Socotra, also called Soqotra, located between the Guardafui Channel and the Arabian Sea, is the largest of four islands of the Socotra archipelago. The territory is located near major shipping routes and is officially part of Yemen.
Socotra Island looks for all the world like an alien planet. Its endangered flora is unique due to the remote location’s isolation, temperature extremes, and arid conditions. A third of its plant life can be found nowhere else on Earth. Fortunately, 70 percent of the island has been set aside as a national park.
Some of the plants look like turnips planted upside down. The branches of another, the crimson sap of which has earned it the name Dragon’s Blood Tree, are devoid of leaves, except at their tips, which makes it look as though the branches are the tree’s roots and the tree is growing upside down. The strange tree is used for its supposed medicinal value, to produce fabric dye, to make incense, and to stain wood. The island’s bottle tree, adapted to store water in a dry climate, has a thick trunk, and it’s few limbs, thick near the trunk, give rise to clusters of much thinner branches ending in thick clumps of green leaves.
Surrounded by turquoise water, the island features huge limestone caves, homes to bats, the only mammal native to Socotra. Messages in a variety of languages have been carved into the caves’ walls. Researchers attribute them to sailors who stayed on the island between AD 1 and 6. The residents of the mysterious island are also unique: They all have a DNA haplogroup possessed by no other people on Earth, and some contend that the Garden of Eden was originally located on Socotra. In 2008, the UNESCO named Socotra a World Heritage Site.
Socotra And India
Indians have been residing in the Socotra archipelago since ancient times and the name Socotra is itself derived from Dvipa Sukhadhara in India’s Sanskrit. Indians were residing in the islands at least since 1st century BCE and 6th century CE and were practicing agriculture.
The Belgian Socotra Karst Project (SKP) has revealed numerous Indian inscriptions particularly in the island´s most impressive caves: Hoq Cave at the north-east coast of Socotra in the Brahmi script of near western India and Kharoshti script of northwestern India comprising the area of present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan in the northwestern part of the Indian Subcontinent.