Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Trip To Lakshadweep [100,000 islands]

If u see the map of india , u will notice a small group of islands on the arabian sea side of the country and many people won't think much abt these, well friends let me tell u few things abt these islands ,
First these islands called as "Lakshadweep" are the group of islands and many say they got there name because they are the concentration of 100,000 islands , yes that's correct.
second these islands are coral islands and yes they are growing.Third these islands has mesmerizing beauty that u'll find no where. Google for more on "Lakshadweep".

Ok now back to our story, we planned for Lakshadweep trip way long back in 2007 yes almost 3 yrs back, that time we started our new found life of adventure with lots of trips and treks whenever we can find time. since then our plan of Lakshadweep is draggin like a full load truck trying to race on ringroad with bicycle :) ,

sometimes we didn't got the leaves from office and sometimes we didn't had the currency.
finally we decided to go for it in 2009 Nov and as expected many of our members dropped out with many reasons, but i and Ramesh were confident that we will make it no matter wt happens this time. and on Dec Ramesh took initiative and he booked with the tour operator for two of us. our intial plan was for 21st JAN 2010, and we booked the train tickets also for cochin, but there was uncertain things happened and our ship which we booked on that date got cacelled, as the ship [Tipu sultan] has been decommitioned from the service. it was a big blow for us and we couldn't belived it , after 3 years of waiting finally when we are ready to go .. ship is
decommitioned ??? sh** man .. WTH .. going ??...........
we contacted the tour operator and he said he will refund our amount, well he given us one more date as FEB 8th and that too with a price .. now we need to pay 4000/- extra as the Govt commitioned a brand new ship and its first trip is on 8th. and we didn't had any choice, we agreed to the terms.

Finally the day has arrived

On 7th Sunday we needed to board a train to Cochin from B'lore, we started from my home around 4pm and reached the railway station just in time and there it was our train just starting to departure, once in our compartment i realised that our brillient friend booked both the seats in upper birth but both are far away from each other .. in a hurry he didn't realise while booking the birth num .. and unfortunately there is no one ready to swap our seats .. so we didn't had any choice than to travel to cochin sitting far away, and guess wt ? my nearby 11 seats were occupied by nuns, whole journey they were praying and eating what ever they can get [no offense here]. well for us both of us feeling very hungry as we didn't eat anything in the train, as we believed that the eatary served in train will not have hygin and quality and surely we are not ready to take risk for our much awaited trip.

Day 1 - Cochin
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we reached morning 5:30am on Cochin railway station and it was still dark and only few tea shops are opened out side of the station, we had tea and later we called our tour operator to pick us up, to our surprice he sent a cab to pick us up after 3 hours, till that time we spent roaming around the railway station.

The cab driver finally took us to willington island in cochin where the Administrative office of Lakshadweep is situated. and along the way we were surpriced to see that there was almost no traffic jams and speed brakers any where, here in b'lore we can find the speed brackers every 100mts and a pile of traffic jam everywhere.

we reached the willington island and which is situated in the port of Cochin, it was a fresh view for us every where as we are new to these ports and we can see people using boats to travel one part of city to other just like in bus.we spent some time by tacking some pics around the place and finally called our tour operator to get the tickets. and he adviced us to contact one person in the administration office for the tickets, so we went inside the office and u won;t believe it eventhough it was a govt office the response and efficiency of the staffs there was really amazing , for a moment i forgot that its a govt office and most of us were really impressed a lot. and there was a big surprice for us too .. the ship commitioned for the journey was a brand new ship and that this trip was its first trip.

After collecing our tickets we were transported to the checkin centre for scanning the bags and later to the brand new cruise waiting for us. as soon we got down from the bus in the port there she was standing tall ,beautiful and charming just waiting for us. all of us are very much thrilled to see the cruise and its owned by Govt of india and we come to know abt the ship costed wopping 85crore rupees and its named as "Arabian Sea".

once we boarded the cruise we selected the good cabin for us by swapping/changing our seats after request, and it was around 1pm that time and honestly both of us feeling very hungy by now, and we checked with the ship crew about lunch and they said it will be served @1:30pm and after some time we had the best lunch ever after a long time. then now it was time for us to see the ship cruising in the sea, by the time ship started cruise it was 4pm and almost everyone in the ship come out to see the new ship crusing in the deep sea, and everyone is on the deck watching and clicking photos and so we. the whole evening we spent on the deck like the rest of the people watching ever ending sea and its changing colors. we visited the control centre of the ship also and the captain is generous to explain us the functioning of the different equipment and he let us to sit on his seat :) we took few pics in the cabin and later some sunset shots, one person saw a dolphin and he notified me ..but unfortunately by the time i could see it was gone, and later i'll tell u how this person become very good friend to us and he become a really lucky champ [u'll come to know later why i cal him lucky champ].

later in the night we finished one more very good dinner [trust me the food served in the ship was ultimate], and still as we are not satisfied with the sea , we were standing on the deck watching dark sea and starts in the sky which are not visible in polluted city life.

Day 2 - Karavatti
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The ship reached the first island Kavaratti @5:30am in the morning and ship anchored about 10km from the Kavaratti island and we woke up in the morning around 6 and took a nice hot water shower and believe me it was heaven to take hot shower bath in the early morning that too in the sea.. one thing i like to mention here is even though there were pretty big waves at many times ship is not at all wobbling as it is biggest of the ships and may be due to relatively new ship. after the bath we finished nice breakfast on the ship with multiple options and taste :). and we got ready to move to the island and as ship is big it can't go near the island as there will be lot corals and the water will be too low so we waited for another small boat which can act as a shuttle between our ship and island, we waited almost for an hour then we came to know abt one bad news .. that the fishermen in the island on a strike and they are not allowing any ship/boats to leave or come to the island, hearing this we cursed ourself for the bad timing and obsolutely we can't do anything now .. just keep watching beautiful island and its sea.

In all the islands the water will be not more than 8 feets from sea shore to extending to sea about 8-12km, and it will be crystal clear water,the islands are soo beautiful that u'll forget everything and ur camera is not enough to capture the beauty of its island and its thousands of dirrent colors,shape and size of corals.

Around 11am the strike is called off and they sent some boats from the island shore to pick us up. so it was first island and we were soo excited, as the boats took us near the island even 8km away from island we can see the clear water and transparent till the bottom u can see soo many corals and marine life under, finally we reached the island and we are welcomed by the coconut drinks and i can say that almost all of us were mesmerized by the beauty of the island.we both decided to make full utilisation of our trips to first thing we did is to registered to snowrkeling and went for some photography session after an hour we decided to get in to these shallow waters and before that we were invited for the glass bottom boat through which we can see the
beautiful marine life with corals, and the guides explained everything very well and they showed almost all kind the corals and finally i was eager to see tortoise after hearing that we can get to see them and i was constantly pressing the guide to show us some tortoise, and my expectation was to see a big one and finally we found one .. which is as big as some 5 feet rock .. i was shocked to see this much big tortoise in my life .. and i come to know that this one is just the small size and now i started to imagine the big one how much strong it may be and they are very very fast in water even our machine speed boat can not catch up with them. i saw few more of them and all of them are big enough to collapse a small boat.. great experience it was.

our next activity was to to for kayaking [rowing boats] well i took it for some 3km in to sea alone and the surrounding beauty is soo much that i almost forgot that i can't swim as i don't know swimming, but there is a life jacket which is pretty cool.. [i'll explain it later].
after an hour so.. there it was my fav and most awaited activity the snorkeling .. the guides took us in to the boats and went some 5km in to the sea and they given us the equipment [an eye glass and breathing equipment], first 15 min they explained us how to use and to get familier with them and then one of the guides took me to the beautiful ride on the water watching all the underwater corals and millions of color fishes of all sizes, for the first 10min i felt breathing inside the water difficult and reluctant to touch anything under water coral and fishes the guide hold my lifejacket and swimming along with me event though i was floating with life jacket as i don't know swmming, he toured me for about 40min showing different corals and fishes and all other marine life forms. later i left alone and i was started to moving around the sea with my life jacket [i won;t say swim.. remember i can't swim.. i was just floating and moving], soon ramesh also
joined me in this activity and this went on for another an hour and finally we head back to the beach for the lunch, the lunch was awesome and for non-veg eaters its heaven with lots of chicken and fresh fish.

After the lunch we went to sea again for some more fun, and after that we taken to the site seeing around the island and there are some good moments and by this time most of the tourists became our friends and now time is flying like rocket with all these activities and chatting with new friends. after site seeing there was a folk dance arranged by the locals and after that tea break and some rest. later the authorities showed us the other end of the island and finally by the time we finished all these it was alreadly 5:30pm and its time to say good bye to the beautiful island.

we head back to our main ship "Arabian sea" which was waiting for us far away from the island.
on the ship we immediately took hot shower bath and had some snacks and tea.. and went to the deck for watching sea and its endless boundaries while the ship started to sail to the next island which we will visit next day. during the rest of the evening i missed a bunch of dolphins which other saw as i was inside by cabin, later we had some fun talk with the new found friends and had dinner and some night photography on the ship before going to bed.

Day 3 - Kadmat
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This day we knew that we gonna land in island only after 8am so.. we woke up lil lazy and late .. and after having breakfast we ferried to the most beautiful islands of all the "Kadmat" indeed its the most beautiful of all the islands in Lakshadweep and the marine life richness is unspeakable, u can't find a camera whcih can capture the overwhelming beauty of this island.

This day reminded like i was in collage woking up lazy by knowing that still have time to get ready and later we realise that we are going to be late for the collage attitude.
and by the time i got ready the ship crews are busy in announcing that a boat is ready to ferry us the most beautiful island "Kadmat" that time i was still busy in in having my breakfast,finally we boarded the boat and set for the island.

As soon as we land in the island we are welcomed by tender coconut drinks and warm supercool beach soo clean and so colorful .. with crystal clear water extending 10th's of km in the sea and sun is perfect. as soon as we landed we started to capture some nice moments and scenary that our camera's can handle. on reaching the island there was one dissapointment waited for us, our actual plan is to go for scuba diving in the island and when i and ramesh went to ask the instructor there he politely refused us as he was pretty busy whole day with advance booked customers...Damm!!! it was really a shock for us.

but later in the day we some how managed to compensating the scuba diving with snorkeling.
on reaching we started some really nice photo session as this island was the most beautiful of all, we took some sea bath and spent time roaming in the beach, later we bargained for snorkeling for 150\- per person [as officially it was not provided to all tourists] and the instructor asked us not to inform other tourists abt this.
we spent a good 2 hour in snorkeling and later after having lunch we spent most of the time in site seeing accompnaied by SPORT athorities.
later in the evening we are presented with folk dance and took us to the other end of the island where we have done some photography before returning to the ship for next island.

After taking hot shower in the ship we both went on to the ship deck and watching beautiful sea as the ship started to sail to the last island on our trip "Kalpani". to our surprise we saw almost 200 flying fishes in an hour of the journey and Oh..boy trust me they fly very well each fish will fly for almost 15 to 20 mtrs few feet above the sea, and we saw some fishes as big as a cat.
i tried a lot to capture it in my point and shoot camera but due to bad lighting and lack of camera
capability shown us zero result.

we spent the most of the time on the deck that night and finally i was able to see one dolphin in the night and it was moved like a rocket .. pretty fast. and after having dinner we went to bed for the final island visit.

Day 4 - Kalpani
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As usual after waking up later and having breakfast most of us landed on the final island "Kalpani" and soon we realised that our skin colors has became dark due to sun over heat.
this island has 4 small islands surrounded it all of them formed from the corals and these are still growing.

our first activity on these island were playing in the sea and do some snorkeling. so didn't wasting much of a time i and ramesh took the equipment and hop the rowing boat, our idea was to go in the sea for some km and jump from the rowing boat in to sea for snoorkling, and we did the same

another good thing is there were some cloudes on the sky which prevented the sun from making us even dark :) . after that every body got tiered very much and all of them taking rest on the beaches, for ramesh and me it was booring by doing nothing so , we thought of visiting a far away unhabited island by our own, so didn't think much , we just took a rowing boat and started towards that island it was some 5km away from the beach we camped, it took us good amount of time to reach there, once we reached that island .. we didn't wasted time to name the island and we named it as "dead island" .. hmmm... i know wt u ppl are thinking .. but if seeing is believing then we are correct .. the whole island is filled with millions of dead corals and completely inhabited. And there were thousands of crabs crawling on the island beach.. we spent a good amount of time in the island and did some photo session before returning back.

by the time we reached our camp site it was the lunch time and damn!! we were hungry after doing all those rowing on the boat. afternoon we visited a light house and some site seeing and far side of the island which is wonderful.

That day when we returned to the ship there was different feeling, as we are leaving these islands to grow more and be ready to welcome other tourists. The rest of the day was filled with last moment photo sessions with all of our new friends and some people really made a mark on this journey and one bangalore family [madhusudhan] become very friendly with us.

Day 5 - Journey towards B'lore
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we reached the cochin port around 10am in the morning and as we have not booked the return tickets to b'lore. it took us a real pain to get back via bus through a long journey as there was no direct bus in the morning from cochin to B'lore .. so we took cochin-coimbatur-selum-bangalore


We did had a great time and our long pending trip was over and the beauty of these islands is truly remarkable

1. Ramesh was dissapointed that he didn;t able to see big waves as shown in movies

2. I was not present at right time in right place to see dolphins every time they appear :(

3. We made some good friends in this trip :)

4. The entire trip is organized by SPORTS [A Govt of India organization ]

Photo's :

Final word

Follow these if ur planning to visit the Lakishadweep islands it will be helpful.

1. If u want to book the trip , just go to cochin willington island and there is Lakshadweep administration office ... and book there if u want to save money by not involving any tour operators

2. Take min luggage , a two pair of dress and slippers will be more than enough and ofcourse take some cloths for playing in water separately

3. Take ur camera .. a digital SLR will be the ideal and if possible take underwater camera also [now a days there are lost of cheap underwater camera's available].

4. Take suncream lotion and any other cosmetics which can prevent sun burns

5. Take ur own time in the island and play plenty as there is no restriction and the SPORT authorities are very friendly

6. In all those islands there is no shops or hotels present so .. prepare well if u need anything like .. battery cells, phone calls, or any other comodity.

7. There is only BSNL signals available for mobile phones.

8. There is a strict ban on alcohol drinking in Lakshadweep by Govt, and although no one will check u but taking corals [dead/alive] is a punishable offense.

9. if u need more info just leave a scrap replay to this post.