Diving in Trincomalee

The anxiety had crept in

I hadn’t done this for more than a year

I completely forgotten how to do this

I look over to Ynniv

He smirks back and whips his hair to the left

 

Rohan the DiveMaster looks over to us both:

“So guys…welcome to Swami Rock,

We are going down to about 18m

We’ll be down there for about 45-50mins depending on our air consumption

These are the signals for …..”

 

His voice drowns out

Amongst the lapping of the waves against the anchored boat
Butterflies turn into monsters gnawing away at my insides

A heaviness presses against my throat

Playfully suffocating the last bits of air inside me

The tips of my fingers moist

Mind working in overdrive

 

Rohan: “You there?”

I snap out of it

My head back from cloud walking

“…yep yep”

Rohan: “Ok safety check people.”

 

BCD: check

Weights: check

Releases: check

Air: check

Final Check: Check Check

 

“Ok boys, roll off backwards…”

 

I plunge into the warmthness

Strangely 30 degrees according to the dive watch

But congenially toasty nonetheless

Heart pounding

Stomach churning

Bowels gurning

Lips wrapped around

Almost necking my regulator

Hanging onto dear life

Adrenaline coursing through my veins

DCIM100GOPRO
DCIM100GOPRO

Releasing air out of the BCD

We descend into the clear turquoise depths

But before I know it…

Searing pain in both ears

Daggers covered in barbs

Twisting from inside the auditory cortex right into my ear drum

 

‘How do you equalise again?’ realising that this was the wrong time to question such a thing

 

I look over to Ynniv and Rohan

Both holding onto their noses

‘Well, theres a good clue,’ I think to myself

I hold onto mine, blow and jiggle my head slightly to the right

‘Pop!’

The all-consuming pain dissipates

 

We get to the sea bed

I slow my breath down

And I am perfectly balanced in the horizontal

Like a grown man getting back on a bike

My buoyancy magically finds equilibrium

 

‘Well that wasn’t too hard…’

Any piece of remaining anxiety

Floating away in the currents

 

****

We were diving Swami Rock

Right underneath the ancient Koneswaram temple

Postulated to have been a place of worship from 400BC

A place well recorded in ancient Tamil, Sinhala, Roman, Arabic, Chinese and Greek literature

Fabled to be known as the temple of a thousand pillars

Renowned to be the greatest building of its time due to its complex Dravidian architecture

Built upon a granite megalith

With a pure golden gopuram (tower) imposing over the natural harbour for millennia

 

However, on the 14th of April 1622

On Tamil/Sinhala New Year Day over four hundred years ago

Portuguese soldiers camouflaged as priests

Entered the temple complex

And ransacked ancient relics, silks, gold, silver and bronze over two millennia old

The temple was destroyed and driven into the sea

With the remaining stones used to build the Portuguese Fort Frederick

 

Interestingly an antiquated prophecy inscribed in Old Tamil on the original temple wrote:

“O King! The franks shall later break down the holy edifice built by Kulakoddan in ancient times; and no future kings of this island will rebuild it! Following the successive reigns of the cat eyed, the red eyed and the smoke eyed nations it will voluntarily revert to the Tamils”

****

And there it was

As we had sunk 18m down below Swami Rock

The ruins of the ancient Shiva temple

Straight out of a scene of the novel series Cairo Jim

Or even out of a set from Indiana Jones

DCIM100GOPRO
DCIM100GOPRO

Large granite boulders scattered all over the sea bed

Now the home for giant morays, stingrays, pipefish and lionfish

From destruction up above to the creation of a new home and ecosystem

Teeming with life

 

An idol Ganesha lies unsettlingly upright

The remover of all obstacles

The patron of intellect and wisdom

I regulate my breathing and with next to no effort float towards the stone effigy

I pray and touch the head of the sculpture, possibly centuries if not millenia old

‘I’m pretty sure my Amma would be ecstatic if I tell her I did this’

As this thought flashes past my mind

My left hand inconveniently cuts against the idol

Wisps of crimson blood diluting in the ocean

 

Exploring the rest of the destroyed temple complex

I make a conscious effort to not break the rule of not touching while diving

But absorb the whole serenity

The thoughts and prayers of people more than two thousand years old

Probably even the good omens of my faceless ancestors

Absorbed into these granite blocks

DCIM100GOPRO

The ethereal unearthly feeling

Takes over me

The peaceful serenity of being underwater

Almost meditative

Bordering on yogic

Like entering a parallel universe

 

We finish our first dive

The boatman waiting for us up above

Flashes a big grin

Suprisingly with all teeth present

“kumbudachingala?” (Tamil: Did you pray?)

“Aum, mitchum nallum” (Tamil: Yes, I enjoyed it)

DCIM100GOPRO
DCIM100GOPRO

After a few more dives in between

Our final dive was a night dive

In Gokarna Bay

As dusk crept in

We journeyed one last time

The unworldliness of the depths below

Took a whole different level at night

An experience that I had not done previously

I look over to Ynniv

The man who got me back on the horse after more than one year of no diving

I shine the torch in his eyes to grab his attention

I flip him the bird

And then point out a huge lavender sea cucumber on the sandy bed

He looks around and finds an even bigger one

 

It was at the moment I realised two things:

My maturity levels hadn’t developed over the years

And Trincomalee is one of the most beautiful places in the world

DCIM100GOPRO

Aeration rating: I wonder if this could be done in a sarong. Food for thought. But definitely a FRESH rating. Warm gentle currents were enjoyed in the nether regions. 

We dived with Taprobane Divers and Rohan a tech diver was our guide who has a wealth of  international experience and extremely professional. The best thing about this dive shop is that all the equipment is brand new and they fit you out with the latest gadgets. They are also PADI approved (one of only few in Trincomalee).

http://taprobanedivers.com +94(0)712576821  +94(0)778491597

686/14 Ehamparam Road, Uppuveli, Trincomalee

*Photo credit to Rohan from Taprobane Divers taken with a GoPro

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