Lakshadweep islands are a group of 36 coral islands. These islands have recently been opened for travel and also requires permission if travelling on our own. We had gone through "Coral Reef Package" offered by SPORTS (http://www.lakshadweeptourism.com/) which is a 5 day cruise package including 3 days on 3 different islands. There were totally 7 guys for this trip (Shashi, Vineeth, Harish M , Jenny, Shantu, PPR and myself)
Day 1 (25/11/2010)
Departure From Home Port
We landed in Ernakulam junction at around 5 am after taking the overnight Kochuveli Express. With nearly 3.5 hrs more to kill and slight drizzle outside we decided to spend some time in the station some catching up with sleep, some with current affairs and some catching up with nothing :). This light drizzle was a grim reminder of the weather prediction giving an "occassional thunderstorm" filled rains in Lakshadweep for all the 5 days :(. After having our breakfast we decided to move towards Lakshadweep office in Willingdon Island, which is just 30 minutes drive away from the station. After bargaining with a lot of autos one autowaala agreed to take 7 of us in one single auto + luggage :P.... packed to the brim :D. As we entered this port island it was more or less desolate with strict security and CISF personnel guarding all the entrances. Landed in front of Lakshadweep office at around 7.30 am with no one in sight. Finally one person came and told us to wait till 9 am when the officials will arrive.
|A Warehouse At the harbour|
So in order to kill time we decided to roam around. And roam around we did , to such an extent that we even got confused with the route back to the office. At 8.45, we again tried our luck and officials had already arrived. These officials were very courteous and friendly unlike one would expect of a Govt babu. Were provided with our tickets and complementary "Lakshadweep" t-shirts and caps. Were led into another location where our bags were x-rayed for anything illegal (drinking in strictly prohibited in the islands).
Vineeth chatted with Tom a Lithuvanian who was travelling alone across India. For the next 2 days he was more or less a part of our group until he reached his destination of 6 days at Kadamath.These westerners don't have a policy of saving for the future. In his own words "I travel as soon as I have enough money and make it poof " :P... cool :).
|Chinese Fishing Nets|
After this were taken to the docks in a bus, dont know why they take people to 3 different places. Its like in airport where ticket counters, security check and boarding are 1km apart. As soon as we entered the docks we could see the gleaming white beauty "M.V Lakshadweep Sea", a brand new(25 days old) medium sized cruise ship and our home for the next 5 days. We were led into the ship and to our bunkers. The bunkers The interiors were clean and the facilities were awesome. Dont know whether the same applies for much older ships or not. The total number of tourists in our ship came around to 30 with the majority of them mumbaikar's working for Voltas.
Even though many of us boarded the ship at around 10.30 am , the ship only started the journey at around 4 pm. This left as nearly 5 hrs to roam the ship entering into crew only zone , getting scolded by the captain (only shashi got in this case :P). We explored every nook and corner of the ship we could find and not that we did that intentionally. The passageways were so confusing that within no time we would be lost and roaming aimlessly here and there :P. A perfect maze in the middle of the sea :P.
|Sunset In the Open Sea|
|Night On the Deck|
Day 2 (26/11/2010)
Port Of Call : Kadamat
|First Rays Of The Sun|
Got up very early nearly at 5.45 am to catch the sunset. The same process is repeated in the quest of a perfect sunrise and sunset in the middle of the ocean and we were disappointed with this regard for the entire duration of the cruise. When we came to deck it was total darkness .. but in that darkness we could see the lighthouse of Kadamat giving a friendly invitation that our first stopover was just few moments away
After having our breakfast and other stuff (morning ablutions in a rocking ship :P ) we were ready for the island. The ship had stopped at a very far distance from the shore and we had to rely on smaller fishing boats to transport us to the islands.The reason for this is the islands are surrounded by very shallow lagoons. But sadly it had started to rain :(. So we were made to wait for the an hour or so. After some time the rain subsidized becoz it knew that rain or no rain we were going to enjoy in the islands , but the only hindrance was boats which didnt operate in bad weather.
|The Docking Point|
Once snorkelling was done there was an urge in me to do my favourite pastime in beaches......i.e. running along the beaches.... and how could I miss the oppurtunity in such beautiful settings and also convinced others to do the same so as to not to look like a sole lunatic :P.
After this we went for kayaking. This was very relaxing and fun at the same time. Kayaked to our hearts content and returned back. At this time some people were readying themselves for a scuba dive. So we too had an urge to do it. So we went to the "Laccadive Dive Centre". Were greated by 2 good looking women. They informed that for beginners there was only a lagoon dive for depth upto 2 m , lasts for 20 mins and costing 2.5 k and we would be handheld by dive experts. Somehow we didnt feel this was worth it... 2 m depth is not scuba diving in our dictionary :P. (Best option would be to do a 4 day open water scuba diving course and be certified)
While deboarding the ship in the morning we were told to leave all our luggage in the bunkers which didnt have any sort of locks. So when we returned back noticed that my brand new sandals was missing :(. Not just me others baggage too seemed to have roughened up and we had missing things like chargers, deodarants and even some laddoos :P. When we complained to the ship crew they were clueless and they told us to keep our luggage in their compartments from the next day. If at all there has to be a low point in this trip this does qualify. After this freshened up and went to our favourite hangout spot and started singing like drunk maniacs. Also learned a new game "Poker", which we played using cards as fake currency. Even then had so much fun. Gambling is surely addicting :P.
Port Of Call : Kalpeni
As with the previous day, today too we were greated with rains in the morning. But today we were quite optimistic since the previous day the clouds had clreared up as soon as we landed in the islands. As we landed on hard ground we were taken in pickup trucks to the SPORTS resort. As promised the views in Kalpeni is quite different from those in Kadamat. So many small islands filled with coconut trees dotting our line of sight. This greatly reminds me of the famous default wallpaper provided in windows xp :P.
After having the compulsary welcome drink we were taken to one such desolate island. Here the activities offered were snorkeling and kayaking. Since we were itching for more snorkeling action, within no time we doned the snorkelling gear and were into water. This time we were left unassisted and we could explore on our own and in any direction we wanted in this shallow lagoon. There were so many lively fishes in these waters.. blue , green, black, yellow, grey, zebra strips, etc etc and swimming along with these fishes was an awesome experience. The corals were not that colorful as I had expected, but they were compensated by the fishes residing within them.
As we approached near the fishes they would run helter-skelter to find the nearest shelter and if we swam over these corals we could see nearly 10-15 fishes poking their head to check whether the coast is clear.... this scene was simply memorable. Other than fishes I came across eels, water snakes (dint linger around them much) and finally a clam locally known as Kaaka. It had dark and light blue stripes on it and it was around 15 cm radius. Initially didnt know what it was and only one localite was near to me. So asked him what it was , he just told that it was known as Kaaka locally and took one small stone and kept on the clam ...... and to my shock and surprise the clam closed its mouth... simply felt whoahhhhh..... the high point of the Lakshadweep trip :P. But later when we searched for it couldnt locate it much to others disappointment. Looked like these images.... clam1image and clam2image. After snorkeling to our hearts content we were called back to the coast and taken to the resort in the main island.
Had another session of beach volleyball. Lunch was followed by a folk dance by locals. These group of locals comprised of men right from teens to late 70's ..... 3 generations of localites :). The folk dance was quite interesting , even though it had its highs and lows and some other unnamed people where having their afternoon snoozes :P.
|View From The Top|
Folk dance was followed by local sight seeing ...yawn... some more factories... this time khadi and baniyan factory...but after that we were taken to the Kalpeni light house... which offers some breathtaking views of the islands from the top. Every inch of the island is covered by coconut grooves..... From this lighthouse were taken to the northmost point. The shores here is dotted with dead corals for a long long distance. A different view altogether.
Again returned back to the resort and took a boat back to the our waiting mother ship. Overall we enjoyed this island the most. Strikes a balance between views and activities available to tourists. Again night was spent playing cards. Since day 1 we had started using a place near a stair case for our playing purpose. After seeing us use this place there was huge demand to use it and constant competition between us and the voltas guys to reserve this place :P.
Day 4 (28/11/2010)
Port Of Call : Kavaratti
Today we had a stopover at Kavaratti, the capital of Lakshadweep. As expected this island was much bigger in dimension and the population density to match it. Not as desolate as the previous 2 islands. As usual were greeted by morning rains. Landed in the capital island. Were joined by some 10 tourists of M V Arabian Sea which was also anchored in this island. Some good looking girls were also present among them. So we were positioning ourserlves to get good views.... a group of despo guys :P.
|The Flying Ganiga|
Also we went inquiring about scuba diving , but the Dolphin Dive Centre guys told that the compressor was not working.... which was the final nail in the scuba diving chapter. And were also informed that there was some malfunction in the glass bottom boat which had gone out and that it would take some time for our turn... so we decided to do some mind calming kayaking in the open sea. This time I got a solo kayak unlike the previous time and this was way too unstable..... one small wave and it almost tips to one side :P....We rowed and rowed towards the deep sea and occasionally stopping to enjoy the calmness
|Found Nemo: Clown Fish.. Sadly they didn tell us a joke :D|
Lunch followed this and after this relaxed an hour or so in the beaches. Where again taken to island sight seeing... this time it was desalination plant, an aquarium and a ride through the island. The fossil section of the aquarium was quite interesting..... it was here I came to know the clam was called as clam :P. Were taken to a part of the island where a huge cargo ship had drifted too near to the island and had got stuck in the corals beds. After this we returned back to our resort and there was another folk dance presentation by local kids.
|A dotting mother checking out her daughters performance|
After the folk dance we were told to return back we decided to get Shantu all wet... but in the process we too decided to have one last adios dip in the Lakshadweep sea. Dripping water we returned back to ship with many people staring at us for the entire length :P. Thus we were leaving these beautiful islands far behind. The only thing remaining for this trip was the return journey back home.
Day 5 (29/11/2010)
Back To Base
Were woken up in the morning for a spectacular sunrise... but sadly missed the perfect thing by a few seconds. Nevertheless the sunrise was pretty spectacular. Today was the last day of the trip... so everyone was feeling a bit down. The ship finally reached the Kochi port at around 10 am and this time was able to capture some dolphins in action.
We were earlier informed that after docking it takes nearly an hour or so to exit the ship... hence we started playing card in our bunks.... but after some time it occurred to us that the entire ship was deserted... :P.... so quickly we came out and saw that everyone had already left we were the last people leaving the ship... thank god they didnt lock up the ship :D.
As I landed on the ground started to get wobbly feeling. This phenomenon I had never heard of... Heard about sea sickness but never land sickness....but this does occur usually in first time cruise passengers and I was the only one affected in our group. This sickness lasted for some 3 days with the first 2 days being the worst. The reason for this was the inner ear was accustomed to the rocking of the ship... but after landing on firm ground it has a hard time reverting back to older setting.
|St Francis Church|
|Vasca Da Gama's Temporary Resting Place|
|Santa Cruz Basilica|
Total Cost (Per Head including cruise, food, activities, transport etc) ------ > 14K (13K for the cruise including the tax and the agent commission)
Cruise Package Details ----->
Agent List --->