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Island of tranquillity

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LUSH LANDSCAPE Coconut palms abound in Lakshadweep
LUSH LANDSCAPE Coconut palms abound in Lakshadweep

Sun, sand, surf... that's not all at Kadmat. It's a fine place to soothe frayed nerves

Lakshwadeep, tucked away in the Arabian Sea, off the coast of mainline India, was one of the reasons we took the Star Cruise. An archipelago consisting of 12 atolls, 3 reefs and 5 submerged banks, Lakshadweep's breathtakingly beautiful 35 islands are spread over an area of 32 sq. km, with only ten of them inhabited. Forming a northern extension of the Maldives chain, Lakshadweep is 220 to 440 km off the Kerala coast and reachable from Kochi by ship. The Lakshadweep islands are thought to have been formed as a result of coral activity. These coral reefs bestow colour and depth to each of these islands and the sea around them. The smallest of all Indian Union Territories, Lakshadweep is insulated from the jarring buzz of modern living.What makes Lakshadweep special is that these islands retain their culture and ethos, being unsullied by the swell of tourists and holidaymakers as compared to other islands.

Timeless appeal

Peace reigns in these islands, which have captured timelessness in the lush overgrown foliage, as if Man has not dared to lay his hand on this natural paradise. Lakshadweep is an overgrown green proliferated edition of Kerala and the people too are very similar to Keralaites. Their languages are the same except in Minicoy where Mahl is spoken. The main wealth of Lakshadweep lies in coconut cultivation, and a man's affluence is judged by the number of coconut trees he owns. Coconut trees are planted in every possible piece of land. The fishing industry is the other major source of income. Motorised boats have to an extent ruined the skill of boat building. The islanders say when a boat is sighted they could identify which island it is from, so fine-tuned are its characteristics.

Beautiful lagoon

When the Star Libra dropped anchor near Kadmat Island, we were taken on small boats to the island, a trip which took a mere ten minutes. A beautiful lagoon of even depth and an endless shoreline, perfect for swimming, makes Kadmat a haven. The calm is mesmerising, and what is incredible is the pristine white sand, which touches a coastline densely populated with coconut palms. The sea was calm, and dazzled in its mutation of colours ranging from pale aquamarine, now plunging into deep sapphire with a roll of the waves, now merging into a turquoise, visually impacting against the music of the sea birds... and the thrashing of the waves. My husband could not stop swimming in the crystal clear sea, and had to be badgered to come out as we had to leave the island at an appointed time. The friendly people waited to receive us with cool tender coconut water, which tasted sweeter than any we had drunk back home. They sang ballads and beat drums... we were told these songs centred around the arrival of Hazrat Ubaidulla in Lakshadweep and the plunder of the islands by the Portuguese. Little cottages along the sea front with AC and non-AC rooms facilitate a comfortable stay. A vehicle takes you round the island from one end to the other, and all you see is unfettered Nature.Kadmat Island, apart from its pristine beaches and lagoons, has scuba diving facilities. The more adventurous in our group and the younger ones tried snorkelling, moving in a glass bottomed boat where they could sight the coral and the colourful tropical fish, and diving if only to see the occasional sharks or rays. The other sports offered here are water skiing, sailing, or riding on pedal boats and venturing out on kayaking trips. If you just don't want to move, overcome by a soothing lethargy, you could just relax in a beach hut drinking in the atmosphere. SABITA RADHAKRISHNA

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