Translating from Malayalam to English as “one hundred thousand islands,” the Lakshadweep Islands form India’s smallest union territory, covering a total surface area of just 32 square kilometers. Its 36 islands have been severely impacted by climate change, with one island lost completely due to sea erosion.
Unlike many Indian Ocean archipelagos, the Lakshadweep Islands have no aboriginal inhabitants. Scholars have proposed several different theories for the settlement of the Lakshadweep Islands, and archaeological evidence suggests that the region has been inhabited by humans since around 1500 BCE.
Today, the islands are home to more than 60,000 people spread across 10 islands of the archipelago. Over the centuries, the Lakshadweep Islands have changed hands several times.
The islands were mentioned in Buddhist Jataka stories dating to the sixth century BCE. In the seventh century, Islam was introduced to the region; it remains the majority religion today, with most of the indigenous population belonging to the Shafi school of the Sunni Muslim sect.
Ethnically similar to the Malayali people found in the nearest Indian state, Kerala, most islanders speak Malayalam, although on Minicoy Island the most spoken language is Mahl. The Lakshadweep Islands are served by an airport on Agatti Island. The most popular occupations are coconut cultivation and fishing, and tuna is the Lakshadweep Islands’ main item of export.
The Lakshadweep Islands’ capital is Kavaratti Island, which had a population of 11,210 as of the last census in 2011. Popular with snorkelers and scuba divers, the region is home to a diverse range of rare and exotic marine life, including lionfish, butterflyfish, rainbowfish, and surgeonfish, as well as sea turtles, giant clams, sea cucumber, and live corals in every color imaginable.
Read on to learn more about some Lakshadweep Island attractions that astound and enthrall visitors from all over the world.
1. Kadmat Island
One of the archipelago’s most popular islands, Kadmat is spread over 100 meters and houses just one small village. In fact, on Kadmat Island, humans are easily outnumbered by sea turtles.
Visitors to Kadmat Island can enjoy a variety of watersports, including scuba diving, snorkeling, and paragliding. The island is also renowned for its stunning sunrises and sunsets.
To avoid torrential monsoon downpours, it is advisable to visit Kadmat only during the winter months (i.e., between October and March).
2. Bangaram Island
Bangaram Island lies 150 kilometers from Kadmat. Here, visitors can take a stroll or simply laze on the beach beneath the swaying palm trees, enjoying the unhurried pace of life while surrounded by the breathtaking spectacle of the region’s sparkling coral reefs.
Inhabited by just 10 people, Bangaram covers 1.2 square kilometers and is the largest island in its atoll. Famous for its beautiful lagoon, the island boasts a luxury tourist resort that presents an array of activities, including night cruises across Bangaram’s perennially calm waters.
3. Kavaratti Island
A must-see for any visitor to the Lakshadweep Islands, Kavaratti Island offers cool, refreshing air, white sandy beaches, and brilliant blue lagoons to elevate the soul. Here, tourists can explore the Urja Mosque and Jamath Mosque among other fascinating island attractions, such as the Kavaratti Island Marine Aquarium.
Like the rest of the Lakshadweep Islands, water sports are popular here, particularly parasailing, water skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, windsurfing, and water biking. In addition, a tour on a glass bottom boat is an excellent way to experience the island’s diverse marine life.
4. Agatti Island
Poised at the top of the Lakshadweep Islands, Agatti is just 8 kilometers long, making it easily traversable on foot. The natural beauty of this beach paradise with its sugar-white sands enthralls all who venture here.
Despite being home to a population of just 8,000, Agatti is one of Lakshadweep’s most populous islands. The locals speak Malayalam and English. Featuring one of Lakshadweep’s most beautiful lagoons, Agatti Island is open to tourists, but a permit is required to visit. The island’s airstrips provide visitors with breathtaking views across the Arabian Sea on their approach.
5. Thinnakara Island
Famous for its palm trees, white sands, and crystal-clear azure waters, Thinnakara is perfect for romantic getaways and idyllic family vacations alike. After nightfall, the navy-blue skies are perfect for stargazing after sampling signature local dishes such as biryanis, idlis, and dosas.
Featuring stunning marine flora and fauna as well as swaying palms and picture-perfect lagoons, Thinnakara’s beaches glow blue at night as phosphorescent plankton washes onto the coral sands, creating an unforgettably enchanting display.