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Old 29th October 2019, 16:02   #1
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Default Enchanting & Exotic Lakshadweep

The rays of the Sun glistening on the crystal clear turquoise and aquamarine waters of the sea , the gentle swish of the waves against the brilliant white sands. Tall Coconut palms dancing and swaying in the cool breeze. Far away the sea melts into the horizon in a kaleidoscope of emerald green and blue hues , a fisherman casts his net , a boat chugs by and a brilliant red and blue jetty gently bobs up and down . I take in the sights swaying on a hammock strung between palm fronds … This is paradise, I can spend the rest of eternity here immersed in my reverie.

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Kadmat

We have a close bond with the mountains, every year we have been driving to some Himalayan destination to quench our wanderlust. The song of the sea remained distant , till the waves gathered force with every passing year, until it hit a crescendo that we could no longer ignore.

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Somewhere between Agatti and Bangaram

I had yearned to visit Lakshadweep for a long time, this was the year to make our dream come true. A vacation of a lifetime with memories that we shall cherish till we fade away..

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Beachfront tents at Thinnakara

Behold a magical realm through our eyes and words..

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Sunset at Kadmat

About Lakshadweep
(Source: A , B)

The tiniest Union Territoy of India, Lakshadweep is an archipelago consisting of 12 atolls, 3 reefs and 5 submerged banks. It is a uni-district Union Territory with an area of 32 Sq.Kms and is comprised of 10 inhabited islands, 17 uninhabited islands attached islets, four newly formed islets and 5 submerged reefs. All these islands have been built up by corals and have fringing coral reefs very close to their shores. The inhabited islands are Kavaratti, Agatti, Amini, Kadmat, Kiltan, Chetlat, Bitra, Andrott, Kalpeni and Minicoy. Bitra is the smallest of all having only a population of 271 persons (Census 2011). The largest inhabited island by both size and population is Andrott. The next largest in terms of population is Kavaratti (also the capital of Lakshadweep), while Minicoy is next to Andrott in terms of land area. Minicoy is located very close to Maldives and has a common language "Mahl".

Lakshadweep is located between 8º – 12º 13″ North latitude and 71º – 74º East longitude, 220 to 440 Kms. away from the coastal city of Kochi in Kerala, in the emerald Arabian sea. Considering its lagoon area of about 4,200 Sq.kms, 20,000 Sq.kms of territorial waters and about 4 lakhs Sq.kms. of economic zone, Lakshadweep is a large territory.According to the 2011 Census, Lakshadweep has a population of 64429 persons.

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The name Lakshadweep in Malayalam and Sanskrit means ‘a hundred thousand islands’. The archipelago is divided into 3 subgroups - Aminidivi , Laccadive and Minicoy. As the islands have no aboriginal inhabitants, scholars have suggested different histories for the settlement of these islands. Archaeological evidence supports the existence of human settlement in the region around 1500 BC. The islands have long been known to sailors, as indicated by an anonymous reference from the first century AD to the region in Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. The islands were also mentioned in the Buddhist Jataka stories of the sixth century BC. Islam was established in the region when Muslims arrived around the seventh century. During the medieval period, the region was ruled by the Chola dynasty and Kingdom of Cannanore. The Catholic Portuguese arrived around 1498 but were expelled by 1545. The region was then ruled by the Muslim house of Arakkal, followed by Tipu Sultan. On his death in 1799, most of the region passed on to the British and with their departure, the Union Territory was formed in 1956. The majority of the indigenous population is Muslim and most of them belong to the Shafi school of the Sunni sect. The islanders are ethnically similar to the Malayali people of the nearest Indian state of Kerala. Most of the population speaks Malayalam with Mahi (or Mahl) being the most spoken language in Minicoy island. The islands are served by an airport on Agatti Island.

For a tourist, the biggest source of information is the tourism website maintained by Society for Promotion of Nature Tourism and Sports (SPORTS). Tourism is tightly controlled in the islands and this has gone a long way to maintain the pristine natural beauty.

Inter Island Distances...
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How to go , best time , tour packages , entry formalities etc.
(please check the SPORTS website for the latest, detailed information. There are fairly regular updates)

Best time to visit is listed as Oct to Mid May , but Nov to Jan/Feb probably has the best weather. December has a 10% surcharge on all rates and is likely to be the busiest. The locals recommend late January to early March for a visit. Though the season officially starts in Oct , there are chances that the North-East monsoon might bring forth some days of inclement weather in the early part of the season. Monsoon packages are also on offer these days!

Kochi (Cochin) is the gateway to Lakshadweep. You can opt for a land package and fly to Agatti or take a Sea Package and cruise to several islands from Kochi. Even for Indians, entry is restricted and a permit is needed. However the same is arranged by SPORTS as part of your package or arranged by your hosts.

SPORTS controls all tourist activities and all bookings necessarily have to be through them via online booking through their website or via their authorized travel agents.

It seems that homestays / cottages in Agatti , Kavaratti and Minicoy are also available via local private operators , other than SPORTS

The sea packages through SPORTS cover to and fro fare from Kochi , permit costs , local island transfer , accommodation and food. The land packages also cover these heads , sans the to and fro airfare till Agatti. The rates are on the higher side with Bangaram being the costliest of the lot.

Major Sea Packages :

LAKSHADWEEP SAMUDRAM (This is the most popular package, voyage dates are announced early and sold out within a few days of posting. This seems to be a favourite of those in government service, because of the LTC opportunity it offers)

It is a Five-days cruise to visit the islands of Kavaratti, Kalpeni and Minicoy by ship- M.V Kavaratti. The island tour is organized during the day with lunch and refreshments ashore. Nights are spent on board the ship. (The islands covered are Kavaratti, Kalpeni and Minicoy Or Kavaratti, Kadmat and Minicoy)

SWAYING PALM PACKAGE Swaying Palm is a six / seven days tour to Minicoy. Tourists are accommodated in exclusive A/c cottages and other individual cottages built on the beachfront. Journey is by M.V Arabian sea and M.V Lakshadweep sea, M.V. Minicoy and M.V. Amindivi , M.V Kavaratti.

Land Packages (via flight to Agatti and then to selected island):

TARATASHI - KAVARATTI ISLAND RESORT Taratashi offers a package to visit Kavaratti - the administrative capital of Lakshadweep and a four/five days stay on the island. The stay on the island is in the tourist huts on beach front.

Marine Wealth Awareness Programme - KADMAT ISLAND RESORT
Marine Wealth Awareness Programme covers a 4 -7 dayspackage to Kadmat to experience the richness and beauty of marine life.

Land Packages – Mix and Match (via flight to Agatti and then to selected islands):

You can select and chose your island and number of days of stay. This is offered for Agatti , Kadmat , Kavaratti and for the Luxury Cottages in Bangaram and Tents in Thinnakara Island

Besides these you have tailor made packages to learn Scuba diving (including certification ) at Kalpeni , Kavaratti or Kadmat. And also a tailor made weekend tour and 1 day visit under SILVER SAND/ONE ISLAND TOURIST PACKAGE to either of Kalpeni, Minicoy, Kavaratti or Kadmat.

We chose the mix and match option and opted to visit and stay in Thinnakara , Bangaram and Kadmat.

Lakshadweep Samudram is easy on the pocket , provides to and fro passage from Kochi and lets you savour three separate islands. We chose the individual option : we wanted to pick our own island and stay on the island instead of spending the night on the ship. Also, water sports activities tend to get crowded as all tourists from the ship are taken en masse to the island for the various activities. No ships call at Thinnakara and Bangaram . But make no mistake , Bangaram is famous and is always full of visitors , but Thinnakara is unique with its solitude and beauty.

Our Itinerary :

2nd Oct - Kolkata to Kochi , stay at Kochi
3rd Oct - Kochi to Agatti , and then on to Thinnakara by boat
4th Oct - Thinnakara
5th Oct - Thinnakara
6th Oct - Bangaram
7th Oct - Bangaram to Kadmat , stay at Kadmat
8th Oct - Kadmat
9th Oct - Kadmat to Agatti and then onto Kochi by air , stay at Kochi
10th Oct - Kochi to Kokata
(Dec or Jan might have lead to a better timing /day temperature.The Weather Gods didn't play spoilsport on us!)

Time simply stood still for the last couple of weeks before departure and we were praying for 2nd Oct to arrive. We happen to live near a by-lane that is smack next to a block buster Puja Pandal of Kolkata. We calmly slunk away in the early hours to beat the madness next to our home and also to catch a very early morning flight to Kochi via Chennai.

This was one time when we were not riding out to a vacation , Dusty sat forlorn in the garage and we bid goodbye with a heavy heart. Indigo dropped us at Kochi right on time and we enjoyed the evening with a visit to Lulu Mall , which happens to be one of the largest malls in India.

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Kochi airport deeply impressed us , it has been refurbished with a very prevalent local theme that was aesthetic and pleasing to the eye.

Murals on the walls
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Display near Security Check area of Terminal 1 at Kochi
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A walk through of the awesome display


This one adjusted our sights to the colours that were to follow !

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Onward to Agatti and Thinnakara

The lone, but daily air service between Kochi and Agatti is operated by Air India/Alliance Air. The service originates at Bengaluru with a stopover at Kochi. Except for Tuesdays , the departure time from Kochi is 8:45 AM, with a 10 AM arrival at Agatti. On Tuesdays, the departure is at 10:05 AM, with corresponding arrival at 11:25 AM at Agatti. [Tip : If you are traveling by air, get yourself a window seat on the starboard side (D,C) on the inward leg. The views of Agatti is awesome as the bird swoops down.]

Kavaratti from the air
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Swooping down on Agatti
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Agatti is literally a small aerodrome , the flight operated by Alliance Air is a new ATR 72-600. This one had the registration VT-RKF. It seems that VT-RKF and VT-RKL are the two tail numbers that service this route. (Source : flightradar)

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Enjoy the landing at Agatti


Arrival Lounge and Tourist Reception area at Agatti airport
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On arrival, there is a dedicated representative from SPORTS for meet and greet. They will receive you and chaperone you to the waiting transport that will take you to the Jetty. I was really impressed by SPORTS. All you need to do , is to land and announce yourself . From then onward , it is completely their responsibility to mange your tour till you depart. I must complement them for the excellent arrangements, we were thoroughly impressed.

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Departure and Arrival area of the aerodrome (where you see people standing is the arrival area, gate on the left of the picture is departure area)
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Transport to Jetty (notice the plates)
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Our steed awaits at the jetty to cart us away to Thinnakara!
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A navigation channel marker at Agatti (it has lights on top!)
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A cloudburst at sea!
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Bangaram approaching
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Bangaram in the foreground with Thinnakara in the background
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Aquamarine Thinnakara beckons!
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This is to be our home for the next few days!
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The one hour journey between Agatti to Thinnakara had a Psychedelic effect on our consciousness. Ohhh the colours!


Welcome to our new home
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Hot Seats!
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Drooling over the colours!
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A day draws to a close
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Last edited by aah78 : 12th November 2019 at 21:13. Reason: Spacing.
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Old 29th October 2019, 20:45   #2
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Default Enchanting and Exotic Lakshadweep

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Aquamarine Thinnakara

Thinnakara is a tiny teardrop shaped island situated just on the opposite side of Bangaram and shares the vast lagoon and coralline banks, it's part of Bangaram Atoll. The land area is just 0.5 sq km. The Parali group of islands are located on its northern edge. All around , the island is surrounded by pristine white sands. It has a large submerged sand bank at its northern edge. Apparently at low tide , it is possible to walk to Parali ! Swaying Coconut palms surround the island and it has its own small light house! The lagoons all around the island are breath taking in their colour and beauty. You can easily walk around the island in an hour and it's an enchanting and enthralling experience. You can take a dip in the shallow lagoon at any point. Staying here is like owning your own private island , the experience needs to be savoured and cherished!

The island has all of 12 cottages , of which one wing was currently under maintenance as the season had just started. We were the 2nd family of the season and there was just one more family staying when we arrived! The island has its own power supply with two generators running round the clock. The cottages are clean and tidy and offer basic accommodation , but who cares with such vistas all around . The staff goes all out to make your stay memorable. Food is yummy to say the least. Packaged drinking water is sourced from outside and freely available. Ground water for daily use is pumped from the island itself. Right after monsoons you won’t feel a difference , but as the months roll by , the water develops a strong sulfurous smell. However it is clean and safe for daily use. Bangaram has Airtel and BSNL towers and both connections are intermittently available. Data is an off and on thing ,but it sparingly works. Flip side is , you cannot be rendered totally incommunicado! Generally at Lakshadweep, you have BSNL connection in all larger islands and Airtel (4G) have started operations in the bigger islands as well.

Water sports activities are common between Bangaram and Thinnakara , except for Scuba diving , which is offered at Bangaram only. The rates are slightly cheaper at Thinnakara. You can go Turtle Watching , visit Parali, go Fishing , Snorkelling , Kayaking , take a glass bottom boat , jet ski or take a Banana boat ride. Or simply take a dip in any part of the lagoon , walk around the island , or laze in a hammock with your favourite book! Day trips operate to Bangaram and vice versa.

People do stay over in more luxurious Bangaram and come over only on day trips , but then you miss the idyllic charm of Thinnakara. It you plan to visit , please do stay over for one or two nights , if not more. It is an unforgettable experience.
Savour a walk around the island!

Ribbed
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Are we lost at sea? Nope it's just a sand bank!
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Sands of time
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Inside a Tent
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Morning Catch
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The catch will find it's way to the dining table!
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At Parali
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We have shed our wheels!
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Perspective of Thinnakara and Bangaram from Parali (the larger island is Thinnakara)
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Testudines
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Indulging in some activities!
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When our footprints shall fall no more..
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Thinnakara beach front
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Sunset over Bangaram
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A path to ecstacy
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Brush strokes!
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Work goes on!
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Crooked!
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This Season's second guest, and lo and behold, there is a namesake on the very next day!
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Dining Hall
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Ever smiling Tajuddin at the counter
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Coming back from a fun filled day
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Dining Hall and Activity Center
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Open air Buffet Table being made ready for the new season
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The trio of Saleem , Hidayat and Muhammed who made our stay memorable. Our special thanks to the other Saleem , the manager , who is not in the frame
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Hammocking
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The Sun continues to captivate us, etching one memory after the other
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Last edited by aah78 : 12th November 2019 at 21:17. Reason: Spacing.
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Old 29th October 2019, 22:32   #3
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Default Enchanting and Exotic Lakshadweep

A new dawn beckons
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Oozing liquid gold!
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The Bond family!
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Activity Chart
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Let's get set and go
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Fun under water!

All geared up!
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Catch the action!

Adieu Thinnakara, we have grown a bond forever!
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Idyllic Bangaram

Bangaram is a bewitchingly beautiful and breath-taking island with a land area of 2.3 sq km. It is surrounded by a shallow lagoon enclosed by coral reefs. It has been ranked amongst the best gateways of the world. There are numerous adventures like scuba diving, beach games, swimming, snorkelling and deep sea fishing. The resort has 60 bedded beach cottages with a multi cuisine restaurant serving myriad delicacies. It has all modern amenities to cater to a well-heeled traveller. Though Lakshadweep is under strict prohibition , only Bangaram has a license to serve. The property was under private ownership till it went under a long litigation. It was brought under the ambit of SPORTS and operations restarted in 2015. The hospitality here has a personal touch with the manager of the property interacting with each guest and taking care of their needs.

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Island Layout
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Reception area
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Well appointed rooms
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Leisurely Stay
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Deep Lagoon
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Twin cottages are allotted to large groups
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Directions anyone ?
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A warm welcome!
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Sea front (this part is a deep water lagoon)
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The mad hatter
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All the larger islands have a helipad, Bangaram has one too. The Dy. Chief Minister of Bihar arrived in style for a holiday!
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What comes into land ..

Goes up in the air again ...

Bronzed and tanned duo!
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Activities available at Bangaram
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A few kinks can't make me stoop low!
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A walk in the sand
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Waiting to welcome visitors
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Bangaram has a lake within the island!
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Some local fauna!
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While it is possible to walk around the entire island, it is not so pleasing and easy as in Thinnakara. At Bangaram, it is not possible to walk on the beach all round the island, except during low tide. The area to cover is also much larger than Thinnakara. During high tide, the sea gobbles up the beach and you are forced on unkempt land. There is a prominent sand bank near the helipad, which can be waded across during low tide. This provides a vantage point to view awesome sunsets! Bicycles are available at the reception and these provide a great way to explore the quaint paths that radiate around the island.

On the other side of the island
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There can't be a better piece of real estate for dinner !
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Last edited by aah78 : 12th November 2019 at 21:24. Reason: Spacing.
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Old 30th October 2019, 08:43   #4
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Journey to Kadmat and inter island transport

Inter-island transport is through ships, high speed crafts (catamarans) and large/small mechanized boats, etc. The latter is obviously not used for mass transport. Possibly most islands have a helipad, but there doesn't seem to be any scheduled chopper service in operation. Choppers are used for Medivac and emergency missions and for passenger transport during the monsoons when rough seas hamper ferry operations. Kadmat has a large passenger terminal for helicopter operations, but the brand new building is now in a sorry state!

Kadmat is about 75 kms from Agatti. It takes just over 2 hrs to cover the distance by High Speed Craft, but ships and mechanized vessels take anywhere between 4 to 5 hrs for the passage. You cannot travel directly to Kadmat from Bangaram / Thinnakara, and need to come to Agatti to catch the connection. (I understand that if you manage to miss the passenger ferry and there are large groups , SPORTS might arrange a smaller HSC or mechanized boat to ferry you directly to Kadmat, but this is an exception). You don’t need to bother though , SPORTS will seamlessly manage and execute the optimum plan for your travel , it is their responsibility. The scheduled passenger service between Agatti to Kadmat operates only on Mon, Wed and Fri. If you plan to visit Kadmat by air, plan accordingly. The service originates from Kavaratti early in the morning and takes 1 hrs 30mins to reach Agatti. This is a connecting ferry for passengers from the capital (Kavaratti) to catch the lone flight to the mainland on the same day. The ferry leaves Agatti somewhere between 8 to 9 AM in the morning for the 2 hr plus trip to Kadmat. It then returns on the same route – Kadkmat – Agatti – Kavaratti. Thus, the scheduled ferry from Kadmat to Agatti operates only during late afternoon. If you depend on the mainline passenger ferry for the transfer back to Agatti, it is not possible to catch the return flight on the same day. Based on passenger load and season , SPORTS arranges smaller HSCs (15/20 pax capacity) that start very early in the morning from Kadmat for the 2 hr 30 min journey back to Agatti. This way , same day return flight can be availed. More on this later.

The scheduled service operates using a 150 pax high speed catamaran. We had HSC Parali at our disposal. There were 3 families (including us) traveling to Kadmat on this day, one from Thinnakara and two from Agatti. SPORTS arranged a mechanized boat to ferry us from Thinnkara/Bangaram and connect with the passenger ferry at Agatti.

Docked at Agatti
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HSC Parali
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Inside the bowels of Parali
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List of Vessels (Source ) Note the High Speed Crafts in operation between rows 9 through 18
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Scintillating Kadmat
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(Jetty at SPORTS Campus , Water Sports Activity Center)

Kadmat , also known as Cardamom island for its shape, is part of the Aminidivi subgroup of Lakshadweep. It is situated between Amini island in the south and Chetlat in the north and is about 407Kms from Kochi. It is a long and narrow island , only 0.57 km wide at its broadest point and with a length of about 8 kms . It has a land area of 3.2 sq km with a population of about 5400 souls. The huge shallow calm lagoon on the western side with its live coral, block the incoming swells of the outer sea. The clear water offers visibility ranging from 20 – 50 meters and has a bewildering variety of underwater flora and fauna. The island is likened to a glistening emerald, given its brilliant green colour framed against an aquamarine sea.

It is no wonder that Kadmat is one of the most beautiful diving locations in India and possibly the world. Lakshadweep pioneered diving in India, setting up the country’s first dive center and (recreational) diver training facility in Kadmat, way back in 1995. Currently it is a part of Lakshadweep Diving Academy (LDA) and affiliated to PADI , providing certification courses upto Instructor level.
(Source A, B , C)

Unlike Bangaram and Thinnkara , which are categorized as uninhabited , Kadmat is a habitable island with typical infrastructure available in a large village or small town. You can hop on a bicycle available at the SPORTS campus or take a leisurely auto ride to explore the island. There are pristine beaches, a 300 year old banyan tree, Mosques, a factory making desiccated coconut powder and the northern tip of the island to explore. Or else, just take a stroll down the quaint palm fringed roads within the island. The northern tip is rocky with crashing waves.

The sprawling SPORTS campus is on the southern tip of the island with its own jetty and helipad. All water sport activities offered by SPORTS are available here and the prices are a bit cheaper than Bangaram or Thinnakara. Unlike the latter two , where only one category of room is available , this campus offers one non-AC and three air conditioned varieties of stay. Beware that the non-AC rooms are way off the main campus and at a much disadvantaged location. The Delux AC rooms face the West and are housed in a double storied block overlooking the sea. The Super Delux AC accommodation consists of small cottages facing the eastern seashore of the island. Beyond the helipad, there is a large beach of pristine white sand that drops off into the sea. The rooms are large and well-furnished and the campus is well maintained for most part. BSNL is available in the island but signal coverage is not great within the campus. Ships with tourists call on the island. When that happens, large groups are bought to the SPORTS campus on day trips. It gets crowded and busy on those days, particularly during meal and water sport activity time. The feel here is quite different than Thinnakara or Bangaram.

Kadmat Beckons
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The ferry drops us beyond the lagoon and a small boat takes us to Kadmat
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Island transport!
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SPORTS Campus
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Would you relish a sting ?
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Resting in peace
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Lands end! (South Point of the Island)
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A new dawn breaks
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The Campus and the western shore
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The Delux AC rooms
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Super Delux AC rooms on the Eastern side
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Disused passenger terminal for helicopter services
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The campus has a huge but decrepit Gym , with a view to die for!
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Northpoint of the Island
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Badly needed fuel to generate some BHP (there is no pump on the island)
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The Banyan tree is supposed to be more than 300 years old!
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Curvature!
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Cannot resist one more pose!
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Jetty-Shunned!
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Last edited by aah78 : 12th November 2019 at 21:27. Reason: Spacing.
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Old 30th October 2019, 19:35   #5
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Underwater realm!
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Floating!
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Learning the Basics
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Dive! Dive! Dive!
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Activity Chart
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Different hues of Kadmat!
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Homeward bound – via Agatti and Kochi

Our last day in Lakshadweep heralded an epic adventure! It all started with innocuous enquiries around our timing of departure from Kadmat to catch the morning flight from Agatti. Before the start of our vacation, I had searched for ferry timings and duration - to no avail! Somewhere it was mentioned that the journey takes 4 to 5 hours, while another source of information mentioned it as 2 hrs. I had actually called the SPORTS office at Kochi from Kolkata and inquired, they replied that I need not worry, it was their headache to put me on the flight back! All that is published in the SPORTS website is that a boat is available for Kadmat on Mon, Wed, Fri and vice versa. I had planned my return date and flight accordingly. It was clear on the ride out to Kadmat , that connecting with the flight from Agatti is impossible on the same day , if we plan to take the passenger ferry to Agatti.The ferry departs Kadmat around afternoon and the flight departs Agatti at 10:30 AM!

So onto the million dollar questions – how much time will it take to reach Agatti and when do we need to depart? There were no suitable answers. To make matters worse, a large tour group descended at Kadmat on 8th , they had more people than the capacity of the rooms they had actually booked. The entire staff were busy in fixing the problem. We were 12 souls staying in Kadmat on 8th , who needed to fly out on 9th morning. As the night wore on , snippets began to emerge. During full season, smaller high speed crafts with 15 to 20 pax capacity are arranged. The trip takes 2 hrs 30 mins and it is a 5 / 6 AM departure from Kadmat. But this was only the beginning of the season and both HSC Bangaram and HSC Viringili were stuck at Kochi for routine maintenance! Ergo, we need to travel by a smaller boat that would take 5 hrs. Work backwards and you get the drift as to when we need to start! Word was floated that we would need to depart at 2:30 AM, which was soon advanced to 12 midnight. Eureka, we will be traveling by a small boat throughout the night , bobbing up and down in the high seas! As a family, we were elated and eagerly awaited the adventure. But not all landlubbers in the group were impressed with what awaited them , there was a mini mutiny of sorts. All excuses from seasickness to safety were cited. Bottom line , all needed to be aboard the flight – therefore end of mutiny! And the added bonus – the small boat will sail right into the lagoon and dock at the jetty in the backyard of the campus. Hence no traveling to the main jetty a few kms away to take a vessel out of the lagoon and jump onto a larger one anchored in the deeper channel, in pitch blackness!

In sailed the quirky little “Fathhul Bahar” and docked at the floating pontoon jetty. The maritime members of this esteemed forum can throw some light on the vessel, I don’t have a clue on the type!

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The small cabin was cramped and it was impossible to accommodate, let alone sleep all 12 bodies! It was then that my daughter spied the small upper deck next to the wheel house. We begged the Master to commandeer the deck and our prayers were answered. Some mattresses , bed-sheets and pillows were hastily arranged by SPORTS and our imperial bed was laid right next to the wheel house. Thus began the absolutely best night in all of my existence! The twinkling lights of Kadmat fading away , the bright lights on the navigation buoys showing us the way, the ship at anchor lit up like a Christmas tree , the engine chugging away ,the phosphorescent waves bidding us goodbye, Kadmat falling behind, the wind in our hairs , the glee on our faces and the balm on our souls! And ohh the billion upon billions of stars twinkling bright accompanied by a silvery white Moon ,the galaxies far away, patchy clouds playing hide and seek, meteors streaking across the night sky, the boat rocking us to sleep, a murmur or two from the helmsman, the wind caressing our bodies, a beacon from a lighthouse far away leading the way, the white foam churning behind us, the myriad mysteries of the universe opening up to us! And here we were, the three of us lying on our backs on a dark deck, trying to soak in the sights and sounds like there was no tomorrow, this was heaven, this was Nirvana, this was peace, this was Gods gift to us, a reward beyond all expectation. Time played spoilsport and crept by, the best 5 hours of our life gone, heralding a new dawn at Agatti harbour. Hurray to SPORTS for the extravaganza

Our sleeping bunk
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In the middle of the sea!
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crossing Bangaram
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We had an escort boat to boot! It is another story that it was just a very small little country boat with an outboard motor scampering behind us.

HSC Parali is a large and modern craft where you barely felt any rough motion. Yet on that journey, all three of us felt a little light headed and dizzy. But there was absolutely no sea sickness on this long journey of five and a half hours. We encountered no problems at all in any of the smaller boats! We were escorted to a privately owned facility from the jetty and were allotted rooms to freshen up and change for the flight. A sumptuous breakfast was arranged at a nearby SPORTS office . Finally it was time to bid goodbye at the airport.

We continue to be spellbound at Agatti
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Agatti has local stay options , this is where we were taken to fresh up
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The ride to the airport


Islands at a glance (Source)
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View from departure lounge
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VT-RKF is back to ferry us home - breaking the magical spell of Lakshwadeep
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Runway
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Takeoff from Agatti
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Aerial views
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The prized pieces of parchment
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Based on parameters like natural beauty , ambience , behavior of staff , food , relaxation potential etc , our vote would go for Thinnakara , Bangaram and Kadmat , in that order.

We booked the trip through a local travel agent in Kolkata , who are authorized by SPORTS. We have used their services earlier and they did a great job this time as well. Since SPORTS have gone online in a big way , technically you do not need the services of an agent to plan the trip. You can always use one , but they will be making online reservations only. The online mode does have its problems. Earlier you used to get the entire itinerary and permits back in one single form. Nowadays all you get is the individual permit for each destination and nothing else. Some boat fares are being compounded in the process. If you stay at both Bangaram and Thinnakara , the boat fare between the islands is half that from Agatti to each island. With each individual permit mentioning Agatti as the port of entry , fares are being compounded. Hope SPORTS is taking note. We heard irate travelers writing back to SPORTS for a refund of fare.

We used deals available through MMT to book our stay at Kochi. In the inward leg, we booked a hotel close to the airport. Quality Airport Hotel had complementary airport transfers, it was clean and spacious with courteous staff and large rooms. We have not been to Kochi earlier and wanted to experience some sight and sounds. So we booked The Tower House on our return leg. The hotel is located at the center of Fort - Kochi. It is a heritage property with period decor and the short stay there was simply awesome.

The Tower House - Fort , Kochi
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During both legs at Kochi , we used the services from Ola and Airport Prepaid taxi on three separate occasions. All three drivers seemed to have a maniacal obsession to commit harakiri on the roads Seated on the front passenger seat , I had my heart in my mouth. Rash driving is a very mild word to use. Not sure whether it was just pure bad luck or a general behavior.

Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica , Fort Kochi
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Synonymous with Kochi
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Brilliant end to a scintillating and ethereal vacation (Kochi Harbour)
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The islands beautiful beyond belief,
Azure pristine seas in every direction,
Coral reefs abounding with aquatic life.
Paradise found and deeply appreciated.
I swam and fished , and laid about in my hammock,
Basking in the warmth of Nature!

(inspired by "An Island Adventure" by Stephen E Yocum)

Last edited by aah78 : 12th November 2019 at 21:30. Reason: Spacing.
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Old 1st November 2019, 17:47   #6
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Note from Support: Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 1st November 2019, 19:23   #7
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Brilliant travelogue and I think first on LD on t-bhp

The photographs are real treat to watch. What is the scene for vegetarian food and is it a good idea to travel to LD with a 5 year old kid ?
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Old 1st November 2019, 19:28   #8
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Awesome pictures. In love with the colors. Loved reading the whole travelogue, fantastic narration. Started reading from my mobile & then shifted to my computer to see the pics in a much better way! Rated 5*.

Thanks for sharing all the essential details. Bookmarked it for my future reference.

I still remember our early morning talk over the phone on 3rd October morning! I was tensed with a failed injector in my Duster on the way to Arunachal & you told, you were on the way to Lakshadeep with your family then. Time files. Both of us completed our trips and both the travelogue's are now up in Team Bhp!

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Old 1st November 2019, 21:08   #9
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Marvellous. Rated the thread a well deserved 5-stars. Thank you for all those colourful and bewitching photos and the brief details of each island and how to get the bookings done. The brevity of your writing adds to the attractiveness of this travelouge. Quite unlike some travelouges where the reader is dragged through details of the food eaten and the crockery.
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Old 1st November 2019, 21:21   #10
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Lovely report and absolutely stunning pictures! Great to see a TL come up on Lakshadweep; inspires people as it makes a trip such as this seem possible.

We've been to Andaman a couple of years back and have been itching to go to Lakshadweep. Places like these remind us of the many unexplored beautiful places to visit in the Indian territories. I don't think we do justice to all that India has to offer. The other thing, it is simply commendable how hard people in these regions work to make tourism possible and give you hospitality that is similar to what you'd find on the mainland, despite such a vulnerable topography and challenges due to being so far and cut off from mainland India.

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 1st November 2019, 21:55   #11
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Phenomenal travelogue with absolutely fabulous photographs

I had spent a week just on Bangaram back in 2008 . It used to be run extremely well by a company called CGH Earth. At that time, the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines used to fly the same Bangalore-Kochi-Agatti route. We also ran into a snag on our return journey. The helicopter that flew us in to Bangaram developed a snag so we got three extra days stay for free while the chopper got fixed which was perfectly fine by me . Nice to know that Bangaram is back up and running after all those years of litigation. It is paradise on earth.

Your photos and narration bought back a ton of memories.Thank you for sharing.
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Old 2nd November 2019, 11:23   #12
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Thanks for this amazing travelogue with excellent photographs. By the way, is it necessary to go for the package, or we can research and plan out own trip/itinerary?

I am doing Masters in Tourism Studies and had to write an assignment on Lakshadweep. Your thread came at the right time for me. I took some reference and details from your thread in my assignment. Thanks for that.
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Old 2nd November 2019, 15:53   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dieseltuned View Post
What is the scene for vegetarian food and is it a good idea to travel to LD with a 5 year old kid ?
Thanks Dieseltuned. No problem with either Veg or non-Veg food, both are available. In fact when you fill up the forms , SPORTS requests your food preference.

Traveling with a small kid should not be a problem. Do ensure that you carry any required medication and any specific bottled / canned food requirements.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samba View Post
I still remember our early morning talk over the phone on 3rd October morning! I was tensed with a failed injector in my Duster on the way to Arunachal & you told, you were on the way to Lakshadeep with your family then. Time files. Both of us completed our trips and both the travelogue's are now up in Team Bhp!
Thank you Samba , yup time flies indeed!. We were visiting diametrically opposite extremes of our country at the same time , while you were climbing up North-East , I was swimming down South-West

Quote:
Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
Thank you for all those colourful and bewitching photos and the brief details of each island and how to get the bookings done.
This really is a huge compliment for me , thank you so much sir! I avidly follow your discourses on this forum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
Places like these remind us of the many unexplored beautiful places to visit in the Indian territories. I don't think we do justice to all that India has to offer. The other thing, it is simply commendable how hard people in these regions work to make tourism possible and give you hospitality that is similar to what you'd find on the mainland, despite such a vulnerable topography and challenges due to being so far and cut off from mainland India.
Thank you , couldn't agree more on both counts. India has so much beauty to offer and such untapped potential!

At Lakshadweep , everything needs to be either shipped or flown! If you work out the logistics & labour vis a vis what you are charged , then it appears quite reasonable indeed!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ranjitnair77 View Post
I had spent a week just on Bangaram back in 2008 . ..Nice to know that Bangaram is back up and running after all those years of litigation. It is paradise on earth.
Thank you. One whole week at Bangaram you say , I am green with envy , the beauty of the atoll is simply bewitching! You will always cherish the memories.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SJM1214 View Post
TBy the way, is it necessary to go for the package, or we can research and plan out own trip/itinerary?

I took some reference and details from your thread in my assignment. Thanks for that.
Thank you , glad that the write up could be of some assistance to you.

If you travel through SPORTS , you will end up with some sort of a package. The sea voyages are full fledged packages with published dates . The island options where you take an aerial route in, are also packages - you will be charged for permits , accommodation , food and all inter islands transfers. You can always research and create your own itinerary - choose which islands to travel on what dates and the number of days to stay (like we did) , but the price you will pay in the end is for the full "customized package" that you have just worked out. It will include everything except the airfare. It would be a different matter if you have family on the islands , either as permanent residents or government officials who are stationed on duty.

Private home stays/ resorts are available at Agatti , Kavaratti , Minicoy - might be in some other islands as well (outside the ambit of SPORTS). The hosts take care of your permits. But I assume you will be charged for all transfers , food and accommodation here as well. A cursory search on the net will fetch you the details . But you will not be able to visit islands like Bangaram and Thinnakara , if you do not go through SPORTS. Plus if you choose SPORTS , it's a one stop shop from the time you land and till the time you leave. Also remember that the location and facilities on offer during your stay on an island - will be the best at a SPORTS campus. Hope that this helps
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Old 3rd November 2019, 11:06   #14
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Dada,

I closely follow your travelogues because of the detailing and photography .
If someone were to show me the white sand-blue sea photos I would have thought Maldives without a shred of doubt. And add to that brilliant photography - a notch above your previous ones I felt.

Which photography gear do you use?

Another question (not sure whether its answered in the travelogue) - I heard alcohol is banned in Lakswadeep. Is that true?

Best Regards,
Sayak

Last edited by sayakc : 3rd November 2019 at 11:34.
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Old 3rd November 2019, 15:33   #15
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Simply beautiful pictures.
Lakshwadeep is indeed untouched as off now. But it's slowly catching up.
When compared to Andamans, it's a little expensive I guess, and it has less things to do. Its a heaven for simply disconnecting from everything.

Can you please tell how much the trip cost.
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