Indians once arrived in Mauritius in large numbers to work in the sugar plantations. Now they flock here with more upscale agendas.
At first glance, this tropical island with its adventure sport, delectable seafood, and rare plant and animal life, seems nothing short of a pleasure dome to holiday in.
But now, it's also the destination to which one goes to get married, venture on a fashion shoot or perform a role for the latest Bollywood blockbuster --and it's easy to see why. Dreamy beaches? Check. Shimmering azure waters? Check. Warm-hearted people? Check.
Fashionable getawayGoing on the invariable round of sailing, diving and massage therapies -- the pleasures that foreigners associate with living-it-up here -- among the first people I encounter on the beach are designer Nisha Sagar and choreographer Utsav Dholakia, along with a bevy Indian supermodels -- Aryan Vaid, Ashima Jain, Priyanka Shah, Simran Kaur Mundi, Priya Singh and Hanika Paryani.
They're all here as part of a fashion show showcasing Sagar's extravagant collection. In the midst of this voyeur's paradise, stand the chief organisers of the fashion show, Naresh and Shilpa Gujadhur, for whom this is just one more initiative to bridge the love and trade relationship between India and Mauritius.
Wedding localeBut while the who's who of Mauritian high society may be present here, swooning over Indian design and beauty set strikingly against the backdrop of the sea, you can be sure that the trend towards showcasing, especially, bridal wear, is only going to grow. Not least because of the appreciation it receives from the large, ancestrally Indian local population. But additionally, because a growing number of upwardly mobile Indians are more than happy to take their wedding vows on this exotic island in the Indian Ocean.
Other trends that have floated in with the superb seafood: Europeans come here choosing to be wed Indian-style. Couples opt to take their wedding vows underwater on the Blue Safari Submarine service. Hotels go all out to keep couples happy -- they provide everything from isolated shacks for candlelit dinners to tailor-made proposals.
Bollywood callingWhere designers and weddings go, Bollywood can't be far behind. The lady who feeds me a delicious Mauritian Creole meal at Eureka, a typical residence that was built during the French colonial period says, as she ladles out a giant serving of the ubiquitous 'carri' (curry, with a Mauritian twist), "Did you know Bobby Deol was here at Eureka quite recently, shooting for the horror film Help?"
It's clear that the blossoming love affair between India and Mauritius is on the verge of tying the knot.
Getting there:Air Mauritius flies daily between Mumbai and Mauritius
Staying there:If you're planning a big fat Indian wedding, the Tamassa Beach Resort hits the spot. For more information visit www.naiade.com. But if you're in pursuit of a quiet, romantic getaway head in the direction of Paul & Virginie. For more information visit www.veranda-resorts.com