge untapped potential for tourism, and is home to legends and folklore, among which, one is that of a Weeping Man dating back to the British rule in India.
Enriching Underwater Experience and Scuba Diving Retreat- Netrani Island
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Having one of the clearest and magnificent diving sites, the Netrani Island lies in Murudeshwar, off the coast of Karnataka. Also called the ‘pigeon island’, when viewed from above this island appears to be heart-shaped. While Murudeshwar is a religious city, Netrani is a treasure trove for all water sport activities. Ranging from scuba diving, to witnessing the most exquisite underwater life like Cobia, Stonefish, Turtles, Barracuda, Black Tip Sharks, Netrani is a coral sight to behold.
While it is not advisable to climb onto the island, due to its rocky terrain, there are plenty of water activities to sum up your refreshing visit to this place. Other highlights are the temples at Murudeshwar and famous Manglorean cuisine. With its marine life significantly untouched, it is a calm, quiet, peaceful vacation destination with thrill, waiting at its footstep to take you on an exciting scuba-dive.
Serenity of the Sea and Historical Heritage- Kavvayi Island
It would not be wrong to call Kavvayi Island, as a location that is etched on the pages of history, as it is recorded in the travelogues of famous travellers and explorers like Ibn Batuta and Marco polo. Formerly known as ‘Kavil Pattanam’ Kavvyavi Island, in North Kerala, was once a hub of spice trade in India. After the British banned it in 17th century, Kavil Pattanam was closed. Kavvayi with its wide backwater stretches, is a destination where one can enjoy water zorbing. The Kavvayi backwaters are not a largely commercialized area, making it more enjoyable in its own recluse. Houseboat rides and kayak tours help tourists explore the interiors of Kavvayi Island. The exuberance of water adventure combines with the slow and simple village life at Kavvayi, making it a destination, one can experience the joy of being in tune with nature.
Although foreign travel is not an altogether restricted arena, the world is currently grappling with COVID-19. Meanwhile exploring a few hidden home gems might be an excellent idea!
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