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Garlanded By Peace – Embraced By Nature

19/07/2019

The temperatures had soared steadily since a month, the scorching heat tickled my bio clock for summer holidays.

I surprised myself by choosing the sun and sand island nation of the Maldives, an unusual choice for me, not being a beach person.

On reminiscence, words won’t suffice as to how rejuvenating, ethereal Maldives is. It is a true detox luxurious holiday destination where luxury comes in the form of the bountiful nature, comfort in the lap of silence to soothe.

Southwest of India Maldives is located on the Indian Ocean, an archipelago of 26 cluster islands of coral formation constituted by differently sized individual islands nearly 1,192 of them, generally addressed as ‘atoll’.

Fascinating stories make rounds of how the Maldives got its name. Some say that the word ‘Maldives’ originated from the Tamil word ‘malai’ which means garland. Indeed, when seen from the sky the Maldives appear as giant coral garlands surrounded by a vast turquoise ocean. The other prominent tale is the Maldives acquiring its name 2000years ago from the Arabic traders who called it ‘money islands’. This was when islanders bartered their essentials with ‘cowrie’ or shells instead of currency.

The airplane swooped down slowly, I recalled how at Mumbai airport, I literally had to convince the Go Air staff, why it was so important for me to have a window seat even if at the back of the plane. I didn`t care, I had to see the Maldives from the sky! On a closer look, I saw the vast ocean that had no end – it seemed that the planet was just blue. I had a skip in my heart once I identified the first atoll while still on the sky. Hardly did I know what was awaiting me in next few days.

Landing at Male, the capital of Maldives, I was still away from my destined wonderland. Soon a small but cozy 48 seater airplane operated by the Maldivian Airlines flew me to my staycation. In that most beautiful short flight of 55 minutes, I recalled watching nature`s plenteousness, the ocean water below dotted with numerous islands that seemed like scribbles made by kids, haphazardly designed yet strikingly beautiful, soon it would be evening.

Waking up to an unfathomable all-round view of the Indian ocean in my hotel room, it was a pinch-me moment. I realized that the water villa I was staying has actually an endless view of the serene ocean merging with the sky in a continuous long embrace. I wanted to savour the gorgeous sight and sound of this reclusive luxury vacation at my resort Mercure Maldives Kooddoo in the island of Gafu Alifu Atoll, the only lodging option for the island.
For a second, I felt I was one with nature, everything belonged to me.

The breakfast had a surprise element of Maldivian paratha called Masu Aluvi Roshi, a super tasty flatbread, with a Maldivian twist of spices to it.

Remember in Maldives food is about loads of flavours, spices.

I wanted to combine lux stay offered as well as have a sense of cultural engagement with the inhabited islands. I requested for the same to be arranged to see both sides of the cowrie or coin as they say in Dhivehi. Siddhartha, the ever smilingly manager of the resort came to my support. He said, “Be rest assured, you will see the true Maldivian hospitality in our resort as well as at the local village of Maamendhoo.” I was happy.

Time seemed to be in an eternal mode the next few days. I walked through the beautiful resort that had wooden jetties from one end to the other connecting the water villas and the beach villas as well as a luxurious tennis court, a spa and a gastro bar in the premise, many times watching the sky changing every minute.

On the second day, the warm water of the Indian Ocean plunged me to a long swimming session. I snorkeled with companions that were vibrant, colorful and moved in the shoal. Yes, you guessed right I was amongst countless fish and felt the presence of corals. That evening without any notice the sky caught fire, astounding me and all others who were holidaying. I have never seen a more magical sunset than that and it made me feel so very buoyant. I cherished every bit of it, walking on the silvery sand private beach, in my flip flops, sometimes swinging in the swing that was planted in the middle of the ocean. Evenings were gorgeously mellow at the restaurant called Alita, a cocktail moment followed by a sky gaze from the balcony of my water villa. I was almost now sure that this is a fairytale.

Next day morning I woke up to a mild knock, it was early – 5.50am. I looked around there was no one, then I looked at the floor of my room, a portion that was made of glass. In there I saw a giant electric ray swimming in the deep blue water followed by a marine turtle wading along. I was awestruck. Stepping out, the panorama was a contrast to last evening as if someone had painted the sky with charcoal. Huge clouds hovered around and soon nature revealed its other side.

The dramatic mood translated in giant raindrops, with the ocean reflecting the dark sky.

The phenomenal prowess of nature for those moments was numbing. The sky cleared in two hours but I was warned not to go for snorkeling or swim till the ocean stabilized.

Maamendhoo, the local village was planned for the last day. It was one of the most enriching experiences I ever had. Surrounded by palm and coconut trees the island with natural shade was just 25kilometres in length, resided by 760 people, only.

Interestingly, Maamendhoo has retained an authentic Maldivian way of life. The primary livelihood is still fishing. The local community had prepared a warm welcome at the only school there, the staff and parents wore radiant smiles and colorful attires. The children were a joy to interact with. The interaction was followed by a fabulous feast of local Maldivian dishes. I have never tasted seafood more delicious than that. Once the feast was over, I sat in the courtyard of the village, observing and absorbing a sense of happiness in the place and people.

Next day the reality dawned. I embarked on my return journey reaching Male again. As my airplane took off, I bade Maldives a goodbye, as I prayed for its happiness, warmth, and health to be retained forever.

Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort 

Gaafu Alifu Atoll  

20219  

Kooddoo Island Maldives

Tel: +9606820003

Fax: (+960)6820004

https://www.accorhotels.com

Email: H9923@ACCOR.COM

About the Author

Nilosree Biswas  

Nilosree is a three must-have traveller - a chapstick, a notebook and a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Nilosree is a writer, filmmaker mostly on roads. 

She stops wherever she finds a local potlatch and a cat.

 

 

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