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™‚

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!

Welcome to the world of SPORTS!

17.01.2017:

It is around 08.30 hrs when we reached the Bangaram Island. As I told earlier, the Island is too beautiful. It’s almost as if I am into a different world altogether. It is an uninhabited island and it contains more marine life than the other islands in the Lakshadweep archipelago. We got down from our boat and made our way towards the island. There are a few resorts, a restaurant, dive center with the gear and equipment on display and some sun-bath chairs. It’s a white sand beach with a turquoise blue lagoon surrounding it and coconut groves occupying the middle part of the island.

Jaleel along with a person who works at the resorts took us to a room where we were intended to stay. He showed us two rooms out of which we chose the better one. To be frank, they are well-maintained and the washroom is too clean and has a running water tap. While we were enjoying the ambiance of the room and the surroundings, the person told us that it has not power supply and we were utterly surprised. It was at this time I learnt about the monopoly that was being enjoyed by an agency called SPORTS. I heard this word quite many a times from Imran and Avinash, but I thought that this is a word simply being used as the agency takes care of all water-sports and activities in the islands.

In Lakshadweep, two major private organizations are in-charge of managing and handling all the water sports activities. They are known as Lakshadweep institute of Water Sports and SPORTS (Society for promotion of Nature Tourism and Sports). These two bodies hold regular camps for the tourists all through the year. SPORTSΒ enjoys a monopoly on the entire tourist trade in the islands of Bangaram and Thinnakara. If one doesn’t have friends in Lakshadweep, the only option is to book their trips to the islands solely through SPORTS and the permit formalities of bonafide tourists will be taken care by them.

The person told us that earlier those rooms which we have seen were also used, but as it has been decided later that the power would be supplied only to the resorts owned by SPORTS, these became non-functional. For that moment, we were not bothered about the power supply or about how we are going to spend the night in the island, but we were bothered about our lunch and dinner. As for our breakfast today, aunty, uncle and I had some snacks which aunty has brought along with her and Jaleel and Imran had some boiled eggs and coconuts during our boat journey.

Jaleel left to see if he can find someone whom he knew, while Imran and I left to meet the manager of the SPORTS resorts on the island. We approached him and told that we were to spend a night in the island and we need some food and we were ready to pay. He considered our request and spoke with his restaurant people who agreed to provide us the lunch and dinner and we were happy πŸ™‚ . They made a point that the lunch would cost Rs. 300 per person and dinner Rs. 400 per person. We happily agreed! After all it’s better to spend some money on food rather than starving πŸ™‚

All settled, we left our bags in the room and moved towards the dive center. Bangaram is famous for it’s water-sports. Besides swimming, there is a lot to explore here. Bangaram is the exact stop for experiencing snorkeling and deep sea fishing. Experts who help people from all age groups with these activities realize the potential of the sport. Apart from the usual sport activities like snorkeling, canoeing, deep sea fishing, tourists can also indulge in varied other activities like scuba diving, deep sea diving, wind glassed bottom boat sailing, surfing and so on in this island.

Welcome to the world of SPORTS!!

North Bay – The Coral Island

Day 4:

Guess what, we are going for snorkeling today! And the island which is very near to Port Blair and ideal for Snorkeling is nothing other than the North Bay Island. We started to North Bay around 9.30 from Port Blair. North Bay is about an hour ferry ride away from Port Blair. But we took very less time as ours is a speed boat πŸ™‚

North Bay’s white sand beach seemed to be much crowded than usual. A large number of people were here, mainly for various water sports that this island offers. One can do jet ski, go for a speed boat ride, snorkeling and other such activities here. I heard that in the recent times, they started sea walk activity too.

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Today Kiron Aunty accompanied us. Soon we were in the waters playing and splashing the water onto each other, at the same time quite excited about our first ever snorkeling experience. We found out a guy who had the snorkeling gear and he charged some hundred bucks for each person I think. If you can swim you can go ahead without his support, otherwise he will help you out, so snorkeling doesn’t require any swimming experience u know πŸ˜‰

The turns started. It was Shivangi, who went on first. Later Harsha and Mounica together and then it’s my turn. The power glasses on my eyes were powerful enough to watch out all the undersea activities and somehow I was uncomfortable with the snorkeling gear, don’t ask me why! I was lucky enough to see some colorful fishes, a starfish and the corals spread all over, and they were like colonies, very vibrant in color and perfect in nature!

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Time for some adventure! The person who was guiding me asked me whether am ready for it, I nodded. He removed by gear and asked me to take a deep breath. The target is to go as deep as possible and to feel the corals by touching them πŸ™‚ I took a long deep breath and one push from him, I was down to the sea bed, touching the hidden treasure of the sea. A feeling that’s beyond description!

Once done, we were back to the shore contented. There were lots of shacks providing some eateries and huts to rest. We loitered along the beach for sometime and went around the shacks which were selling some accessories and all. The light house is few yards away from the beach and one can have a walk to it. Once done we were back home by 3 pm in the afternoon. Rest of the day I was in daze thinking about the pristine beauty of the corals.

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Though we enjoyed this trip a lot, we used to get exhausted very easily as the mid-summer sun was scorching. Nevertheless, it was a great experience!!