Minicoy, Lakshadweep

Photo: Ajmal Hussain PKH (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Ajmal Hussain PKH (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
From the edge of the beach, all you can see is bright turquoise water. Small, clear waves lap against the fine, white sand and the pastel-colored seashells in front of your feet. The constant motion makes the water along the shoreline look opaque. Just a few feet out, it becomes calm and translucent though. Dark spots indicate stray rocks or passing fish. While larger waves break against the coral reef farther out in the crescent-shaped lagoon. You finally found the deserted beach about which you’ve been dreaming.

This deserted beach is remote. It’s in Lakshadweep, an archipelago that begins about 120 miles off the southwest coast of India in the Laccadive Sea. Minicoy is the second-largest and southernmost island in the atoll. It’s closest neighbor, Thuraakunu, in the Maldives, is 200 miles away. So it’s very remote.

The island was once the capital of Lakshadweep. Buddhist sites, from 800 years ago, have been discovered on the island. It later had a reputation first for cannibalism and later for banishing people with leprosy to a separate island off its southwest coast. While, most recently, there was a sea battle, between the Indian Navy and Somali pirates, just offshore.

Minicoy is now quite peaceful. The Muslim people speak the Maldivian dialect of Mahl and maintain a matrilineal society, where men live with their mothers and then move to their wife’s house upon marriage. Each village has both a female and male mayor. A lone lighthouse, which the British built in 1885, stands on the island’s south end. While a small resort, surrounded by coconut trees, overlooks the long beach and the endless sea. The dream is finally real.

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