A string of 36 palm-covered coral islands 300km off the coast of Kerala, Lakshadweep is as stunning as it is difficult to get to. Only 10 of the islands are inhabited, mostly with Sunni Muslim fishermen, and foreigners are only allowed to stay on a handful of these. With fishing and coir production the main sources of income, local life on the islands remains highly traditional and a caste system divides the islanders between Koya (land owners), Malmi (sailors) and Melachery (farmers).
The real attraction of the islands lies under the water: the 4200 sq km of pristine archipelago lagoons, unspoiled coral reefs and warm waters are a magnet for flipper-toting travellers and divers alike. Lakshadweep can only be visited on a pre-organised package trip – all listed accommodation prices are for the peak October to May season and include permits and meals.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009