Each and every human being is fortunate enough to accumulate some mesmerizing memories to cherish forever I guess. Some time we meet our fantasy, some time a series of phenomena suddenly come to our life which was beyond our expectation or some time we start a countdown for some specific days or moments that we wait for pretty long time. It is immaterial how such beautiful moments come to our life. But those moments often leave a lifetime memory in our heart, mind and soul. Some of us close our eyes and go back to those days. Some people maintain a diary or photographs and cherish those moments again and again whenever they get a chance. Some people (like us) who are basically driven by unbound imagination pray for a Time Machine to travel back to those days, to explore the timeless moments once again and to meet the fantasy of our life.
Well, I am going to skip the travel destination of different time period or a different era. When you experience being in an wonderland in the present time period, is it really necessary to inch towards a different period!! So friends, pardon me for deviating the travel destination. I will program my time machine to take me back to those six days where I met the world of fairy tale, my Grandma used to read those stories to me when I was a little kid. A world where there are no signs of pollution, corruption, violence, terrorism, political complexities or religious intolerance. Nature has blessed this land with its purity and serenity. People over there own innocent heart, genuine feelings and love for each other and don't radiate even a little negative vibes.
Starting from my most favorite “The Little Mermaid” by Walt Disney, “The Blue Lagoon” (directed by Randal Kleiser, 1980) filmed on Turtle Island, Fuji, featuring a cute love story of two lovely tanned teens on a tropical island exploring their emotional feelings and physical changes to “Life of Pie” (directed by Ang Lee, 2012, awarded with four Oscars), I kept on captivating myself with that colorful underwater kingdom, sparkling sea through palm trees, golden sand bank glittered with white shells , sneaky and cautious crabs and of course the silent, calm islands.
When I landed on Agatti airport, Lakshadweep (flying from Bangalore via Cochin), the first thought that hit the brain finally exposed itself in terms of words, Ohh finally!!! There, There…There it is!!! All my fascinations, that unapproachable dreamland with the boundary of innocent imaginations was trapped into reality right then right there. I can see the blue water, I can receive the soothing earshot from there, I can feel the lovely breeze indulging me with fluttery stomach butterflies, giggles and heavenly pleasure. Lakshadweep is a group of 36 coral islands.
From Agatti to Kadmat (the centermost island of this dreamy archipelago) takes a two hours ferry journey. On this tropical island, it was all sweaty and humid. I never thought that the shade of palm gazebo and a welcome drink of coconut water can be so pleasing and refreshing. Still those two round eyes were fixed at the white beach followed by bright blue sea just meters away. The infrastructure is entirely government run and the administration is sincere enough to promote tourism keeping the environment unperturbed. This Kadmat island is long and narrow. It is approximately 11 km by length and 0.57 km wide at the broadest point & you know what’s the best fact about this lovely narrow shape!!! Want to have a view of sunrise beyond the horizon?? The most difficult task you have to do for that to get up early…that’s it… go to reception side, grab a chair and seat on the beach. The first orange hued rays softly kiss the blue sky, the white sand and the most seductive blue lagoon, waking them up. It’s sparkling. How can it be so attractive, so magnetic. At first it was all blue, slowly ornamented itself with orange zig zag stripes, then yellow and finally that bright golden yellow pattern blended into the blue shades. She is naturally beautiful with her deadly bluish green shade (or greenish blue?? Sorry, I don’t know), why does she still demand for other shades from this nature !!! To look more beautiful or to drive the hydrophils (poor me) more and more crazy after
While being on holiday (specially if your destination is exhausting humid tropical island) it may be a little difficult to get up early for some late riser tourists. No issue, that beautiful blue lagoon will never deprive you. Just locate some spot 0.57 km opposite to the sunrise point (I found my hotel’s beach cafeteria there) and an equally breathtaking sunset view will make you spellbound.
I was definitely not there to root myself to the earth.
So I used to throw myself back into that mysterious blue lagoon at least thrice a day. Hydrophils don’t have much stuff to do about on land except some boring routine deeds and of course exploring the beaches and the islands. Moreover, it wouldn’t have been fare to make my Sony Cyber-shot 35X optical zoom camera feel totally useless and non-existent. Leading into waist deep water and feeling the vibrating waves, cooling down the body temperature can be the most refreshing thing in such tropical weather. That blue beauty is quite dignified and merciful. It won’t break high waves every minute on you, won’t brush your head to toe up with sands, won’t drown in high waves and suffocate you with mouthful of saline water. Deeper and deeper you go inside, more and more she will amaze you with her beauty.
Day 2 :
From the very first day on Lakshadweep I got habituated being half dipped in shallow water for most of the daytime (as the pleasure from air conditioner was far behind in competition). That lagoon became kind of a “chuddy-buddy” friend of mine. Giggling, scuttling, chit chatting, playing water volleyball and in all possible joyful acts I found her opposite to me. But as the saying goes, “There is nothing so powerful as the truth; and often nothing as strange”-Dr. Daniel Webster, it was my turn to realize I actually underestimated her beauty, her depth and her mystery.
We were taken to snorkeling session (included in our tour package) next morning by the instructor. What if my beautiful, merciful friend (whom I met just day back) backstabs me for being a non-swimmer!!! The trainer was caring enough to convince me that all she can give the tourists is, “Speechless sensation” . ‘Back stabbing’ would be a too harsh word to describe her. I was handed a life jacket, glasses and breathing apparatus. The sun was all out and shining with full vanity. The water was crystal clear making the underneath sand bed visible. Learning how to float the body and keep balance on water surface killed initial 30 minutes of the tutorial session. It is difficult you know. I am a poor non-swimmer. Being accustomed to sinking the head into the water and maintaining the breathing process absolutely normal ate up another 20 to 30 minutes. That shallow water blue lagoon was no more a friend of mine. It was accumulating panicking and horrifying feeling inside.
The instruction session was forcefully brought to an end. Now it’s turn to go in the middle of the sea and throwing this helpless creature into it. The instructor led me handheld into the water and signaled me to look forward . The instructor was a damn liar. Only ‘speechless sensation’!!! Huh, my old day, childhood fantasy got a “Revivification”. The entire world of “The little mermaid” or of “Finding Nemo” was not on the screen this time. It was right in front of my eyes. The bunch of colorful piscine visitors trying hard to show their unity, the lonely awkward turtle swimming around (I wonder why it got no friends), the rocking algae and underwater weeds!! Is it really existent? Sometime a shining starfish rooted in sand was spotted, the brown crab (Ohh.. the Sebastian), a group of few little octopuses bubbling around, some giant white shells scattered here and there. That means it does exist. It is possible to meet the imagination or the fantasy in real.
What about my favorite “Ariel”?? Where she is!! “I found her too”. Can’t you? That dreamy or more aptly a “Semi-real/semi -pseudo” journey continued upto 45 minutes. Somehow that kind hearted trainer managed me to get into boat and we returned to island. Can’t say exactly, but I think a full day drug intake will cause even less hangover (I never experienced though) than what I got after the snorkeling session. For the rest of the day I stayed spellbound. Sitting out on the beach. Staring at the blue lagoon. A day back she was my friend. Today I envy her for her enrichment, her mesmerizing beauty, her endless mystery. I am so negligent, worthless, and inconsiderable in front of her.
It cost a few hundred bucks extra as I again planned to go snorkeling next day (as it was not in the package). That extra charge seemed like immaterial to witness that vibrant underwater kingdom. Where I would play the role of that mermaid (not little though) and would find the little orange ‘Nemo’ once again. Holy Almighty should have blessed us with few extra eyes to grasp the beauty thoroughly. I was literally running short of human body organs to cherish the beauty there. But this time I played that self-built mermaid character more confidently. The mermaid was smart, quirky and cautious enough to observe every tiny thing underwater. As said by ‘Mama Ji’; “A mouthful of water won’t harm you but panic will”-Life of Pie, I overcame my panic quite fast. True lines are indeed. In the afternoon we went for glass bottom boat excursion followed by a friendly visit to the only village in Kadmat. The colorfully painted Juma mosque serving the island’s Sunni Muslim community teamed with the holy sound of Maghrib (a prayer from sun set up to one and quarter hours) made the sunset heavenly. The sharp school-closing bell broke the silence. A group of noisy children in immaculate school uniform, rushing out and laughing delivered their curious attention towards us. We exchanged a friendly introduction and received a strong demand to capture them in my camera lens. Spending two hours there, we headed towards resort through repetitive layers of coconut trees, some clucking hens with her chicks by the road, joyful school returning kids. A quite, innocent and isolated village it is, far way from mainland hustles and bustles, political complexities and corruptions. That mysterious blue lagoon has protected it with all her serenity and purity.
Now it’s time to say goodbye to Kadmat Island and to inch towards out next destination Bangaram Island. We started around 9’o clock in the morning. Seeing me placed on the window side seat, she again kept on fascinating me with her changing shades. It was all transparent around the shore, then it turned emerald green and finally the only visible shade was the third shade of rainbow. After two hours of ferry journey we stopped at a far distance from the shore. We were transferred from the steamer to small diesel chugging fishing boats one by one. The reason was, that island was surrounded by shallow water.
Surprisingly, we were requested to stay at Tinnakara Island, just few meters opposite to Bangaram Island. Upon finding out the reason, we came to know some political ‘babu-sahib’ has arrived on that other side with his family and bodyguards. So we mango people including the non-Indian visitors are strictly prohibited to go that side. The hotel authority somehow managed to set up some temporary tents right on the beach with lavatory facilities. The tent was like a hot burning oven with no electrical connections. After boiling in sun for one hour we got one stand fan to get rid of unbearable heat and a packet of 10 candles to light up our 5 star rated tent after sunset. It was horrible. I suffered from seasickness in the morning like anything. After arriving at a different destination with strong sun overhead with mercury reading of 30-35 it was frustrating to see such arrangements. But when I had a chit-chat with my non-Indian guest fellows, they assured me that it would be one of my best travel experiences.
So, I decided to divert my concentration from that horrible heat, that semi-boiling tent and all other negative and unnecessary complaints of mine. No sooner the idea peeped into mind. The land was hot and the mercury rose up to 35 on land. But what about inside shallow water!! I think mercury would come up with a different reading there. I jumped inside. Yes, it’s cool. I am not sweating anymore. I rest myself through out the day inside lagoon (upto lunch hour) as it was impossible for Indians to stay inside the tent. After having buffet lunch in open air beach restaurant (one can find a long buffet table, 8-10 wooden chairs and tables for the guests) served by hotel stuffs with great hospitality (apparently they were embarrassed for these mismanagements and showed too much care towards us), I calmed down a little. Those hotel employees were genuinely caring and did everything possible to make us comfortable and relaxed.
After lunch hours I decided to roam around the island as the white nest of mine was constantly generating irritation in mind. Just behind the tents a thick forest of coconut trees was there as far as the eye could see. That lush green coconut plantations complemented a soul soothing relieve from sun to some degree. With fluctuating light and shade dropping on to face and cool onshore breeze whistling through the coconut leaves I went through an afternoon nap. The peaceful nap got disturbed by chirping noise of birds returning nest. The sunset and the dusk were quite beautiful. It was surprising to feel how the mercury reading suddenly dropped with sunset.
A very same day it was just like the past one. Passing the entire morning in the water, having lunch and then seeking a shelter under the trees. But this time I went a little deeper inside the wood and found some local fishermen’s huts there. I found them quite curious to gather information about the creatures from mainland. I was offered half smoked tuna (a popular fish preparation in Lakshadweep) along with some dry snacks wrapped with great hospitality. They are basically fishermen and engage in coconut/sea shell trading when not engaged in fishing.
In Tinnakara we didn’t have much night life activities except starlit walk along the beach, capturing the picturesque blue lagoon and the island in camera and having friendly conversation with other guest fellows (all together we were 10 tourists on that tranquil island).
However the candle light buffet dinner in that open-air beach restaurant was quite exciting. That lagoon turned jet black in night and was constantly throwing its sound to establish its existence. After having dinner when I was out of the tent for having a night walk, one bizzare natural phenomenon didn’t skip my eyes. Something was glittering or more appropriately flashing a neon blue glow on the sand bank. I rushed to that spot. Some scattered particles on the sand and flowing with seawater were shining in surreal blue light. I tried hard to explore what it was actually but unfortunately, no one came up with any helpful information. Later, on web surfing I came to know it was a phenomenon of ‘bio-luminescence’.
The best thing happened on day 6 was that, the political Indian ‘babu-sahib’ left Bangaram Island and we got the permission to explore that little island too. After lunch we hired a speedboat to go on the other side. On that side too the tourists have to accommodate themselves inside tent. Only two or three rooms are available there with electric connection and simple air-condition facilities but restricted to VIP guests only. But I found that side little more comfortable than Tinnakara. The tents were under shades of coconut tress and hence much cooler inside. At least you can manage to stay inside the tent with a stand fan and don’t have to take shelter in the wood when sun is strong over your head.
I continued walking along the beach and witnessed a magnificent view of the coral kingdom that got exposed as water receded away from the shore under play of gravitational pull leading to lowering of water level. As the afternoon inched towards the dusk slowly those beautiful underwater panorama started exposing themselves through the crystal clear water. It was a breathtaking piece of scenario. Those colorful coral colonies are most diverse and beautiful of all marine habitats. Some were stone like hard and some were fragile.
Some were annular in shape, some adopted irregularly bushy like structure and some of them looked like human brain. Time really flies. When it started turning dark we realized that, almost two and half hours were killed obliviously in exploring the diverse reef morphology.
After having evening tea at Bangaram beach restaurant we came back to Tinnakra to spend our last night on this stunning archipelago.
It was just a six day stay on Lakshadweep. But the most beautiful gift I received from this lagoon kissed calm islands with minimal human interference was, I met all my fantasies there. They were deep rooted inside the innocent imaginations and frequently used to crawl silently in those two little dreamy eyes. But finally they came in front of me. Though I got jealous of my gorgeous friend for her changing shades, her beauty and her divinity but I can’t deny she trapped my wonderland and gifted me the same to cherish forever.
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.
I hope, all my silent readers were my co-passengers in the time machine and enjoyed the journey a lot. Thank you so much for going to that lagoon kissed fantasy island through my eyes. Please share your feelings about this journey before leaving.