Mélange of heritage and hearts in Mauritius

By Nivi Shrivastava

For most parts of the world this time of the year peak of summer, but in the République de Maurice (aka the Republic of Mauritius) from April to June is when the winter sets in with a perfect chill in the air. To escape the Indian summer and soak in the island breeze in April, we flew from Mumbai in the Air Mauritius flight to cross the ginormous stretch of 4,688 km over the Indian Ocean. After a comfy six-and-a-half-hour direct flight, we woke up the next morning below the equator with a beautiful landing at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (SSR) International Airport in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius.

The East African island nation is now open for foreign tourists and requires a full vaccination certificate along with a mandatory COVID-19 insurance cover to enter Mauritius. For Indian visitors, the country has a tourist Visa on arrival and proof of Covid19 negative status through a quick RTPCR test, which can be done at the airport. After finishing the immigration formalities, as we step out we are welcomed by a bright rainbow that had appeared after a tropical shower. Interestingly, throughout the entire visit, we were quite amused to spot pretty rainbows and unexpected rains across the island as nature played hide and seek with the weather.

Mauritians take pride in showcasing the vivid mix of culture through their music, food, and fashion

Melting pot:

Mauritius lies in the east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, and its outlying territories are Rodrigues Island, the Cargados Carajos Shoals, and the Agalega Islands. A nation with diverse geography, cultural heritage, and faith, it is the only country in the African continent where Hinduism is the most practised religion. Just like the diverse landscapes of the island, Mauritians take pride in showcasing the vivid mix of culture through their music, food, and fashion that’s blended for centuries. Although English is the official language, most Mauritians commonly speak two, three, or even more languages. Some common languages spoken here are French, Creole, Bhojpuri, Chinese, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. From groovy Bollywood songs to the beats of Sega music in Creole, the amalgamated heritage developed over the years is simply amazing.

La Vallée Des Couleurs Nature Park, notice the 23 shades of earth here

Scenic landscapes:

There are multiple beaches and islands in the country that are worth exploring for water activities and instagramable shots. There are popular tourist spots famous for awesome views of multi-coloured ocean waters and breathtaking geographical terrains, such as the Maconde viewpoint. If adventure is your calling, head to the La Vallée Des Couleurs Nature Park to enjoy zip lines, waterfalls, and a unique view of the 23 coloured earth as a unique geological feature surrounded by indigenous flora and fauna. For island exploration, a must-visit has to be the Ile aux Phare (the rocky islet discovered by the Dutch settlers) and the nature reserve islet of Ile aux Aigrettes, where you can say hello to Big daddy, a giant Aldabra tortoise that is over 100 years. On the east coast of the country is the Ile aux Cerfs, a picturesque island spread over 87 hectares of untouched land and famous for its white sandy beaches. It is also famous for the Ile Aux Cerfs Golf Club, a 18 holes golf course designed by the famous golf champion, Bernhard Langer.

Le Caudan Waterfront, a commercial complex with a busy street market that’s built under a canopy of colourful umbrellas

History and culture:

For those who love history, the grand Château de Labourdonnais is the place to see. It is an iconic heritage mansion with a museum that gives you a glimpse into the Mauritian lifestyle from the 19th century. In the capital city of Port Louis, make a quick stop at the Blue Penny Museum to see the prestigious stamp collections depicting the diversity of Mauritius. Close to which is the Le Caudan Waterfront, a commercial complex with a busy street market that’s built under a canopy of colourful umbrellas. For those who are interested in exploring religious shrines, there are multiple temples across the island designed in brightly colour South Indian architecture. At the Ganga Talao (aka Grand Bassin) in the district of Savanne, the huge statues of Shiva and Shakti are crowd pullers for devotees and tourists.

Experience and FAM trip courtesy : MTPA

(The writer is a Delhi-based journalist and can be reached at newspeakwork@gmail.com )