The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, March 16, 2003
Lead Article

A paradise on earth called Maui
Harsharan Singh Sandhu

The paradise island called Maui
The paradise island called Maui

WHILE sojourning in the beautiful valley of Kashmir, the Mughal emperor Jahangir remarked: "Firdass Gar Bar-Roae Zamin Ast, Amin Ast, Amin Ast" (If there is paradise on earth, it is here, it here). But given the present means of communication and travelling, people are searching for more such paradises. Nearer home, we find that the backwater area in Kerala also fits the bill.

But the desire to enjoy a god vacation, to rejuvenate led me to a virtual jannat called Maui, pronounced Mavee—an island famous for its Hula dance. this island of 728 square miles, 48 miles long and 6 miles at its widest point, is situated nearly 2175 naughtical miles from the West Coast of the USA, forming a group of islands called Hawaii. it is 5 hour and 15 minutes of flying time from Los Angles airport. The island's strategic position has made it a great player in the 20th century conflicts and the home of US Navy's Pacific Flect. It was on December 7, 1941, that the Japanese bombarded Hawaii's Pearl Harbor, inflicting heavy casualties, thus drawing the USA in world War II. it is here that the Panaese surrendered to the USA, putting an end to World War II, thus making the island part of world history.

How and when this planet came into being, earth scientists differ, but they all agree on the formation of Maui island. What is now known as West Maui was created by a volcano, which is now extent, and a dormant volcano created East Maui. The matter that eroded from the slopes, connected the two landmasses, combined they today form Mau island. But according to legend passed orally from generation to generation Maui, the Demigod had pulled the island from the depths of the sea with a magic fishing rod. He also slowed down the movement of the sun over the islands, so that the villagers could complete their chores in daylight. There may be different opinions, as to how the island came into being, but there are no two opinions, as to how it came to be habitated. During circa 500, large, ocean canoes carrying perhaps 200 people from Marquesas Islands, some 1500 miles south of Hawaii, settled in the big island. Then in circa 1200 a small group from Tahiti arrived to settle and their chief introduced the Kapu laws and initiated human sacrifice. All Hawaiian nobility traces their origin to this group. It was during 1788 that Captain Thomas Cook on his third and final voyage landed here and documented the existence of the island. The Republican Forces of America occupied it during 1900, without suffering any casualities and the islands became American territory. to reach the island, I landed at the Kahului airport, about 19 miles from Wailea beach, where I was booked to stay in Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa for the coming seven days. The airport was without any frills, where you did not have to reach complex notices to find your way out. I felt at home, as the airport resembled most of the airports in India. The 30-feet-wide dual carriageway, leading to the hotel is lined by trees on both sides. This was a welcome, change from the 8-lane concrete highways I had left behind in USA. After travelling for nearly a mile I noticed green fields of sugar cane and a sugar mill, billowing smoke—the surroundings were so familiar that I felt as if I was in Punjab. Perhaps this road stands as a link between the island's victory, from the days it was a trail used by Hawaii's chiefs to the days when the sugarcane farmers cut road to carry their produce to the mill and to present day use by the island visitors.


Maui is a special magical place. Its allure mainly rests on natural beauty. Experience just how close to heaven you can get when just by turning your eyes, you have a splendid view of the deep blue Pacific Ocean, shining white sand fringed, a series of beautiful half moon-shaped bays, pointing to the contrast between deep blue ocean and the black lava rock shores -- extending to green fields in the fertile soil of the windy central valley and touching the tropical lush green forests on the gentle slopes rising up to the highest peak of 10,023 feet. Rugged and beautiful, it still offers a taste of Maui, much as it used to be. It has hidden places, sacred places that have never been touched by human foot. Makanna beach of Maui's south shore is one of the several undeveloped beaches. Because of its seclusion, nude Sun bathers love it as a place to catch the rays. It is the place just for those who "Just wanna have fund". No wonder the island is called Paradise.

A view from the grand Wailea resort
A view from the grand Wailea resort

The Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa spread over 40 acres, reflects a different aspect of Maui's natural beauty. This luxurious hotel, in perfect harmony with its surrounding overlooking the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean is designed around six themes — flowers, water, trees, sound, light and art. After due ceremonial welcome with garlands and check, in while proceeding to my room, I saw a child admiring a huge statue of a women lying on her side named Polina. After a while the child shouted — "Hey Mom It has nothing in the rear" — Then the quickly moved to the other side, only to shout once again —Hey Mom there is nothing in the front either". This statue forms part of $ 30 million's worth of permanent art collections of paintings, sculptures and murals, by the resort for decorating it's interiors as well as exteriors.

The most important gift of the Hawaii people to the rest of the world is their Hula dance. there are many stories about its origin. The legend has it that during the migration of Tahitians a woman named La'ila I, settled at the top of the mountain. There she celebrated her joy at the beauty and bounty of her new home and in gratitude offered her body and soul to the Gods. She swayed to the rhythm of nature, the wind and bending trees and thus the emotionally powerful dance was born. But some traditions point out that there were two lakes — one male, the other female. They began moving their bodies sexually; they danced, skirts swinging in a storm. They danced with rest, day and night, on and on, faster and faster. They became an embodiment of motion — and finally when chanting and drumming ceased, only the female from emerged — Lanka the goddess of dance. The Hula is performed in traditional costumes of grass skirts. Originally the dance was performed, with the music provided by drums and split bamboo sticks, but later on, Portuguese settlers introduced guitar to it. Art also enjoys equal status with natural beauty and the Hula dance. The leigarland, made of any natural material such as flowers fruits, leaves, vines, ferns, shells, seeds, feathers etc, is what marigold garlands are to Indians. the lei is so much part of their life that a day has been set apart to celebrate it's beauty — The songs so something like this — "May I wed my love as a lie and as your compassion in lonely places". These songs could not be reduced to writing, as there was no written Hawaiian language until the one created by the Americans in the early 1800s. It has 12 letters and is a perfect phonetic language; unlike English it is spelled, like it sounds. The island, due to its natural beauty and a culture of dance, music and art, has been turned into a tourist destination. It has 1800 hotel room catering to 2.2 million annual visitors. To catter to their needs, apart from sea-based and other sports, the island boasts of 18 top class golf courses. Out of these Wailea has three of the most beautiful layouts in the world. The 54-hole Wailea Golf Club located next to the Grand Resort, is the site of the Annual Senior Skins Tournament. It has an unbeatable combination of great greens and spectacular views. It is here that on January 24 and 25, 2003, the champions of the Senior skin's game competed for the $ 600,000 prize money. It was a life long experience for me to play on this course. I played at the Wailea Gold — designed by Robert Trend Jons Jr and opened in 1994. It has one lake and 93 bunkers. Its rating is 4 star. The big saddle backed fairways are nearby unmissible. The golf carts have a computerized screen which gives a detailed layout of each hole from the Tee onwards. While putting, it seemed I could do nothing right, till another player, who had the experience of the course gave me a tip; whether you are a low handicapper or you shoot two over most of the time, you have to start with recognizing the grain. Here the grain always runs to the west or towards the sea. If you have a putt that looks straight and the west or sea is to the right, the ball will break to the right even when the slope does not so dictate. It was only there after that I was able to sink some putts.

The 19th hole is established by the seaside, for you to enjoy the magnificent setting of the sun prior to enjoying the HULA dance function. From the first rays of the sun to the velvet soft Hawaiian nights every day is a blank canvas to be filled with bright colours, as the soft winds keep the white clouds moving, changing the scenario over the shoulders of the hills, across the green fields and silver white palm-fringed sandy beaches. The evening has a special attraction. The setting sun provided a magnificent view against the dark and gray coloured clouds of various red hues. being moved around by the wind in the far distance. While the darkness was setting in the sun appeared to be going for a dip in the ocean — the view was magnificent. The shore line could be seen till far and I was wondering if it is a symbol of pathway of life — border between the know (land) and the unknown (sea) — when I heard a child saying: "Hey Mom — I know why its night; the sun hides behind the clouds." Wondering if my knowledge about the path way of life, was any better then the child's about why "it is night" on my way to the hotel room for the night's rest, I remembered Sardar Jafri's couplet: Yeh aab-o -khaak-0 -baad ka jahan bahut hassen hai. Agar koi bahist hai tow bas yehi zameen hai ( The world of wind and dust and water presents a full beauteous sight, if heaven exists somewhere, here alone it lies).