The weather was indeed very bad that day. As we left the Governor’s House at Gangtok, our driver informed us that the road ahead of Teesta has been blocked since morning because of multiple landslides. The last minute plan was to take a diversion to Darjeeling from Teesta and reach Siligudi via the touristy hill station famed for its tea cultivation. The diverted route was of course a tad lengthier but was more scenic and greener. Crisscrossing the narrow (but safe) roads passing through tea estates, we reached our guesthouse at Siligudi just before dinner time. On the way down from Gangtok, the highway-bound fun was limited to occasional tea or refreshment stops.
The Bagdogra civil airport was hardly 10km from the guesthouse we were staying in at Siligudi in W Bengal. The plan of the host Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) to put us up so near the airport seemed to make sense as the decision was expected to save some precious time. We unhurriedly reached the airport and were still hours ahead of the scheduled departure time. Outside, the luggage committee honouring its commitment one last time made a final count of the bags. The yatra had come to a close sooner than we had expected it to be.
The flight journey from Bagdogra to New Delhi takes about 90 minutes in the air. The weather outside was free of any turbulence. Inside the aftereffects of the KM Yatra emerged in various colours and forms. From spiritual talks to backbiting-related gossips, the air-travel had it all. Plans were made and discussed for frequent get-togethers, social gatherings as well as to make another journey to the Holy Land. I was already planning upcoming excursions as the flight began to hover over the NCR region. Down below, the matchbox apartments and other skyscrapers sounded a sort of warning bell. Our ingression into the real world seemed inevitable now. This was supposed to be the figurative end of our dream journey.
As the flight prepared to touch down, Babaji raised the final holy cry of Om Namah Shivaya. Enthusiastically, the group joined. Already intrigued, a few of the passengers welcomed the war-like cry with folded hands. As a group, we had paid our obeisance to the Holiest of Lands and travelled some great distance. I hoped that we all are going to travel and live this yatra forever. Once you have travelled and made a journey as epic as this one, the voyage definitely is never going to end. This journey was going to play out over and over again in our peaceful inner spaces. Both mind and heart could never get detached from such a journey.
As we were being ushered out of the plane through to the corridors and lobby area of the Terminal three of the airport, I hoped that the journey to the Kailash Mansarovar must have madly induced the Himalayan addiction in at least a few of the groupies. Slowly the group lumped around in the newly designed luggage gallery of the airport. All of us huddled one last time and recorded groupfies. Quickly enough, one by one everyone left for their home after exchanging due formalities of parting. Outside our families awaited to receive us.