The Maldives has always been a destination smothered in luxurious appeal. If you were asked to give a profile of your average Maldives visitor? You’d say a celebrity, business aficionado or just someone really wealthy…
If you were to ask someone why they would travel to the Maldives? You’d say, it’s unrivalled natural wonders, accommodation, service and tranquillity… And, you’d be right.
But will you be in the not too distant future?
After a wonderful trip to the WTM where myself and the Gomingo team caught up with some of our Maldives listings, we discovered that some hotels actually want to move away from the mega-luxurious stigma. They say they have more to offer…
The Maldives remained unknown to tourists until the 1970s. Since then, tourism has grown considerably to become the driving economic contributor. The rich flew out, one thing led to another and now we have the luxurious kingpin of the travel world.
Yet, there is so much more to the Maldives than the celeb-attracting, Instagram-ready beaches. This Country neatly scattered across the Indian Ocean is steeped in a rich history that often goes under the radar due to its photogenic superiority.
Mahin, Marketing Director at Mo Hotels has said “we want to break the stereotype and make the country’s beaches accessible to all types of travellers. Our country has history, heritage and culture that is still very much undiscovered by the rest of the world.”
History!? What History?
The Maldives has an unusual and deeply interesting History that contradicts it’s luxurious and economically stable state of affairs. It also proves the inhabitance of the Maldives to have always been a strong and independent people, despite periods of foreign rule, influence and constraints.
It’s thought that the island was originally settled peacefully by Buddhists and Hindus from the costs of Sri Lanka and India who established the Islam faith…
This quickly changed and it all kicked off in the 12th century when Arab traders established an economy through the coir industry. Using the tough husk of dried coconuts the inhabitants began making rope which was used as far afield as China and Yemen. Along with its produce, this alerted the rest of the world to the Maldives existence and subsequently interest.
The Maldives remained Islamic and fought off any attempts of conversion to Christianity when the Portuguese interrupted proceedings in the 17th Century. Furthermore, the inhabitants stood strong against the switch to British rule and inclusion in the Commonwealth.
Moving into the 19th century after many attempts to overthrow the Sultan the Maldives finally gained independence in 1965. About time!
Interesting! But how can we see this history? Where can it be found?
The Maldives varied history is documented and supported by artefacts which can be found in The National Museum in Male. A must visit. This Museum is an amazing walkthrough of the religious influence, the following conflict and evidence of some very rare wildlife.
The highlights being… The impressively carved Arabic- and Thaana-engraved pieces of wood commemorating the conversion of Maldives to Islam in 1153 and the 6m-long skeleton of the very rare Longman’s Beaked Whale, which is yet to have been sighted alive in the ocean.
Secondly, the Old Friday Mosque. This is the oldest mosque in the country, dating from 1656. It’s a beautiful structure made from coral stone into which intricate decoration and Quranic script have been chiselled. Its this part of the history, the beauty, that echoes through to today.
So, there you have it…
The Maldives will always be undeniably beautiful and the worlds most luxurious travel destination.
BUT! Its influence is the product of a deep-rooted and unusual history that in itself is undeniably beautiful. A history that should not be set aside for the sake of a holiday.. a history that should be noticed.
Will the Maldives history begin to shine through its glossy exterior? Only time will tell…