“Little darling, here comes the Sun!”
One of the sweetest songs from the Beatles was perhaps made for one of the most serene places in the world – the Maldives! Turquoise water, white sand beaches along the coastline, ever-friendly locals who would come out of their ways to help you out and a surreal underwater world, the Maldives assures you that the Almighty was at his creative best when coming up with this paradise.
Private islands with luxurious resorts, exquisite food and beverages, and picturesque backgrounds, Maldives is so beautiful that even an accidental click on your camera will gift you with a magnificent imagery of the scenic destination. Come for your honeymoon, bachelor’s party or even a simple family getaway or maybe a solo retreat in search of yourself, Maldives is an island straight out of a fairy tale that will happily take you in its warm embrace. The place is where lost hopes are restored and a sense of euphoria instilled in the minds and hearts of all those who come there. Experience a perennial bliss when the cool breeze from the coastlines of the Indian Ocean caresses you gently on your face. You will soon smile for no reason looking at the vast expanse of the ocean probably holding a Chardonnay in your hand!
Welcome to Maldives – where time stops!
Geography: Located in the Indian Ocean, the island country in South Asia – Maldives - is an archipelago of 1,192 coral islands that are clubbed into a total of 26 atolls. It spreads from north to south and is one of the most dispersed countries in the world. Home to sandbars and live coral reefs, the topography of Maldives is such that it is surrounded by crystal-clear water originating from a lagoon. The country is located over an underwater mountain range making the overall geography and topography really unique as compared to the many other island nations of our world. Moreover, the Maldives takes credit for being the lowest country in the world with an elevation of just 1.5m from the sea and 2.4m from the ground levels.
Time Zone: UTC+5 – Maldives Time Zone
Area: 115 square miles or 298 kilometer square
Capital’s Calling Code: +960
One of the first settling communities in the Maldives left no archeological evidence, monuments or artifacts for the generations to come, making it difficult to trace the primitive civilization. A comparative study of cultures, linguistics, and folklore suggests that one of the earliest settlers in the Maldives hailed from India, especially the south-west region. Considered to be the descendants of the Tamils and Malayalis belonging to the Sangam era, the first population also had a mix of the Giraavarus. The place is evolved out of a mix of Tamil and Malayalam cultures, which is very much evident in the names of places, dance, poetry, religious practices and beliefs and ancient folklore. In fact, the island’s name is also considered to be a culmination of words from two different languages; Maala or Maalai meaning garland and Dweepu or Theevu in Malayalam and Tamil respectively.
As of 2017, the population of Maldives numbers to 436,786. It ranks 175th in world population and 11th in the most densely populated countries on earth. Despite this, Maldives is the smallest nation in South Asia in terms of both are as well as the total population. The capital and the largest city in the Maldives – Malé accounts for a population of 63,000 followed by Addu and Fuvahmulah with 32,000 and 12,000 respectively. The Maldives is also home to close to 70,000 immigrant workers coming from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
Buddhism prevailed for a very long time in the Maldives until Islam was introduced by incoming Muslim traders. In the mid 12th century, Maldives witnessed a renaissance of religion, embracing Islam. The country is home to mosques and tombs of saints, which are now a cultural heritage. As of 2010, 98.4% of the population follows Islam.
Dhivehi is the common and the official language is spoken in the Maldives. It is considered to be Indo-Aryan in its origins, containing similarities to Elu – a Sinhalese language. Thaana is the script presently used in the Maldives and is written from right to left. Despite Dhivehi being the national language, English is commonly spoken by Maldivians. When here, you can greet the locals saying Assalaamualaikum formally and by saying Shukuriyaa for thank you. While aan means yes, noon means no. SalaamaiKurey translates to I need help.
Maldivian Rufiyaa is the currency used for any transactions in the country. One Maldivian Rufiyaa converts to 4.22 Indian Rupees and the currency denominations available in the Maldives are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000.
Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR)
Cost and Money
Credit cards are widely accepted in the Maldives, especially in resorts, guesthouses, and restaurants. ATMs are most commonly found in Malé, making it better to carry cash when in other islands. While service tax is applied on almost every transaction, tipping is a common practice, where service people expect you to be a little polite on charity. Being an exquisite island resort, accommodation in the Maldives can be a little expensive. Approximately from Rs. 14,000, prices can go all the way up to Rs. 99,000 for a night. This is in a way, a pleasant surprise of sorts considering the fact that tourism in the Maldives is very recent in terms of its origin. It first started with two resorts in the early 1970s and now, it boasts of being one of the most sophisticated tourism destinations in the world.
Apart from the picturesque locations, Instagram-worthy backdrops, and local delicacies, what you will take home from your stay at the Maldives is the smile of the locals. Be it the housekeeping professionals who pass a warm hello when you pass by your hotel corridor, the in-room dining waiter who makes you coffee or just the people on streets who wave at you while on the move, these instances are sure to resonate with you for a long time after you leave the island. This is like a gift from tourism in the Maldives.
Besides, one of the most peaceful aspects of Maldives tourism is simply the fact that there are no intrusive hawkers or guides trying to sell their services while you’re immersed in your world. Unless and until you go and ask for services, you can be sure that tourism in the Maldives will pamper you by leaving you to yourself.
Arranging a trip for 4 couples travelling together to a new country is complex. Thomas Cook and their team made sure that they accommodate the best from specific requirements. We spent two days sightseeing in various parts of Maldives, enjoying trip to Secret Island and Fulhadhoo Beach. This trip was perfect blend of luxury and adventure and not a one point we felt a hassle in the management.
My best friend’s bachelor’s party was made special by Thomas Cook’s Maldives package. The resort chosen by them was located at a gorgeous location. The best part of the trip was swimming with the Sharks. This trip was a part of our package and the representatives made sure that we get the best experience. The 6 of us had a great time travelling to this beautiful country and having a time of our lives.