Tossing and turning all through the night, I somehow managed to spend that night in that hot and humid ship cabin. Ship’s air conditioner was still not repaired. As the early morning sun peeped through the windows I went up to the deck and was greeted by a great sunrise together with nice sprinkle of clouds. Passengers Kavaratti already started disembarking from the ship.
Far away in the horizon we could see the island of Kavaratti. After breakfast we boarded the ferry which took us to the capital of Lakshadweep, Kavaratti. The water was crystal clear & we could clearly see the bottom.
Just like other islands everything started with welcome drink of coconut. The beach was again amazing with white sand. As we spent waiting for the tide to raise so that we can go in the glass bottomed boat ride, our team elders and kids had great time building castles & dungeons in the white coral sand.
Then it was time for a glass bottom boat ride. The water is absolutely crystal clear. You could clearly see the aquatic life and the corals from the bottom of your boat. There were live coral, marine ornamental fishes and associated flora and fauna all under us visible through that thick glass at the floor of the boat. Here are few photos (of the 1000+ photos) I took from the boat through that thick glass. Uneven thick Glass has resulted in distortion as well as chromatic aberration which I was unable to correct.
It was sight of our lifetime. Live coral species in the lagoon, besides shoals of different species of marine fishes, a large number of sea-cucumbers of varying size, turtles, sea anemones. Around 30% of the corals were live and the rest were dead corals. Patches of sea grass and sea weeds were seen in some shallow water zones.
In the lagoon area we could see patches of different coral species including live finger corals, Brain Corals, Porites sp., soft corals and other animals, besides the algal assemblages on dead corals. Everybody in the boat were screaming in joy at the sight of colorful fishes & corals and sea turtles.
Once back, we lazed on the beach again. Unlike in Kalpeni snorkeling was not free here. On payment of 200 bucks, you can get to go snorkeling. Initially I was reluctant to go snorkeling here because I had done it in Kalpeni, but the corals and marine life seemed better here, so took a shot.
The instructor Mr. Bashir was really helpful in explaining technique of snorkeling. We had great set of life jacket & snorkeling gear. Here snorkeling is in deep sea. He showed us how to do snorkeling in deep waters even though I was not a swimmer. The fascinating marine world really opens only after we learn how to do proper snorkeling in this deep coral filled sea. We were thrilled to see the colorful fishes, corals & fauna. They live their own sweet tiny little world. We saw fishes of all colors, shapes & sizes zooming past us. Amazing variety of sea life which I was unable to capture but my friend Prasanna who purchased Panasonic waterproof camera just for this trip has shot beautiful underwater shots which you can see in this Picassa album.
Life jacket helped me to stay afloat and correct technique of snorkeling he showed me it was breeze to learn and enjoy. The snorkeling at Kavaratti is a must-do. There were few from our group who went for scuba diving. Since I had opted for snorkeling instead of scuba I missed that. After an hour of snorkeling, I came out tired, then the lunch was served. The lunch was good here.
Post lunch, we had usual cultural entertainment in the form of folk dance. We also visited an aquarium and museum of Kavaratti. A large sperm whale skeleton, several shells and varieties of fish, sea creatures preserved in formalin were there for display. Marine aquarium featured of few reef marine life. We could spot some species which we saw in the morning during our snorkeling trip.
Kavaratti is the capital of Lakshadweep. It is also administrative center for all the islands of Lakshadweep with several Government offices. The Island land area is around 3.63 sq.km, with a population of 10,113 (2001 Census). Kavaratti has a lagoon on the west coast, which spreads to around 4.9 sq.km.
Due to some unknown reasons we were not shown the following two must see attractions of Kavaratti even though they were mentioned in the web site. First was the desalination plant set up by the National Institute of Ocean Technology which is based on pressure and temperature differential in the seawater and not on membrane (RO) technology. The plant was the sole source of drinking water being piped free of cost to every household in the island.
Second was Ujra Mosque is the most beautiful among the 52 mosques in , Kavaratti, the capital island of Lakshadweep. The Ujra mosque is known to have been built by Sheikh Mohammad Kasim in 1670. The skill of Kavaratti’s craftsmen can be seen in the Ujra Mosque, the most outstanding of the 52 mosques of this Union Territory. The ceiling of the mosque is made of driftwood and ornately carved and painted in complementary shades of green and red.
When we asked the tour conductor they said the present itinerary of the Kavaratti trip did not include those two items. Since the time was running out we decided not to take risk of venturing in the island on our own and decided to take ferry back to our ship after the mandatory group shot at the beach. That was last island of Lakshadweep Atolls we are supposed to visit in this trip.
With heavy heart and sleepless eyes we bid farewell to the beautiful island. When we reached the ship we were in for a surprise. Ships engineers had repaired the air conditioner and we sighed a sense of relief. As the sun dipped down in the sea near Kavaratti ship started to sail away. Sharp 8 PM dinner was served after which we settled in our cabins for a well deserved good night sleep.
We were to reach Kochi harbor next day to conclude our 5 day journey.
You can check the other parts of this series here.