But we didn’t just want to do the regular Auroville and beach itinerary. We instead decided to explore India’s scuba diving spectrum after discovering that the coral restoration work done by Temple adventures is open as a dive site!
We left from Bangalore early in the morning to make it for our pool training session which was scheduled at 2:00 PM. The five-hour drive from Bangalore to Pondicherry quickly became 6 hours after we stopped for a hearty breakfast at Saravana Bhavan just after Hosur.
The drive, however, was amazing. There is a certain calmness that overcomes you while witnessing the slow pace of village life as you rush past the quaint countryside while being accompanied by great music and company.
We reached Pondicherry on time (thankfully!) and we were instantly charmed by the rustic and brightly coloured French architecture that welcomed us. We passed countless bakeries and adorable little cafes that one comes to expect from any popular hippie destination in India.
We made mental notes of which places to try out and quickly headed to our resort. We finally checked into our place which was exactly the type of place you would come to expect if you did book a last-minute trip to a destination as popular as Pondicherry. I leave it to your imagination to figure out the details of our accommodation.
We quickly changed into our swimsuits and headed for our pool training session for our dive. The scuba diving training session teaches you basic skills that you would need underwater to breathe and manage the water pressure as you dive deeper. Since obviously humans can not breathe underwater, these skills were extremely critical and we picked them up diligently.
We actually did really well, demonstrated the skills of using your diving regulator and passed our session. Although the pool training session was in a tank of only about five feet depth, the feeling of being able to breathe comfortably underwater for almost an hour was quite breathtaking (yes, pun intended).
We could only imagine how amazing the experience would be with tons of aquatic life all around.
Skipping lunch to attend the pool session on time left us famished. Thankfully one of our local friends joined us and suggested a pizza place that was a must-try called Extacy. The pizzas were great although not the best and we did wonder if living in a big city leaves you spoilt due to the abundance of great pizzas in Bangalore.
At dinner, we were finally reminded that it was independence day as the locals were blasting patriotic songs and parading through the streets. The irony of enjoying Italian food while listening to ‘Sare Jahan Se Acha’ was not lost on us.
After dinner, we went back to the resort and finally chilled out. A few of us were tired due to the drive and pool session and called it a fairly early night. The more adventurous of the lot went to Serenity Beach which was a five-minute walk from our place.
It was an extraordinary full moon night and everyone revelled in the calmness of the waves crashing against the shore. After a few conversations about intellectual things we slowly ran out of energy and it wasn't long before everyone passed out, excited for the dive that awaited us the next day.
We got up early, pumped with adrenaline and headed off to our dive centre. From there we were taken to the dive site where the dive organizers at Temple Adventures constructed an artificial reef with palm leaves which attracts a lot of marine life. We put on our equipment and got ready to dive into the blue abyss that was staring back at us.
As soon as we jumped into the Bay of Bengal, we were greeted with exceptional aquatic life. Although there were some limitations in the visibility underwater, there was an explosion of colourful fish swimming alongside us which looked like something straight out of a national geographic documentary.
Schools of fish of all colours, shapes and sizes were swimming all around the divers. While the rest were trying to figure out how to adjust to the water pressure, my attention was quickly captured by a gorgeous solitary jellyfish swimming at a distance. It looked like an alien creature with several tiny starfish stuck on top of it.
It was definitely the highlight of my dive experience.
We almost didn't want to come out of the water when we were done. It seemed like we were beings from the same planet but were in completely different worlds. The magical experience of swimming with these fish is surreal and would it recommend to everyone at least once in their lifetime.
After the dive was done, we had a sumptuous lunch at 1 Rue Suffren did some shopping at the nearby handicrafts emporium and walked along the famous Promenade Beach where the celebrations for the Pondicherry independence day (August 16th) were taking place. After a long and arduous day, we then retreated back to our resort where we set up the board game Catan and were up playing till the wee hours of the morning.
On the final day in Pondicherry, we made a quick pit-stop at the Matrimandir (the golden globe of Auroville) before continuing our journey back to Bangalore while reminiscing the spectacular beauty of Pondicherry’s diving scene.
Here are some shots from our trip: