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 was 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.  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! 🙂 🙂

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” 🙂 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 😉 We returned back around 07.00 hrs as I have to leave to the airport early! 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! 🙂 🙂

Hope you all would also be visiting these beautiful islands so soon 🙂

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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 🙂 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 🙂

Bye Bye Bangaram.. 🙂 🙂

NANDI HILLS – HILL OF HAPPINESS

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Nandi Hills or Nandidurg or Nandi Betta is an ancient hill fortress situated at a distance of about 65 kms from Bangalore, Karnataka. These lie at an average elevation of about 4850 ft above the sea level. A popular weekend destination and it can be easily reached as it is well connected by roads with Bangalore as well as Chikkaballapur. The route from Bangalore to Nandi hills is so scenic and interesting, as it gives us a chance of seeing some good temples, old forts, grape vineyards and mustard fields.

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And the curvy roads leading to the top of hills are best to trek or cycle. One can go for a road trek or a wild trek on the backside of the hill. Plenty of opportunities 🙂  If you own a bicycle, well fine and good otherwise there are lots of bicycling clubs which organizes weekend cycling trips. Can try one!

 The main attraction is the statue of the Nandi Bull which is located on top of the hill. And the belief is that the hills resemble a sleeping Nandi Bull, and hence the name Nandi Hills. There is also an ancient temple of Yoga Nandeeswara atop the hill. There are also temples dedicated to Sri Ugra Narasimha and Yoga Narasimha.

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The hill is the Sultan Tipu’s Summer Residence and there is a palace which is not open for public 😦 . Interesting place is the Tipu’s Drop, a 600 metre high cliff face, where prisoners and convicts during Tipu’s reign used to be pushed off this cliff. There is also a children’s park, for a while we too can be children swinging on the cradles. Lol!

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Nandi hills is a haven for nature lovers with magnificent views and enticing scenic spots, if we are lucky enough we can spot some wildlife too. One should not miss the sunrise here. The wind, fog and the clouds that blow towards us when we are in the midst of the tall trees on top of the hill before the sunrise is just amazing and a life-time experience. One won’t regret waking up at 4 in the morning after enjoying the sunrise here!

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Why can’t be this weekend itself? 🙂