Thinnakara- The Coral Paradise
As our ferry approaches the pristine beach of the atoll of Thinnakara in Lakshadweep, I cannot help but marvel at the color of the sea turn from azure to turquoise to finally disappear into a pale blue as its waves caress the coral dust of the shore. A pair of turtles nonchalantly swims amidst the flamboyant corals that are spread out in the lagoon. It is late afternoon and the tide in the lagoon has started to ebb gradually exposing the tips of some of the corals. As our boat carefully wades through the shallow lagoon to avoid contact with the corals, I can clearly see the seabed come to life with its vibrant creatures.
An edited version of this article was first published in the Travel Special Edition of Mint.
Read the published article Here.
Thinnakara Island is one of the two uninhabited islands of Lakshadweep where tourists are allowed to stay, Bangaram being the other. The coral islands of Lakshadweep being very fragile and ecologically sensitive, the government takes utmost care in restricting entry to the islands through a permit thus exercising a control on the depletion of available resources. Scuba diving, Snorkeling, and glass bottom boat ride are some activities you can try while at Thinnakara.
Thinnakara almost looks deserted except for the few tourists and staff who manage the resort. The accommodation on the island is minimal and quite basic with just 9 swiss tents with attached bath. The hush of the swaying coconut palms on the island and the soft roar of the splashing waves in the lagoon play a symphony with the sound of seagulls. The pristine white sand of the beach formed by the bioerosion of the coral skeletons sparkles like silver in the afternoon sun. As twilight swaddles the island spreading its amber hues, I set out to explore the island. The tide has further receded exposing a vast expanse of the white seabed. A new world seems to have emerged out of the underwater. Walking barefoot on the wavy patterns of the coral sand left behind by the receding tide, I discover numerous sea cucumbers, starfishes, shells, and corals. The fish are gone for there is no water but the exposed seabed looks no less beautiful. It only takes an hour for me to go around the entire island which has a total surface area of 0.42 sq m.
Unlike other tourist islands of Lakshadweep, there is no solar power plant in Thinnakara leaving a diesel generator as the only source of electricity. There is limited electricity, no network connectivity and endless time to experience the luxury of nature. As I sleep over the soft sand, I can see every constellation come to life in the clear night sky with not a single puff of cloud. I drift into a gentle slumber pampered by the cool breeze only to be woken up by the cold waves touching my feet as the tide begins to rise.
Reaching Thinnakara: Take the Air India flight that flies to Agatti from Kochi on all days of the week except Sunday. From Agatti, it takes about 1.5 hr by a speedboat to Bangaram Island followed by a ferry ride of about 30 mins to reach Thinnakara.