Lakshadweep was among my dream destinations from a long time and I was fortunate enough to reach out this paradise on earth in the month of Jan, 2017. The whole experience of a trip to these beautiful group of islands is beyond description. Anyhow, as Bikat Adventures has given us an opportunity to share such wonderful experiences on board, I thought of sharing my first scuba diving experience here :) . The teardrop-shaped island – Bangaram in Lakshadweep archipelago is enclosed by a coral reef, surrounded by a shallow lagoon and is ranked among the best hideaways of the world. It is a renowned spot for scuba diving and is comparable to the Great Barrier Reef and the Maldives. The island is open for tourists - national as well as international. However we have to check in advance about various activities that takes place in these islands as some of these activities are limited to specific islands at specific times of the year. Anyone who visits this Bangaram island will try to have a taste of what it feels like to dive under the water with their breathing apparatus and the flippers on their legs. Now it's my turn!
By the way how will I miss it, when the place is such a renowned spot for such an adventure sport and when it is the best time to go scuba diving? Yeah, Bangaram has the first dive center of Lakshadweep and the best time to go scuba diving here is between the months of November and March when the waters will be clear. My friend Imran who had been to Kadamat earlier told us that even Kadamat is a famous diving center. Too excited, we started walking towards the Bangaram dive center where the trainers were eagerly waiting for new participants. The sun is scorching and the crystal white beach is as if it is reflecting almost all the rays back to us and making us sweat.
The scuba-diving centre at Bangaram Island, Lakshadweep
The people at diving centre gave me a warm welcome and after going through their brochure and the package, I decided to go for 12 metres dive. Though I wanted to go for 18 meters, as there were none else, they told requested me to go for 12 as they can't afford a boat for a single person. I accepted their request and decided to go for 12 rather than 18 :( The lead’s name is Mohamed and he gave us a form each and asked us to fill all the details and sign the declaration. The form consists of columns like our details, address and emergency contact details and the declaration states that we take the entire responsibility for everything we are doing. We filled the forms, signed the declarations and handed over them. Once done we settled down to listen to our instructor who is going to explain us about the gear and all.
Instructor Mohamed explaining us about the gear.
The dive centre is a part of Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) which is a global community offering various diving courses for dive enthusiasts. All these instructors at the dive centre are certified dive professionals and rescuers, so we are completely safe :) Our instructor started explaining about scuba-diving, the history of the dive center and where they had been trained, the courses that they offer, the gear and the signs which we have to use during our dive. They do offer different kinds of courses like the basic diving courses as well as advance courses and the duration of these courses vary accordingly. Many of India’s certified divers began their underwater explorations in these shallow, clear waters. When once we are confident enough, he asked us whether we are ready and we nodded! We were so excited and ready to hit the waters with the scuba-diving gear on us!
I with my gear on...
The best part of scuba-diving is that you will always have a buddy with you. The buddy will train you at the beginning by showing us the various signs which we should use, regulating the air pressure, helping you out if you face any breathing problems etc and you can enjoy the under-water life without being bothered about anything as your buddy will take care of everything. My buddy is a pretty friendly one and when entered the shallow lagoon as a test drive before going for the real dive, gave some instructions about having three regulators strapped on to me, in case one malfunctions.
That's me and my buddy
As soon as I entered the lagoon for my test drive, I have seen some colorful fishes and a clear sea bed. After playing for quite sometime and getting enough of breathing exercises, I hit the top of the water again, just to have a quick fresh breath. Immediately an instruction hit my ears, don’t remove your breathing apparatus, it has got ample amount of fresh compressed air and I don’t need any of that to remain in your cylinder by the time you come back! As an obedient student, I obliged his instruction and told my buddy that I am ready and let’s go We started skimming the turquoise waters and the dive site is about half a kilometer away. “I’m going to be with you the whole time”, he says, “so don’t freak out, okay?” I told him not to worry with a thumbs up!
My friend and I enjoying the dive..
We started swimming towards the diving spot and reached there within minutes. All the talk in the world doesn’t prepare you for the sensation of diving in the sea. As soon as my jacket is deflated, the weight strapped to my waist band take over and I begin to descend. The water became colder and I started to shiver! For a few moments what all I can see before me is an empty expanse almost threatening to swallow me whole. I sink some more, and am suddenly, keenly aware, of how labored my breathing sounds in my ears.
I feel pressure building and clogging up my ears. I started to acclimatize and my breathing is fine and I started enjoying the dive. I have seen shoals of fishes sniffing around crimson corals, a big black fish whose name is not known to me, some clown fishes scanning the waters with fierce concentration to find the pieces of fish feed that is being left by my buddy into the water. The dive is liberating and meditative even! The best part is that beneath the waves, the water around these islands offer something for everyone. And especially most of the islands in Lakshadweep have their own home reef and waters filled with rich marine life!
At the lagoons edge of the Bangaram Island, the barrier reef surrounding the island tapers off into deeper waters. Coral abound on these seaward slopes and coral of all shapes and sizes grow side by side, creating caverns and alleyways that host some of the most beautifully bizarre creatures on the planet. Though I enjoyed the sight of so many fishes and corals, I totally freaked out when my buddy asked me to touch some of the corals and feel them . I simply rejected the idea and continued enjoying my dive chasing some fishes and finding out Imran and aunty, so that we can pose together for some photographs.
Diving in Lakshadweep is thrilling, to say the least!