History of Lakshadweep
The history of Lakshadweep is based on different legends. According to which, the first settlement on these islands is the Local traditions during the rule of last king of Kerala, Cheraman Perumal. At the request of some Arab merchants, he converted to Islam. He then silently moved out of his capital Cranganore, which is presently known as Kodungallor for Mecca. Groups of people went out for the shores of Mecca in search of the king, when his disappearance came into notice.
According to believe, the king’s boat was stricken by a violent storm and was shipwrecked on the island, which is better known as Bangaram at present. They took shelter in the island of Agatti, nearby Bangaram and returned to the mainland when the weather improved. They sighted other islands on the way. Another group of sailors is said to have occupied the Amini, after they left and settled there.
The people sent were said to be Hindus and still Hinduism exists in these islands regardless of Islam. According to Legends, at first, the islands of Amini, Andrott, Kavaratti, and Kalpeni were occupied by small settlements and then people gradually moved the other islands like Agatti, Chetlat, Kiltan, and Kadmat.
It was round the year 41 Hijra, in 7th Century that Islam arrived. It is a global belief that St.Ubaidullah fell asleep while praying at Mecca and dreamt that Prophet Mohammed wanted him to leave for Jeddah from where he had to take a ship to visit far off places. So, he left Jeddah on a ship but came across a storm after sailing for months and his ship wrecked near the small Islands of Lakshadweep. He reached the shore of Amini island, where he fell asleep and dreamt of the Prophet again. This time, the Prophet asked him to spread Islam throughout the Island. That is why Ubaidullah started spreading Islam on that island, which enraged its chief, who ordered Ubaidullah to leave the island. But St. Ubaidullah didn’t leave the island and stood firm.
On the island, a young woman fell in love with St. Ubaidullah. He then named her Hameedat Beebi before marrying her. After this incident, the chief became furious and decided to kill him. The legend says Ubaidullah and his wife were surrounded to be killed by the chief and his supporters. At that time St.Ubaidullah prayed to the Almighty and suddenly the people became blind. They regained their vision when St.Ubaidullah and his wife disappeared and left the island for Andrott. After reaching and settling on this island, he continued his mission of conversion. He had to face the same opposition and protest but finally he succeeded in converting them to Islam. He then went to other islands and converted the inhabitants successfully. After this, he returned back to Andrott, where he died. He was buried and his grave became a sacred place.
The island of Laccadives became important with the arrival of the Portuguese in India. It was then that the islands were plundered. The only thing in demand was finely spun coir, for which the island vessels were looted by the Portuguese. In the earlier part of 16th century, the Portuguese forcibly landed in the island of Amini to procure coir but they were poisoned by the people of the island. Thus, it ended the Portuguese invasion.
Though the entire island was converted into Islam but the Hindu Rajah of Chirakkal had the control over the island for some time, which slipped into the hands of the Muslim in the middle of 16th century. The Arakkal rule is said to be oppressive and unbearable, so some of the inhabitants from Amini went to meet Tipu Sultan, at Mangalore, in the year 1783. They requested him to take over the Administration of Amini. As Tipu Sultan had friendly relations with Beebi of Arakkel, he was handed over the administration of Amini after deliberations. The islands of suzerainty were then divided into five and ruled by Tipu Sultan whereas, the rest were controlled by the Arakkal house.
In 1799, after the battle of Seringapattom, the British East India Company occupied the islands. A severe cyclone hit the island of Andrott in 1847, when Raja of Chirakkal visited the island accompanied by Sir William Robinson (an officer of the East India Company) to inspect the damages and also to distribute relief. But on reaching Andrott, the Rajah had to take loan from Sir William in order to meet all the needs of the people. After four years, when the interest raised the British asked him to repay the loan, which he could not. As a result, he had to hand over the administration of all the islands to the East India Company, in 1854.
The British adopted methods to exploit the profits from these islands in order to strengthen their own political and economic interests, instead of forming a good government. The British later came up with the Lakshadweep Regulation 1912, which limited the legal and commanding power of Amins or Karanis of the islands. The regulation also stopped the entry of outsiders. The brighter side of the colonial rule was that it established few dispensaries and 9 Primary Schools in the islands.
It was in the year 1956 that the Union Territory was formed and was later named as Lakshadweep in 1973.