It’s not just a quiet beach destination. From the ‘smallest’ to the ‘biggest’ ‘oldest’ to the ‘rarest’, Seychelles adds a lot of superlatives to your travel journal
Think of turquoise water. Put a million corals as underwater
baubles. Sprinkle silver dust as sand on the shore. Imagine quintet. The shadow of a jellyfish tree, one of the rarest trees in the world. A heavy seed as an appetizer. Warning. Do not try cracking this one. The seed of the Coco de Mer, a coconut giant, is the world’s heaviest nut, Bring along Bond. James Bond. For it was here that Ian Fleming wrote for your Eyes Only after a swig of gin and tonic. If Bond is too beefy, get along a dainty, but insolent, Queen. Marie Antoinette shacked here before her death. There’s a moustachioed pirate-and his treasure chest – lending in – trigue. The booty of notorious pirate Oliver Levasseur worth $160,000,000 is still buried in Bel Ombre. So, while you do a quick 160,000,000 mathematics, let me sneak in a quick fact. All this and much more is true about Seychelles, a county comprising 115 coralline islands that are considered one of the oldest on earth. So, shed that clichéd notion of Seychelles merely as a beach destination. There are so many world’s largest, biggest, rarest things in the island that are considered one of the oldest on earth. So, shed that clichéd notion of Seychelles merely as a beach destination. There are so many world’s largest, biggest, rarest things in the island that you’ll probably lose breach counting superlatives.
Lost your breath? Want something for your parched throat? Perhaps coconut water from Coco de Mer, an endemic coconut that takes 6-7 years to mature and its seed weighs about 18 kg (the world’s largest). You sure cannot
Victoria is the world’s smallest capital. You can see it in 25 min
hold in the palm of your hand- the largest recorded Coco de Mer weighed 42 kg! One giant coconut this; its only natural habitat being the Vallee De Mai palm forest in Praslin island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Want to stick a straw and quaff the Coco de Mer water? Lossen purse stings, Please. One Coco de Mer costs roughly 50,000 Indian Rupees, One would rather chew gold than drink off this nut!
This coconut is not the only case of island gigantism. There is the big, fat, brown Aldabra tortoise, Their home: Aldabra island, the world’s largest raised coral atoll and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And the biggest, fattest amongst them all is Esmeralda (it weighs 304 kg). This big boy faces stiff competition from a 9ft-6-inch human giant that lies buried in Bet Air Cemetery, Seychelles’ first public burial ground. In the deserted cemetery is an elongated graveyard – lagend has it that the nearly 10-feet human giant died at age 14.
It might seem like an oxymoron but all these large, big things live and grow in a small country. Really small country. At the last count, Seychelles has 90,000 inhabitants of which 90 percent live in Mahe, the largest island. Of the 115 islands that string to make the archipelago, only four are inhabited – Mahe, Praslin, La Digue and silhouette.
However, nothing beats the tininess of Victoria, the capital. Walk into the world’s smallest capital and before you know where to start sightseeing, it ends. Rather abruptly. You could walk it in 10 minutes and been-there-seen-it-all in another 15, An old church stands like a relic of the colonial age. A Hindu temple shimmers in vibrant colours by the arcade. A cinema resembles a refurbished pigeon-hole. The monotony broken by Victoria market where the air is redolent with the whiff of fresh soursop, cassava, mangoes, vegetables, cinnamon, vanilla and a green leaf that carries the aroma of four spices in one. The crown jewel is the Big Ben. The Little Big Ben, actually. A tiny silver replica of London’s Vauxhall Clock Tower that was erected in the central round-about to mark Seychelles’ new status as the Crown Colony. You might smirk at how little this Big Ben is, but do spare a look for the nearby traffic light. It is only traffic light in Seychelles.
‘Paradise’ is the permanent suffix of this island. I am not sure which gods live in this paradise. Smallest. Largest. Biggest. Rarest. Oldest. These superlatives certainly live in Seychelles.