Reba Bose, Siliguri, 4th January, 2013:
As I have just returned to Siliguri, all my brothers and sisters asked me to where did I celebrate my year end? 31st December night, I was watching the reflection of the moon in the back waters of Kerala from my house boat. It was quite astonishing to know that there were more than 3000 floating rooms in Kerala. It took me back 20 years when young Babu explained on TV, how he converted the Rice Boat of Kerala into House Boat.
My last visit to South India was almost 50 years ago as the first excursion batch of Siliguri College, and there was always a wish to return, and hence I enjoyed all stories from the south. I did make a short visit to my nephew at Bangalore, but longed to make a longer exploratory trip. For my 02 grand-daughters and 02 daughters joining me, I could not think of anyone else other than ‘The Blue Yonder’ to organize the experience exploratory trip for me.
The temples and beaches of South India have always attracted visitors from across the world, but I wanted to differently and chose to do south, from East to West. Started with Madras (Chennai), followed by Mahabalipuram, where Ind-Eco was a good experience with the world famous Mahabalipuram Temples. Being on the Eastern Ghats, we did not miss the great sunrise. The Temple trails continued till we reached Pondicherry. Going back to Rishi Aurobindo and Mother’s Retreat was renewing the emotional energies to live life in full. A visit to South India would remain incomplete without staying at the Chettinad, the present global brand of South India. Though promoted as a village, yet it was hard to accept this fact as there is no agriculture, but this was more ‘Peace in Heritage’, the real feeling of Shantiniketan, and was nothing to be a village or a town.
A good break was at the Spice Village at Periyar. The SV was a nature reserve on its own with the Nilgiri Langur and the Malabar Giant Squirrel making this their retreat for the night. The hundreds of bats in the morning and late afternoon over the Spice Village is an experience. Not to mention about the bird life almost everywhere. The best at Periyar was the Spice Safari organized by Girish. Periyar and Chettinad were the first time experiences for me. I mostly enjoyed the elaborate local food at all places, the shakes of Savarna and the numerous hand woven saris. Enjoy the photos below.