History

Huvadhoo Atoll: A Brief History

G.Dh-Thinadhoo2

Huvadhoo Atoll in the Southern region of the Maldives is perhaps the biggest and most diverse atoll in the country. Among the 10 largest atolls in the world, Huvadhoo is not without historical and cultural significance. With a dialect that differs slightly from GA to GDh, Huvadhoo Atoll has a rich and endearing history that dates as far back as the 17th Century. For the keen eye, Huvadhoo’s many uninhabited islands only add majesty to the atoll.

According to many historians such as H.C.P. Bell, who travelled to the Maldives to write about the island nation, Huvadhoo was one of the main hubs of Buddhism in the centuries preceding the conversion to Islam. In fact, over the years, countless Buddhist artifacts and structures have been discovered in the Huvadhoo Atoll.

Among the many talents found in the atoll, Huvadhoo is famous for the mats they weave. Unmatched in their production of woven mats, Huvadhoo remains the go-to place for an intrinsically designed mat. The introduction of these products to the tourism sector in the country has only boosted the sales of these products. In addition to this, Huvadhoo remains the top producer of the ‘Dhivehi Libaas’ – the traditional dress worn by the Maldivian women in the olden days. Today, Huvadhoo is well known for their production of the ‘kasabu’ – threads hand-woven into beautiful designs to decorate the libaas.

Among the many dialects found in the Maldives, Huvadhoo dialect stands out for numerous reasons. For one, the dialect differs greatly from island to island among the atoll itself. In addition to that, the Huvadhoo dialect is one of the oldest dialects that is believed to carry traces of the ancient Dhivehi language spoken in the Maldives. The dialect also bears a striking resemblance to Sinhalese, spoken in Sri Lanka, although very different from it.

Huvadhoo is also famous for their food products. For food lovers, Huvadhoo products such as ‘Bodu Vah’tey Boandi’ and ‘Kudhe Vati’ are a must try. But this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the food culture in the atoll.

Maldives being surrounded by the ocean, it is only fair that we look at the Huvadhoo Sea at this point. The Huvadhoo Sea or One and Half Degree Channel is significant in the Maldivian history. The channel lies between Laamu Atoll and Huvadhoo Atoll and according to historians, was used as a trade route to China. Over the centuries, thousands of ships have succumbed to the great waves of the Huvadhoo Sea, adding historical significance to the area. Even today, the channel remains one of the most used routes.

Historical accounts suggest that the Huvadhoo Atoll leaders received incentives that the other atoll leaders did not. As such, their homes and boats bore a special flag according to historians. This flag that slightly resembles the flag of Nepal in its shape can be found on the internet for anyone who takes interest in the subject. Huvadhoo has been home to many intellectual leaders, most famously Sultan Mohamed Sri Kula Ranmani Mahaaradhun, better known as Dheh’vadhoo Rasgefaanu. Huvadhoo is also among the three atolls that partook in the famous coup in the southern region of the Maldives.

Today, Huvadhoo is a fast developing atoll in terms of infrastructure and politics. Fishing remains one of the top industries in the atoll; with an abundance of bait readily available for the fishermen in the area. Huvadhoo is also flourishing in the tourism industry, with new resorts being built in the atoll. With airports at the two ends of the atoll, the residents and tourists have easy access to the islands in the atoll. Huvadhoo has always remained important in the Maldives, be it politically, economically or socially.

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