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first_imgThe initial trends in the counting of 32 Sikkim Assembly seats and the lone Lok Sabha seat indicate a close contest where the Opposition Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) is leading over the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), that has remained in power for 25 years.Out of seven Assembly seats for which the trends are out the SKM is leading in four and the SDF in three. In the Lok Sabha seat, Indra Hang Subba of the SKM is leading over the SDF’s D.B. Katwal by a margin of over 6,350 votes. The SKM led by P.S. Goley is taking of SDF’s Pawan Chamling who has the record of being the longest serving Chief Minister of the country. The vote share at the Assembly level also indicate a close contest where the SKM’s vote share of 47.6 % whereas the SDF has secured 47.1 % votes.last_img read more

first_imgFalling off the map–if you have ever fancied this idea, Lakshadweep is where you could actually live it. A cluster of islands off the Indian mainland, it still remains an enigma for most Indian tourists. And most of them have seen the islands only in pictures: white sand beaches, turquoise lagoons, driftwood scattered on sands, living coral reefs, skies azure and starlit nights. Whatever be your notions of a tropical paradise, Lakshadweep lives up to it all.Lakshadweep experiences sultry, scorching summers and lashing rains during monsoon. Winter really is the best time to be here. Quite obviously, winter by the sea is not about the so-called ‘nip in the air’. It is all about sunny days, clear skies, crisp, salty breeze (minus the humidity, thankfully), pleasant evenings and nights. There cannot be a better escape from the chills of the mountains up north and the best part is that you can still find uninhabited islands to live your tropical dream.Viringli is one such island. It has no inhabitants and is ideal for anyone who wants to be immersed in solitude. Viringli is a bit of a contrast to Bangaram, perhaps the most familiar name when it comes to tourism in Lakshadweep. Bangaram has no local inhabitation. It has carved a niche for itself in the world of adventure sports. Enthusiasts flock here for a stint of scuba diving and we all know that there cannot be a better way of exploring life under the water surface. Bangaram also has luxury accommodation and enjoys a brief but busy tourist peak season.Places such as Viringli offer the ideal escape when you want to get away from it all. Make a day trip to this island, walk around the island till you are hungry, carry a fishing rod if you are in the mood for some barbecue or just pack a picnic hamper. You can live every Robinson Crusoe moment here, before you call it a day. Bitra is another such island. With a population of only 257, it is like an extended joint family. Bitra’s location, too, is interesting. It is the last point of the northern group of islands of Lakshadweep. The people here are warm, hospitable…. Even if you forget your duffel bag, you will never go hungry in Bitra. From homemade fish curry to the humble rotis, the inhabitants will share everything from their kitchen with the visitor. There is not much to do here so you are free to make your own agenda. You can go swimming; laze on a hammock that you have to bring along; huddle with the villagers around a bonfire and later sleep under the stars at night. Can anything be more soul-satisfying?Lakshadweep shares a unique bond with Kerala. The food habits are similar–the use of coconut is liberal, to say the least. We speak the same language in most islands. In fact most of our forefathers came from Kerala. Minicoy, however, is quite different from the rest of Lakshadweep in this regard. Only 53 nautical miles from the Maldives, Minicoy is an island where the British had built a lighthouse that stands tall even today. It also has tuna processing and canning factories. People in Minicoy speak Dhivehi, the Maldivian language. It also has a unique village system whereby each village elects both a male and a female representative. The lava dance from Minicoy is a popular attraction. It is a vigorous form of dance and is performed to the beats of drums. The costumes, too, are colourful. Anyone interested in local culture should not skip Minicoy. It is indeed a good place to study the culture of the islands.You cannot also miss Agatti, the only island in Lakshadweep to have an airstrip. It has air connections through the week. Agatti again has lovely beaches with some of the best swimming stretches in Lakshadweep. You can also fish in the sparkling blue lagoon and barbecue your own catch for dinner. A wonderful way to while away your time is to just lie on the beach and watch the flights land…. It seems that the aircraft is landing straight on the ocean.Life in Lakshadweep has a pace of its own. It’s unhurried, easy and relaxing, especially when you are here after months of backbreaking work. You cannot expect the pleasures of cosmopolitan cities here. Simplicity is the key word and it applies to everything from the people to the food. Local flavours in Lakshadweep are also quite humble. You will find the avial here as well as tasty coconut and jaggery laddoos, which make for a good snack. People eat a lot of fish, especially tuna. The fish is marinated for hours in chilli paste and then either smoked or barbecued or even fried. They also make biryani on Eid; the taste is distinctly Malabari. The tuna pickle is quite a popular mealtime accompaniment. Chunks of tuna soaked in oil and spices can make the most mundane meal interesting. Fact fileStayBangaram Island Resort: This is luxury at its best in Lakshadweep. The beach huts with tiled roofs augment the scenic beauty of Bangaram. For more privacy there are the villas, which are also more spacious. The resort also has the only bar in Lakshadweep. Tel: (0484) 266 8221; www.cghearth.comEatA combination of lagoon fish and tuna is a popular local dish called the Maas. The tuna is dried and mixed with freshwater fish. Then, the paste is boiled with rice, herbs and some spices. You will find it at any local restaurant.ShopCoir products such as interesting lampshades, carpets and mats are available with every local artisan.SeeKalpeni: This island has the largest lagoon in Lakshadweep. The shallow yet sparkling lagoon is ideal for watersports. A huge storm bank of coral debris along the shoreline is yet another attraction of this secluded island.advertisementadvertisementlast_img read more