NH1A, is quite literally the road not taken when it comes to tourists. The highway connecting Jammu to Srinagar is limited to defense forces’ convoys and transportation of goods. Most tourists prefer the much convenient 45 minute flight to our very own heaven on earth, than the tedious 10-12 hour journey by road.
Other than the fact that it makes all the difference, when you take the road not taken, here are a few reasons why you should ditch that flight for the potential adventure that is NH1A.
1. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
Going by this logic, you should choose to experience the thrill of travelling by that roller coaster of a highway barely clinging to the edge of the mountain because it was also convenient to stay at home and watch Game of Thrones, but you decided to pack your bags and go out. And now that you’re out, you might as well live it up.
2. Beginning of your interaction with the townsfolk.
Kashmir is probably the only place in India where the locals and the defense personnel, both, qualify as townies. Taking the road will give you a chance to interact with both the army and civilians and understand the difficulty with which life sustains there. How difficult it is to get basic necessities like vegetables or Maggi to the valley or how a rise in the snowfall can cause of a high alert, putting many soldiers at risk.
3. The road that soars.
The difference in elevation between Jammu to Srinagar is approximately 4127 ft, which is covered in 10 hours by road. So, you’re practically covering a distance of 412.7 ft per hour. This means you’re climbing up a height of more or less 6 ft every minute! This road does make up for the flight you didn’t take.
3. Experiencing the Jawahar tunnel.
As old as our constitution, this 2.85 km long tunnel is sure to give you all the chills. Crossing this tunnel seemed like crossing a major hurdle back in the day because the exit to the tunnel would often get blocked due to landslides and heavy snowfall during the winter months. But today with military guarding the entrances and exits round the clock, CCTV surveillance, proper ventilation within the tunnel and efficient communication systems to contact the BRO (Border Roads Organisation) in case of an emergency, the tunnel has lost its dangerous streak but continues to hold the charm.
4. The breath-taking view.
Yes, 10 hours of going round and round on the mountains can be tiresome but the view accompanying your bus window is what makes it all worth it. Other than the patch of the road beneath you, all around is nature untouched and unscathed. It’s in-explainable with words but let’s just say a view that is going to leave enough of an impact for you to survive the rest of your year waking up to a window facing another high rise building.
5. The Chai.
Unlike other hill stations, Kashmir is a terrorist prone area and the highway too is infamous for landslides and excessive snowfall. So, the road doesn’t house a lot of food joints. But there are a few tea shops that try and be creative with the basic resources they have. It’s hard to tell if it’s the tiresome journey or the sheer joy of having tea on the edge of a mountain, but it’s sure to be the most refreshing tea you would ever taste.