Mauritius is one of the most beautiful islands in the world, rising from the vast Indian Ocean as a vision hard to describe, but one you must not miss.
The 21st AIBD General Conference was held amidst the breathtaking beauty of Mauritius, a great way to de-stress and just relax to the sound of waves.
I was glad for the sheer stolen moments of relaxation during the two-day conference which was pretty compact. Early morning sunrise and sunsets were not to be missed.
After two days of meetings, we took sheer delight in getting ready for the Excursion organized by the host – Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).
It is important to understand a little history about Mauritius and its diverse culture. Uninhabited until the Dutch took possession of the islands in 1598, Mauritius was at various times, a colony of the Dutch, French and British, before gaining independence in 1968. Under European rule, giant sugar and tea estates filled every available pasture of the Mauritian interior, and watching over these prized plantations were French-style colonial mansions, which today are some of the Indian Ocean’s greatest architectural treasures.
Needless to say, Sugar cane plantations are everywhere, but somehow the prices of cane sugar were way too high.
Our excursion began as we headed south, a one-and-a-half-hour journey to Ganga Talao considered the most sacred Hindu place in Mauritius. The Ganga Talao literally means the ‘Lake of Ganga’; an allusion to the Grand Bassin’s symbolic connection with the Indian river Ganges.
Shiv Mandir is located on the bank of the lake and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. There are temples dedicated to other Hindu Deities. During Shivaratri celebrations around half a million Hindus in Mauritius go on a pilgrimage to the lake, many walking bare feet from their homes and offer food to the devotees who come from all over.
The Ganga Talao was our first stop down south and despite the rain some of our delegates managed to offer prayers at the temple, while the rest of us huddled up to watch the misty lake and the gigantic statues of the deities that rose from it.
Next, we were on a picturesque breathtaking journey from atop the mountain as the rain kept constant company. Simply astounding is how I describe this. We then headed to the beach, my favourite place and that of my friends from landlocked countries who just jumped in to the water. Quite a sight to behold.
Just in front of the beach is the massive cliff at Le Morne Brabant mountain, a monument that is shrouded in dark tales. Mauritius was once a part of the complex and far-reaching international slave trade, and people say that hundreds of slaves threw themselves off the cliff rather than face the horrors of dehumanization. The Slave Route Monument is located at the foot of Le Morne mountain, in clear view of the caves in the cliff faces where it is rumored that runaway slaves were apparently known to hide, and the sheer drop from the mountain into what’s since been called the “Valley of Bones”. There was definitely an air of sadness and upon saying a short prayer, we headed off to enjoy the beach.
From the beach we headed off to shop for souvenirs and went in search of the Dodo – a bird that has since become extinct but alive in every shop in the island. From Dodo fridge magnets to semiprecious carvings and shawls the Dodo lives on.
The excursion ended with lunch and more shopping and of course loading our shopping bags with sugar and spices and a bottle of the famous cane sugar Rum. This somehow made me think of the infamous pirate Captain Hook on a seafaring journey and his favourite — “Ho Ho Ho and a bottle of Rum” song.
I certainly thank MBC for being the perfect host, the Excursion was truly unforgettable. Mauritius is indeed beautiful and the people simply wonderful.
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This article was published in IEE-BTS. By Ms Philomena Gnanapragasam and