The Temple Adventures dive centre buzzed with divers of all levels. Wetsuits hung from a steel rod on the porch, where some people busied themselves cleaning the equipment. The atmosphere is always been a decidedly international. One French instructor called out in Hindi, an Australian was giving directions in Tamil, while Stephen, who was also French, spoke English with a pronounced south Indian accent. Everybody at the dive centre are always from a different part of the world.
This is the beauty of Pondicherry scuba diving.
The dive centre is obviously popular with advanced divers. But beginners can pick the “Discover Scuba Diving” programme that allows even non-swimmers a glimpse of the world under water.
The waters around India’s east coast remain largely unexplored. Every now and then, a new dive site is discovered. In the centre’s five years, Temple Adventures has found 21 new spots. As per tradition, dive sites are named after their discoverers. But occasionally, there is a lucky traveller on board after whom the site may be named.
The spot where the diving of scuba takes place ,diving was one such exception. It was named “Sylviane’s” after a cheerful 58-year-old lady from Toulouse, France.
Pondicherry has been a very excellent and the thrilling experience for scuba diving.
How to reach?-
1) By Air- Spicejet operates several flights from Bengaluru to Pondicherry (1 hour) during the week. The airport is 6 km/30 mins from Beach Road (autorickshaws charge Rs.200).
2) By Train- There are many trains between Chennai and Pondicherry, but they take much longer than the road journey. The Puducherry Express runs overnight between Bengaluru and Pondicherry every Friday. The station is 2 km/10 mins from Beach Road.
3) By Road- Pondicherry is 160 km/3 hours south of Chennai. The drive down the East Coast Road is rather scenic. Frequent buses leave from the bus station in Koyambedu (tickets Rs.190). Shared taxis are available at Chennai airport, and charge Rs.3,500 for four passengers for the one-way trip.
From Bengaluru, Pondicherry is a 310 km/6 hour-drive down NH66 (taxis charge Rs.7,000 each way). The 7-8 hour overnight bus journey from Bengaluru to Pondicherry is perhaps the cheapest and most efficient route. There are both government-run and privately operated buses, most starting from Madiwala or Shantinagar bus stand.
Best time to visit-
Pondicherry’s pleasant winters (Nov-Feb), when day temperatures are a maximum of 30°C, are the high season for tourists. Summer (Mar-Jul) is hot and humid, with highs of 40°C. The monsoon (Jul-Aug), lowers temperatures and brings relief. Light showers continue through Sept and Oct. Though you can dive all year round, the best visibility underwater is from Nov to March.
BY AIR- Bengaluru to Pondicherry airport. BY TRAIN- Chennai to Pondicherry railway station. BY ROAD- pondicherry is 160 km/3 hours south of chennai.