Islands are mysterious, enticing, and simply fun. It’s not just their being encircled by a vast expanse of water, being isolated from the mainland, but their unfazed charm that endears them to a vast section of tourists. The lush cover of forests exuding an air of pleasant warmth and the soothing breeze playing a joyful dance on the senses, really makes every passing moment seem like an eternity. Many of these islands, embedded in vast layers of history, contain much that is left to be discovered, and much that remains to be seen. India has its own share of exciting islands which are frequented by discerning travellers, all of which possess an indelible charm that retains their freshness.
NEIL ISLAND, ANDAMANS
Located 37km south to the Andaman Islands, the tiny Neil Island is a delight. This place, otherwise known as the “vegetable bowl” of the Andamans, endears itself to visitors due to the pervading solitude and the serene environment, which offers the perfect setting to unwind and relax for hours on end. The island itself is characterised by thick tropical forests and vegetation, many unexplored coral reefs and the wide ranging bio-diversity that contributes to its all-round organic development. You could cover the entire island in two hours by foot, with the widest part of the island being 5km in length. Scuba diving, swimming, snorkelling and cycling, in particular, due to the flat terrain presented by the island, remains a favourite with tourists here.
VIPER ISLAND, ANDAMAN
The history of Viper Island is embedded in the Independence struggle, as it was here that the British detained various political prisoners and other convicts. However, today, the sight that greets you is one of picturesque beauty, replete with numerous picnic spots and other historical remnants of a bygone age.
It’s widely believed that this island derives its land from the vessel “Viper,” the same one in which Lt. Archibald Blair visited Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in the year 1789. This island, which is also an abode of solitude the year round, is accessible through a harbour cruise which originates from Aberdeen Jetty, at Port Blair.
KADMAT ISLANDS, LAKSHADWEEP
Kadmat Island has earned its reputation from the treasure it contains in the form of its marine wealth. Its topography is defined by its long and sandy beaches, which stretch up to impressive distances, the massive lagoons which flank it on the eastern and western sides and the beautiful corals that are reflected clearly in the blue waters. This island holds the privilege of being one of the largest islands in the Lakshadweep, extending up to 8km in length and 1804ft in breadth.
The only inhabited island in the region, it has a rich reservoir of marine wildlife and marine plants. Besides, there are a host of other activities that tourists can engage in, ranging from snorkelling to kayaking.
DIVAR ISLAND, GOA
Divar Island is dotted with many beautiful churches, and boasts year-round festivities, delectable cuisines and numerous scattered villages, the origins of which are as old as the history of the village itself.
Seated on the Mandovi River in Goa, the place gives an impression of being an odd amalgamation of various cultures, with the Portuguese influence on it standing out prominently.
The famous festival of Bonderam is celebrated here amid great fanfare and enthusiasm and is attended in large numbers by the locals.
The village of Piedade is a typically beautiful village of this region, and on top of its hill stands the grand Church of Our Lady of Compassion church, believed to be the first Christian structure built here, dating back to the 1700s.