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Maldives

Main attractions

Atolls from above, Maldives
Some Maldive islands from above / Sarah Ackerman, , CC BY 2.0

Maldives are low-lying coral islands with some of the largest atolls in the world. In fact word "atoll" itself comes from Dhivehi - Maldivian language.

Besides the rich marine life highlights of Maldives are the somewhat mysterious Buddhist landmarks. Since the introduction of Islam the Buddhist (and possible Hinduist) heritage of Maldives has been deliberately demolished and this continues up to this day.

There are several old and ornate mosques on the islands as well.

Natural landmarks

Group of manta rays, Maldives
Group of manta rays / nicoboxethai, , CC BY 2.0
  • Hanifary Bay - Baa atoll. Place with one of the largest gatherings of manta rays in the world - even one hundred individuals can be observed at once. One of the few places in the world where gatherings of whale sharks can be observed.
  • Kaani tree in Maroshi - Shaviyani atoll, Maroshi. Enormous and legendary kaani tree (Cordia subcordata), reportedly grown from pole, which was driven and used for anchoring the ships of Maldivian freedom fighter Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu in the 16th century.

Man made landmarks

Buddhist heritage

Kuruhinna Tharaagandu Buddhist temple, Maldives
Kuruhinna Tharaagandu Buddhist temple / Shahee Ilyas, , CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Ariadhoo Buddhist stupa - Ari atoll. On this island were located several mounds, in one of them in 1959 was discovered a symbol of phallus, carved from coral stone.
  • Dhanbidhoo Buddhist monuments - Haddummati atoll. Comparatively large ruins of Buddhist structures - monastery and temples. Here were found Lōmāfānu - royal edicts incised in copper plates. These plates were made in the late 12th century AD and inform about the transition from Buddhism to Islam.
  • Dhevvadhoo Buddhist temples - Northern Huvadhu atoll. This small island had high importance in Maldives before the introduction of Islam. Here are located several remnants of Buddhist stupas and unexplored mounds.
  • Fua Mulakku Havitta - Fuvahmulah. 12 m tall mound of Buddhist temple, one of the largest prehistoric monuments in Maldives. Stones of the structure are decorated with intricate patterns.
  • Gamu Haiytheli - Laamu atoll, Gan. Ruins of prehistoric Buddhist temple, now represent a hill with a circumference of 91.5 m, 7.3 m high. The site has been vandalised and there is little to see now.
  • Gamu Haviththa in Gan - Southern Huvadhu atoll. Site of a possible Buddhist temple, 73 m in circumference and 18 m high. Gan island has several other mounds up to 9 m high.
  • Isdhoo Buddhist stupas - Haddhunmathi Atoll. Some of most impressive Buddhist landmarks in Maldives. On the island were found Lōmāfānu - copperplate sheets, which contained ancient royal edicts, testifying transition of Maldives from Buddhism to Islam.
  • Kuruhinna Tharaagandu - Kaafu atoll, Kaashidhoo. Remnants of old, complex Buddhist temple, which has been built in several stages from the 3rd to the 9th century AD. This testifies that Buddhism existed in Maldives for long time. Thus far unearthed remnants of 64 coral stone structures. Here have been found sacrifices - remnants of Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys elephantina), thus it is possible that these tortoises lived in Maldives or other islands closer than Aldabra.
  • Maabadhige Haitha in Landhoo - Southern Miladhunmadulhu atoll. Mound - ruins of a Buddhist stupa, with a diameter of 90 m and 8.5 m high. Contains the oldest script in Maldives, possibly from the 6th - 8th centuries AD.
  • Nilandhoo Havitta - Faafu atoll. Ruins of Buddhist shrine from around the 8th century AD.
  • Thoddoo Buddhist temple (Toddu) - Alif Alif atoll. Well preserved ruins of Buddhist temple. Buddha statue was carefully buried nearby, thus testifying that locals were expecting that Buddhism may return here. Here was found also Roman coin from 90 BC and goldens, silver items.
  • Vadiyaamagu Hawitta - Laamu atoll, Gaadhoo. Enormous Buddhist stupa, rising as a pyramid above the forest.
Malé Hukuru Miskiy, Maldives
Malé Hukuru Miskiy / Arif Abdul Sattar, , CC BY 2.0

Mosques

  • Aasaari Miskiiy - Nilandhoo, Faafu atoll. Second oldest mosque in Maldives, built in 1153 - 1166. The building is well crafted from stone blocks, with ornamented interior.
  • Darumavanta Rasgefanu Miskit - Kaafu atoll, Malé. The oldest mosque in Maldives, built sometimes around 1153. Simple building with finely carved portal.
  • Idu Miskit - Kaafu atoll, Malé. Important, ornate mosque. Time of the construction is unknown, large rebuilding took place in 1799 - 1835.
  • Malé Friday Mosque (Malé Hukuru Miskiy) - Kaafu atoll, Malé. Beautiful, old mosque. Constructed in 1153 from coral stone, surface of stone is covered with intricate carvings. Rebuilt and extended in later times. Contains valuable artwork. Surrounded by graveyard with unique tombstones.
Malé, Maldives
Malé / Shahee Ilyas, , CC BY-SA 3.0

Other man made landmarks

  • Ithaa - Alif Dhaal atoll. World's first undersea restaurant, built in 2005. Transparent roof allows a panoramic undersea view.
  • Malé - Kaafu atoll. Capital city of Maldives since the ancient times, one of most densely built small islands in the world.
  • Muliaage - Kaafu atoll, Malé. Former official residence of the President of Maldives, a palace-like structure cosntructed in 1914 - 1919. Building has interesting architecture and ornamentation.

List of described attractions

ArrowKaani tree in MaroshiTrees

Map of Maldives

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