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10 Best Islands in India To Escape Into Wilderness

  

If the lofty Himalayas guard the Indian subcontinent on the northern most front then the southern part is beautifully bounded by three magnificent water bodies, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal gifting the country a vast coastline. As a result of such varied landscapes, India is definitely a country of surprises. One such surprising diversity can also be seen in the number of islands it has to its credit. Some of these islands have been long hidden from mainstream tourism but if you are the kind who loves to explore beyond the beaten paths then these are where you must head out to next.

1. Kavvayi, Kerala

10 Best Islands in India To Escape Into Wilderness-1 Kavvayi Kayal is the largest backwaters of the northern part of Kerala and Kavvayi is a group of islands on these backwaters. Kavvayi also finds its mention in the travel memoirs of many travellers such as Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo. Characterised by lush greenery, tropical trees and the solitude of the backwaters Kavvayi is a welcome retreat from the maddening crowd of cities.

How to reach: The nearest railway station is Payyanur and is well connected by trains from all over the country. You may also use the ferry services from the mainland.

2. St. Mary’s Islands, Karnataka

10 Best Islands in India To Escape Into Wilderness-2 Located on the Arabian Sea, St. Mary’s island is probably Karnataka’s best-kept secret. St. Mary’s Island is believed to be the first place where Vasco de Gama landed on his expedition to India. This island is also known as Coconut Island and is basically a group of four islands. The island is home to columnar rock formations that are believed to have been formed due to the basaltic lava emitted from volcanic activity before the continental drift of Madagascar from the Indian subcontinent some millions of years ago.

How to Reach: Udupi is the nearest railway station and is 4km away from the Malpe fishing harbour where you can access the ferry services to St. Mary's Island. St Mary’s island is at a distance of 6km from Malpe fishing harbour. Mangalore is the nearest airport.

3. Havelock Island, Andaman and Nicobar

10 Best Islands in India To Escape Into Wilderness-3 Havelock is probably one of the most pristine islands in India. Known for its breathtaking beauty, silky beaches, clear blue water and sky, coral reefs and a host of marine adventure activities such as deep sea diving, scuba diving and snorkelling, Havelock is the paradise you have been seeking all these years.

How to reach: The nearest airport is Port Blair. You can take the hourly Government ferry services or private cruises from Port Blair to reach Havelock Island.

4. Majuli, Assam

10 Best Islands in India To Escape Into Wilderness-4 For a change, this is not an island on an ocean or sea but is the largest river island not just in the country but also in the world. Located on the mighty Brahmaputra in Assam, Majuli is a wetland and is home to numerous species of flora and fauna. It is also a home to thousands of migratory birds that flock here during the winter months. However, the island has been facing severe erosion and has considerably shrunk in the past years few years.

How to reach: Nearest railway station is Jorhat. Majuli is located at a distance of 20km from Jorhat. You can take the bus or hire a private taxi till the Nimati Steamer Ghat from where you can access the ferry services to Majuli.

5. Diu Island, Daman and Diu

10 Best Islands in India To Escape Into Wilderness-5 Located off the southern coast of Gujarat’s Kathiawar region is Diu, a tiny island that is no less than a hidden paradise. Diu is part of the union territory Daman and Diu. A significant part of Diu’s history comprises of the Portuguese influence. Visit Diu to get lost in the vast stretches of white salt pans, see the Diu Fort, soak yourselves in the beauty of the clear blue sky and the sea, watch the limestone cliffs, tread the velvety beaches, and experience serenity that is unmatched.

How to reach: Diu has an airport called the Diu Airport. The nearest railway station is Una which is 12kms from Diu and is well connected with Ahmedabad and other cities of the country. From Mumbai, Diu is approximately an hour journey.

6. Lakshadweep Island, Lakshadweep

10 Best Islands in India To Escape Into Wilderness-6 Lakshadweep Island is located in the Lakshadweep Sea off the southwestern coast of India. The Lakshadweep Island is a part of the archipelago that forms the union territory of Lakshadweep in India. The Island has a diverse history of people of various ethnicities who have made it their home. From being ruled by the Chola Dynasty to Tipu Sultan to being a home to the Portuguese and finally being passed on to the British rulers before becoming a part of India as a Union Territory, Lakshadweep has seen it all. Visit this island to bask in its surreal beauty, laze around in its idyllic beaches, explore hidden blue lagoons and be mesmerized by the breathtaking coral reefs.

How to reach: Agatti aerodrome is the only airport in the Lakshadweep Islands. The other islands in the archipelago can be accessed by helicopter rides or boat services. From Kochi, you may also opt for cruises to Lakshadweep.

7. Elephanta, Maharashtra

10 Best Islands in India To Escape Into Wilderness-7 Located to the east of Mumbai, the Elephanta islands is a group of islands also referred to as the Place of Caves. It is famous for the Cave temples called the Elephanta Caves. It is believed that the name Elephanta was given by the Portuguese explorers who discovered this group of islands.

How to reach: It is located at a distance of 25 km from Mumbai and is accessible by ferries. These ferries are easily available from the Gateway of India.

8. Sunderbans, West Bengal

10 Best Islands in India To Escape Into Wilderness-8 Located at the southernmost tip of West Bengal in India, is the Sunderbans on the vast river delta of the Bay of Bengal. It is home to the largest mangrove forest in the world and is also known as the natural habitat of the Royal Bengal Tiger. The Sunderbans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Sunderbans literally means ‘Beautiful Forest’ in the local dialect and it is indeed one of the many glorious beauties of Bengal.

How to reach: The nearest airport is the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport in Kolkata. Sunderbans is a three-hour drive from Kolkata. Nearest railway station is the Canning railway station and can be accessed from the Sealdah railway station in Kolkata. There on Godhkhali Jetty is where the ferry services for Sunderbans ply from.

9. Munroe Island, Kerala

10 Best Islands in India To Escape Into Wilderness-9 Located at the confluence of Ashtamudi Lake and the Kallada river, Munroe is a breathtakingly beautiful island in Kerala. Visit this little heaven to marvel at the vast coconut plantations, observe the traditional fishing activities, revel at the sight of clear blue lagoons, spend endless hours watching birds, learn how coconut fibre or coir is processed into ropes and other items of daily use.

How to reach: The nearest railway station is Kollam which is located at a distance of 25 km.

10. Divar Island, Goa

10 Best Islands in India To Escape Into Wilderness-10 The Divar island in Goa is the state’s well-preserved secret. It lies in the Mandovi river and is approximately 10kms upriver from Panjim. Divar is famous for the festival of Bonderam which is similar to the carnival and is celebrated on the fourth Saturday of August every year. It is celebrated with great pomp and show and is attended by many locals as well as tourists from far and wide. Visit Divar to indulge in authentic Goan cuisine, divert away from the regular Goan party scenario and explore the offbeat yet beautiful Goan history and culture.

How to reach: Divar is accessible by ferry rides from Old Goa, Ribandar and Narve. A launch connects Divar to Panjim. The Konkan railway also passes through Divar and the nearest railway station is Carambolim.

These islands are absolutely worth being explored and experienced. Now that you know about these treasures India has been carefully preserving within it, which one do you plan to visit first?

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