In the Airport Island – Agatti ;-)

18.01.2017:

Relieved of the stress and strain of the journey after a good sleep, I woke up to walk around the island to join my people who are out there to explore more of Agatti. Walking through Agatti Island, I get through the narrow, paver-blocked streets, small schools, large mosques and of course the beautiful beaches. Almost all the produce consumed on these islands is flown in from Kerala. Coconuts are plentiful, but almost all other veggies are flown in, just like the tourists for whom they are brought. The beach is full of activity with women bringing their children for a play and youngsters playing beach football. Time flowed gently, as if the rest of the world didn’t exist.

I couldn’t find Imran or aunty anywhere in my quest along the beach and so I sat at one of the shacks munching a samosa. I couldn’t see much of tourists here and as I read somewhere before coming to these islands, Lakshadweep follows a low-impact model of tourism which wasΒ calibrated not just to the local ecology but also to human life upon the islands. 99% of the population follows Islam and their social relations are still conservative. Β People either work for the government or go for fishing and this suffice their needs. I felt so like an outsider crashing a family reunion as I could see that I am the only tourist among them standing like an odd man out 😦

No main lander can buy land here and the shipments of food and fuel that wend their way to these islands are heavily subsidized. To my surprise, I came to know from Jaleel that the entire power supply to the islanders is based on diesel generators! Powder white sand cocooned by calm, azure waters, postcard scenery, no hordes of tourists, sleepy fishing villages nestled among the coconut trees – Lakshadweep is one of India’s best kept secrets!! My eyes ain’t getting enough even after spending so much time along the coasts, beaches and in the lagoons. It’s such a pure bliss! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Not able to find any one of my gang, I returned back to our room and started watching TV when our people came and took me for dinner. The dinner was simple; we ordered a couple of dosas while Imran had Malabar Parota which is a local delicacy. We cycled back to our room to grab some more sleep as I have to fly back to Cochin the next day!

19.01.2017:

We were up at 04.30 hrs to witness the sunrise in this beautiful island. We started walking towards the eastern jetty from where we can get a good glimpse of the rising sun. By the time we reached the jetty, a cargo vessel is offloading it’s cargo and few islanders getting their fishing equipment ready for an early morning catch! Slowly the sun was above the horizon and it was such a mesmerizing sight with the orange colored sun in the background and the dancing dolphins in the blue waters in the foreground! The experience is beyond description!

Just near the shore, we could see wide varieties of brightly colored fishes hovering around the shallow waters. Turtles were swimming lazily along looking for food or sunbathing at the surface while the islanders were trying their luck at catching the other edible fishes for their meal! I asked Jaleel how would a standard meal at home like and the answer came instantly as “Tuna fish curry” πŸ™‚Β The secluded beaches with swaying palm trees, the unending rhythmic dance of waves playfully teasing the silken sands, the sun and clouds creating magical light shows in the skies, transports us to a transcendent state where there is only bliss and ecstasy.

Though I wanted to try my hand at fishing, I was not able to do so as no one was ready to lend their fishing rod to me 😦  If not this time, might be the next time πŸ˜‰ We returned back around 07.00 hrs as I have to leave to the airport early!Β For people like me who are looking for an amazing exotic travel experience in a budget and a destination brimming with natural beauty, untouched by human activities and far away from crow, Lakshadweep is the right spot! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Hope you all would also be visiting these beautiful islands so soon πŸ™‚

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Fire fighting in Thinnakara

18.01.2016:

While we were enjoying the coconuts and the coconut jaggery that was prepared fresh by Fathima aunty, an old man with a serious look on his face rushed towards us. He is Mohommed, husband of Fathima aunty. From his serious looks, I thought he might not have liked us being there taking off their privacy and enjoying his wife’s sweet dish, but I was wrong! It was more serious. Unfortunately, the fire which he made to dispose off some waste started spreading into a larger area behind his home and the old man and his son were not able to control it!

When we went to inspect the scene, we saw that the fire was spreading too fast and it was only these two who were fighting with it. Soon we too were into action – Imran, Jaleel, Uncle and I started fetching buckets of water from a groundwater source beside the home and splashing the water all through the patch of the land that was on fire. As it was almost summer in this part of India with very less rainfall and almost all the bushes and leaves are fully dried, the fire is spreading at a much faster rate! Aunty and Fathima aunty too joined us in fighting the fire.

How much ever hard we were trying, we were not able to curb it and Fathima shouted hard for help and soon the staff at the resorts rushed to the spot with buckets of water and were into action. A struggle of around 30 minutes, two burns onto the sole of my right feet, torn flip-flops of Imran, cramps on to everyone’s hands – our sacrifices seemed to satisfy the Fire God and finally we were able to put off the fire πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ . We relaxed for some more time sipping fresh coconut water and exchanging few words with Fathima’s family before we bid them a bye!

We explored a bit more of Thinnakara before we started moving towards another set of uninhabited islands – Parali 1 and Parali 2 which are famous for sea turtles. Locals often say that these islands should be visited on a full moon night as thousands of turtles come to the island to lay eggs. Probably they might come on other nights too. But perhaps the beauty of these creatures along with the beauty of the full-moon and the lagoon around the island might be surreal. Once we get a feel of any one of the islands in the Lakshadweep Archipelago, it would be the same with the other islands too.

We started back to Agatti by 14.00 hrs and tried our hands again at fishing and this time too we didn’t get a single fish 😦 . I retired to sleep after a refreshing shower and a hearty meal. Though aunty tried a lot to wake me up from my sleep in the evening, I didn’t and she gave up. Jaleel, Imran, Aunty and Uncle went to have a walk along the beach before I woke up! Lemme sleep for some more time πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Welcome to Thinnakara…

18.01.2017:

Thinnakara is another uninhabited island which is a 15 minute boat ride from Bangaram. This island too has some tent accommodation provided by SPORTS for the tourists. One can see these tent resorts from Bangaram island during the evenings. By the time we reached the island, there was no one in the vicinity. Thinnakara is as beautiful as Bangaram – to be frank more beautiful and peaceful with less human activity. The creamy sand beach, neatly placed chairs and hammocks cradling in between the coconut trees makes this island look more beautiful.

Thinnakara is also a well-known water sports destination. Tourists visiting Bangaram would also pay a visit to this island mainly for ship-wreck snorkeling. This is a famous snorkeling sport during the times of high tide when one can spot colonies of colorful fishes including the Tuna, star-fishes and if lucky enough you can see lots of turtles too!

After clicking a few photographs, we headed towards the restaurant to sip a cup of coffee. The resort staff were quite friendly and helpful. As ordered they served us some apples, biscuits and coffee. Though we wanted to go for ship-wreck snorkeling, we ultimately dropped our plan as we had had enough experiences of the underworld life by then πŸ™‚ . Filling our tummies, we walked into the coconut grooves to go to the light-house situated on this island. Thinnakara is much smaller than Bangaram and we thought that it was only the staff of the resorts who lives there.

As we reached the light house, I was not thrilled at the sight of it, but was more thrilled at the sight which stood infront of me. The beauty infront of me is simply beyond description! My own fascination with this island has extended well below the surface. If one wants more of the blue, I would definitely suggest this place! It was unexplored, totally pristine – and I still couldn’t believe that this is a part of India.” The gorgeous lagoon, the blue horizon, green coconut palms, silvery beaches – they are stunning!

Every scene that catches our eyes is a postcard pic and there is not justification needed. As I got myself busy in capturing those beautiful scenes onto my camera, aunty and uncle were enjoying this romantic gateway holding each others hands walking across the creamy sand of the shore. When I finished off my photography session, uncle and aunt were walking far ahead of me while Jaleel and Imran were out of sight. After catching up with uncle and aunt, I looked Imran walking towards us licking his fingers from a small soup bowl.

I was shocked to see from where he got that bowl and what it was that is so finger-licking good. Imran joined us and guided us towards a small hut and Jaleel gave me a bowl full of coconut flesh and another bowl with a sticky yellow substance and asked me to eat. At the beginning I was a bit nervous as I donno what that was and how it tastes. But when I tasted it, it was hot and pretty sweet. It was at this moment, I noticed an elderly women who is preparing this sweet delicacy – a Laccadivian woman πŸ™‚ . So, far in both the islands of Agatti and Bangaram, I didn’t come across a woman who is dressed in the traditional Laccadivian way and lucky to find one here! πŸ™‚

Let me relax for sometime and enjoy this sweet dish Β πŸ™‚

Bye Bye Bangaram

18.01.2017:

We woke up before sunrise and refreshed ourselves and headed towards the eastern side of the island to get a glimpse of the sunrise. The beach is full of activity. People are cleaning the left-overs on the dining tables, clearing off the vessels, arranging tables etc; the fisher-folk and the divers are getting their equipment and boats ready to take the tourists for deep sea diving, fishing and angling; the locals were pulling out the fishes stuck to their nets in the lagoons and the tourists are lazing on the chairs waiting for the sun to rise from the horizon!

Bangaram is every photographer’s wet dream and yet, I find myself taking far fewer pictures than I usually do while travelling. Every where we can find a standard-issue desktop wallpaper πŸ™‚ The island is a paradise, a tropical heaven on earth. It’s a piece of the planet that’s as manicured as it is naturally stunning. It draws divers, leisure swimmers, and beach bums. It does its best to soothe one’s soul with blushing sunsets, shallow ocean sightings and by sheathing us in luxury.

Though the process of getting permits is frustrating and the cost of the packages is high, it’s seems so justifying when we visit these islands. From a conservation point of view, the pressure of tourism isn’t yet visible on the reef. In other island destinations like Havelock, one see broken coral and the impact of pollution, but not so much in Lakshadweep. And that’s because tourism is so heavily regulated and in that sense, the regulation is a blessing. Perhaps this is one of the reasons, why these islands are still so stunningly beautiful!

While watching the sunrise, we sent Jaleel to give a word to our boat’s captain that we would be leaving in another 30 minutes. We headed back to our room and packed our luggage, prepared ourselves some instant noodles for our breakfast and left for the boat. Our next destination is another small island near to Bangaram. The word ‘Bangaram’ in Telugu language literally means ‘Gold’. And this ‘Bangaram Island’ is truly bangaram for me as it left me with some of the golden memories which I can cherish throughout my life πŸ™‚

Bye Bye Bangaram.. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

A pleasant evening in a pleasant island…

17.01.2017:

After the snorkeling session in the lagoon, we returned to our rooms and our lunch from SPORTS was served. The lunch is a simple one – a roti, few spoons of rice, sambar and a gravy prepared with green peas and tomatoes. It tasted delicious as we were starved and nothing went wasted πŸ™‚ . Each one of us found a hammock each that were hanging tied in between the coconut trees and rested for Β a while. I think I had the longest nap than others and went straight to have a shower when got up, as all the others were ready already.

We headed towards the western side of the island through the coconut grooves. Bangaram offers uninterrupted privacy, unpolluted comfort and crystal clear waters. Parrots, hermit crabs and seabirds on the vast 120 acres of these lush coconut groves are added visual treats for the tourists. The Lakshadweep tourism aimed for the cream of international tourists, and it was determined to offer the experience of nature without spoiling it with ostentatious embellishments. Over years, Bangaram Island have gained popularity of being a tourist spot with stunning natural beauty and a secluded atmosphere.

The sun was almost about to set by the time we were out of the grooves. But it left me in a trance! The sandy beach, turquoise blue lagoon with their enchanting views beaconed me. I was mentally pinching myself, not to convince myself that I was actually here, but to assure my Photoshop-battered mind that places like this actually do exist. The islanders had put some rocks along the shore to prevent the soil erosion and lots of molluscs and hermit crabs stuck to them as if they are sucking blood out of those rocks. Jaleel picked up few to show us that they are harmless, but I was freaking at the sight of them 😐

We spent sometime there clicking some photographs and feeling extremely happy for making out to this place. It’s a truth that very few makes their way to these islands and we are among this few lucky ones πŸ™‚ A proud moment indeed! We walked a bit fast to reach our rooms as it was getting darker and there were neither lights nor torches with us. Near the SPORTS restaurant, the atmosphere was completely different! They were busy in arranging food for their guests, with some fresh fishes on the grills. And the thing is that they catch these fish from the lagoon in the evenings and grill them! Bangaram is the only island in Lakshadweep, where liquor is served.

People were deeply indulged in conversations over the dining tables, while eating their food and sipping their drinks. We settled down on some chairs around a charpoy to have our dinner. Imran didn’t join us for dinner as he and Jaleel went to have some local delicacies which are the native boiled rice, served with hot fish curry and fried fish served with fresh coconut toddy. Our dinner included tandoori roti, dal, matar paneer, steamed rice and green salad. What else could I ask for? An evening on the beach, with so much solitude and a perfect dinner – isn’t this enough?

We weren’t bothered about our sleep to night as we had already decided to sleep on the cradles hanging between the coconut trees and there is no way that we can sleep in the room with no power to run the fan. But Imran had other plans for us! Jaleel succeeded in finding a room with all amenities in one of the houses of his friends in this island and Imran asked us to sleep there that night πŸ™‚ . When asked where they both are going to sleep, they showed us a small tent that was pegged near to the beach. I envied them secretly for having such a beautiful space to rest that night – a small cozy tent on the beach, a lagoon which is reflecting the light from the beautiful moon, cool sea breeze – it’s a lifetime experience!

Saying good night, we went back to our respective places to sleep. Good night!!

Time for some more adventure…

17.01.2016:

After the diving session, we spent some more time swimming in the lagoon and lazing around. Time to move. While we were coming to this island, we saw a piece of land at the end of the lagoon and made a point that we should go to that piece of land. So, lets go there now πŸ˜‰ . We started walking through the coconut groves and made our way towards the Helipad. We didn’t have a solid breakfast and it started taking it’s toll on us! We are too tired and exhausted when Jaleel came like an angel with some fresh coconuts. We finished off some coconuts and moved towards the lagoon!

I think the sight of the lagoon and that small patch of land itself has made uncle a bit nervous πŸ˜€ . Again he denied coming with us even after Imran telling him that it won’t be that deep and not at all risky! Leaving uncle behind, we, Imran, Jaleel, Aunty and I got into the lagoon. The water was lukewarm, not so deep, turquoise blue in color and mild in currents – a good thing. It was almost as if we were walking on a road chit-chatting with each other. While Imran was explaining about the islanders and their lifestyle, aunty listening to him keenly while Jaleel was having a lazy swim every now and then and I was so curious to see what’s there on that land!

The distance from the island to this patch of land is around 800 metres. After a stressful walk through the waters for about 600 meters, we got the first real sight of it. There might be around 500 seagulls taking rest and chirping among them. That was a postcard pic with the deep blue sea behind them, the white silvery sand patch of land, the turquoise blue lagoon infront and the white seagulls πŸ™‚ . While we were nearing the land, they sensed the alien presence of ours and started flying away and that gave me a reason to regret for not having a camera with me to capture those moments! 😦

The scene found it’s place in the memories of my heart and mind. The vivid colors of all the elements around me and the various reflections of the water on the plumage of those tiny sea-gulls when they started flying off from the land is an enticing scene! Thanks to Bangaram for such wonderful eye feasts πŸ™‚ The moment we touched the land, Jaleel and Imran went in search of the eggs of those seagulls, while aunty went for some coral remains and shells and I asusual walking along the stretch. After their futile attempts, Imran came up with an idea of a running race and started running followed by aunty and me. After having enough fun, I laid down there with my entire body into the water and just the head out into the sun!

I was not worried about getting tanned anymore. I was there to enjoy each and absorb each and every moment into my mind. After all, this is not a common place which we can visit whenever we like πŸ™‚ . After a while, we started walking back to the island, but this time time currents were not mild and it took a lot of effort to overcome them and walk or swim at times. Once out of the waters, we ventured again into the lagoon for snorkeling with the snorkeling gear brought by Jaleel from Agatti. There was a small rock with a passage and I was able to find a fish in that narrow passage. And I went around to find some more, but I could find nothing! 😦

But so far it was good!

The diving experience in Bangaram…

17.01.2017:

The teardrop-shaped island – Bangaram is enclosed by a coral reef, is surrounded by a shallow lagoon and is ranked among the best hideaways of the world. It is a renowned spot for scuba diving and is comparable to the Great Barrier Reef and the Maldives. The island is open for tourists, national as well as international. However tourists are advised to check in advance as some of the activities are limited to specific islands at specific times of the year. Who ever visits this island will try to have a taste of what it feels like to dive under the water with their breathing apparatus and the flippers on their legs.

How will I miss it, when the place is a renowned spot for an adventure sport and when it is the best to go scuba diving? Yeah, Bangaram has the first dive center of Lakshadweep and the best time to go scuba diving is between November and March when the waters will be clear. Imran being toΒ Kadamat told us that even Kadamat is a famous diving center. So excited, we started walking towards the dive center. The sun is scorching and the crystal white beach is as if it is reflecting almost all the rays back to us and making us sweat.

Though aunty made so many futile attempts to make uncle agree to come along with us for a dive, uncle denied those requests softly and encouraged us to go. The lead’s name is Mohamed and he gave us a form each and asked us to fill all the details and sign the declaration. The form consists of columns like our details, address and emergency contact details and the declaration states that we take the entire responsibility for everything we are doing. We filled the forms, signed the declarations and handed over them. Once done we settled down to listen to our instructor who is going to explain us about the gear and all.

Our instructor started explaining about scuba-diving, the history of the dive center and where the people had been trained, the courses that they offer, the gear and the signs which we have to use during our dive. They do offer different kinds of courses like the basic diving courses as well as advanceΒ courses and the duration of these courses vary accordingly. Many of India’s certified divers began their underwater explorations in these shallow, clear waters. When once we are confident enough, he asked us whether we are ready and we nodded! We were so excited and ready to hit the waters with our scuba-diving gear on us! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

The best part of scuba-diving is that you will always have a buddy with you and you can enjoy the under-water life without being bothered about anything as your buddy will take care of everything. My buddy is a pretty friendly one and when entered the shallow lagoon as a test drive before going for the real dive,Β gave some instructions about having three regulators strapped on to me, in case one malfunctions. We’re skimming the turquoise waters and the dive site is about half an kilometer away. “I’m going to be with you the whole time”, he says, “so don’t freak out, okay?” IΒ told him not to worry with a thumbs up! πŸ™‚

As soon as I entered the lagoon for my test drive, I have seen some colorful fishes and a clear sea bed. After playing for quite sometime and getting enough of breathing exercises, I hit the top of the water again, just to have a quick fresh breath. Immediately an instruction hit my ears, don’t remove your breathing apparatus, it has got ample amount of fresh compressed air and I don’t need any of that to remain in your cylinder by the time you come back! As an obedient student, I obliged his instruction and told my buddy that I am ready and let’s go πŸ™‚

We started swimming towards the diving spot and reached there within minutes. All the talk in the world doesn’t prepare you for the sensation of diving in the sea. As soon as my jacket is deflated, the weight strapped to my waist band take over and I begin to descend. The water became colder and I started to shiver! For a few moments what all I can see before me is an empty expanse almost threatening to swallow me whole. I sink some more, and am suddenly, keenly aware, of how labored my breathing sounds in my ears.

I feel pressure building and clogging up my ears. I started to acclimatize and my breathing is fine and I started enjoying the dive. I have seen shoals of fishes sniffing around crimson corals, a big black fish whose name is not known to me, some clown fishes scanning the waters with fierce concentration to find the pieces of fish feed that is being left by my buddy into the water. The dive is liberating and meditative even! The best part is that beneath the waves, the water around these islands offer something for everyone. And especially most of the islands in Lakshadweep have their own home reef and waters filled with rich marine life!

At the lagoons edge of the Bangaram Island, the barrier reef surrounding the island tapers off into deeper waters. Coral abound on these seaward slopes and coral of all shapes and sizes grow side by side, creating caverns and alleyways that host some of the most beautifully bizarre creatures on the planet. Though I enjoyed the sight of so many fishes and corals, I totally freaked out when my buddy asked me to touch some of the corals and feel them 😐 . I simply rejected the idea and continued enjoying my dive chasing some fishes and finding out Imran and aunty, so that we can pose together for some photographs πŸ™‚ .

Diving in Lakshadweep is thrilling, to say the least!

Towards the Eastern Jetty..

17.01.2017:

06.00 hrs – After a tight sleep, I woke up only to find that uncle and Aunt were already up and ready. While aunty was packing her bag, uncle has gone out for a walk and don’t know what Imran was up to. With my sleepy eyes, I found out my tooth-brush, but was unwilling to brush – not because I don’t want to, but because of the salt-water in the pipes. Luckily, I found a bottle of desalinated water and brushed my teeth :B . I don’t want to take a shower as am going to jump into the water in few hours! Lol!!

I packed my bag the other night itself, so no packing for me and I went to look out for Imran. After ringing his door bell for couple of times, Imran was out sweating. He was exercising! He told us that he will be down-stairs in couple of minutes and we decided to walk along the beach instead of waiting for him! The sea-shore is just 100 meters walk from our room and there are some wooden benches separating our room from the sea. I will explain what these wooden benches are for in my upcoming posts.

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The beach is calm and serene, above all beautiful! If you are in hunt of an exotic beach, definitely add this to your list. The blue lagoon, silver sands or the natural beauty – all Indians there, if you are heading to some foreign locations for such experiences, then please do consider the option of Lakshadweep πŸ™‚ Not far from our homes, here is the very own queen of islands, which is known as the ‘Jewel of South India’. Remote and isolated, Lakshadweep has perhaps the oldest recorded history among the islands here. Ibn Batuta, the African globetrotter, referred to it as Muluk.

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Time for some photography! After clicking some pics of the beach, the boats and the western jetty, I found a hole from where two eyes like mustard seeds were peeping at me. After playing hide and seek with me for a while and scrutinizing me, a colorful crabΒ ventured out. I held my breath and was careful not to move so that I could get a good photograph of this scruffy creature πŸ™‚ I don’t know whether he/she was confident enough that I am not going to harm him/her or he/she is enjoying my attention towards him/her, it stopped moving and became a bit like lifeless. Just as soon as I finished clicking a few pics of it, it vanished into its hole-home!

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Imran and Jaleel joined us and we made our way to the eastern jetty where our motor boat was waiting for us. The jetty is filled with people who came for a morning walk, fishing and few for casual exchange of pleasantries etc. Our boat was anchored next to a small size ship and it’s almost like jumping into our small motor boat from the medium-size ship. One wrong step, I will be into the sea! After carefully getting down into our small boat, we wished our boat driver/sailor and his two sons who neatly placed some towels on the wooden benches for us to sit. After settling down, engine coughed to life and started moving away into the deep waters.

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As I was moving away from the Agatti Island, dawn is breaking over Agatti and the island is putting on a well-rehearsed show. The sky is a mirage of pink, mauve, and orange. The ocean has cerulean glaze that would make a potter weak in the knees. Even the coconut trees are in on the act. The shimmy faintly to the gentle breeze that tickles the tendrils of hair at my nape. For what seems like the nth time, I shake my head in belief. It’s ridiculously beautiful, fake even. Some gall the Lakshadweep has, being this drop-dead gorgeous.

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I have fallen for this beauty!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

 

A refreshing evening in Agatti

16.01.2017:

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We started moving towards the northern end of the island. Imran told us that life is very smooth in the island and there is no crime! We came across few mosques on our way where people were offering their prayers. There are a few antique Buddhist sculptures found in this island that show that the islanders once practiced Buddhism. But now, Islam is practiced exclusively. Women wears burqas while the girls wears scarves. Men are in either shirts and trousers or lungis! It took us around 10 minutes to reach the beach on the northern end of the island.

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The beach is full of activity. We parked our bicycles and walked through the powdery sand. There is a shack selling some refreshments and ladies were sitting together in small groups and discussing things while men were loitering here and there with the children. The cool breeze, calm beach and turquoise blue lagoon with a setting sun opposite to the scene is so enticing! Although there is lot of activity going around the beach and the crowd is not too less, the beach is quite clean πŸ™‚ . I started going around the beach while Imran started a conversation with an islander and uncle and aunt walked towards the sea.

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A few children were playing football after erecting a goal-post into the sand while some were running around hunting the hermit crabs, while some others were trying their hands at fishing! The common thing among all the islanders is the habit of fishing. No matter what the age of a person is, he will be always interested in fishing and sometimes I feel that it’s their favorite past time too πŸ™‚ . After clicking some photographs I too settled down along with uncle and aunt while Imran was still conversing with the islander.

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From the corner of my eye, I could see some creatures crawling on the wet sand, but when I turn to have a look at them, all I could see are some shells here and there. I asked uncle and aunt to remain silent and then these creatures started going around us with more vigor. These are the lower scale hermit crabs which try to deceive us by pulling back their bodies into their shells at the slightest hint of some activity around them. Aunty and uncle struggled a bit around them to make a video of their movements and finally satisfied, we let them go on their business while we returned to our business of clicking some photographs when Imran joined us finally!

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Finally at around 18.45 hrs, it became dark and we moved towards the shack named ‘Lagoon Beach Restaurant’ and occupied a table. We ordered some tea for uncle and aunt, I took some samosas and Imran some fish rolls. They tasted good πŸ™‚ . Spending some time here, we left for having our dinner at the same Al Mubarak restaurant. I ordered a Masala Dosa, while aunty and uncle ordered for some plain dosas and Imran excused himself as his non-vegetarian dinner was ready back at his room. Again, the dosa is too good. It’s fresh, crisp and less oily. Don’t miss a chance of tasting this tasty dosa, if you are here in Agatti!

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Time for shopping! Tomorrow we are leaving for the Bangaram Island. As there won’t be any food stuff available there, we have to get something to eat along with us. While Aunt and Uncle has gone for buying some snacks and all and Imran left to find an ATM, I went around some of the cloth shops to buy some beach-wear! After a lot of struggle with the extra large sizes available here, I managed to get a T-shirt for a price of Rs. 150 πŸ™‚ . Not bad πŸ˜‰ . Done with our shopping we left for our rooms.

21.00 hrs – We called it a day as we have to start early in the morning! Good Night πŸ™‚

Agatti Island – The Gateway to Lakshadweep!

16.01.2017:

Imran took us to our accommodation and informed us that we would go out for lunch in another hour or so. I excused myself for a shower while uncle and aunt were discussing things with Imran. The underground water is pumped into the tanks on top of the houses which will be serving the daily purposes. Never ever try to open your mouth while taking a shower unless you are a big fan of salt, b’coz the water here tastes too salty! The government of Lakshadweep however provides the localities desalinated water from the desalination plant which is located on the eastern side of Agatti Island.

Everyone else too refreshed themselves and were now ready to go for lunch. There are no big restaurants or hotels except few small ones to provide food in the island. However, the resorts which will be accommodating the tourists who opted the tourism packages would provide them with food, but they don’t provide for people like us who came through some known people in the island. There are only two modes of transport here in the absence of public transport like buses. Either we should go by an auto-rickshaw or ride a bicycle or go by a bike or car if we own one! Jamaal, a locality who works for Imran quickly arranged us four bicycles as aunt has insisted for them πŸ™‚

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We started riding our bicycles on the narrow concrete roads paved through the coconut grooves and Imran informed us that one should pre-book the meals in advance if they plan to eat it from outside and he booked them for us! Thanks to him, I am really hungry πŸ™‚ . After like a km ride, we reached the Hotel Al Mubarak. It is a small house which has got two partitions, most likely like the family partition and an ordinary one where in which people sit for a tea and a crunchy vada. The owner of the hotel guided us to the family partition and we comforted ourselves at a table. Imran order 3 vegetarian meals for uncle, aunt and me while he ordered himself a non-vegan.

The meal is simple. They served us some white rice, with Avial (a preparation with all varieties of vegetables), thoran (mix of boiled green gram and coconut), sambar, curd and a papad. The non-vegan meal consists of fish curry and fish fry instead of our green gram thoran! The food tasted good. Done with our meal, we cycled back to our room and laid down for sometime before setting out to explore the island. After a good sleep of about 2 hours, we ventured out to see the beauty of the Agatti Island.

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Agatti island is 10 km long and 6 km wide at the broadest point. Importantly, the only airport which serves the entire archipelago is situated here. This is also the transit point for the people who choose to go to the island Bangaram. We chose the bicycles again and started following Imran who is guiding us. The island is absolutely peaceful as there was no much traffic for that matter no big motors like trucks, buses and lorries etc. Mostly all the people here uses bicycles, some motor bikes, others auto-rickshaws and a car here and there! Limited tourist infrastructure here makes for an unusual but good experience. A ride of around 3 kms took us to the port officer’s office from where one can get the ship tickets for his/her voyage.

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There is a long bridge which connected us to the jetty from the island. At the entrance of the bridge, there is a board warning us that collection, destruction or selling away any kind of corals and turtles is a punishable offence under the Wildlife Protection Act and we made a mental note of it. This is the eastern jetty where the cargo ship ‘Sagar Yuvraj’ is loading offΒ the barrels of diesel which is the source of generation of electricity in the island. Agatti has one of the most beautiful lagoons in the Lakshadweep archipelago. The lagoon on the island side and the deep blue sea on the jetty side is a postcard scene! One can see the desalination plant from here.

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The jetty was full of activity. People sitting on the walls talking among themselves and wishing the others who passes by, while few people were fishing with their fishing rods, probably for a fish or two to cook in the evening, and the crew of the ship off-loading the barrels of fuel and people like us clicking photographs and doing all crazy stuff! In all, the life in island is simple. Everyone knows everyone else in the island and it’s like a close-knitted family πŸ™‚