Travelling Is Life

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page

Travelling Is Beginning

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step

Travelling Is Involvement

A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles

Travelling Is Exploring

Tourists don’t know where they have been, travellers don’t know where they are going

Travelling Is Observation

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things

Friday, December 26, 2014

My Veligandu Sojourn

It is my second day at Veligandu Island in Maldives, and I have already fallen in love with this tiny piece of land. A narrow and not-so-long strip of pristine white sand, dotted with beach villas and water villas on its circumference: the whole island has got an air of tranquility about it. Rightly so, as the clear, greenish-blue waters around this land mass are so peaceful that their occasional roaring comes to your ears as a lullaby being sung by Mother Nature. No wonder I find so many European travellers having a great time here. Europeans, I have always found, love to stay at places where they can not only have peace and privacy, but also get some sun and a rush of adrenaline whenever they wish to do so. Well, I am also like Europeans as far as their preferences are concerned.

My first reaction about Veligandu
The moment I had stepped on this island yesterday, what immediately had attracted me was a sense of serenity about it. It did not come to me as a tourist destination at all. A long strip of white sand at the southern end of it and a broad beach extending northward! A not-so-overly-crowded place as I must have imagined. Despite it being a narrow island, it has enough space to roam about idly. It had felt as if I was going to stay for the next few days at a place that had been eagerly awaiting me. A home, Yes! Yet far removed from the daily chores at home! For its rustic charm and an undisturbed atmosphere, Veligandu presents itself as a tropical Maldivian island in its truest sense where there are enough sun and sand to soak in, and where one can unburden oneself and feel rejuvenated by the time it is time to go back.
I had arrived at Veligandu Island Resort before noon after a 20-minute seaplane ride from Hulhule and then a scintillating 5-minute motorboat ride from somewhere in the middle of the sea. But wait! Did I say 'before noon'? Or was it 'after noon'? It was before noon by my watch, but it was after noon at Veligandu. Okay, let me clear the mystery. The resort at Veligandu keeps itself one hour ahead of Malé time. Why? Just to save on daylight time. Good!! It means an early start to your day and longer day hours to spend lying idle on the long stretches of sand.

They are environment-friendly
Well, not just the daylight, the resort people seem committed to save everything around them - the corals, the waters, the environment! For, they have got a water treatment plant, a sewage treatment facility and a greenhouse on the island itself. So, don't be surprised when you find two long glass bottles lying on the top of the kitchenette bureau when your butler ushers you into the cozy atmosphere of your mildly but beautifully decorated abode. Water in these bottles is a product of the local plant and is called the Veligandu Water. But before you step into that cozy villa of yours for the next few days, have you made sure that you have set your watches right to keep pace with the environment-loving people at the resort?

It was my third day there
So, my love affair with Veligandu continues for my third day here. Some light rain showers in the afternoon have indeed enhanced the romance quotient of the island, and it has looked more beautiful throughout the day with an overcast sky and a light breeze caressing the flora found in abundance on the island. And the night has been splendid like the two previous nights.
I am back in my room now after a most romantic candle light dinner and just going back through the events of the day, thanking my tour operators Crown Tours Maldives, for suggesting me Veligandu Island in the first place and subsequently arranging my stay here. Little I had known in the morning that my third day at the island was going to turn out to be a romantic one in its own sense. But that is how the day has kept unfolding before me and, by now, has cemented its place in one secure corner of my mind as one of the never-forgettable days of my life.

And the spa treatment
It had all started with a short time spent at the Duniye Spa located on east coast of the island itself. My package had a 15-minute free spa voucher that could be redeemed any time within the first three days of my arrival. The spa treatment was a rejuvenating one and it amply set my mood for the rest of the day. The ambience inside spa rooms built over water is simple yet soothing, and the whole atmosphere there seems to breathe a new life into you; enhanced by the ever-smiling Balinese masseurs, whose deft hands gradually pamper you into a world of calmness.
    As soon as I stepped into my room after getting a refreshing spa treatment, I got a call from Mr. Fathuhulla, the general manager of the Island. He suggested a beach dinner to me, which I readily accepted. I had already registered myself for the Sunset Punch Dolphin-spotting Cruise, and while agreeing for beach dinner, I knew in my heart that it was actually going to be a different evening for me.

A date with blue dolphins
My evening started with romancing with dolphins in deep blue waters. The 1.5-hour cruise started exactly at 17.45 hours. We all were perched on upper deck of a motorized boat, and soon were on our way to spot dolphins in their natural habitat and to have an unobstructed view of the Sun setting in the horizon. Rifaath, the dolphin-expert of the resort, had told me that they spotted dolphins more often than not. And we indeed spotted dolphins! And not just spotted them, we kind of played with them. My god, they were there in abundance – leaping in unison, answering to our clapping and racing along the boat. And, those reddish yellow hues of the evening sky creating a magnificent backdrop to this all!! Nothing could be more exhilarating, nothing could be more romantic than this.

And then the Beach Dinner
The candle light dinner on beach has been a perfect finish to a day filled with heart-warming activities. A table set in middle of the beach, a bunch of florescent bulbs tucked on the coastline, water level increasing gradually as the evening darkened, a view of the dimly-lit water villas in the distance, a specially cooked seafood platter with smooth American white wine, a personalized attention, and a perfect solitude to heighten your senses - what more could one ask for! It has been truly a different experience, never to be missed while one is at Veligandu.

1. Veligandu is an island in the North Ari atoll of Maldives
2. It is approachable by a 20-minute seaplane flight from Malé.
3. The island is situated in an area where dolphins are found in abundance.

Text and Photos by Ajay Garg

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