Agatti, Lakshadweep, India, Asia (Photo by Marka/UIG via Getty Images)

UIG via Getty Images


Comprising a string of 36 palm-covered, white-sand-skirted coral islands 300km off the Kerala coast, Lakshadweep (India's smallest Union Territory) is as stunning as it is isolated. Only 10 of these islands are inhabited, mostly by Sunni Muslim fishers. With fishing and coir production the main sources of income, local life here remains highly traditional, and a caste system divides islanders between Koya (land owners), Malmi (sailors) and Melachery (farmers). The archipelago's administrative centre is Kavaratti island, and most islanders speak a dialect of Malayalam.


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