Off the coast of the south-western state of Kerala lies a group of tropical islands known as the Lakshadweep Islands, the name literally meaning ‘hundred thousand islands’ in Sanskrit. This archipelago consists of twelve atolls, three reefs and five submerged banks with a total of around thirty nine islands and islets, ten of which are inhabited. The main islands are Kavaratti, Agatti, Minicoy and Amini with a combined population of more than 60,000 people.
Lakshadweep islanders were originally Hindus who later converted to Islam in the 14th century. Archaeological evidence recently discovered suggests that Buddhist settlements also existed on the islands as early as the 6th or 7th century. During history, the islands have been under the control of the Portuguese and British. Today, islanders are ethnically similar to the Malayali people of Kerala. Fishing is the main livelihood of the islanders and customs and culture are shared amongst the different islands, with the exception of the island of Minicoy where a different language is spoken.
The islands are blessed with a tropical climate with monsoons hitting the area between June and September. The isolation and scenic appeal of the islands has seen an increase in tourist interest. The long, sandy beaches and idyllic waters make it a perfect beach holiday whilst the clear lagoons offer a number of water activities from snorkelling to canoeing.
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