Lakshadweep’s Bangaram, Thinnakara islands becoming tourism hotspots post PM’s visit, ET TravelWorld

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s recent visit to the Lakshadweep archipelago and his stay at Bangaram has turned the island, surrounded by turquoise blue waters, multicolored coral reefs and a variety of sea life, into a tourism hotspot. Not just Bangaram, the nearby Thinnakara island is also benefiting from the attention generated following the PM’s visit and the subsequent diplomatic row between India and Maldives over the derogatory comments made by some Maldivian leaders on social media platforms against Modi and India.

The incident resulted in many calling for a boycott of Maldives as a tourism spot and pushing the island archipelago as a suitable alternative.

The controversy has worked in favour of Bangaram and Thinnakara islands which apart from their beautiful beaches, large lagoons with crystal clear water and tranquil surroundings, also have a story behind their names.

“The name Thinnakara came from ‘Thinna Kara’ (Malayalam word that means the land where someone ate food). The story is that a group of warriors of the Chera Kingdom on a boat met with a wreck and took refuge in the island.

“There they found a lot of coconut trees and used the fruits to quench their thirst and hunger. Bangaram was derived from the word ‘Banna Kara’ (means a land to which people came). These warriors then traveled to Bangaram hoping to find an escape route to the mainland,” Saifullah, a local resident of Agatti, who stays six months in Thinnakara island for tapping the coconut sap for making coconut jaggery, told PTI.

Saifullah, however, doesn’t know what happened to those warriors. Apart from the lagoons and the crystal clear waters inhabited by a variety of sea life, there are also remains of a shipwreck near Bangaram, which is now a snorkeling hotspot. “This shipwreck is said to have happened more than 200 years ago,” Saifullah said. It could arguably be the only shipwreck ecosystem in the world where one can literally walk through the sea and see a plethora of sea life.

The water in this area, most times of the year, is only chest-deep and one can simply walk to the spot and see a variety of fish using a snorkeling glass.

Govt plans to position Lakshadweep as a responsible, inclusive development model: Tourism Min

The strategy includes leveraging the island’s natural beauty to promote tourism, creating a robust and resilient economy, and fostering a sense of pride and well-being among the local communities. Lakshadweep is also among 57 other destinations earmarked for development under the Tourism Ministry‚Äôs Swadesh Darshan 2.0.

Presently, only Alliance Airlines has a single daily flight to Agatti Island, with two trips on Wednesdays and Sundays. Apart from the flight, there is only one ship doing the service between Kochi and Kavaratti in a week. All that is set to change in view of the plan to give the island archipelago a major makeover with a number of big projects in the pipeline, starting with improving the connectivity.

Both Bangaram and Thinnakara islands can be reached within 45 minutes on a boat from Agatti, if there is no sea turbulence, which has the sole airport in Lakshadweep.

Besides the proximity to the only airport in the archipelago, the two islands are also uninhabited, full of coconut trees and there are only 15 people living on Thinnakara island for six months when they are making coconut jaggery.

The Lakshadweep administration operates a five-star resort on Bangaram island and there is nothing else, not even a shop or people who are outsiders.

Bangaram may soon have more properties and a 22-acre resort proposal at Thinnakara by a private team may also come up if it gets disentangled from the litigation it is caught up in.

If more such facilities are offered on these beaches, the tourism landscape of Lakshadweep is surely going to have a major makeover.

  • Published On Feb 11, 2024 at 03:01 PM IST

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