The Laccadive Islands, renamed Lakshadweep in 1973, are located in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Kerala, some 200 to 300 kms away and consists of 36 coral islands covering a land area of 32 sq. kms. Only ten of these islands are inhabited. They are in descending order of size - Minicoy, Andrott, Kavaratti, Kadmat, Agatti, Amini, Kalpeni, Kiltan, Chetlat and Bitra. The main islands are Kavaratti, Minicoy, and Amini. The total population is about 51,000.
The historical record shows that around the 7th century a Muslim saint was shipwrecked on the island of Amini. The inhabitants were converted to Islam despite initial opposition. Although the sovereignty remained in the hands of the Hindu Raja of Chirakkal, it eventually passed to the Ali Raja of Cannanore (Kannur) in the 16th century - the only Muslim royal family of Kerala, and later in 1783 to Tipu Sultan. After the defeat of Tipu Sultan at the battle of Srirangapatna in 1799 to the British, the Lakshadweep were annexed by the East India Company. The islands form the smallest of Indian Union Territories and was constituted in 1956.
There are about 10 islands which are open for tourists. Lakshdweep offers sightseeing of beach including Agatti – which has one of the most beautiful lagoons in Lakshadweep. Bangaram - Tear-drop shaped, this island is encircled by a continuous halo of creamy sand. Kavaratti - is the most developed of the islands with the highest percentage of non-islanders as residents. Kalpeni - has three uninhabited satellite islands, all surrounded by an immense lagoon of spectacular beauty.
In excursion visit to Kadhmath is must. Kadhmath is the only island with lagoons on both eastern and western sides. Minicoy Island which is 200 kms away to the South is near to the Maldives. This Island has a cluster of 10 villages.
Agatti has one of the most beautiful lagoons in Lakshadweep. This is where the airport is built. A virtual gateway to Lakshadweep, a 20 bed tourist complex has been set up here.
Tear-drop shaped, this island is encircled by a continuous halo of creamy sand. Like all the other islands of Lakshadweep, luxuriant plantations of coconut provide coolness even during the hottest time of the day.
The administrative capital, Kavaratti is the most developed of the islands with the highest percentage of non-islanders as residents. Fifty-two mosques are spread out over the island, the most beautiful being the Ujra mosque. A well, within its precincts, is believed to contain water of curative powers.
Kalpeni has three uninhabited satellite islands, all surrounded by an immense lagoon of spectacular beauty. Koomel, the gently curving bay where the tourist facilities are located, directly overlooks Pitti and Thilakkm, two of the islands. Here, tourists can swim, reef walk, snorkel or use water sports equipment like kayaks, and sail boats.
Excursions for Lakshadweep
The even depth and an endless shoreline make Kadmath a haven of solitude. This is the only island with lagoons on both eastern and western sides. A Water Sports Institute providing water sports facilities has been set up in Kadmath.
Furthest from Kavaratti island, 200 km away to the south and also nearest to the Maldives, Minicoy has a culture very different from any other island. It has a cluster of 10 villages, which are called Athiris each presided over by a Moopan.