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Lakshadweep India

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Lakshadweep - Overview Lakshadweep islands
Lakshadweep, the only coral reef island of India, attracts tourists from all over the world. The smallest Union Territory of India, Lakshadweep spreads over an area of 32 sq. kms in the emerald Arabian sea, at a distance of 220-440 kms from Kochi, Kerala. It comprises 10 inhabited islands, 17 uninhabited islands, four newly formed islets, five submerged reefs and several attached islets. Kavaratti is the administrative headquarters of Lakshadweep island.

According to the 2001 census, Lakshadweep has a population of 60,595 and the density of population is 500-2,500 people/kms. Apart from a unique and quiet tourist destination, Lakshadweep is a great destination for adventure sports like watersports, fishing etc.

Lakshadweep - History
Early history of Lakshadweep is unknown, what is now available in historic records are mostly based on various legends. According to historic records, the first settlement on these islands is attributed to the period of Cheraman Perumal, the last king of Kerala. It is said that he accepted Islam and moved out of his capital, Cranganore (present day Kodungallor - an old harbour town of Kochi) for Mecca. However, he disappeared without any news. After the disappearance of king, people started to look for him and search parties left for the shores of Mecca in sailing boats. While on their mission to find the king, search parties discovered various islands of Amini, Kavaratti, Andrott and Kalpeni. Later, people moved from these islands to other islands namely - Agatti, Kadmat, Kiltan and Chetlat.

Further, the arrival of the Portuguese in India made Lakshadweep an important place for seafarers. In the beginning of the 16th century, the Portuguese forcibly landed at Amini Island to procure coir, but it is said that local people killed all the invaders by poisoning and ended the Portuguese invasion. In the middle of the 16th century, the administration of the island passed from the hands of Hindu King, Chirakkal on to the Muslim house of Arakkal of Cannanore. The Arakkal rule was not satisfactory, so in the year 1783, some people of Amini island took courage and went to Tipu Sultan and requested him to take over the Administration of the island. Eventually, five islands came under the rule of Tipu Sultan and the rest remained under Arakkal house.
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In the year 1799, after the battle of Seringapattom, the islands were annexed to the British East India Company and the headquarters was in Mangalore. In 1847, a severe cyclone hit the Andrott island and King of Chirakkal decided to visit the island for distributing relief. Sir William Robinson, an officer of the East India Company also accompanied the King. On reaching the island, the King found it hard to meet the demands of the affected people, Sir William offered help to the king in the form of loan. About four years later, the English asked the king to repay them but he could not pay the money and in 1854 the remaining islands were handed over to the East India Company.

Later in 1912, the Lakshadweep Regulation was introduced by the British which conferred limited power to Amins/Karanis of the islands. From the above regulation, a reasonable restriction of outsider were also implemented. In the year 1956, the Union Territory was formed and it was named as Lakshadweep in 1973.

Lakshadweep - Islands
The inhabited islands include Agatti, Amini, Andrott, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadmat, Kalpeni, Kavaratti, Kiltan and Minicoy. Kavaratti is an ideal destination for water sports, swimming and basking on sandy beaches. Andrott is the largest island in Lakshadweep, fishing industry is well developed here and coir and copra are the main products of the island. Minicoy is the second largest island of Lakshadweep, the light house of this island is one of the oldest and was established in 1885.

Kalpeni island is known for its pristine natural beauty and tiny islets called Pitti and Tilakkam. Agatti is another beautiful island of Lakshadweep, it is known for coral growth and multicoloured corals. Far from the maddening crowd of cities, Kadmat island is an ideal place for a relaxing holiday. Amini island is the home of talented craftsmen who are known for making walking sticks with tortoise shells and coconut shells. Kiltan is located 51 kms north-east of Amini island and it is rich in flora. Chetlat is the northern most island of Lakshadweep, coir twisting is the main occupation of the island people. Bitra is the smallest island having a population of only 250 persons, here you will small shrine of Malik Mulla, an old Arab Saint.

Bangaram is a breathtakingly beautiful island and it is uninhabited. It is considered among the best gateways of the world and here the sun, sand and surf are found in perfect harmony. Pitti is one of the popular uninhabited island of Lakshadweep, it has been declared a bird sanctuary.

Lakshadweep - People & Culture
Lakshadweep is dominated by Muslims, more than 93% of the population are Muslims and majority of them belong to the Shafi School of the Sunni Sect. The people of the islands are ethnically similar to coastal Kerala's Malayali people and believe that they descended from traders who were washed up on the islands during a heavy storm. Malayalam is the main language of all the islands except Minicoy where people speak Mahl which is also spoken in Maldives. Main occupation of the people of the island are fishing, coir twisting and coconut cultivation.
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Lakshadweep - Flora and Fauna
Lakshadweep boasts of a rich variety of plant and animal species including an impressive marine life in the sea. Here, you will see vertebrates such as cattle and poultry and sea birds like Karifetu (Anous solidus) and Tharathasi (Sterna fuscata). Molluscan varieties are found in abundant number here that include Cypraea monita, Cypraca talpa and Cyprea maculiferra. Among crabs, the most common species found in the island is the hermit crab. Apart from these, you can also spot colourful coral fish such as Parrot fish (Callyedon sordidus), Butterfly fish (Chaetodon auriga), Surgeon fish (Acanthurus lineotus) etc.

Floral species found in the islands include Banana, Bread Fruit, Chambu, Chakka, Colocassia, Drumstic moringakkai, Vazha and Wild almond. Coconut and Thenga (Cacos nucifera) is the only crop of economic importance which grow in the islands of Lakshadweep. In addition to these, some of shrubs like Chavok, Cheerani, Kanni, Punna etc. are grown unevenly throughout the island.

Lakshadweep - Adventure
Lakshadweep offers a variety of water sports for adventure seekers. In the vast expanses of the shallow lagoons, you can enjoy water sports like kayaking, pedal boating, sail boating, wind surfing etc. You can also enjoy a spectacular view of the interesting marine life in glass-bottomed boats. If you want to undertake scuba-diving, visit the Kadmat, Kavaratti and Bangaram islands which offer excellent facilities for the sport. Kayaks, surf modules, canoes, snorkels and other water sports equipments are available in all the islands of Lakshadweep. You can also hire local boats with experienced crew in Lakshadweep.

Climate
Lakshdweep has a tropical humid, warm climate that remains pleasant throughout the year. April and May are hottest months in the year when the temperature soars to a high of 35°C. Southwest monsoon arrives the islands in late May and ends in early October. The duration between October to March remains pleasant due to moderate temperature.

Best Time to Visit
November to March is the best time to visit Lakshadweep.

Lakshadweep - Transportation
By Air : Cochin International Airport is the nearest major airport which connects Lakshadweep with the mainland. From Cochin, flights are available to important places of India as well as world. Agatti airport is the only airport of Lakshadweep, the flight from Cochin airport to Agatti takes around 1.5 hrs. Helicopter transfer is available from Agatti to Bangaram Island Resort during rainy season and to Kavaratti all through the year.

By Ship : Ship services are available between Cochin and Lakshadweep and the journey takes around 14 to 20 hrs. Four passenger ships namely MV Bharat Seema, MV Tipu Sultan, MV Minicoy and MV Amindivi ply between Cochin and Lakshadweep. Various classes of accommodation are provided by these ships that include Air-conditioned Deluxe Class with two birth cabins, Air-conditioned First Class with four berth cabins and Tourist Class (Air-conditioned). Other facilities offered by the ships include cafeteria and snack bars, entertainment lounge, video shows, upper-deck promenade etc. Apart from these, doctor is also available on call on board these ships.

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