Go scuba diving like PM Modi, explore the marine life of India

09 March,2024 05:54 PM IST |  Mumbai  |  Aakanksha Ahire

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent dive into the Arabian Sea in Dwarka has ignited curiosity in many to know more about the submerged city of Dwarka and a newfound interest in exploring destinations popular for their marine life. Mid-day Online spoke to experts who shared interesting insights on the same

A still capturing PM Modi’s joyful mood after his dive in the sea. Sourced photo

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi, besides being in the headlines for other things, has been making news for his liking towards Indian tourism. From his visit to the Lakshadweep to the inauguration of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya which highlighted the rise in spiritual tourism in India, PM Modi has given an impetus to Indian tourism in the past year. Now, his recent dip into the Arabian Sea in Dwarka has stirred up curiosity about ocean life in India.

The prime minister went scuba diving in the submerged city to offer his prayers to Lord Krisha - a Hindu deity. He said, "This experience is going to be etched on my heart forever. I have always wanted to do this."

The story behind the submerged city of Dwarka
"Dwarka is renowned as the legendary city of Lord Krishna in Hindu mythology. As a part of sea heritage of India, Dwarka is a massive attraction representing scuba diving as a unique form of darshan and exploration of the submerged historical city," says Rajeev Kale, president and country head, holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Limited.

"The Gomti Ghat, where the Gomti River meets the Arabian Sea is especially worth exploring. Bathing here is believed to bring spiritual purity, making it a sacred ritual for worshippers seeking inner peace and connection with the divine," adds Daniel D'Souza, president and country head, holidays, SOTC Travel.

As per the legends, the ancient city of Dwarka was created by Lord Krishna. The city stood right where the Gomti River and Arabian Sea converge. It is believed that the sea engulfed the city after the demise of Lord Krishna.

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The city has been a place of attraction since its formation when visitors would come from far-off places to seek the blessings of Lord Krishna. This trend continues even long after the deity's demise keeping Dwarka, or as India's beloved ‘Kanha' named it, Dwarkavati, relevant in India and its culture.

Destinations in India popular for underwater life
While Dwarka has always been a place of tourist attraction for many reasons, it is not the only one popular in India for its underwater charm. Experts dive deep into top spots in India popular for their ocean life and water sports.

Kale and D'Souza list down the top destinations in India popular for their ocean life.

1. Andaman Islands: Known for its pristine coral reefs, the Andaman Islands offer divers the chance to explore vibrant underwater ecosystems with diverse marine life. The islands are also home to historic shipwrecks, adding an element of intrigue to diving expeditions. The Andaman Islands offer an unparalleled playground for water sports. From surfing and snorkelling to sea kayaking, tourists can embark on exciting adventures while soaking in the stunning island landscapes.

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India's coral reefs, notably those found in the Gulf of Mannar and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, play a vital role as ecosystems that sustain diverse marine creatures. Serving as homes and safe havens for various species, these reefs are also known for exhibiting bioluminescence, casting a mesmerising glow beneath the waves after dark.

2. Lakshadweep: With its crystal-clear waters and abundant marine biodiversity, Lakshadweep is a haven for underwater enthusiasts. Divers can marvel at colourful fish, encounter graceful turtles, and occasionally spot majestic sharks amidst the island's stunning underwater landscapes.

3. Goa: Renowned for its vibrant dive sites catering to beginners and advanced divers, Goa is a popular destination for underwater exploration. Divers can discover submerged shipwrecks, vibrant coral reefs, and an array of marine species, making each dive a memorable experience. Anjuna Beach is a hotspot for water sports enthusiasts. Tourists can partake in thrilling activities such as dolphin watching, kayaking, and paddleboarding amidst the scenic beauty of the Goan coastline.

4. Pondicherry: Offering unique dive experiences amidst natural rock formations and artificial reefs, Pondicherry's underwater world is a treasure trove of marine diversity. Divers can encounter many marine species while exploring the intricate underwater topography.

5. Netrani Island, Karnataka: Nestled in the Arabian Sea, Netrani Island is famed for its thriving underwater environment. Divers have the opportunity to encounter large pelagic fish, such as barracudas and sharks, making each dive an exhilarating adventure.
These destinations stand out for their exceptional underwater landscapes, diverse marine ecosystems, and the unforgettable experiences they offer to diving enthusiasts.

6. Kerala: Known for its tranquil backwaters, Kerala offers a serene escape for water lovers. Tourists can enjoy leisurely houseboat cruises or more adventurous activities like kayaking, immersing themselves in the tranquil beauty of Kerala's waterways.

Destinations in Maharashtra popular for their ocean life
Sindhudurg stands out for its historical significance, housing the submerged Sindhudurg Fort and diverse marine life. Nestled along the coast, Vijaydurg, a part of Sindhudurg, is a historical treasure and a haven for water sports enthusiasts. Visitors can explore vibrant coral reefs while immersing themselves in the remnants of its rich history. At Vijaydurg, besides delving into historical remnants, tourists have the opportunity to explore vibrant coral reefs.

Malvan, another down in Sindhudurg is another popular spot celebrated for its pristine beaches and vibrant underwater world, offering enthusiasts ample opportunities for snorkelling and diving adventures.

Tarkarli, known for its picturesque beaches and thrilling water sports, also provides a glimpse into Maharashtra's marine biodiversity.

As for hidden gems, Maharashtra holds treasures yet to be fully discovered. Exploring lesser-known coastal areas promises unique encounters with ocean life and unforgettable experiences off the beaten path.

Each of these destinations promises a unique and thrilling water sports experience too, catering to a diverse range of interests and preferences.

The ideal time to visit these destinations varies by location. Generally, November to May offers favourable conditions for adventure experiences like diving and snorkelling in places like the Andamans, Lakshadweep, Goa, and Maharashtra.

The cost of such vacations vary based on factors like duration and luxury level. Budget trips might start from ₹15,000-₹20,000, while luxury experiences could exceed Rs 50,000.

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Safety factors tourists must ensure
When engaging in water activities, it's essential to prioritise safety measures to ensure a memorable and secure experience: D'Souza shares a few key safety tips to ensure a fun-filled vacation.

1. Select certified operators: Opt for certified operators who adhere to safety standards, ensuring a trustworthy and reliable experience.

2. Receive proper training: Before embarking on any water-based adventure, ensure you and your companions receive adequate training and guidance from qualified instructors.

3. Wear life jackets: Always wear appropriate safety gear, such as life jackets, to provide buoyancy and protection in case of emergencies.

4. Stay informed: Stay updated about current conditions and weather forecasts to make informed decisions about your activities, avoiding potential hazards and risks.

5. Share plans: Before heading out, inform someone trustworthy about your plans, including your intended route and expected return time, ensuring assistance can be provided if needed.

Rise in the popularity of aqua tourism
According to both, Kale and D'souza, water sports and marine destinations have garnered considerable popularity among Indian tourists in recent years.

Kale lists down key factors behind the rise in popularity of aqua tourism.

1. Growing awareness and affordability:
There has been a notable increase in awareness about water sports and marine destinations among Indian travellers. Additionally, the growing affordability of such activities has made them more accessible to a broader demographic.

2. Significant growth in domestic tourism:
Domestic tourism to water sports and marine destinations has witnessed high interest in recent years. Indian tourists increasingly opt for domestic travel experiences, with coastal regions and islands becoming preferred destinations.

3. Demographics:
Water sports and marine destinations attract a diverse range of tourists, including families, adventure enthusiasts, and nature lovers. The appeal of these destinations transcends age and socioeconomic backgrounds, making them popular among millennials and older generations.

The rising popularity of water sports and marine destinations among Indian tourists shows the country's evolving travel preferences and the increasing demand for immersive and adventurous experiences closer to home.

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