Wednesday, February 9, 2011

[www.keralites.net] BEAUTIFUL INDIA - LAKSHADWEEP



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Region: South Asia

Area Total: 3,287,240km2
Coast Line: Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal

Capital: New Delhi

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Fun & Info @ Keralites.net

LAKSHADWEEP

(Laccadive Islands)

Capital : KAVARATTI

Area :

32

sq km

Population :60,595(2001 Census)

Languages :Malayalam,JeseriandMahl

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Lakshadweepalso known as theLaccadive Islandsis a group of islands in theLaccadive Sea, scattered around 200 to 300km off the coast of theSouth West Indianstate ofKerala.Out of these islands, only ten are inhabited and they are Andrott, Amini, Agatti, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadmath, Kalpeni, Kavaratti, Kiltan and Minicoy. Lakshadweep is the northern part of the erstwhileLakshadweepa.

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These islands form the smallest of the Union Territories of India, and are the country's only coral islands. The main islands are Kavaratti, Minicoy, and Amini. Kavaratti is the headquarters of these islands, while Bitra is the smallest of all, with a nominal population. About 93 percent of the people in Lakshadweep are the Shafi school Muslims of the Sunni sect, and they speak Malayalam.

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Lakshadweep, comes fromLakshadweepa, which literally means one hundred thousand (laksha) islands (dweepa) inSanskrit. It is the least populous Union Territory of India

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HISTORY

The earliest references to the islands is made inPuranuruas part of the ancient Tamil (Dravida) country,Tamilakam. Little else is known about the early history of the Lakshadweep islands. There are references to the control of the islands by theCherasin theSangam literaturePathitruppaththu. APallavainscription of 7th century AD refers to the islands as Dveepa Laksham and lists them as part of the Pallava domain. The oldest inhabited islands in the group areAmini,Andrott,KavarattiandAgatti. It was earlier believed that the Lakshadweep islanders were originallyHinduswho later converted toIslamin the 14th century. However, recent archaeological evidence has established thatBuddhistsettlements had existed in the islands as early as the 6th or 7th century.

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According to popular tradition, Islam was brought to Lakshadweep by an Arab namedUbaidullain 41AH(661 AD). His grave is located in the island ofAndrott. Muslim grave stones dated to 139 AH (756 AD) have also been discovered here. During the 11th century, the islands came under the rule of the LateCholas.

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In the 17th century, the islands came under the rule ofAli Rajahs/Arakkal Bheevi ofKannur, who received them as a gift from theKolathiris. The Portuguese took control to exploitcoirproduction until the islanders expelled the Portuguese. The islands are also mentioned in great detail in the stories of theArabtravellerIbn Batuta.

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Kadmat Island - Lakshadweep

The Amindivi group of islands (Amini, Kadmat, Kiltan, Chetlat and Bitra) came under the rule ofTipu Sultanin 1787. They passed to British control after theThird Anglo-Mysore Warand were attached toSouth Canara. The rest of the islands came under thesuzeraintyof theArakkal familyofCannanorein return for a payment of annual tribute. After a while, the British took over the administration of those islands for non-payment of arrears. These islands were attached to theMalabar districtof theMadras Presidency.

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Minikoy in Lakshadweep

In 1956, despite the fact that most of the Islanders were Malayalis, theStates Reorganisation Actseparated these islands from the mainland administrative units, forming a new union territory by combining all the islands.

GEOGRAPHY

Lakshadweep comprises twelveatolls, threereefsand five submergedbanks, with a total of about thirty-six islands and islets. The reefs are in fact also atolls, although mostly submerged, with only small unvegetated sand cays above the high water mark. The submerged banks are sunken atolls. Almost all the atolls have a northeast-southwest orientation with the islands lying on the eastern rim, and a mostly submerged reef on the western rim, enclosing a lagoon.

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Boat on the blue waters of Lakshadweep

The main islands are Kavaratti (where the capital city,Kavaratti, is located),Agatti,Minicoy, andAmini. The total population of the territory was 60,595 according to the2001 census. Agatti has an airport where there are direct flights fromKochi, Kerala or Ernakulam (Cochin). Tourists need apermitto visit the islands; foreign nationals are not permitted to visit certain islands. Consumption of alcohol is not permitted in the islands except on Bangaram Island.

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Agatti Beach Resort

Lakshadweep forms a singleIndian districtand is governed by an administrator appointed by the central government of India. The union territory comes under the jurisdiction of theKerala High CourtatErnakulam. The territory elects one member to theLok Sabha(lower house of theParliament of India). There is no local government at the moment but the administration plans to introduce a two-tiered system based on the Panchayati raj. There will be ten island councils for the inhabited islands (with a total of 79 members).

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The people of all the northern islands speak adialectofMalayalam. According to local folk beliefs, they descended from traders who were washed up on the islands during a particularly heavy storm. However, the people ofMinicoy, the southernmost atoll, speakMahl, a variant ofDivehi languagespoken in theMaldives.

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The islanders are ethnically similar to coastal Kerala'sMalayali people, and were influenced byArabtraders. Inhabitants ofMinicoy, the southernmost and second largest island, are ethnicallyDhivehisnative to theMaldives. This group of Dhivehis form a subgroup of Dhivehis, sometimes referred by the nameMahls. Most of the indigenous population isMuslim. The locals of all the islands except Minicoy call themselves theDiv-ior theAminidivi("from the mother island"). Lakshadweep's ethnic groups can be classified as 84.33%Malayali, and 15.67%Dhivehi.

Agriculture:

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Coconut is the main crop cultivated in the islands. Lakshadweep is India's largest producer of coconuts.

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About 2,598hectares are under coconut cultivation and the productivity per hectare is 22,310. Coconuts cultivated in the Lakshadweep are also rich in coconut oil.

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Coral Reef in Lakshadweep

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Agatti Aerodromeon Agatti Island is currently the only airport in Lakshadweep.Indian Airlines, the state-owned carrier, serves Agatti and flies toKochion the mainland.

Also, from April 2007, a private carrier, Kingfisher Airlines, has commenced flights to and from Agatti. Kingfisher connects Kochi and Bangalore to Agatti. The other islands are linked byhelicopteror boat service.

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One of the uninhabited islands in Lakshadweep


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A beach side resort at Kadmat Island, Lakshadweep


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A BEACH AT KAVRATTI


Agatti Aerodromeon Agatti Island is currently the only airport in Lakshadweep.Indian Airlines, the state-owned carrier, serves Agatti and flies toKochion the mainland.

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Agatti Airport

Also, from April 2007, a private carrier, Kingfisher Airlines, has commenced flights to and from Agatti. Kingfisher connects Kochi and Bangalore to Agatti. The other islands are linked byhelicopteror boat service.


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A Passenger Ship at old mangalore port scheduled for Lakshawdeep

Ships are the major means of transportation for the islanders. Ships are operated from eitherKochi (Kerala)or Beypore (Calicut-Kerala). There are around 5 passenger ships, but generally only two at a time operate. Advance bookings are required.

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MV Kavaratti Passenger ship

Sailing schedules are arranged so that each island gets priority at some time of the year. There are vessels operating between some of the larger islands likeKavaratti, Androth, Kalpeni etc., but sailings are affected by weather conditions.

 

Specialty of Lakshadweep

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The main thing that has made the world sit up and take notice of Lakshadweep is the possibility of adventure sports in this tropical paradise. Adventure enthusiasts from all over the world are coming to Lakshadweep to get a taste of water sports here.

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One can experience water sports in many parts of India, but it is the presence of coral reefs that sets Lakshadweep apart from the rest. Under the crystal blue water, lies a kingdom with the most enchanting color combinations possible. Scuba diving and snorkeling are the two most indulged in activities in Lakshadweep. Swimming alongside schools of fishes and amidst the living corals is an experience beyond words. Tourists also like to indulge in angling and surfing.

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Scuba Dive in Lakshadweep

Lakshadweep is one place that still remains exactly the same way man found it. And the tourism department wishes to keep it unchanged. That is why out of the 36 islets, only 6 has been thrown open for tourism and only three to non-Indians. The number of tourists allowed on an island at a time is restricted.

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Water sport "Kayaking" of Lakshadweep

There are cruises to all the other islands from Kochi as well as Agatti. There is a helicopter service as well to Bangaram from Agatti.

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Not many places in the world come close to the aura and charm possessed by the islands in Lakshadweep. No wonder they are considered among the best holiday destinations in the world.

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The empty white sand beaches and the silence of the nights embedded with the sound of dancing waves prove to be a perfect setting for a quite vacation. And the possibility of enjoying water sports for as long as one wishes to makes Lakshadweep an irresistible destination for family and adventure vacations.


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Sunset in Lakshadweep


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Thanks & Regards, Raj. Kumar (Information & Images courtesy to various Websites)


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