I have a large network of friends on Facebook. And every time I spend some time in browsing through my Facebook feed, I come across some or the other post of people travelling. A couple of my friends are travel bloggers too, so they are constantly on the go. As a result, there’s always someone’s travel photo to admire and Like.
I love travelling too. I even love watching the travel shows. But not being quite a healthy person, travelling fun is limited for me. Still, I’ve had a few fun-filled vacations with family. All were exciting and memorable. But if I have to choose one as perfect, it would be our trip that started from Delhi and flew us to Chennai, from Chennai to Port Blair, from Port Blair to Kolkata and then to Bagdogra. And then followed an exciting road trip from Bagdogra to Gangtok. Never before had we been to such distant parts of India within a week. Never before taken so many flights in so short a time. Even if they were Domestic Flights only, they were almost too many for us.
But taking so many flights wasn’t what made this trip fun. Here’s what made it a memorable experience:
From the sparkling ocean to the majestic mountains, that week long trip brought us close to both. The stay at Port Blair was full of chilling at the beach and admiring the azure splendor of the ocean. Not just that, we could even view the deep sea life by snorkling at the nearby Viper Island. On the other hand, trip to Gangtok involved being surrounded by the tall mountains. It was awesome to stand at the Ram Tekri and look out at the tall peak of kanchenjunga. And where there are mountains, there are waterfalls too. The Bakthang waterfalls of Gangtok are very famous. And we spent more than two hours near them. It was relaxing and a lot of fun.
Feeling the sacrifice of our martyrs:
Port Blair might be a tourist spot now. But it was once a living hell for our brave freedom fighters. The Cellular Jail where our freedom fighters were sent for the dreaded ‘kalapani’ punishment still stands a grim witness to the tortures they were made to suffer. It now hosts a light and sound show to tell the story of the tyranny of the British rule and the sacrifices of our freedom fighters. Now its cells are vacant, but misery and terror still seems to palpitate through their cold and hard walls. I had goosebumps when I passed through the corridors of the Cellular Jail. And I was not the only one who felt so affected. There were several who had tears in their eyes upon hearing about how our heroes were treated there.
Gangtok has its stories of heroism and patriotism too. Like the temple of Major “Baba” Harbhajan Singh, an Indian army soldier who died in 1968 near the Nathu La in eastern Sikkim. But his spirit lives on and is still said to be active and alert in guarding Indian border.
Glimpse of different cultures:
Being at Port Blair didn’t feel any different as, surprisingly, there were many Punjabis there. Even the hotel where we stayed was owned by a Punjabi. So the cuisine served at the buffet didn’t feel any different. But there are many museums in Port Blair and they showcase quite enough of history and culture of Port Blair.
The real feeling of seeing a different culture came when we were going to Gangtok. We stopped at a roadside restaurant on our way to Gangtok. That was the first time when my parents saw and tasted momos. They had no option because the restaurant served only noodles and momos. Another cultural surprise we got was when we learnt that there was a market in Gangtok where ‘no vehicle’ hours are maintained so people can walk around easily and shop. And littering is a punishable crime. For someone grown up in Uttar Pradesh, that felt like a very welcome relief.
Oh yes, we had a taste of adventure too. After the end of our stay at Gangtok, we were to catch a flight from Bagdogra after 12 pm. So we had planned to start from Gangtok after breakfast. But very early in the morning, a waiter knocked at our door. The weather had turned bad during the night. There had been landslides and the highway out of Gangtok was blocked. ‘If you want to reach Bagdogra before afternoon, you must leave as soon as possible. Otherwise you’ll get caught behind a long jam.’ And so, we all were pulled out of our bed. And before we were out of our sleep, we were sitting in our taxi with a pack of biscuits in our hand in the name of breakfast.
The taxi ride went smooth enough till we reached the place of the landslide. It was bad! And mud and big rocks had fallen down at three places. At every spot of landslide, we had to wait for about two hours as the vehicles could only inch past the debris that the army and other agencies were vigorously cleaning away. And it was scary too. With half the road covered in debris, there was only space enough for one vehicle to pass through at a time. And even a bit of miscalculation by the driver meant a drop to death. But while we closed our eyes and prayed fervently, our expert driver drove us to safety. And we were able to run into the Bagdogra airport just ten minutes before our flight was announced.
In short, that trip proved to be a perfect mix of relaxation, enjoyment, sightseeing, emotions, new cultural experiences and a thrilling adventure. And that is why i consider it the most ideal yatra I’ve enjoyed till now.