Lakshadweep Islands, Indian Territories

WARNING – LONG POST!!!

For the second main stage of our travels to India, we found ourselves heading out into the Arabian Sea with a boat load of middle-aged, middle-class domestic tourists. And I make this distinction because I feel it impacted greatly on the impressions we were left with – still the same kindness and friendliness yet totally different to the fishing community at Cherai Beach.

Leaving from Willingdon Island near Fort Kocki in Kerala, we were embarking on a five night adventure which would include a day visit to 3 of the 39 islands of this archipelago located to the north of, and a geographical extension of the Maldives. The ship that would take us out was, primarily, the ferry and service boat for the locals of the island. And, to help finance the running costs, 200 berths have been made available to tourists. The islanders, generally, are not wealthy people and many of their young depend on jobs on the mainland. Using tourism to help finance this facility that keeps the islands in touch with the mainland seems good business.

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Luckily, there were only 200 tourist class passengers

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Many of the initiatives are still a work in progress.

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Please do not spit here & on to the lifeboat – wonderful curly, friendly font of the characters in the Malayalam alphabet

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Off into the night in the rain.

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The Kavaratti ship seen from Kalpeni Island

On this trip, our first stop was Kalpeni Island – I believe the itinerary may change depending on weather, tides and the needs of the islanders. Here, I had a very brief conversation with a man about how more tourism could help improve the lives of these people. I was quite surprised, from a gender perspective, to be approached; it seems still a very patriarchal society where men talk to men. I’m not sure of the motivations of the SPORT people and their promotion of tourism on the islands; it was quite complicated to make this booking  and spaces are limited; it would seem that, rightfully so, access to the islands is being kept in check.

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Local fishing boats were used for transfers from ship to island.

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All tourists were required to wear life jackets… The locals fended for themselves.

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Just because I liked the colours.

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Morning water activities.

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Beautiful corals and sea life

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Snorkelling was very easy in these shallow waters.

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Off to experience scuba diving

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Barely above sea level

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Pre-dinner activities – hermit crab racing.

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Chickens on the beach

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Goats on nests

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Local folk dance

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Not so different from our Morris Men

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The coconut industry

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There is no shortage.

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Disused textiles factory – no longer viable

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Tourists checking out the textiles for sale

After a comfortable nights sleep in our bunks on the ship, we awoke on the second day to find the ship had already moored off Minicoy island. After a basic but nutritious breakfast, we were again loaded into the local fishing boats and ferried ashore.

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A visit to one of the many lighthouses left behind by the British – Hari and Christine were the only other Europeans that had found their way to this trip.

 

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A handsome devil

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Salt water lover.

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Entertainment laid on.

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We preferred to spend our morning snorkelling – there was so much to see.

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I cannot do the vibrancy justice.

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Shy.

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Magnificent corals

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Nature’s washing line.

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Traditional racing boat.

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The very little exclusive tourist accommodation that was on the islands was way beyond our budget.

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Cliches are cliches for a reason – someone said that to me recently.

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The locals on the top deck.

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Getting the land-lubber tourists aboard – there was a bit of a swell this evening which meant the leap had to be well timed.

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Watching the loading process. Love how their boats are shaped like fish.

The final island we had the good fortune to visit, Karavatti like the name of the ship, is the capital of the Lakshadweep Islands and therefore a little more populated, but not visibly any wealthier. I should have liked to talk more with the locals but they seemed quite shy, keeping away from the hoards of tourists. And, I was surprised the Indian tourists didn’t try to engage with them – again it made me think about the class system in this country and wonder how things work.

We did get a little insight into the psyche of our upwardly mobile travelling companions on this day. Having had a drink in a paper cup, my other half wandered towards the rubbish bin, on his way collecting a few cups, as you do, that had been dropped on the beach and, having placed them all in the bin, thought no more of it…. until. After lunch, a woman came up and said how she had noticed him collecting some of the litter and explained how it ‘almost’ made her consider doing the same. Later that evening, on the boat, after dinner, a couple of the men came over and there ensued a huge discussion on why they could never be seen to be picking up litter. And it was that conversation that, for us, clarified a little the class system in the country and how closely linked it is to the huge litter problem they have.

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The population of Kavaratti swells for a few hours.

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Firstly, a swim to look at the sea life.

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Just as great a selection here as on the other two islands.

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An option for non-swimmers – lazy us.

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Cows on the beach.

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Lakshadweep

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Goats and boats

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Washed away.

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Dried fish industry

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Luckily, they don’t have the seagulls we do.

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Older local lads making their own amusement on the beach

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I’m of more interest than the lesson

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School children

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The same the world over.

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Smart phones and shark tanks

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A very good display of preserved sea creatures – not supposed to take photos

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Selling it by the chunk

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Beach combing at low tide.

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A quick selfie whilst waiting for something to happen – Bollywood style.

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Locals leaving the island

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To make sure we go or make sure they stay?

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Alone on the dock

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The farewell committee

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Another lighthouse

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Locals on the top deck – again, mostly male.

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Lakshadweep Islands, Indian Territories

  1. A lot of processing for you! Such variety too in what you have been able to capture, and a great gallery to look back on. My son visited Kerala two years ago but he wasn’t as adventurous as you have been.

    1. Thanks Andy. I have to confess I bulk processed a lot of these so some may not be presented at their best but as you say, I do have a pleasing selection to look back upon. Did your son enjoy Kerala? Where did he go?

    1. Hi, Ransomebeardedman, apologies for very slow answer. Moved house and weeks for internet to be connected – BT are outrageous. To get to Lakshadweep Islands, need permission from authorities to land and then, accommodation is very limited. We did Samudram package as it fitted with our plans for visiting more of Kerala. All very archaic in the administration process . Check out site http://www.lakshadweeptourism.com/contact.html. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have more specific questions. Good luck.

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