Agatti
The coral islands of Lakshadweep seem to be places which man and nature have
conspired to keep more or less pristine. Each island boasts a magnificent lagoon and coral reef with striking marine life. You can swim, snorkel or dive. Agatti is one of the most beautiful isles in Lakshadweep: milky white sands on the beach and turquoise waters with multicoloured fish. The coconut and palm groves and a reef complete the picture. Agatti also has Lakshadweep’s only airport, which must be among the tiniest in the world.

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The pristine blue waters surrounding Lakshadweep Islands
The pristine blue waters surrounding Lakshadweep Islands

Things to See & Do
Walk along the eastern beach for brilliant white coral of all shapes and sizes. In the shimmering waters there are schools of colourful fish, live coral, sea anemone, starfish and sea cucumbers. The easiest way to access this amazing world is to snorkel around the reefs or take a glass-bottomed boat ride.

Golden Jubilee Museum
This simple museum houses a model of a traditional Minicoy sailboat, and a room full of jars and wooden chests recovered from islands and a few shipwrecks. On the ground floor are two busts of the Buddha (dated between 9th and 12th centuries CE), found on Androth Island, which point to the island’s pre-Islamic past.

Mohiyudeen Mosque
Visit the oldest mosque on the island, built in the 16th century in the style of a Malabar temple, with red Mangalore tiles. A stone panel with Arabic lettering decorates its front cornice.

Location: In the Lakshadweep Sea, off the Kerala coastline
Air: Agatti is served by flights from Kochi
Sea: Connected to Kochi by ship

Bangaram
Bangaram and its satellite islands of Thinakkara lie 5 to 6 nautical miles north-east of Agatti. The beautiful lagoon offers calm waters in all seasons and the extraordinary variety of underwater life along the coral reefs attracts divers from around the world.

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A colourful world awaits divers in the sea around these islands
A colourful world awaits divers in the sea around these islands

Things to See & Do
On the sandbars, crabs swarm out of tiny pinholes or larger hideouts with an alarming mound of sand heaped close by. Striped orange crabs hunch their bodies high. A walk in the shallows at low tide gives a more prickly experience of the lagoon. For divers and snorkellers, there is live coral: branch coral tipped with fluorescent blue or lumps stained in patches of red, bread-like growths, brain coral and table coral.

Where to Stay & Eat
Lakshadweep Tourism has reopened the Bangaram Resort (Tel: 0484-2666789; Tariff: ₹15,000 per person, with meals) and will be taking bookings at their Kochi office. The resort offers 30 rooms (non-AC), a restaurant, water sports and fishing. Lakshadweep Tourism also offers stay in 8–10 thatched cottages (Tariff: ₹10,000 per couple, with meals) at Bangaram and 15 cottages at Thinnakara (Tariff: ₹10,000 per couple, with meals), near the lagoon.

Kavaratti
Kavaratti, the administrative centre of the Lakshadweep Union Territory, is a busy place. People are everywhere. In the sea, on the land, in boats, working on the off-shore water pipeline, on the jetty and on the trees. Unlike other islands, Kavaratti’s shore is an apology for a beach. Narrow, busy and littered with waste, it almost spoils the beauty of the magnificent lagoon, which is home to starfish, anemones and sea cucumbers.

Things to See & Do
Take off to the north towards the government-run Lakshadweep Diving Academy (Tel: 04896-263649, Sports Office Tel: 262105; Shaukat Ali 094478 22701). The Professional Association of Diving Instructors or PADI (Tel: 263649) is the largest leisure-diving organisation in the world and has certified millions of divers worldwide. They have a range of programmes from beginners’ to advanced. Discover Scuba costs ₹2,000, the three-day Advance Open Water Diver Course is ₹13,500 and the four to five-day course ₹20,000.

Tip Diving bookings must be done through the SPORTS office in Kochi

The museum-cum-aquarium has different varieties of shells, including the cowries once used as money across the Indian Ocean, amazing corals and many, many species of fish.

Where to Stay & Eat
Tourism Huts
(Tariff: ₹9,000 per couple, with meals), have five suites. Meals are mostly Malabar-style. Tuna fish, chicken and sweet potatoes are staples.

Minicoy
Minicoy was annexed by the British in 1908 and became a part of the Indian Union in 1956, but the people here speak a different language (Mahl), write in religious sonnets (Thana script), look and dress like the Maldivians (in long toga-like capes), and chew betel like true Malayalis. This beautiful crescent-shaped island is the southernmost island in the Lakshadweep Sea. The magnificent lagoon includes a secluded beach complete with a lake surrounded by the only clump of mangroves on the Lakshadweep Islands. A walk through the villages is rewarding, particularly nearer the shore, where one can admire the colourfully painted houses. Look for an old sundial near Aloodi village (which the locals still follow – their time being roughly 45 minutes behind IST). Built in 1885, the lighthouse offers unparalleled views. Minicoy’s pride, the Tuna Canning Factory, is where foot-long tuna are processed, canned and pickled. Roughly 50,000kg of tuna is processed from September right until late May.

Where to Stay & Eat
The Minicoy Resort (Tariff: ₹7,000– 9,000 per couple ) is at the southern end of the island near the lighthouse. It has 10 stand-alone cottages and 14 deluxe AC cottages and include open-to-the-sky bathrooms with coral floors. This is where Lakshadweep Tourism organises traditional Minicoy dances for its package-tour guests.

Location: In the Lakshadweep Sea, off the Kerala coastline
Sea: Lakshadweep Tourism’s tour packages include passage by sea

Kadmat
Unknown and unexplored till the 18th century, Kadmat served as a fishing outpost for the villagers of neighbouring Amini Island, who’d explore its waters during the monsoons, when fishing in the sea became dangerous. To its west lies a large bewitching lagoon and to its east, a rich coral outcrop. The island is ideal for swimming and spending lazy, uninhibited hours of pleasure. Elsewhere on the island, life goes on as usual. There are coconuts to be picked and dried, fish to be caught and coir to be soaked, dried and turned into rope.

Where to Stay & Eat
The Kadmat Beach Resort (Tel: 0484- 2666789; Tariff: ₹5,000–11,000, with meals) has 12 standard and AC deluxe cottages, and five AC super deluxe cottages. The meals are served buffet-style.

The Information

When to go: Late October–February

Tourist offices
Lakshadweep Tourism,
Indira Gandhi Road, Willingdon Island, Kochi, Tel: 0484-2668387, 2666789,

Cell: 09495984001, lakshadweeptourism.com

Liaison Officer, Lakshadweep Lakshadweep House, State Guest House Road, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, Tel: 011-24101170

Permits are required and are arranged by your agent or Lakshadweep Tourism. Indians and foreign nationals can travel to Agatti, Bangaram, Kadmat, Kavaratti, Kalpeni and Minicoy. The islands can be visited as part of package tours organised by Lakshadweep Tourism