Clicky

badge

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Scuba Diving in Netrani Island, Murdeshwar-Guest post by BP Bhat

anand-bmc-underwaterI was born in Karnataka, Murudeshwar is reasonably close to my native place, Udupi. I’m reasonably active on the net and keep looking for interesting tourism destinations,but all through my life, I’d no clue that we’ve a Scuba Diving Facility in Karnataka. I learnt about this very recently, some 30,000 feet above mean sea level, while flying to New Delhi, courtesy, Spicejet’s inflight Magazine, Spiceroute. Nilanjana Basak had written an interesting article detailing Scuba Diving at Netrani island, Murudeshwar, located in Coastal Karnataka

I was thinking I should explore more on this once I’m back, but forgot about it as I got busy with Work. This morning, when Bhagendra P Bhat emailed his experience of scuba diving at Netrani, I was surprised and delighted. I immediately sought his permission to publish his experience as a blog post and he gladly permitted. I thank him for the same and sharing his experience of Scuba Diving at Netrani. –Shrinidhi
THE STORY OF SCUBA DIVING- by B P Bhat

Two theories associated with facial hair, that I want to tell you.

One is that of beard. Most men shave their beard. At times, they take some thing as a challenge and say that they will not shave their beard till they fulfill their goal. Say for example, "I will not shave my beard till I..... pass this-or-that exam, OR construct a house, OR buy a car", etc etc.

The other one is that of Moustache (Mush). Majority of South Indians keep and trim their mush. (Generally speaking, a man will look nice without mush, if the width of his upper lip is more. But that is left to individual taste) And removing mush is seen as a sign of defeat of something for them. Say for example, "I will remove my mush if...... I cannot win over this girl, OR I can't pass this test, OR India looses this match against Pak", etc etc.

Now, coming to the point, I received a mail from Bangalore Mountaineering Club (http://bmcindia.org/) that there will be a scuba diving programme on 27-28th March 2010, at Netrani Island, Murdeshwar. I was surprised and thrilled, and without even blinking my eyes, I gave my consent.

First about thrilling.
1. The programme was from Bangalore to Bangalore. You see, Scuba Diving is a two-day programme for first timers. And if we try that when we are on a visit to any tourist place, then we will be spending (wasting) 2 days for scuba. Instead, it is better to do it from Bengaluru.
2. The price tag was really tempting to under take it. It was Rs 6500 all inclusive (minus food). To my knowledge, it is definitely worth going in for, at this rate.
3. It was being conducted at Murdeshwar, barely 25 kms away from my home town (Apsarakonda, Kasarkod).

Now about surprise,... I never knew that Karnataka has any scuba diving spots. No, that is not my ignorance, but it shows how efficiently our State Tourism Dept (KSTDC) works. I tried to find out this info from Internet, but could not even locate and open KSTDC's official web site. So much for the IT city tag of Karnataka. You travel in NH17, from Mangalore to Karwar,(via Kundapura and Maravante) and try to find any board that says that we have Scuba diving facility. I bet, ... (and as I said above,.. I am going to remove my mush), if you find one.

The programme was arranged by BMC from B'lore. And at Murdeshwar, the Scuba Diving was conducted by www.divegoa.com, a company formed by Mr Ajey Patil. He and Mr Aravind were our trainers. The snorkelling part was done by BMC itself.

So the D-Day arrived and we (around 35 people) went to Murdeshwar. On 27th morning, we had a training session at a swimming pool. We were asked to get into the pool and wear the Scuba apparatus, i.e, face mask, swim fins, weight belt, safety jacket, oxygen cylinder etc.
netrani-island-murdeshwar neeraj-bmc-underwater
As I was very enthusiastic, I offered my self to go in the first group. When I put on the face mask and went under the water, I was not at all comfortable. A little bit of water was entering the face mask near my nose. It seems all other people were fine with their apparatus. We were supposed to breathe through our mouth instead of our nose, and I was quite frightened. Then, Ajey said that the water is entering thru the gaps formed because of my mush. I asked him, whether removing the mush can help in any way. He nodded in the affirmative.

Then I decided to shave my mush. I went to the bath room, and shaved my mush. (Oh,.. this mush was with me for more than 25 years. And I am shaving it not because I failed to do scuba, but to do scuba!!)

I came back to the pool and tried all over again. But I was not 100% confident. And now I felt very sorry, because I have shaved my mush. After everyone finished their training, the day was called off. Basically the training involved things like how to breathe in underwater, how to adjust the ear drum pressure, what to do if the mouth piece goes off etc.
bp-bhat-underwater-scuba-diving scuba-divers-gettingready
We had our lunch and were on beach till evening. We spent our time in kayaking, water-scooter ride, banana boat ride etc. It was really fun.

On 28th morning, we went to Netrani Islands in a hired boat. It took us around 2 hours. Ajey was telling me how difficult the life became after the Mumbay 26/11 incident. Instead of supporting the tourism, the Govt of Karnataka and India, thru all it's departments like police, hospital, port, coastal guard, naval base etc were preventing people to go to Netrani. The govt has housed Kasabs in 5star jail and were treating the divers as if they are enemies of Mother India. Due to Divers continued struggle and effort, going up to the Karnataka Tourism Minister, now they are able to take people to Netrani for scuba diving. And this is done by Goan people, and not by KSTDC or Karnataka people. So much for our tourism development.
Netrani is a no-mans island. People are not allowed to enter the island. In fact it is difficult to get in as it does not have any shore. It is rocks and rocks on all the sides.

Once we were anchored near the island, we were asked to get ready for scuba. There was Ajey Patil and Aravind, two instructors. And holding one person in one hand, they were taking four participants at a time. I decided to wait and watch. So I went for snorkeling. Anand and three others went in the first round, after doing all the formalities. They went deep inside the sea water and were moving around. I was following them from the top. I was snorkeling, and I just raised my head only once out of water, in the 40 minutes or so. And this gave me enough confidence to take up the scuba.

During the second batch of scuba, I took rest in the boat. And I went for scuba in the third round. We were wearing all the apparatus. Initially we were hanging on to the anchored rope. And slowly the life jacket was deflated and we began to sink. We went inside the sea water. Even though I was tensed, I was hell-bent on doing it. The problem we faced was of water pressure on the ear drum. We closed our nose thru fingers and blew air, so that the pressure on both side becomes equal. Of course, we were repeating this quite often.
bottom-of-the-sea-sea-cucumber scuba-diving-training-session-in-pool
It is an altogether world inside. Of course, we have all seen it in Discovery/Animal planet channels. But now we were experiencing what we saw in our TVs. We were around 12 mts underneath the sea level. Saw everything that Ajey showed, and much more. In fact, it has to be experienced than told. I was always little bit tensed, and we heard an alarm from Ajey's watch.

We were inside for around 20 minutes or so. And we started our upward journey. The life jackets were inflated and we came up. I asked Ajey, for how long we were inside. He coolly said "40 minutes". I could not believe his words. I re-confirmed the timing with other people. Oh God, 40 minutes looked like 20 minutes for me. The time just flied..sorry...sinked.(sunk)
Now I am confused. Should I say, I will shave my mush if I can not do the Scuba OR err... err.... Oh!, it was easy to do scuba than decide on what to say.

Now, coming to the end. Mr Ajey and Aravind of DiveGoa did a professional job. They were well equipped and well organised. And special thanks to BMC also. Even BMC was equipped with all the snorkelling equipments. And BMC also did a professional job.

So, now it is your turn now. If you know swimming, and if Rs 6500 is in your reach, then keep in touch with BMC to venture in to scuba. It is a must, at least once in a life time. And doing it from your place (B'lore) is a big advantage. In case if you can not do the scuba, then don't worry. At least try out snorkelling wherever you get an opportunity. It is quite safe even for non-swimmers and is very cheap (Say Rs 100 to 200 for 15 to 30 minutes).

As I did not had a water proof camera, I was unable to take much photos. So I have copied the photos taken by my friends mainly, Basavaraj, Tejna, Ajey, Anindita etc.
Author Profile:
Kailash-MNS-bp-bhat BP Bhat is 46 years young and an adventurer by heart. He has toured Kerala, Tamilnadu, part of Andhra, Chhattisgarh, Amarnath, Adi Kailash, Om Parvat, Vaishnodevi and more. BP Bhat was a software engineer with BHEL who later ventured out to become successful entrepreneur. Currently in semi-retirement state, BP Bhat spends time in explorations and other hobbies that excite him.
I sincerely thank him for his permission for this post.

Nov 2011 update: Read more about Murudeshwar and view pics in this post * Nearby: Ottinene Sunset Viewpoint * Amet Cruises from Kochi *

Feb 2014: Skydiving in Mysore * Microlight flying * 10 Adventure activities to try in Karnataka 

12 comments :

Mridula said...

I should keep this in mind for my next South visit!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes, you should. Buy an underwater camera as well

magiceye said...

thank you so much for sharing this!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

My pleasure Magic eye

Pooja said...

May I have your email id , need to contact regarding business. can you share BP Bhat contact details too.

Pooja Singh
Youth Magazine

Sorcerer said...

Wow!!thanks for the wonderful and informative writeup

pixelshots said...

its great info and pics that you shared. Hoping same or better posts in the future too

kerala photos

shashidhar said...

That is very good sharing! I was also not knowing that our Coastal Karnataka has Scuba diving facility. Non publicising of this thrilling sport by our Agencies, reason may be because it is conducted by Goan people. After reading this, I am looking forward for this thrilling experience one day or other.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Pooja,

I've got your mail.

Will reply.


Sorcerer, pixelshots, thanks

Hebbar sir, sure. I'd love to host your experience as a guest post once you return.

Kartik Iyengar said...

Hey Bhatt! This is pretty cool :-) Not sure if you do, but we were on the trip together. Join me @ http://facebook.com/hopfans on my book. Cheers and meet you underwater again - Kartik

diving holidays said...

Great blog...I am following you with interest.
http://www.diveandgo.com/

Jug @ Wah said...

Definitely Andaman is the only best places for scuba diving in India. Either you are a diver or you want to learn it, Andaman is the best place make it happen. There are too many institutions which let you learn Scuba diving and give you certification. Here is what I wrote about Scuba Diving (http://www.weareholidaysblog.com/where-to-scuba-dive-in-india/ ) few days back.