Southern Atolls

This traditional, largely agricultural island is notable for its four ancient hawittas (Buddhist prayer mounds). Norwegian ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl discovered a limestone carving here, which he believed to be of the Hindu water god Makara. The statue must have been here before the Islamic period; it is thought to be over 1000 years old. Its significance, Heyerdahl believed, lay in the fact that it demonstrated that other religions aside from Buddhism permeated Maldives before Islam.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Southern Atolls attractions

1. Gadhdhoo

15.84 MILES

On Gadhdhoo (population 1500), women make superb examples of the mats known as thundu kunaa, which are woven from special reeds found on an adjacent…

2. Vaadhoo

26.78 MILES

In the south of Huvadhoo Atoll, only about 20km from the equator, the island of Vaadhoo has two hawittas (stone prayer mounds) and a mosque that dates…