And here dwelleth 300,000 invisible beings

Most Maldivians are by now familiar with the drama unfolding in Makunudhoo. It has been on the news a lot and has been blogged about a lot but photos haven't been very forthcoming - well, except for a blurred image on Haveeru Daily and a photo stolen from my Flickr stream published on Miadhu News. So here are some images of the historic Makunudhoo School where Man and Jinn live side by side and study side by side, though not always in harmony as has been revealed. The school may replace the island's currently most famous landmark: the residential ruins of the infamous Bodufenvalhugey Seedhee (known for various supposed supernatural feats such as "walking on water" between islands, "helping" the infertile conceive etc) including its "teleportation well".

And yes, in case you wonder, it is ridiculous to believe this is a battle between invisible Jinn and humans, especially when there are good explanations.

Enjoy... stand awed.

Back from Makunudhoo

They say time flies when you are having fun but I reckon time flies even faster when you are bored shitless - like when I've been since arriving back from Makunudhoo two weeks ago...

I had a terrific time in HDh. Makunudhoo, exploring the island itself and the neighbouring three uninhabited islands, all of which lie within the same 17 mile long reef. Makunudhoo is amongst a natural geographical atoll called "Maa Makunudhoo Atoll" which sits situated all by itself in the North of the Maldives, displaced slightly to the West from the typical Maldivian North-South stretch of atolls (see map).

Makunudhoo is famous for being the home to President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom when he was sentenced to banishment during President Nasir's rule. The owners of the house he stayed in then, infact, now proudly hang pictures of him on their walls! The island also played host to the infamous Bodufenvalhugey Seedhee who gained country wide fame for his supposed supernatural feats and healing powers - abilities which led to the "Seedhee" title. He is (still) well-respected by the elderly for feats as "walking on water" across the seas, instantaneous travel, healing the sick, "helping" the infertile conceive etc. His long abandoned house in Makunudhoo now lie in ruins.

The sea, the reef and the lagoon of the atoll were nothing short of being deliciously exquisite and as a Maldivian who'd been away from these beauties for a number of months, I was simply overwhelmed! I hadn't seen starfishes, jellyfishes, different kinds of rays, turtles, dolphins, eels, sea cucumbers and multicoloured fishes and numerous weird sea creatures for ages and it was a thrilling experience to see them again while snorkelling in the reef and/or while strolling along the beach. Most notable was the presence of turtles in and around the atoll. We even sighted turtles cruising in the shallow waters near the beach. I also got to travel to the west-most piece of land in the Maldives - which is one of the uninhabited islands in the Maa Makunudhoo atoll. Exploring along its beaches and lagoon made it clear that the island was slightly different from the typical rest I'd seen (but then again, I haven't seen much of Maldives!).

I was pretty sad to hear that the island people still do catch turtles, which are a protected specie in the Maldives for fear of extinction, for food and that too on a regular basis. I'm not a particularly big supporter of the animal protection schemes but these animals, if they do disappear, are something I would miss indeed. There were other sea animals that had depleted significantly as well - including sea cucumbers and "raakani" (English name?) - which were aplenty in the atoll when I visited the place 10 years so ago!

I've uploaded some of the photos from the trip to Flickr. Check 'em out!

UPDATE (18/08/2007): Azeem has uploaded a lot more beautiful pictures from the trip to his Flickr gallery as well.

West-most piece of land in the Maldives
The west-most piece of land in the Maldives!