‘Heaven falls here’- this is the universal truth and I have witnessed it. Jammu & Kashmir were always on my ‘to see’ list and I got the chance to visit here in Feb 2015, when it was chilling cold everywhere. Temperature was close to 3-4 degree Celsius during day and nights were freezing as you can imagine. Starting from Delhi, I took a train to Jammu and then bus to Katra to pay visit the famous Vaishno Devi.
List of trains from Delhi to Jammu
|Train No.||Train Name||From||Departure||To||Arrival||Dist.(Km)||Travel Time|
|16787||TEN JAMMU EXP||NDLS||00:10||JAT||13:10||593||13:00|
|22461||SHRI SHAKTI EXP||NDLS||17:30||JAT||03:10||577||09:40|
|12445||UTTAR S KRANTI||NDLS||20:50||JAT||06:35||577||09:45|
|04401||ANVT SVDK SPL||ANVT||21:00||JAT||09:45||633||12:45|
|12413||AII JAT EXPRESS||DEC||21:15||JAT||08:10||589||10:55|
|18101||TATA JAT EXP||DLI||22:00||JAT||14:10||653||16:10|
|22401||DEE UHP AC SUP||DEE||22:15||JAT||07:15||578||09:00|
Let me tell you, Kashmir trip was completely unplanned, it happened when one of the tour organisers approached me and offered me irresistible deal in Katra. This small town has numerous tour organisers which can help you to save thousands of bucks, provided you do research and take quotes from more than five organisers at least, especially, if it is the off season.
Coming back to the offer I got, this deal included destinations like Patnitop, Srinagar, Gulmarg and Sonamarg with four day complete hotel stay and local conveyance as well for just Rs 8,999 for four person. Yes, it did sound amazing! We started next day at 12’0 clock in afternoon, but we didn’t knew that this would be so tough to handle. We weren’t aware that our next 12 hours will be spent in this car that too on the road which isn’t straight at all.
Note: One can choose flights as well to travel to Srinagar. Flights from Delhi and Jammu to Srinagar are available easily. There is no train connectivity so you need to make a best pick which can suit your budget and requirement.
We started from Katra, and passed Udhampur which is one of the famous army camp in the state. The roads were well built, at least till here and you won’t feel the nausea until you cross this small but developed town which have almost all popular eatery that you like. The hard time starts when you get into the twisted and turned roads of Jammu valley where you can’t keep your eyes off the scenic beauty. Beautiful, ice laden peaks are visible as soon as you take the highway. Stopping here for clicking the pictures isn’t the good idea as each scene is more beautiful than previous one.
Scrolling down the window pane isn’t a good idea as the snowy winds will make you shiver to the core. And I am sure you will not in the mood to catch cold as our body isn’t used to for such low temperature.
Going ups and then down again, crossing number of valleys and after a 3 hourlong drive on NH1A, we reached Patnitop.
Patnitop is famous for ‘Naag temple’. Here people will try to sell you ‘Bul bul ka baccha’ and this you have to try by yourself whether to get one or not. (wink 😉 You can also place your visiting card here as people say that it brings good luck to your job. I also placed one, why to leave chance 🙂
Since Patnitop saw snowfall back in December, the ice was dusty and not so scenic. We took just half an hour halt here, clicked some pictures and started again for Srinagar as there were nine more hours to go.
Note: There are several hill view hotels in Patnitop where you can stay but it would be a waste of time and most probably it won’t be counted in the package.
List of Hotels in Patnitop
Vardaan Resort PatniTop
Hotel Subash Palace Patnitop
Hotel Jai Skahan
Post Patnitop, we took few breaks for clicking the amazing pictures on a newly constructed dam. There is just one single ‘dhaba’ that offers these awesome views. You can have ‘Rajma Chawal’ here, poured with ghee, costing just Rs 60 per plate.
It was already 6 in the evening and we weren’t anyway close of reaching to Srinagar. We took halt for peeing, eating, drinking and chatting our way to the driver, who was a Punjabi stud and created excitement with loads and loads of experiences he shared with us. (Some were too hilarious while others are amazing well built, anyways we enjoyed our way J)
So, it was eight in the evening, pitch dark and there were some too dangerous valleys where one-sided traffic was operational. Actually, during peak winters, traffic remains one-sided. Like if Monday is opened for vehicles moving towards Srinagar, Tuesday, it would be operational for vehicles coming from Srinagar. This is the usual scene in the month of Jan, Feb, March. You need not worry about it as your tour operator will take care of this.
We passed through Shaitani Naala and Khooni Naala around 8.30 pm. These weren’t haunted but were damn scary. You cant just look down in the valley, else you will actually feel you are about to fall.
So, this was the time when we were about to enter valley of Kashmir. And you can easily make out this as there were CRPFs chowki dotted on every 100 meter, too many security checks and gazing stares. As soon as we will cross Jawahar tunnel, one of the longest tunnel roads in India, there is a sense of freshness in the air, snow all around, heavier than what we saw in Patnitop. So many army camp with rifles in hand will bring cheer down your spine but it’s the happiness which I felt the most. After all it was KASHMIR !
We took another three hours to reach Srinagar city. Till this time, all of us took a great sleep while the driver was focused enough to drive for more than 250 km on hilly terrain. We reached our hotel, which was in the main city of Srinagar at around 12 at night. It was sooo… chilling that you cant afford to live without a bed-warmer. My next post would include Gulmarg- the ice-clad town.! Keep watching this space.. and leave your comments in the box below.