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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

What is the history and culture of Lakshadweep like?

Reet Cheema DEC 10 2012
0 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Literally meaning a hundred thousand islands, this group of pristine coral islands, untouched lagoons and oceanic birds in full view offers the most surreal beauty one can imagine. But how did it reach where it is today? That is a question that troubles every inquisitive soul who wants to visit this beautiful place. If you are one of them, then read on.

Lakshadweep finds its earliest mentions in the
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, by an anonymous author. There are several references in the Sangam Literature Pathitruppaththu pointing to the islands being under the control of the Cheras. There is also an ancient Pallava inscription of 7th century AD that refers to the islands as Dveepa Laksham and refers to them as a part of the Pallava domain. There are some local traditions and legends that attribute the very first settlement on these islands to the period of Cheraman Perumal who was the last Chera king of Kerala. It is said that the oldest inhabited islands in the group were Amini, Kalpeni Andrott, Kavaratti and Agatti.

Interestingly, there have been archaeological evidences that suggest that Buddhism was followed in the region during the 5th-6th century CE. According to a popular belief, it is said that Islam, which is a predominant religion followed now, was brought to Lakshadweep by an Arab called Ubaidulla in 661 CE. His grave can be found in the island of Andrott. During the 11th century, the group of islands went under the rule of the Late Cholas and then, the region came under the Kingdom of Cannanore. It is said that in the 17th century, the group of islands went under the rule of Ali Rajahs /Arakkal Bheevi of Kannur, who was presented with them as a gift from the Kolathiris. The Portuguese then took control to exploit coir production and were soon expelled by the islanders. The very famous Arab traveller, Ibn Batuta mentions about the islands in great detail in his stories.

Historically, the Amindivi group of islands that includes Amini, Kadmat, Kiltan, Chetlat and Bitra went under the rule of the famous Tipu Sultan in the year 1787. After the Third Anglo-Mysore War, they passed to the British and were attached to South Canara. The remaining islands went under the suzerainty of the Arakkal family of Cannanore in return for a payment of annual tribute. The British then took over the administration of those islands for non-payment of arrears. During the British Raj, those islands were attached to the Malabar district of the Madras Presidency.

Owing to the location, the group of islands can be called very close to the culture of Kerala. Their south-indian influence can be seen in the food they cook, the language they speak and the basic lifestyle they follow. The locals are cordial and predominantly Islamic when it comes to religion. However, there are also some other ethnic groups. The Lava danceand the Parichakali dance are some of the very famous dance forms which can be seen being performed during the festivals. The main occupation of the people here is fishing for obvious reasons and the languages that they speak include Malayalam, Urdu and some also speak English keeping the tourism perspective in mind.

It is indeed a great place to visit and one should do that once in his/her life because this kind of beauty is rare and shouldn't go unexplored. Once you visit this coral beauty, you will love every bit of it, trust me!


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