December 3, 2010

Lakshadweep : A Paradise On Earth

Sun kissed beaches lined up with white sand, turquoise shaded transparent sea water, minimal human interference and activity.... if this doesnt qualify for my version of a paradise then I dont know what does. The only thing missing are the female species for us to admire at and that is one point where Goa scores over Lakshadweep, but other than that these group of islands are far ahead from any competition. (Havnt been to Andaman yet :) ).

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).

Our Ride

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.

Double Exhausts

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
Were served lunch at around 1 pm. As a matter of fact the same ship is used by both the tourists and the localites and they even share the same bunk spaces and canteen. The only difference is that the canteens have different timings for both the tourists and the passengers. Finally at around 4 pm the ship started. We had a lot of dolphin sightings at the mouth of the port and unfortunately couldn't capture any(was able to capture while returning :) ). Spent time either by watching the endless seas from our hangout spot (a spot below the control room) or by playing games such as dumb-charades, UNO etc. Matter of fact is there is no other entertainment provided on board. Everyone is left to fend for their own.

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.


Soon all of us boarded a fishing boat and off we moved towards Kadamat island. As we moved closer towards the island the shade of the water slowly started to change to emerald green and became more and more transparent.Transparency to such an extent that we could see the ocean floor. Sea water of this shade and that too almost transparent is a phenomenon most of us had never witnessed before. So naturally we were excited.

Reached the island and we were welcomed by coconut water. It was still drizzling a bit , but not paying much heed we hit the beach. The beach was totally desolate and pristine. White colored pure sand, untouched. Was simply beautiful.... 2 eyes were not enough to grasp the beauty of this place place. Also since the lagoons were isolated from the main ocean the water was calm and waveless and was teaming with aquatic live forms.
The Docking Point
Colourful Inhabitant
Initially we were given life jackets and spent time playing water volleyball and some illegal games like chasing each other in water and hitting with the same ball :P.... After this the instructors came and took us to snorkeling sessions. By this time the sun was out and shinning with full glory, After giving the initial introduction the instructor led guys handheld one by one into the waters. When my turn came donned the glasses and the breathing apparatus. Even though i know swimming to some extent , snorkelling in these clear water is an awesome experience. Visibility is never an issue. Got to see various number of fishes and one very colourful fish (having some 15 different shades :) ). But this session lasted only for about 15 mins and we were not satisfied with it.


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)

North Point
Returned back , had lunch followed by a game of volleyball. This was one game in which I didnt have much exposure so initially the ball moved in random directions which no one could predict :P. After this we were taken to sight seeing. This sight seeing to various factories in the island was something very boring and least looked forward during the next 3 days. We were taken to a coir factory, coconut packaging factory and finally to the north tip of the island, which offered good views. After spending some time we returned back to the resort to have our evening tea and return back to the ship.


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.

Sunset


Day 3 (27/11/2010)
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.

Gurgleeeeeeeeeeee !!!!!!!!!!!

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.

Folk Dance



Kalpeni Lighthouse

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


Spiral Staircase

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.

Northern Point



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
The initial part of the day everyone was just relaxing we decided to do some stunts and entertain the others :D. Everyone did their best to look awesome in a capture... but the major accolades was garnered by shashi.. the "flying ganiga" doing a somersault . After this we played some football until our feet were paining and some other games. By this time the organizers had started to take people for glass bottom boat rides in batches which lasted for nearly an hour or so for each batch. 

Kayaking

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
By this time the glass bottom boat returned and it was our turn in it... all of us got into it..... slowly the marine life became alive from this boat... so many colorful fishes.... the advantage of this ride over snorkeling is that u can actually take pictures from a normal camera. (had searched like hell for single use underwater camera in Bangalore and had even called Kodak head-office :P ). Also finally got my wish of seeing orange colored clown fishes... ala Nemo :P.... Also the boat took us to the boundary where the shallow lagoon ended and the deep sea started..... at this point there was blue everywhere... and so many schools of fishes had made their home right here. Another highlight of this boat ride are turtles... i could manage to see only one while others managed to see as many as 3.



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.

Dolphins

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
In Kochi we still had some 6 hrs to kill so we decided to do some sight seeing. We directly went to Fort Kochi from the Willingdon island and our first stop was the St. Francis Church built in the 16 th century. Also Vasco Da Gama's body was kept in this church before being moved to Portugal. Some 300 m away is the Santa Cruz Basilica, which is a lot more colorful in the interiors. Had our lunch in an nearby restaurant which lasted for a good 2 hrs. With some more time we decided to visit the Jewish Synagogue which is some 4 kms from this place. Finally it was time to take the bus back to Bangalore. Went to the KSRTC bus stand and took the 5.45 pm bus. But to our bad luck it had a puncture even before leaving the stand and hence the departure was delayed to 6.30 pm resulting in half day leave in office the next day :(.

Santa Cruz Basilica
This cruise was in short a totally different experience. Surrounded by seas in all the directions, our bunkers, the islands it was a good relaxing trip. But one thing dawned on me... India is so big and so diverse it surely requires a lifetime to be able to say that one has really visited the entire country. Got to explore our country more before I start thinking anything out of it :P.


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 ----->
 http://www.lakshadweeptourism.com/tourpackages.html
Agent List --->
http://www.lakshadweeptourism.com/agents.html

Snaps ->

http://picasaweb.google.com/unithinbhat/LakshadweepCruise#

http://picasaweb.google.com/ppr.bms/Lakshadweep

http://picasaweb.google.com/shashidharvg/Lakshadweep

51 comments:

  1. Short Blog uhum uhum !!! Very good wobbling effect :P

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  2. @PPR : Thanku :).. this is the first time I completed the blog before U :P

    @Jenny : Short Blog antha heldhre people will read it completely... I tricked u into reading it :D

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  3. u r a better blogger anyway.. a sprinter is of no use in a marathon.. :)

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  4. ya a sprinter is no use in a marathon... but guy who finishes long after the marathon is over is also no use :D

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  5. "drinking in strictly prohibited in the islands."
    This is another difference when compared to GOa

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  6. He he... ya... but in one island "Bangaram" it is allowed ..

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  7. Wow man... vividly explained all the details. Makes me want to go there immediately :)

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  8. Was directed to your blog by an internet search for a Lakshadweep trip. This was really helpful. Thanks!

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  9. Thanks for such an elaborative post... it helped me decide on this trip

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  10. Does the trip cost(Rs. 130000) include the cost of all water sports activities(snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking, glass bottom boat ride etc.) as well?

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    Replies
    1. Yes it includes everything listed above.. except for scuba diving which u have to pay extra,...also note that this was in 2010..hence the price may be dated...

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  11. WHICH AGENT YOU BOOKED THROUGH. IS MINT VALLEY GOOD.

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    Replies
    1. I booked via Comfort Holidays(P) Ltd. .. not sure abt Mint Valley

      Delete
  12. Nice Trip Dude. Awesome explanation about ur journey . Thanks for sharing information with us. Ur writing skills is great, keep it up. Ur article is helpful for those who are planning to see the Lakshadweep. See more information about Places to visit in India .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thnks ambica for d encouraging comments and d link :)

      Delete
  13. Your writing skills are impressive and helped us zero in on the trip. My only concern is food. Since we are vegetarians and planning to travel with kids, pls give us an idea abt the same. Thanks a lot.

    Guru

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    Replies
    1. thnks guru... As a veggie myself, I can say the food was decent during the entire trip if not spectacular... they serve food onboard ships and also offshore during the island visits and they have sufficient veggie items in their menu...

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  14. Hi..nice blog..can u plz suggest if lakshadweep is an ideal location for honeymoon couples? Did you see any honeymonners during your trip?

    Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. in my opinion as a destination yes it is, with lot of privacy and seclution..... in our ship i guess there were no honeymoonin couples... but frankly our mode of transport was kinda "no frills".... i dont suppose honeymooners would opt for tat :P....

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  15. how were the bathroom facities on the ship? cleanliness? availability?

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    Replies
    1. cleanliness wise it was decent.... availability was a bit of a problem though... u can expect a wait time of around 10-15 mins on an average

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  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  17. Hi Nitin,
    Very well written and an honest --no exaggeration approach, really liked your Lakshadweep trip blog, I intend to go there (from Bangalore) in Dec-Jan .http://www.visitlakshadweep.com/ship-packages.html this is the website through which I plan to do the booking....hope its good :) Vinay Rao

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Vinay. :)
      This is the same package which is offered from SPORTS(Lakshadweep govt), but unfortunately inflation has taken its toll. So go ahead and book.

      Delete
  18. Thanks for sharing your experience.......

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  19. Hey Nithin.. your blog is really very nice. I just want to know if there is any dress code in lakshdweep .. I mean for girls if short dresses or shorts are allowed there. Please let me know if you have any idea about that.

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    Replies
    1. No such defined dress code as such. But since these islands majorly consist of traditional muslim population use ur discretion.

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  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  21. Hey Nithin good blog...no doubt it comes first in Google search results! Was looking for some info for Lakshdweep and hence searched for a blog.

    Can you tell me if the place is safe for family? I guess it should be but just wanted to confirm. How are the accommodations(specially tents) in terms of security? As you can guess from my questions, love my family and want to be on safer side :) . Any advice if we should avoid some places/islands?

    I am planning to take a flight and then a package there (Monsoon package sounds fit for us).

    I'd appreciate your help. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. accordin to stats these islands have one of the least crime rates when compared to other parts of india. so i guess it is pretty safe and I never encountered any situations ...

      Delete
  22. Hey Nithin,

    I tolied to get across to a blog about Lakshadweep and landed here.
    I am planing a solo trip here this month utself, but the tourist authorities say there is no way I could plan my own itinerary, and that I will have to take up a package (which I want to avoid).
    You think you could help me with this if there is a way?

    P.S. - I am a budget traveller, and would like to minimise cost and go around at my own pace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are 2 options which I saw a lot of of westerners opt for.
      1. Fly to Agatti islands from Blore/Kochi. This can be quite expensive though.
      2. Travel to the islands as a normal passenger , rather than in a tourist package. In this case you would be travelling along with the tourists and the locals, but you wounldnt be bound by a package. You need to prebook the ship tickets in advance. I suppose you need to get an Inner line permit also in this case. You need to directly contact the Lakshadweep administration office in this case.

      Delete
  23. Hey Nithin,

    I tolied to get across to a blog about Lakshadweep and landed here.
    I am planing a solo trip here this month utself, but the tourist authorities say there is no way I could plan my own itinerary, and that I will have to take up a package (which I want to avoid).
    You think you could help me with this if there is a way?

    P.S. - I am a budget traveller, and would like to minimise cost and go around at my own pace.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hello Nithin,

    We are planning to go Lakswadweep in the month of January,2017. We will reach there by flight. Actually i don't know what to do after that. Can you please tell me the Hotels name or any package tour operators name. Also can you please send me the itinerary of 4days and 3 nights.

    Name: Soumyadip Guha
    City: Kolkata

    Please inform.

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In my recommendation if you dont have any specific itinerary go for the packages provided by the Lakshawadeep tourism (http://www.lakshadweeptourism.com/tourpackages.html). Since the islands are quite far you anyhow need to rely on government run ferrys. Since we didnt stay at any hotels, cant help you in that front.

      Delete
  25. Hey Nitin! well written blog. :) We are a group of friends planning to travel perhaps on December. I have a series of questions for you. my email if is : Mohammedfazi1989@gmail.com. Do you mind dropping your number? I will call you soon.

    City - Bangalore.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hey Nitin! well written blog. :) We are a group of friends planning to travel perhaps on December. I have a series of questions for you. my email if is : Mohammedfazi1989@gmail.com. Do you mind dropping your number? I will call you soon.

    City - Bangalore.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hey Nitin,thats amazing blog... felt as though I was traveling, I have small queries... is scuba diving 2k is worth taking? Also you mentioned snorkeling activities... so who gave those instruments? Or should we own it ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks... all the equipments are available for rent.. so no need to take them unless you have them already..... Yes scuba diving is worth it because the underwater visibility is one of the best in the Indian subcontinent.

      Delete
  28. Hi Nithin, your blog really helped us and motivated enough for us to finally decide to visit lakshadweep early last month.
    It was absolutely a spectacular experience.
    However, for all those who have reluctance about ship accommodation, I would like to clarify to each of you, the arrangements are very convenient with neat and clean toilets. Decent food and hospitality. Strongly recommend to travel by ship rather than air flight.
    Yes, the experience all through your journey in a ship...its different and you will enjoy every bit of it.
    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Max... It good to know that my blog helped :)

      Delete
  29. Hi Nithin, your blog really helped us and motivated enough for us to finally decide to visit lakshadweep early last month.
    It was absolutely a spectacular experience.
    However, for all those who have reluctance about ship accommodation, I would like to clarify to each of you, the arrangements are very convenient with neat and clean toilets. Decent food and hospitality. Strongly recommend to travel by ship rather than air flight.
    Yes, the experience all through your journey in a ship...its different and you will enjoy every bit of it.
    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete

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