(Last Updated on : 05/03/2009)
Lakshadweep islands look like emeralds in the vast expanse of blue sea. Varying hues of turquoise blue translucent water surround them. It is the only coral island in India that has a rich flora and fauna, to its credit. It is a beautiful island that is worth visiting.Lakshadweep, union territory is located in the Arabain sea of India`s southwest coast, it includes 27 islands witha total area of 32 sq km. The capital is Kavaratti. The calmness and serenity of the place enthralls you. There is complete silence here except for the cry of a seabird, or the sound of the waves lapping the shores. It is one of the favorite places of tourists for water sports, fishing etc. It has a virgin, fragile eco system. It can be described as a " heaven on earth". Serene and calm, gorgeous and stunning, pure and clean, the place wins the adoration of everyone. Its calm atmosphere makes you feel ever fresh. It is truly the gift of heaven. Anyone who goes there will be mesmerized by its natural beauty and will become a nature poet.
Origin of Name of Lakshadweep
Lakshadweep lies about 220 to 440 Km from the coastal city of Cochin in Kerala
. These islands and Cochin are linked by ship and by air. The islands, which were administered at various places, were grouped into a Union Territory in 1956 and the name of this Union Territory was changed to Lakshadweep with effect from November 1, 1973. In 1964 the administration had shifted to Kavaratti Island.
History of Lakshadweep
The history of Lakshadweep is based on old legends and myths, which was passed on from generation to generation. It is said that the first settlement on these islands was by Cheraman Perumal, who was the last king of Kerala. The arrival of the Portuguese in India again made Laccadives an important place for seafarers. They plundered the islands. The finely spun coir was required for ships. The plunderers forcibly landed at Amini to procure coir. In the middle of 16th Century, the Administration of the island passed on to the Muslim house of Arakkal of Cannanore. The Arakkal rule was oppressive and unbearable.
So in 1783, the islanders went to Tipu Sultan and requested him to take over the Administration of Amini group of islands. The seizure of the islands by the British is an example of the political manipulations of the British to establish their supremacy in India. The British brought the Lakshadweep Regulation 1912,which confers limited power of judicial and magisterial status to Amins/Karanis of the islands. The Union Territory was formed in 1956 and it was named Lakshadweep in 1973.
Geography of Lakshadweep
Lakshadweep is scattered into many coral islands. The total area of Lakshadweep is 32 sq.km. Lakshadweep lies about 220 to 440 km from the coastal city of Cochin in Kerala. It is the smallest union territory of India. Though smallest in area, Lakshadweep has extensive lagoon area of about 4,200Sq.Km, 20000Sq Km of territorial waters and about four lakh Sq Km of economic zone. The archipelago of Lakshadweep consists of 12 islands, 3 reefs and 5 submerged banks. There are 10 inhabited and 17 uninhabited islands located between 8 ° - 12 °13` North latitude and 71 ° -74 ° East longitude. Most islands are just 4-5 m above sea level.
The climate of Lakshadweep is similar to the climatic conditions of Kerala. The island experiences a tropical climate. March to May is the hottest period of the year. The temperature ranges from 25 degrees C to 35 degrees C and humidity ranging from 70 -76 per cent for most of the year. The average rainfall received is 1600 mm a year. Monsoon prevails here from 15th May to 15th September. The monsoon period raises temperature to the mercury level between 27- 30 degrees. During the monsoon time, boats are not allowed outside the lagoon because of the violent sea. The presence of the reef maintains calm at the lagoon.
Economy of Lakshadweep
Though smallest in area, the Union Territory of The territory has tremendous economic potentialities because of its vast economic zone. Agriculture is the main economy here. The area under cultivation is about 27.50 sq.km. Coconut is the major crop here with a production of 27.7 million nuts per year. Another major activity is fishery. The island stands first in the per capita availability of fish. Coconut fiber extraction and conversion of its fiber into different products is the main industry in the islands. Under government sector there are seven coir fiber factories. These units produced coir fiber, coir yarn, curled fiber, corridor mat, mat and matting. Boat building was once an important skill, but now has lost significance due to the advent of motorized boats. The gross state domestic product for 2004 is estimated at $60 million at current prices. Lakshadweep is emerging as a major tourist attraction for Indians. This also brings in significant revenue, which is likely to increase. Tourism has become a major source of income here.
Culture of Lakshadweep
Culturally, the people of Lakshadweeep are similar to the people of Kerala. Even the language used is same as that of Keralites. Women chant the folk ballads during household chores. Memories of the past as the arrival of Hazrat Ubaidulla in Lakshadweep, the plunder of the islands by the Portuguese, are kept alive by these ballads. The men have spirited folk dances. Women are very humble and meek. They dress very colorfully and in variety. On houses, furniture and boats. The majority of the people in Lakshadweep are Muslims. There are also Wahabis and Ahamadiyas who are small minority. Almost all the festivals like Id-ul-fitr, Bakrid, Milad-Ul-Nabi and Muharram are celebrated with great enthusiasm and excitement.
Districts of Lakshadweep
The enchanting group of coral islands in the Arabian Sea forms the smallest Union Territory of Lakshadweep. This archipelago consists of 12 atolls, three reefs and five submerged banks. Of its 36 islands covering an area of 32 sq km only 10 are inhabited. They are Agati, Amini, Andrott, Bangaram, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadmat, Kalpeni, Kavaratti, Kiltan, Minicoy, etc.
Demographics of Lakshadweep
The capital of Lakshadweep is Kavaratti. The main language spoken here is Malayalam except in Minicoy, where Mahi is spoken. According to the 2001 census, population of Lakshadweep is 60,595. Out of which the males constitute 31,118 and the females about 29,477. About 81.49% of the people are literate. More than 93% of the population is indigenous. The local population is classified as scheduled Tribes because of their economic and social condition. According to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes list (modification orders), 1956, the inhabitants of Lakshadweep who and both of whose parents were born in these islands are treated as Scheduled Tribes. There are no Scheduled Castes in this Union Territory. Almost 93% of population in Lakshadweep are Muslims. Muslims are mostly from Shafi School from the Sunni sect.
Flora and Fauna of Lakshadweep
Lakshadweep islands are scattered to an area of 220 to 44kms from Cochin. Lakshadweep is blessed with an infinite variety of flora and fauna. The flora of the islands include Banana, Vazha(plantain trees), Colocassia, Chambu (Colocassia antiquarum) Drumstic moringakkai (Moringa Oleifera) , Bread Fruit, Chakka (Artocarpus incisa) wild almond (Terminalia Catappa) etc. Some of the shrubs are Kanni (Scaevolakeeningil), Punna, (Calaphylluminophyllum), Chavok(Casurina equisetifolia), Cheerani (Thespesia Populnea). Coconut trees are the only crop of economic importance in Lakshadweep. These are found in different varieties such as Laccadive micro, Laccadive ordinary, green dwarf etc. The two varieties of sea grass found here are Thalassia hemprichin and Cymodocea isoetifolia. They prevent sea erosion and movement of the beach sediments.
The fauna includes aquatic creatures like Colorful Butterfly fish, Parrotfish, Surgeonfish, different types of eels, dolphins, turtles, rays, flying fish and tuna. Porcupine, puffer fish, Damselfish, and Sea anemones can also be spotted. Molluscan forms found here are the money cowrie (cypraea monita). Other cypraeds found here are cypraca talpa and cyprea maculiferra. Among crabs, the hermit crab is the most common. The commonly seen vertebrates are cattle and poultry. Oceanic birds generally found in Lakshadweep are Tharathasi (Sterna fascia) and Karifetu (Anous solidus). They were found in one of the uninhabited islands known as PITTI. This island has been declared as a bird sanctuary.
Transport of Lakshadweep
The Agatti Aerodrome on Agatti Island is currently the only airport in Lakshadweep. From April 2007, a private carrier, Kingfisher Airlines, has commenced flights to and from Agatti. Kingfisher connects Kochi and Bangalore to Agatti. The other islands are linked by a helicopter or boat service. Permits and transportation (can be arranged from Kochi in Kerala.
Government and Politics of Lakshadweep
The Administrator of the union territory is Shri B.V.Selvaraj. He is appointed by the President of India, under Clause (1) of Article 239 of the Constitution of India with effect from 22nd December, 2006.The Administrator is the Head of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. He is also the Chairman of Lakshadweep Development Corporation and SPORTS (Society for Promotion of Recreational Tourism and Sports). He functions ex-officio as the Inspector General of Lakshadweep Police.
Education in Lakshadweep
The schools of Lakshadweep follow the curriculum followed in the schools of Kerala. Informal community based education plays an important role here in creating awareness in biodiversity, climate change and livelihood. Children learn about the marine wildlife by playing in the sea, collecting shells, going fishing with their father and so on. Children participate in workshops and seminars.
There is a Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya school at the Minicoy Island and a Kendra Vidyalaya school at Kavaratti. In all the islands classes 1 to 10 follow the Kerala pattern Malayalam medium. The plus two Kerala pattern is available at MGSSS Andrott, JNSSS Kadmat and GSSS Minicoy. Classes I to XII of CBSE pattern is available at GSSS, Kavaratti. There is one IGNOU study center at Kavaratti. DIET is being established in Lakshadweep.
Educational facilities up to class XII are available in Lakshadweep. For all other higher courses students are sent to the mainland colleges. MBBS/BDS Entrance examination coaching classes are usually conducted at Kavaratti Island.
People of Lakshadweep are interested in water sports facilities like kayaking, sailing, paddleboats, inflatable motorboats, glass bottom boats
and water skiing
. These are available in the islands of Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Kadamat and Minicoy.
More on Lakshadweep
Costumes of Lakshadweep