How many different ways, in which one can describe the sea ; the colours, the hues, from emerald to turquoise to cerulean blue. Can words be suffice to explain the sundry moods, myriads of shades; from languid to raging, sublime to the ridiculous ,from surreal to overwhelming. I have a single word for it all -Maldives, for all the flavours, the plethora of emotions , for a hundred thousand different adjectives.
Maldives, ' Mala Dweep' or garland of islands, is a slice of paradise only the lucky ones get to taste.In ancient times, as the folk lore goes, the shores of Maldives welcomed lost travellers , now, I bet , the travellers lose themselves to this bedazzling jewel of the Indian Ocean.
A total of 1,190 coral islands strung together in 26 clusters called atolls, each with its own coral reef encircling a lagoon, the reef alive with countless colorful sea creatures and corals, together make up for a country called Maldives. The peacock , seems to have borrowed the colourful pattern from here, to primp up its feathers.
As everybody else, we were also aware of forecasts of inundation of Maldives in the coming 30 years ( 26 now!!) , and so visiting it once, topped our bucket list. Soon we set sail (alright, it was a flight till Male, the capital) for this memorable journey, to a place chiselled into exquisite beauty by God himself. Maldives is 95 percent sea and of the over 1000 islands it has , only 200 are inhabited of which around 90 are private beach resorts. To reach any such resort from the airport in Male, you either have to take a sea plane or a speed boat provided by the resort for transfers. Our speed boat was right on time, stocked up with bottled water, fresh towels and sunscreen satchets ; and soon we were heading for our dream destination. It was a breezy ride throughout , the wind in my hair , the uninterrupted view of the azure sea ; some consolation to my thudding heart which seemed ready to stop any minute as the boat sped ,bobbing threateningly on the high waves. Can't tell about my heart, but I surely, lost my Ray Ban shades to the sea ( I am smart enough to carry more options, though , mainly to get some variety in the photographic poses!).
The boat raced, a secret, parallel universe of unrivaled charm beckoned us . I promise, I could reach out if I tried ,for the horizon beyond the gossamer blanket of mist, which veiled the infinite secrets beyond , beguiled, lost travellers like me. The deep blue of the sea changed to turquoise as we approached our resort. Finally, the ferry puttered to a halt with emerald waters surrounding us ,so clear that I could fix my mascara looking in. A quick check-in and we were guided to our 'Water Villa'- one of the overwater bunglows built on stilts directly over the lagoon.
|VIEW FROM A SEA PLANE|
What followed was an unforgettable holiday ; days spent gazing at the sea for hours , nights, under the stars. Sea was in our backyard, fishes danced all around ; we played music (our neighbouring villa owners did complain) , listened to the lapping waves, did nothing except drinking in the sunsets , feasting our eyes on spectacular sun rise and indulging unabashedly, with the blue waters.
But, did I mention the stairs that led us down to our private stretch of the lagoon ; well ,going down that path was easy, coming back proved extremely difficult the first day. A giant crab sat pretty (ughh!) right on the steps back to our abode. We tried shooing it away, but it won't listen. Nor did anybody else ,for ,we were alone , a 'do not disturb' placard dangled far far away at the front door of our secluded villa. We could do nothing but wait for the crab's sun bath to be over , which eventually did, a good 15 minutes later! We preferred to stay by the pool for the rest of the day. In the evening ,after standing witness to 'feeding the sting ray fish' tradition of the resort, and a lazy stroll around the tiny island ;we were treated to a hearty meal ,our table set right on the beach, fairy candles lit up in the form of a heart, flowers and the works... completing the magical scene.
|LONE RANGER ON PROWL|
|RAY FISH COMING FOR FEED|
If you are the one looking for a happening night life, you will find one, right here, in the sea , for, as soon as the moon rises and lights shine; myriads of fish, in all colours and all forms, come up, drawn to the lights, or maybe to the moon. Other than that and the lapping of waves; nights are serene, very quiet, peaceful and private.
Days are unhurried ,follow no itineraries ; nowhere to go but to be here, live in this moment ,to belong ,to savour this cornucopia of sinfully seductive beauty. Time stands still in Maldives ,as we walk on the white sands ;catching another wave come by , watching another day go by !
|NO SNORKELLING REQUIRED FOR SUCH VIEWS!|
|WHAT COLOUR YOU WANT....|
|LOOK WHAT I FOUND!|
# Maldives is the smallest Asian country with the lowest natural point in the world at 2.4 mts or 7 ft 10 inches.
#95 percent of Maldives is sea. The country lies in two rows of atolls in the Indian Ocean, just off the equator.
# It comprises of approximately 1,190 coral islands formed around 26 natural ring like atolls.Each atoll is made of a coral reef encircling a lagoon with deep channels dividing the reef ring. A string of islands take their place among each atoll ring, each island with its own reef encircling the island lagoon.
#InterAtoll Travelling Permit ( IATP ) is required for anyone to visit an uninhabited island, though, private tours organised by resorts to such virgin islands require no separate license or permissions.
#Weather is a dream in Maldives ,with temperature hovering around 30 degree celsius throughout the year. However, October to April witness increase in rainfall.
#Coconut palms are everywhere. Fruits and fish dominate the cuisine. Fish in broth ,in spicy cake ( kulhi borkibaa ) and even in salted pasteries (bajiya ). Alcohal is served only in the confines of your private resort.
#You are more or less ,stranded on the island resort. Not much shopping around , going anywhere for dinner other than the resort's restaurant would burn a hole of approximately, 200$ each time , just for the sea transfers (there is no other way ).
|A BOTTLE OPENER: MY ONLY PIECE OF SHOPPING|
#Snorkelling, glass bottom boat rides , sunset cruises in private dhonis ( cruise boats ) , locating ship wrecks and day picnics to virgin uninhabited islands, is mostly, what you can do. Surfing , only in certain atolls , and weather permitting ( from March to October) , is also becoming popular.
#Ecotourism is being promoted in certain protected marine areas. Baa Atoll is one such destination, its a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve , rich in marine life and habitat to many rare and endangered species of fish. Four Seasons Resort , Reethi Beach Resort and a couple of other luxury resorts provide access to this protected lagoon area.