Across the shores, on both sides are many eye-catching islands that, acts as a crowd puller of the Indian tourism market space. India has a total of 247 islands (distant islands) of which 204 lie in the Bay of Bengal and remaining in the Arabian Sea. The Bay islands consisting of Andaman and Nicobar group of islands have a crescendo shape and denote the peaks of submerged Tertiary mountain ranges a continuation of the Arakan Yoma fold axis. In this discussion, the most familiar islands of touristic consumption are been discussed.
Table of Content
Islands in India
- Andaman Nicobar Islands
- Havelock Island
- Elephanta Island
- Kalpeni Island
- Lakshadweep Islands
- Rameswaram Island
Andaman Nicobar Islands
The Andaman Nicobar Islands is a union territory of India. This Union Territory is stretched over an area of more than 700 Km. from north to south with 36 inhabited islands. The Islands consist of 2 groups, the Andaman and Nicobar. The capital city of these islands is Port Blair. Of the 527 islands, in only 38 islands are inhabited. The territory is home to about 225 species of butterflies and moths, including some of the larger and most spectacular of the world.
Ten species are endemic to these Islands. Mount Harriet National Park is one of the richest areas of butterfly and moth diversity on these Islands. Many cottage industries produce a range of decorative shell items. Giant clams, green mussels and oysters support edible shellfishery.
Havelock Island, with an area of 113.93 square km, is the largest of the islands which comprise Ritchie’s Archipelago a chain of islands to the east of Great Andaman in the Andaman Islands. The island is named after Henry Havelock, a British general active in India. Havelock is situated 57 km North East of Capital City Port Blair. The population numbered 5,354 as of the census of 2001. The island’s current population consists of Bengali settlers. It is one of the few places that the administration of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands union territory of India has permitted and encouraged development of tourism, with a focus on promoting eco-tourism.
Beach No. 7 on the western coast, better known as “Radha Nagar” Beach, is one of the most popular beaches on Havelock and was named “Best Beach in Asia” by the Times in 2004. Other notable beaches include Elephant Beach on the northwest coast and Vijaynagar Beach (No. 5), Beach No. 3 and Beach No. 1 on the east coast. The five villages are Govinda Nagar, Bejoy Nagar, Shyam Nagar, Krishna Nagar and Radha Nagar.
Havelock Island avoided much of the devastation which was visited upon most of the shores affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and its resultant tsunami, however there were no documented casualties.
The best time to visit the island is between October and May as the weather during this time is ideal for diving and other aqua sports. The days are warm and sunny and sea is calm to reflect blue clouds.
Havelock Island is considered as a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. Scuba diving, snorkelling, trekking, and hiking are some of the outdoor activities that can be enjoyed here. Subhash Mela held every year in January is the event celebrated on the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and is a weeklong festival featuring cultural programmes, and food stalls.
Elephanta Island is one of the islands in Mumbai Harbor. This island is also known as the Gharapuri islands or the place of caves. This island is a very renowned and famous tourist spot. The famous rock cut, Elephanta Caves are situated here. The island has an area of 16 km².
The Elephanta island is easily accessible by ferry from Mumbai. This island is around 10 km from the south east coast of the island city. The boats or the ferries leave daily from the Gateway of India to the Elephanta islands. It takes about an hour each way for the journey.
Kalpeni is an island in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. Kalpeni is famous for its scenic natural beauty. It is 287 km from Cochin and has an area of 2.79 sq km. It forms a single atoll along with the uninhabited island of Cheriyam, the Tilakkam and Pitti Island. A strange feature of Kalpeni is a huge storm bank of coral debris along its eastern and southeastern shorelines. The place is good to enjoy water sports activities on kayaks, sailboats and pedal boats.
Lakshadweep is the smallest union territory of India. Lakshadweep is the northern part of the former Lakshadweepa. It consists of 12 atolls, 3 reefs and 5 submerged banks. The atolls poised on submarine banks, harbor 36 islands having an area of 32 Sq.Km. Of these, only 10 islands are inhabited.
The main languages spoken in Lakshadweep are Malayalam and Mahl. Lakshadwecp Islands are of coral origin which has been developed around volcanic peaks. The reef deposits have formed shallow lagoons which provide protected harbour for native crafts. In general, the lagoons are on the western (windward) side and relatively steep slopes predominant along the eastern margin.
Hills and streams are absent on these islands. The Minicoy is the largest (area 4.53 sq. km) and relatively more advanced which has a light house and a weather observatory. Nowadays, Lakshadweep is emerging as a major tourist attraction for Indians. This brings in considerable revenue to the region. Since such a small region cannot support industries, the government is actively promoting tourism as a means of income.
Rameswaram Island is a small island in the Gulf of Munnar. It is one of the major pilgrim centres as it is believed to be founded by Sri Rama in his conquest of Lanka, the Kingdom of demon Ravana. Besides pilgrimage, Rameswaram Island has several places which are ideal picnic spots.
There are beautiful beaches at Olaikuda, Dhanushkodi and Pamban. Olaikuda beach is engulfed by coral reefs which make sea bathing safe and enjoyable. One can also enjoy scuba diving in the waters of Olaikuda beach. It is also one of the main fishing centers of Tamil Nadu. Exclusive fish variety like the prawns, lobster, and sea cucumber etc are easily found here.