Garlanded by peace

Maldives is a true detox holiday destination where luxury comes in the form of the bountiful nature, and comfort in the lap of silence to soothe, writes Nilosree Biswas

The soaring temperatures and scorching heat tickled my bio clock for holidays. I surprised myself by choosing the sun and sand island nation of Maldives, an unusual choice for me, not being a beach person. On reminiscence, words can’t describe how rejuvenating, ethereal Maldives is.

South west 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’.

A batch of water villas
A batch of water villas

Abounding in tales

Fascinating stories make rounds of how 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, Maldives appears as
giant coral garlands surrounded by a vast turquoise ocean. The other prominent tale is Maldives acquiring its name 2,000 years 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 airlines 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 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 the next few days.

Landing at Male, the capital of Maldives, I was still away from my destined wonderland. Soon a small, but cosy 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 Indian Ocean in my hotel room, it was a pinch-me moment. I realised 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.

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 flat-bread, with a Maldivian twist of spices to it.
Remember in Maldives, food is about loads of flavours and spices.

A stunning sunset
A stunning sunset

Time stands still

Time seemed to be in an eternal mode the next few days. I walked through the beautiful beaches. On the second day, the warm water of Indian Ocean, plunged me to a long swimming session. I snorkelled with companions that were vibrant, colourful and moved in 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. I was almost sure that this is a fairytale.

Next morning I woke up to a mild knock, it was early — 5.50 am. 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 an enormous 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 the nature for those moments was numbing. The sky cleared in two hours but I was warned not to go for a snorkelling or swim till the ocean stabilised.

Enriching

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 25 kilometres 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 colourful 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, reality dawned. I embarked on my return journey reaching Male again. As my airplane took off, I bade Maldives a goodbye, wishing for its happiness, warmth and health to be retained forever.

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