The islands of Maldives persuade tourists with promises of ‘the last paradise on earth’, and if your idea of paradise is white sand beaches with turquoise waters glistening, tropical gardens exploding in beautiful color and picture perfect sunsets igniting the sky, then the Maldives will never let your expectations down. It’s also a major destination for scubadivers, who come for the magnificent coral reefs and the wealth of marine life. The Maldives are an archipelago of numerous small islands located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of India. Traditionally the economy of the Maldivians has been fishing and even today the majority of the population is engaged in this pursuit. With the islands lovely beaches, shimmering sapphire waters and delightful climate attracting a steady influx of visitors from abroad, Maldives is an extraordinary escape for a perfect beach vacation!
Total Area: Approx 298 sq kilometers (115 sq miles)
Time Zone: MVT(GMT + 5.00).
ISD Code: +960
Official Language: Maldivian (Divehi)
Currency: Maldivian Rupiah (MVR)
Religion: Islam is the official religion of the Maldives and open practice of any other religion is forbidden and liable to prosecution
Climate : TheIndian Ocean acts as a heat buffer, absorbing, storing, and slowly releasingthe tropical heat. The temperature of Maldives ranges between 24 degrees and 33degrees throughout the year. Although the humidity is relatively high, theconstant cool sea breezes keep the air moving and the heat mitigated.
Best Time to Travel : Maldives being a tropical Island, December to April would be a perfectgetaway season.
Maldives is the homeland of Sunni Muslims and Islam is the main religion followed here, so it’s very much obvious that Maldivians celebrates almost all the festivities of Muslims, apart from the ones like national day, Independence Day and republic day that are specific to their country. However Maldives has been open to the celebration of other festivals too. The celebration of Maldives festivities reflects a blend of traditions and modernity. For example the traditional music or dance performance that makes use of wooden instruments maybe followed by urban pop music or modern Jazz.
Male, the capital of Maldives is a fascinating place for the shoppers. Garments, perfumes and cosmetics, jewelry, electronic gadgets and gizmos and canned fish and various local handicrafts are among the best picks. The Chaandhanee Magu and the Majeedhee Magu are the prime shopping zones of the city. The Local Market has number of hanging by stalls occupying the place, which display a variety of local produce mainly from the atolls. Here you will come across different kinds of local vegetables, fruits and yams, sweetmeat, nuts and breadfruit chips, bottles of homemade sweets and pickles along with bunches of bananas dangling down from the ceiling beams on coirropes.
The Majeedhee Magu, situated on the main road of the island, has along its sides numerous shops selling goods ranging from the smallest commodities to virtually everything one can imagine. The shops have a fabulous collection of garments, perfumes and cosmetics, jewelry, handbags,watches or electronics and much more. Chaandanee Magu is the best place for souvenir shopping. The shops are stocked with a huge conglomerate and fusion of gifts and souvenir items. Best picks include the “thudu kuna”, the Maldivian mat woven with local natural fibers. The attractive wooden miniaturedhon is are a worthwhile purchase.
Maldivian food revolves largely around fish, tuna by large is the staple food here. This cuisine draws striking similarity from the Sri Lankan and South Indian tradition, especially Kerala. Dishes are often hot, spicy and flavored with coconut, but very few vegetables are used. Atraditional meal consists of rice, a clear fish broth called garudhiya and side dishes of lime,chili and onions. Curries known as rihaare also popular and the rice is often supplemented with roshi, unleavened bread akin to Indian roti, and papad, the Maldivian version of crispy Indian papads
Artificial Beach- This is the place where you will find most people in the late afternoons. Despite so many beautiful beaches in Maldives, the capital is not blessed in this respect. Today the people of Male’ can enjoy a good swim at artificial beach. This is a popular place for parents who take their kids for some fresh air and space to enjoy. It’s been a long time that people of Male’ felt the need of such a place. Due to over population and the rapid development taking place, people had forgotten about the importance of recreation and what it can bring to our lives and health.
Hukuru Miskiy – Hukuru Miskiyy, which means Friday Mosque, was built in 1656 during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim Iskandhar I. The interior and exterior walls of this historic mosque, built with coral stones, are intricately carved with Arabic writings and ornamental patterns. The roof, window frames, and doors are made of different types of wood including teak, red sandalwood, and redwood. There is an abundance of beautiful coral carvings and expert lacquer-works inside the mosque. The compound of the mosque also encloses a number of ancient tombstone secreted in memory of past sultans, heroes, and nobles.
Male’s Fish Market– The one place in Male’ where you are always guaranteed a unique show is the fish market, located along the beach front to the west of the Republic Square.This area is the main hub of trade and is a hive of activity throughout the day. The waterfront and the by-lanes in the area are crowded with shops stocked with a variety of goods. Also in the area are the Male’ Fish Market and the Local Market selling a range of local products
Medhu Ziyaarath- Opposite the Hukuru Miskiiy is the Medhu Ziyaarath, the shrine of Abu al Barakaath Yusufal Barbari, a North African, believed to be responsible for converting the Maldives to Islam way back 10 centuries ago.
Mulee – Aage – Across the road from the Hukuru Miskiiy is a blue and white building with an elaborate gate house. This is the Mulee-aage. After the sultan and his son were banishedin May 1936, the house was declared a government property. In 1986, the house was renamed the Presidential Palace and was upgraded to hold official functions and to accommodate visiting Heads of States and other foreign dignitaries.
Munnaaru – This gleaming white minaret forms part of the Hukuru Miskiiy and was also built by Sultan Ibrahim Iskandhar in 1675. The chief muezzin of Male’ called the faithful to prayer from this minaret before the Islamic Center was built.
Presidential Palace– The Presidential Palace is somewhat further from most of the other sights of interest mentioned here, but on an island the size of Male’, this only means a few minutes more walking. The Palace is actually the official residence of the President, the practice in Maldives different from many countries, where the residence of the president is also the offices of the president.
Republic Square – Beautifully lay out with carpet green grass and lush vegetation, this public square, constructed along the northern waterfront in 1989, is Male’s most popular place for social gatherings and relaxation. It is also one of the favorite evening hangouts for children. On the Eastern end of the square stands the official flag post on which is hoisted a permanent flag, the largest in the country.
Sultan Park & the Museum – The National Museum is part of the Sultan Park, which is the small public garden. The Sultan Park was previously part of the southern side of the Royal Palace, of which much cannot be seen today. The Park itself is mainly a considerable collection of various tropical floras, and also exhibits some animal life.
The Islamic Centre- The most famous architectural landmark of Male’ is the three-storey Islamic Center, opened in November 1984. The Center’s Grand Friday Mosque is the biggest in the Maldives, accommodating more than 5,000 worshippers. The shining golden dome of the mosque is a standout as are also the interior walls decorated with beautiful woodcarvings and Arabic calligraphy. The Center also houses a library and a conference hall.
The Local Market– The local market, just a couple of minutes’ walk up the road from the fish market and also on the beach road, is a place where you will find Maldivians from all over the country, in Male’ to sell produce from their own islands.Here the pace is slower and the atmosphere more peaceful.
Esjehi Gallery – one of Male’s oldest buildings houses a small gallery and artists work shop dedicated to the preservation and promotion of traditional and contemporary Maldivian arts and crafts. The building dates from the 1870 s. It’s quite small,but has beautiful rooms, beautifully preserved wooden panels and some fine carving. Occasional exhibitions feature and sell the work of local artists hereon auction.