Here’s everything you need to know about tourism in Lakshadweep

The allure of this Union Territory lies not only in its history but also in its breathtaking landscapes.
The Agatti Aerodrome, Lakshadweep
The Agatti Aerodrome, Lakshadweep

In the heart of the Arabian Sea, a hidden gem awaits avid travellers — the pristine archipelago of Lakshadweep. Steeped in history, this cluster of islands has a fascinating tale to tell, blending ancient legend with a cultural mosaic that defines contemporary life in this Union Territory. The islands have been inhabited since time immemorial and have always been known to exist, especially by their seafaring neighbours in what is now Kerala, India. The earliest written references to the chain of islands however appear in the 11th Century treatise Mushika-vamsha — a Sanskrit dynastic chronicle by poet Atula narrating the legendary history of the Mushika dynasty, which ruled the northern part of the Malabar coast. Lakshadweep or Laccadive’s roots can also be traced back to the era of Cheraman Perumal, whose kingdom is said to have also included the scattered isles. The Portuguese also attempted to exploit the islands in the 16th century but were thwarted by the then-resilient islanders, marking a triumph against invaders. 

Transitioning from Hindu to Muslim rule, Lakshadweep’s fate took a turn in 1783 when islanders sought refuge under Tipu Sultan. Post the Battle of Srirangapatna in 1799, British rule ensued, marked by the Lakshadweep Regulation of 1912, shaping the islands’ governance. Fast forward to the present, Lakshadweep stands as a unique blend of tradition and modernity. Formed as a Union Territory in 1956 and officially named Lakshadweep in 1973, the islands beckon with a rich cultural tapestry.
Despite its small size, Lakshadweep has a diverse linguistic landscape. While Malayalam is the predominant language, Mahi, akin to old Sinhalese (Indo-Aryan language), is spoken on Minicoy. Hindi also finds its place in the linguistic symphony, reflecting the cultural amalgamation that defines 
these islands. 

The allure of this UT lies not only in its history but also in its breathtaking landscapes. With approximately three dozen islands scattered across 78,000 square kilometers across the Arabian Sea, the archipelago boasts coral atolls and coconut palm-fringed shores. Minicoy Island, the southernmost gem, adds a touch of uniqueness to the archipelago. The islands are a haven for nature enthusiasts, with an abundance of marine life, including sharks, bonitos and manta rays. The islands’ diverse flora, featuring banyans, casuarinas and tropical almonds, add to the visual delight.

That said, Kavaratti, the capital of Lakshadweep, is a charming town on an equally enchanting island that is perfect to begin your trip with. Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture and visit the Ujra Mosque, known for its stunning architecture. Your getaway to Lakshadweep remains incomplete without a visit to Agatti Island — which offers water sports like snorkeling and kayaking. The Agatti Aerodrome provides a unique landing experience with its airstrip right next to the sea. Explore the historical side of Lakshadweep on Andrott Island by making stops at the Juma Masjid, one of the oldest mosques in India and the Buddhist archaeological remains, reflecting the island’s intricate past. Famous for its coral-rich lagoon, Kalpeni is also a great escape for snorkelers and divers as the coral reefs teem with vibrant marine life, providing a mesmerising underwater experience. Then there’s Pitti Bird Sanctuary on Pitti Island, which is home to a thriving bird sanctuary housing a variety of seabirds, including terns, brown noddy and gulls. There’s also the Marine Wealth Awareness Centre that provides insights into Lakshadweep’s rich marine biodiversity at this centre on Kadmat Island. It’s an educational stop to understand the importance of preserving the delicate ecosystem. We know that with all this information, now you must be thinking, but how do we get there?

The most common way to reach Lakshadweep is by air. Agatti Island has an airport with regular flights from major cities like Kochi in Kerala. These flights are operated by various airlines and the journey offers breathtaking aerial views of the Arabian Sea. Several passenger ships operate, like MV Kavaratti and MV Corals, from Kochi. Jetsetters can also opt for Cordelia Cruise, offering packages departing from Mumbai, Goa and Kochi. This option provides a relaxed and scenic journey with onboard amenities, making it a delightful way to travel to the islands. Inter-island helicopter services are available to hop between islands, as well.

Before you all jet off to pack your bags, there is one another thing: non-native individuals of Lakshadweep and foreigners must obtain prior permission before travelling to these islands. Each person will be charged `50 per application with an additional heritage fee of `200 for 18-year-olds and above. Indian visitors need to secure a Police Clearance Certificate from the Commissioner of Police of their respective Indian districts. Additionally, applicants must also provide a self-attested photocopy of their ID card and three passport-size photographs. 

Round trips: ₹30,000 onwards.

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