Islands of India
India has two major sets of islands namely, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Lakshadweep Islands, which are given the status of Union Territories. The minor ones include islands like Daman and Diu, Majuli
or Majoli in Assam, Elephanta Island in east of Mumbai, Sriharikota of Andhra Pradesh, Salsette Island of Maharashtra and Marine National Park, which is a set of forty-two islands in the Gulf of Kutch.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
They constitute a group of 572 small islands that lie in Bay of Bengal, very close to Burma. At a distance of 1255 kms from mainland India, they lie just at a distance of 193 kms from Cape Negrais of Burma. The islands are further classified into two groups:
- The Andaman Islands having 204 tiny islands including the Barren Island.
- The Nicobar Islands that Indira Point, the extreme southern point of India. It lies very close to island of Indonesia, Sumatra.
The group of islands ‘Andaman’ got its name after Lord Hanuman, one of the deities worshipped by the Hindus. They were ruled by many empires – the Chola empire, Maratha empire and the British empire. Port Blair is known for Cellular Jail – the colonial prison of British rule, where Indian freedom fighters were kept as prisoners after being ordered ‘Kala Pani’.
Climate, Vegetation and Animalia
Andaman islands enjoy tropical climate that generally stays warm with time to time rainfall. The sea breezes keep the air moist. With adequate rainfall, the vegetation consists of tropical evergreen rainforests. Though in some areas there are deciduous forests also. These forests comprise of a variety of Timber trees which are used for commercial purpose. Despite the growing population of migrants shifting their base from mainland India, a lot is there that still remains unexplored and unspoilt like in Narcondam, Little Andaman, north and south Andaman.
Andaman islands are home to a great variety of animals including mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds. The Andaman wild boar, spotted deer, sambhar and Indian muntjac were brought to Andamans,of which sambhar could not survive. The feral elephants were also brought to the wildlife sanctuary named Interview Island. A good variety of birds is also seen here like the serpent eagle, crake, wood pigeon, cuckoo dove, woodpecker, drongo, hawk owl and scops owl.
The People of Andamans
With the establishment of all kinds of offices, educational institutes, universities, hotel chains and banks, the population has been increasing in Andamans as people are migrating here from the mainland India. They lead normal lifestyle being in decent professions. Most of the Andaman natives earn by fishing and through tourism sector.
They follow just one religion, that makes them believe in Animism. The term ‘Animism’ refers to the belief that all the natural beings possess spirits - be them plants, animals or even a phenomena. The tribal people of Jarawa tribe, Jangil, Sentinelese and Onge, worship just one God, they name as Paluga.
The Nicobar islands lie further south of Andaman islands, in the eastern Indian Ocean, at a distance of just 150 km from Acehon Sumatra. The islands are already declared to be the World Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO.
Also known as Laccadive, Aminidivi and Minicoy islands, they are total 35 small islands in number, with main islands being namely, Minicoy, Agatti, Amini, Kavritti. They cover an area of 32 square kilometers that lies in the Laccadive Sea, just 200-300 km away from the coast of Kerala. As they stand in Laccadive Sea, they are also known as Laccadive islands. The term ‘Lakshadweep’ refers to one hundred thousand islands. These are ancient islands with their mention in as early as Buddhist Jataka tales.
History of Lakshadweep
In 7th century, when Muslim rulers arrived here and led to the introduction of Islam in this island. By the medieval era, the place was ruled by Chola dynasty after which the Portuguese arrived in 1498 and ruled till 1545 when they were upstaged by Muslim rulers. They ruled here till the time of Tipu Sultan, after the death of whom, the entire region was taken over by the British rule.
People of Lakshadweep
Most of the population living here, is Muslim. The Malayali-speaking people earn their living by fishing and through coconut cultivation. They look much like the people of Kerala.
All these physiographic regions complementing each other, make India a wealthy sub-continent in natural resources. With various ethnicities dwelling in these areas, yet understanding and exploring the attributes, open new avenues of their growth and development.