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Lakshadweep- Diving in Wonderland

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The first dive is a simple one but as you stand kitted out in full scuba diving gear at the edge of a pier that projected out over the turquoise blue lagoon of Lakshadweep island of Kadmat it can be a terrifying experience. Then at the count of three you step out and drop into an unknown underwater world. And panic! Everyone but the foolhardy does. However, with encouragement from your instructor you learn to control fears (one never really conquers it) and start to appreciate an aqua world rich in life and colour. That day you make your first entry in your dive logbooks (something every diver must maintain). The voyage of discovery had only just begun. Soon you would be flying like a bird across the face of underwater mountains and cliffs and thrilling to the sight of beautifully hued fish playing around in blooming coral flowerbeds. You will witness the waltz of the sting rays, swim with startling yellowfin fusiliers and float through enormous schools of tiny silver, blue and orange fish that shower the waters like florescent confetti. The waters are alive with vivid living colours and mysterious creatures that seemed to belong to another planet.

Yes, to scuba dive is to enter an alien world where the only way of surviving is with the aid of air tanks and breathing rigs. Right at the start of the diving course on this remote little island off the south west coast of India, instructors din it into students that scuba diving is not competitive but a buddy sport where one must stay with one’s partner and group at all times. And if played by the rules, the rewards are plentiful.

But first you have to earn your stripes. That means spending the first day in the island’s shallow lagoon perfecting techniques that will be needed in deeper waters. The following day you log your first dive. The elation when you surface is sparked not so much by what you have seen underwater but from the fact that you had confronted your fears and come to terms with them.

After one more lagoon dive, you graduated to ‘kindergarten’, a deep-sea site beyond the lagoon’s reef with beautiful white sandbars nestled between ridges landscaped in coral. Here you were put through the grind. The underwater classroom teaches you how to retrieve and clean your masks, the art of buddy breathing (sharing air with our partners) and other means of communicating and handling emergency situations underwater. These early sorties are tense ones, fraught with anxiety and a lot of expectancy. With each successive dive, your anxieties and fears diminish but the wonderment never ceased. If at all, it only grows.

The best part of these instruction dives is that at the end of each session the entire class sets off to explore the rich treasures within the ocean where giant clams smiled at you with blue-green lips, clown fish waltzed in the poisonous tentacles of a sea anemone and giant turtles sail by. Yes, there are endless wonders at diving sites with exotic names like Garden of Eden, Paradise on Earth, Sting Ray City, Lenny’s Den, Turtle’s Throne… At the end of the training programme you will have earned your international scuba diving cards that will allow you to dive anywhere in the world and explore the great underwater sites around the seven seas.

File Facts Lacadives, Lakshadweep (Web: is affiliated to CMAS of France and is recognized the world over. Scuba diving programmes run from October to May on the island of Kadmat (8 km long and 550 m wide). The dive package includes accommodation and all meals at Lakshadweep Tourism’s air-conditioned cottages in Kadmat. Laca Dives also operates the diving facilities in the Andamans.

There are direct flights from Kochi, Kerala, to Agatti island from where speed boats ferry you to Kadmat or Bangaram. One can also reach Lakshadweep by ship (an overnight voyage either in a private cabin or the common tourist lounge with airline style reclining seats) from Kochi.