The archipelago of Lakshadweep consists of about thirty-nine islands and islets that lie 120-170 miles (200-440km) off the south western coast of India in the Laccadive Sea. Meaning “one hundred thousand islands” in Sanskrit, Lakshadweep has a total surface area of 12 square miles (32 square km) and is a Union Territory of India with a population of 65,473 people.
Lakshadweep was ruled by the Portuguese in the 15th century until they were expelled by islanders in the 16th century. Over the 17th to 19th century, various island groupings of the archipelago came under different rule which included the British, Tipu Sultan and the Arakkal family of Cannanore. In the 20th century, Lakshadweep was grouped with the Maldives but eventually became a Union Territory of India. Today, Lakshadweep is mostly Muslim, a legacy of Arab traders which visited the islands prior to the Portuguese occupation.
Lakshadweep has three groupings of islands which are Aminidivi, Laccadive and Minicoy. Aminidivi and Laccadive are joined by a submerged reef while Minicoy lies separately further to the south. All the islands in this archipelago were formed by a buildup of coral. They are largely uninhibited and only 10 islands are populated. The main draw for tourists to these islands are for snorkeling and scuba diving. Tourism is controlled by the government at Lakshadweep and a permit is required for a visit.
Relax on beaches or head out for snorkel trips or glass-bottom boat rides. Bird watching is also recommended as there are several pelagic bird species which nest on the uninhibited islands.
Fly to Agatti Aerodome, the only airport in Lakshadweep which is on Agatti Island on Air India Regional which departs from Kochi or Bangalore. Alternatively, there are several passenger ships and helicopter services to reach the islands.