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Do you believe in magic : SCUBA diving at Malvan

Getting there:
In December 2016, we welcomed an unexpected notification for a two-day SCUBA event closer to home. Fast forward three months of anticipation, Christmas and new year and the night of 10th February 2017 arrived. We, 12 participants were about to embark upon a laborious journey towards our neighbouring state for two days of fun. Malvan is the southernmost town in Sindhudurg District in Maharashtra and is well known for Sindhudurg Fort. Our journey began with a 12 hour train ride to Balgaum starting from Bangalore City Station, followed by a 5 hour bus ride to Sawantwadi through Ghat sections. We stopped briefly for comfort breaks where we relished Vada pavs and tea. Upon reaching Sawantwadi, we settled into another bus that would take us towards Kudal in half an hour. When we reached Kudal, it was way past our estimated time of arrival and upon our unwillingness to embark another bus journey, we decided to make our last leg of journey a bit more exciting. The 12 of us then herded into a good’s carrier vehicle, making quite a spectacle, as we took the last hour ride towards Malvan.

The day before:
We reached our guesthouse late in the afternoon and after sorting our rooms, we quickly freshened up and set out in search of any restaurant that would serve us lunch at 5 pm. Obviously, the only available food was pav. Being ravenous enough, we ate to our heart’s fill and rushed to catch the last ferry towards Sindhudurg fort. The fort is a massive stand-alone stone structure situated in the Arabian Sea. It offered picturesque views of the sun set along the waves of the sea. After spending time in the fort we took the last ferry back to the shore. We spent the rest of the evening playing Frisbee on the beach. Before we knew it, our stomachs reminded us that it was dinner time and we headed out in search of a good restaurant. The local cuisine was delicious, especially the seafood. After dinner we sauntered along the beach enjoying the breeze, the moonlight and creepy stories. We finally returned to our guesthouse around 11pm and settled in for a good night’s sleep.

SCUBA day:
We decided to have an early start for SCUBA. Around 8 am, after a light meal, we headed out to board our ferry which would take us toward the swath of SCUBA. On our boat the instructor briefed us about the process, the gesticulation, safety measures etc. The dive depth was around 25 - 30 feet and suitable for beginners. We were even given a brief training of how to breathe under water. Every individual was assigned a diver and each of us was given 20 minutes under water. As nobody in the group had dove before, we were filled with anticipation. But seeing others successfully completing, we were getting more relieved.

Being underwater is truly magical. It is mesmerising to realise one has been transported to a whole new dimension. Personally, I was overwhelmed with the colours of the fish and reefs and the tranquillity under water. Being surrounded by so much beauty, the mind achieves a state of zen. Although the water is not extremely clea, it does not entirely impair visibility or reduce the feeling of awe. It is natural to feel pressure in your ears and your mouth growing dry. But it is imperative to stay calm and enjoy the moment. We were thrilled as all 12 of us took turns and successfully completed the SCUBA. We were also greeted by a smaller boat vending vada pav and tea in the middle of the sea and enjoyed our snack as we lazed on the boat.

By the time we returned to shore, we still had enough time to parasail, which most of us intended to try. There were various other water sports but the majority preferred parasailing. After finishing, we returned to our guesthouse to freshen up and pack up for our long journey back. We boarded the tempo traveller that would take us back to Belgaum from where we would take a train. We stopped briefly for lunch and continued our journey making it right in time for our train to Bangalore.  The day ended with hilarious conversations, dinner and sharing our SCUBA experiences. We returned to Bangalore on Monday morning at 7.30 am, already devastated by the throes of the coming week although our spirits were relishing the excitement of the past weekend.

SCUBA tips for newbies:
Getting into water may cause trepidation for those who cannot swim. However, it does not mean that one cannot experience the underwater world at Malvan. The deal is to completely trust the diver and not attempt to swim.  Under water, it helps to concentrate on breathing and ignoring the pressure. The body slowly gets acclimatized to the water pressure and you will enjoy the experience more. The reefs and corals are not smooth to touch and there is a small chance you may bruise your legs. It is better to dress comfortably, if not in wetsuits, which the company offers.
Lastly, it is prudent to be ecologically conscious and enjoy the beauty of nature without contaminating it. Avoid littering and also refrain from using grooming products that largely contain plastic microbeads, before entering the water. These seeping microbeads absorb toxins in millions and are consumed by fish, which is not only detrimental to them but also finds its way onto our dinner plates. The oceans are beautiful and need to be preserved in their pristine state. If we want to continue to enjoy the treasures of the seas, we must repair the damages we as human have caused!

Written By       : Aasiya Aslam

Organized By   : Kamal Tanwani,Jigeesha Gottipati & Raksha Kondagal
Date of event  : 11-12 Feb 2017
Place              : Malvan
Pictures          : BTC FB Page

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