When it comes to travelling, Su and I are always on our toes and the trigger is when both of us are able to take off from work together. (When I am free browsing for new recipes and where to head next, he has a release coming up and vice-versa.)

Through travel I first became aware of the outside world; it was through travel that I found my own introspective way into becoming a part of it – Eudora Welty

We roamed around India for about 20 days as soon as we got married, and only got back thanks to Ganapathi-Gowri vrata, and oh yeah, we both are working right? ;).

We went to Tanjore – the mighty royal Brihadeeswara – two eyes are really not enough to see the glorious form of Shiva here. Being an ardent devotee of Siva from when I could comprehend what worship was, I could not ask for anything more in life.

We also enjoyed the yummy chitranna, sakkare (sweet) pongal and dadhyanna (curd rice) here. From there, we went to Tiruvannamalai; being an avid reader of Ramana Maharishi life and sayings from my school days(I used to participate in the numerous contests they held in Ramanasramam, Mekhri Circle, Bangalore ; was also awarded the best all-rounder there :P), it was a dream come true for me to visit this place; and what more could I ask for – the four foremost people in my life (I call them the 4 4s) – Dad,Mom,Su and Muthu were with me.

I grew up singing “Karanha kelhadeye karune malhe surise; devana neleyadha Arunagiri nodu“. Arunachaleswara had really showered his choicest blessings on me.The Arunchaleswara temple is simply beautiful. After having had darshan of the temple and having done the GiriPradakshina, which we started early the next morning, we next left to Kolkata. Being born into Ramakrishna-mission follower homes, both Su and me decided to visit Daksineswar and Belur Math together after wedding and invoke the blessings of the divine trio(Ramakrishna, Ma Sarada and Swami Vivekananda) to grant us a great, balanced life ahead.
What a realm of spirituality the entire place carries. We also visited, Kamarpukur(Thakur’s birth place), Joyrambhatti(Mother’s birth place), the birth places of both their mothers,
the birth places of few direct disciples of Ramakrishna; we also met kith and kin of a few people who lived with Sri Ramakrishna (the next generations). Mother Nature has been really kind on this part of Bengal. The greenery everywhere is a feast to ones eyes and can get you out of all the turmoils going on in ur minds and calm u down.
We could see all the listings in the Vachana-Veda(The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna) come alive and as though we had headed back to that era and were watching it all live.
We were ably guided by one Kanhaiyalalji who could even mention the page nos. of the numerous books in which each incident was listed; he took us around like Sri Krishna took around Arjuna in the Kurukshetra.

Having had a great spiritual time for 4 days, we next headed to Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim.(Flight form Kolkata to Bagdogra and then hired a cab to Gangtok which is around 141 kms from here; helicopters are also available but have to be booked well in advance; we missed them. They are expensive too.). We really enjoyed the journey by road in the midst of the mountains stopping @ times to eat cucumber, fruits, have chai etc… on the way.
Thanks to Mom for having suggested this place. A dream destination; Paradise on earth. Still untouched by urbanity and commercial life, it was the place to be. Its bounded by the majestic mountain chain,Kanchenjunga.

U just need not go for sight-seeing in Gangtok; its so beautiful as is wherever you are.

View from our guest house

The first view of the mighty K2 from the Tashi view point is a sight I can never forget in my lifetime.

The first view:

I was dying to experience the first sight of the Himalayas from the time I was introduced to it in geography and I was destined to have it with my beloved. (Ye hasi waadiya; ye khula aasmaan).
We were thrilled to the core; it was a blessing in disguise for us that even though we had been there in the rainy season, we were lucky enough to get a clear view of the snow-white K2 adorned with a golden crown with the sun-rays striking it.
Here again, we met a great Sarathi, Shyam Bhaiyya (think Su n me have been lucky with this always). Shyam Bhaiyya works for the same company as my Mom, in Gangtok. He not only took us around to show us the beautiful BabaMandir(Its a legendary shrine and its amazing to know about this place.Tsonmgo(Changu) Lake(we had a superb yak ride here and yummy noodles and Momos also), Ganesh Tok, Hanuman Tok, the botanical gardens, some beautiful monasteries(I also got to wear the local dress on the way to one of them; something I love doing wherever I go),but also became my brother(I send him Rakhis even now). We also visited the gigantic statue of Padmasambhava and a few tea gardens on the way; feeling like Mother Nature had taken us on her lap and giving us all love n care. Thanks to Purva bhaiyya who drove us to these two points; the roads are really steep and they are at a height were the clouds were literally below us. (experience of a lifetime must say)One thing we missed was the Nathula pass,right on the Chinese border(as it was not open on any of the days we stayed there; army permit is required for this). Anyways, I think we will definitely make some more trips to Gangtok as we really loved the place.

Can u believe this is the Gangtok jail?
[I dont think anybody will plan to escape :P]

Baba Mandir

Around Baba Mandir

Shyam Bhaiyya also invited us for dinner and Bhabhi had cooked so many diff veggies local to Sikkim; it was simply yummy! She was so good at craft and made this one specially for us 🙂

They had three cute sons: Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram(superb names rt). The eldest was excellent at pencil art and I stood gazing at a picture of a mother feeding a baby at her breast made by him; such nice feelings @ such an young age; Hats off!.
The city of Gangtok is so clean(may be even our homes are not so spick n span). It looks like the entire city has been carpeted. There’s not even a single bit of paper on the roads. Also, their Maruthi Omnis  (only they are allowed here) are maintained so neatly by the owners; may be they care for them like their children.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience and is till fresh in our memories though it has been almost 2 yrs.

Oh yeah, and before I end this post(I know its really long already), but I wanted to say this.
After this trip or after the Himachal Pradesh trip we had in Dec 2007, there were many people who questioned me “Why did u spend so many thousands for travelling in India? Isn’t it a fortune? Yn dint u go to Maldives or Mauritius?”. Whenever I hear this, I feel like somebody is saying my Mother is looking so simple sans the flashy stuff and someone else is so colourful and flashy. But, can I call her my Mother? I definitely have plans to visit Phuket, Maldives, Singapore etc… some day in life … but yes, my Motherland is equally beautiful and there needs to be no comparison between her and other places. They are all good by themselves and yes; its worth shelling out every penny in Gangtok or HP or any other place I may visit in future.