Male, The Capital of Maldives
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When it comes to size Male would perhaps count
as one of the smallest capitals in the world. It is home to one third of the
countrys total population. It is a city of skyscrapers and paved
roads. While the government offices are located in one area, the main
streets are lined with shops and offices. In Male you would not find any
beach, instead it is encircled by seawalls. The city is quite green and
pleasant. The streets in the residential areas are shaded with trees, at
places forming an arch overhead.
Attractions of the City
The Islamic Centre
The Islamic Centre is the most impressive architectural edifice of Male.
Its majestic golden dome is visible from all sides of the capital as it
dominates the skyline. It bears great symbolic significance of the
importance of Islamic religion, which had ruled every facet of life in the
country for centuries. The Centre consists of a mosque which can house as
many as 5000 people, an Islamic library, conference hall, classrooms and
offices. Work on this structure was completed in 1984.
This 17th century mosque, built by Sultan Ibrahim Iskandhar, served as the
main mosque of Male for almost four centuries, until the Islamic
Centre and Grand Friday Mosque took the reins in 1984. It is an edifice of
impeccable coral curving and traditional workmanship. The inner sanctums
have lamp hangings of wood and panels intricately curved with Arabic
writings. The mosque is surrounded by a cemetery with a legion of
intricately curved coral headstones.
Situated right in front of the Huskuru Miskiiy, Mulee-aage is a palace
built in 1906 by Sultan Mohamed Shamsuddeen III. The palace garden was used
for growing vegetables to meet the shortage of food during World War II. It
became the Presidents Official Residence when Maldives became a
republic in 1953 and remained so until the new Presidential Palace was built
in 1954. At present Mulee-aage houses the Presidents Office.
Housed in the only remaining building of the former Sultans Palace,
which is now the Sultans Park, the National museum is a repository of
articles ranging from thrones and palanquins to the first printing press
used in the country. Other articles that adorn the museum include the rifle
used by Mohamed Thakurufaanu in his fight against the Portuguese in the 16th
century, ceremonial robes, headgear and umbrellas used by Sultans, statues
and other figures dating from 11th century, excavated from former temples.
It gives an insight into the cultural heritage of the island. The museum
remains open everyday except on Fridays and public holidays from 9.00 to
11.40 and 3.00 to 5.40.
Shopping in Male
What to buy?
Garments, perfumes and cosmetics, jewellery, watches or electronics, canned
fish, and souvenirs like "thudu kuna" the Maldivian mat woven with
local natural fibres and the wooden miniature dhonis.
The northern end of Chaandhanee Magu is the best place for souvenir
shopping. The area was earlier known as the Singapore Bazaar for its many
imports from Singapore. The Majeedhee Magu, the main road on the island, is
fringed by a slew of shops selling goods from the smallest commodities to
virtually everything you can imagine. The unusually clean fish market is the
best place for buying fish products.
Always remember that export of products made of turtle shell, black coral,
pearl oyster shell and red coral is prohibited.
You will savour every bite of the traditional as well as continental and
international delicacies served at the inns, hotels and restaurants
sprawling in Male. Some of the popular places for eating out are- City
Motel, Classic Inn, Extra Heaven and Aquatic Residency.
Where to Stay?
Male has a plenty of hotels, inns and tourists lodges to cater to the
tourists. You can unpack in any one of your choice.
Since Male is only 2 sqkms in area, you can move about the entire
city in a taxi.
How to Reach Male?
Major international airlines operate services connecting Maldives to other
important cities of the world. But the airport island is separated from Male
by the ocean. So, ferries are the only means of transportation to Male from
Ferry from the Airport A round the clock ferry service is available from
the airport island to the capital. A special dhoni ferry leaves from the
airport jetty to the capital every 15 minutes. However, after midnight the
timing changes to one every 30 minutes.
From Male to Other Resorts
Maldivian Air Taxi and Trans Maldivian Airways operate special flights to
most of the resorts.