The drive, wallop and imperturbability.
We all know about Kashmir as heaven on earth and there is nothing different I can share but the experience of flush, thrill and the tranquility can not be compared to anything.
Chasing my passion for driving, I along with my friend started on a Friday evening leaving my busy daily life meetings, work and New Delhi. We crawled through the Delhi traffic and reached the highway at around 22:30. We hurried to reach Murthal to have our much awaited dinner at the much talked about dhabas and our Honda city roared the NH-1. By crossing 3-4 toll gates we reached Ambala to drop a friend and started through the quiet calm roads to reach Jalandhar & Ludhiana. By the time we stopped at a McDonalds on the outskirts of Ludhiana, we saw the morning light and discovered that we spent the whole night talking to each other and driving. Light and crisp driving through the plains and the sophisticated GT Road.
Had our light breakfast @ the McDs, and restarted to take the Pathankot highway but we forgot the right way and took inside the villages of Punjab connecting to Pathankot. It was around 24 hours we both did not sleep and we decided to take a nap and the other one to drive. After a 10 mins nap I felt as if the wagon is wobbling and got up to see that the Tyre is bursted out. We did not stop as we had to chase the target on the same day and ran without a stepney thinking we would get something on our way. My friend drove till Lakhanpur (J&K Border) and we stopped to have the famous coffee @ the bus stop. Stopped for sometime and again started to drive till Jammu to experience the riots on the streets where there were stones and firebombs being thrown by the mobs. Escaped from Jammu and taken the Udhampur on the newly built highway crossing tunnels and lofty mountain terrains. The weather was rainy and the hills were clearly visible from our windsheild.
And then we touched the much complex Jammu-Srinagar Highway which is not just a road but a horror and its said that death dances here on its own tune. We again mustered up the courage to take the broken highway without a spare tyre.
The highway's most treacherous portion is Ramban town to Ramsoo village where landslides, shooting stones, slippery conditions and gushing seasonal streams threaten the traveller every inch of the way. Crossing the Khooni Nallah" (Stream of Blood), "Sher Bibi (Abode of the lioness), Panthal (Devil's Overhang) and Magarkoot (Abode of Gorrilas), we reached jawahar tunnel which connects to Kashmir Valley. The tunnel is 2.5 Kms silent, dark and scary but as soon as you cross it, you see the first view of lush green and serene valley of Kashmir from the Titanic view point. It was starting to have the sunset and we were getting calls from the friends family. After driving the rest of the roads we reached my friends place @ 22:30. Had dinner and slept the night forgetting the tiresome journey.
After a good sleep, we got up next morning to see clouds getting down the hills from the balcony and then we started to see the gardens of Srinagar and the Dal Lake. The view from PARI MAHAL was an awesome experience which gives a clear scene of the DAL lake, the golf course and the minister’s place. After some sight seeing, we went to have the lunch at a Kahmiri family’s where we were served the famous Waazwan. I am a big time foodie but I was scared to see the different kinds of dishes containing the meat balls and differently cooked mutton and chicken called Rista, Gushtava, Tabakh maaz and 10 other dishes I never heard in my life. After a heavy lunch we went back to our friend’s place at Harwan, which is again a scenic place in Srinagar. We went back to sit beside the streams and found time to relax the whole evening with the cool breeze coming out from the mountains.
The next day we went to see the srinagar city, house boats and a shikara ride in DAL lake. The other attractions were awesome as well. We went to the much famous Shanakaracharya Temple devoted to Lord Shiva above 1000 feet from Srinagar.
And we set off to Gulmarg the next day for the sight of finest golfing, skiing and adventure sports with lots of ferries and gondola ride. The trip was quite adventurous and unexpected. Weather was awesome and we had a nice experience. While coming back, we went to the Vivanta by Taj to have some refreshments and to see the sunset at the DAL. Again an awesome day with an awesome view of sunset from a height of 2500 feet.
The next day took us to Sonamarg where we had glaciers and quite a nice view of streams flowing from the mountains. It was a sunny day and we could see the melting waters from the glaciers flowing down to the Nallah Sindh, tributary of Jehlum. An awesome lunch there and spotted the Thajiwas glacier. Met some local travellers and villagers. They were quite friendly though we were unable to understand their language.
After returning from Sonamarg, went to the local markets for some shopping and famous food to reach home and pack bags to get back to the same busy life from the next morning.
Escaped from life to relax and enjoy the nature gifted by God. Trip was awesome and left some memories in my memoirs to visit Kashmir again in winter to trek and enjoy the snowbed.