SCUBA DIVING – TESTING THE (UNDER) WATERS IN PONDY
Just when I was contemplating that where should I spend my new years? I checked into various fare search engines but all ended up showing exorbitantly high fares. And after, giving deliberated thought I decided to end year 2017 in this tranquil French town of India, fondly known as “Pondy”. Although, I feel this place has always attracted me for its stunning beaches , laid back life,french influenced architecture and vibrant food scene. But never did I know that this time it will bring me back with a different purpose.
In my last Pondy trips, I did all my check list travel while having to visit the famous beaches, visiting Auroville and adding up tons of happy calories by gorging on amazing bakes and steaks !! Apart from all this, little did I know that this quaint little town is also a center for one of the finest Diving Centre in the East Coast of India. Scuba Diving being one of the most sorted adventure activities in the world has marked it presence in this place for more than a decade now. So, here are the reasons why I chose to experience my first diving experience with Temple Adventures.
WHY TO CHOOSE THEM
Temple Adventures is the only 5* PADI diving center in the Eastern part of mainland India’s 7500 km long coastline. Also, very recently Temple Adventures has decided to expand their operations to Chennai by setting up Dive Chennai , which is located 8 kms north of Mahabalipuram. Puducherry offers some interesting dive sites like Temple Reef, Danny’s Eel Garden, Fishermen’s Reef, four corners where you can stay shallow till 18 meters, and then for the deep divers, you may visit sites like Table top, Fan Garden, which are part of the Wall along with a few more inland fresh water lakes as well.
WHAT CAN THEY OFFER
It not only offers excellent diving experience for the beginners but also have the capability of offering all other advance diving courses and various dive opportunities for professional divers who are willing to explore the various reefs off Puducherry. It offers courses and certification which are PADI certified (Professional Association of Diving Instructors)and are globally recognized. This means that if you are opting to go for a Open water or an Advance Open Water course with them, you will get a PADI certificate which you may use to explore any underwater location in the world. Do check out the wide array of courses that they offer. By the way, I was quite impressed to find out that it is the only dive center in India to offer any kind of Technical Diving courses . It helped also that they train instructors twice a year as well.
CAPABILITY AS A TEAM
The staff is very friendly, fun to interact with and knowledgeable in what they do. Every one of the dive instructors ensures to take care of every diver and take care of any fear/apprehension about going underwater. Also, they always ensure that the standard of safety is maintained to the highest level and for that they always use the dive equipment from Scubapro , which is widely recognized as the best dive gear in the world. Oh wait, did I mention that they have a dive retail shop to cater to all of your equipment requirements!!
“FINDING BLENNY” – SPOTTING THE MARINE LIFE
With site ranging from 12 m to 50 m depth and having an underwater visibility upto 30m at mostly pleasant oceanic temperature of 28C, Pondy offers more than 20 various underwater dive sites to witness a wide variety of marine life like Grouper, Puffer fish,jack fish schools, sea snakes, spotted rays, great fan corals. Infact, there has been spotting of Manta Rays and whale shark in one of the dive site . So , who knows you could be lucky too!!
VISIBILITY & FEASIBILITY
Pondy generally has a favorable weather conditions to dive throughout the year. However, for best visibility, feb-april and sept-nov is generally recommended.For me, I dived with them on 31st dec and the visibility was pretty good.
CHEAP & AFFORDABLE
Infact, Pondy is far more reasonable in terms of accommodation, food and travel than it is for any other dive destinations in India. If we actually compare the stay and the transport prices of Pondy with other exotic popular dive destinations of India like Andaman, Lakshadweep or Goa. I think this place is much more economical and easier to approach.
So, there is absolutely no reason for not choosing Pondy as your next Scuba Diving destinations. It is not exactly a dive resort destination in India. But in order to get skilled and acquainted with the fantastic marine life or to adapt diving as your favourite adventure sport, this five star PADI diving company will be the best choice to go for.
A little about Puducherry:
Puducherry aka Pondy is the south east coast town about at a distance of about 170 kms from Chennai. Having a strong influence of Dutch, portugese, English and largely French colonization, this place is a melting pot of European influence. Widely spoken language are French, Tamil and English.
To Reach :
Puducherry can be reached by trains (from all major stations of India), By air (thankfully Pondy airport has started its operations recently by operating flights from Hyderabad and Bengaluru presently).Or else the nearest big airport is Chennai which is at 170 kms from Puducherry.
By Road- Pondicherry is best connected with all major highways. Infact, it is my personal recommendation to hit the ECR route while travelling from Chennai. Travelling from Chennai to Pondy: Time taken: Bus 3:45 hrs. Cab: 2:45 hrs. One can find a scenic combo of road and the sea side by side. You can try bla bla cars, shared cabs or private hired cabs depending on your budget. There are several state run as well as private buses which can be pre-booked online.
To stay :
There are plenty of budget, standard and luxurious hotels to choose from. One can either book from various booking sites like booking.com, agoda or airbnb. Or if feeling adventurous can roam around the streets and look for the numerous guest houses which are around the city. Temple Adventures has their accommodation options as well, which you can find details of if you email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To Eat :
Aah, like I said I almost added up tons of calories gorging on amazing bakes and steaks from many of the restaurants. There are plenty of posh french themed restaurants like Villa Shanti, Cafe Des Arts , Satsanga, Cafe Xtasi , Les Chefs etc to choose from. And for the amazing bakes and snacking, i would recommend Baker Street, Zuka , Le Cafe, Bread and Chocolate, Tantos (for amazing Pizzas), Auro Bakery. I will give more details on food scene in my next blog .
For the beach bums, some of the popular beaches are Auro Beach, Promenade, Serenity , Paradise beach. Apart from the beaches, St. Basicilica Church. Dumas Church, White Town (French Quarter), Ganesh temple, Botanical Garden, Matri Mandir and Auroville-International township based on the Ideals and vision of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo are some of the must see places while in Pondy.
I hope now I could answer many of the queries about why I went ahead and chose Puducherry for my first Scuba Diving adventure.
So have you dived before? I would like to hear your experience and comments on this.
Disclaimer : This is not a paid post. The reviews and the opinions are purely based on individual experience. The photographs are copyrighted by the contributor of the post and some of them have been sourced from Temple Adventures .
Madness rules me , life loves me and wanderlust travel junkie defines me. I am a vagabond traveler from Kolkata , hence my travel journals can be found at thevagabong.com. I am a travel enthusiast who believes in creating memories than living in dreams.