Day3:Today early morning we started for Pahalgam. Even though the distance is approximately 290 km, it takes almost 12-13 hours to cover the journey in the minibus we were in. Cars/ taxis may take a couple of hours lesser. The highway from Jammu to Pahalgam is quite wide in the plains of Jammu but they get narrower as we enter the hills. Udhampur town is the first well known place we cross after approx 70 km. Udhampur town has a large military presence as it has the Northern command headquarters of Indian army as well as base support unit of Indian airforce. Krimchi group of temples is a beautiful temple complex located in Udhampur believed to be built in 11th-12th century. Interestingly, the architecture of these temples shows Greek influence. These temples can be approached through a bypass few kilometres before entering into Udhampur city- and from that point, these temples are at a distance of 14 km.As soon as we cross Udhampur town, the Tawi river which we had left behind in Jammu, again starts following us for a few kilometres and again goes away at a town called ‘Kud’. Kud is famous for ‘Patisha’ a sweet dish which is very similar to the Sonpapdi we get in the mainland- but this one has a lot of ghee- tasty nevertheless. After Kud, we were stuck in traffic jam because, the favourite picnic place of Jammuites- Patnitop; was only couple of kilometres ahead. Patnitop is comparatively a colder place for the Garmi se pareshan Jammuwalas. We halted our bus for sometimes to take pictures of surrounding valleys and started our journey again. Patnitop has a few resorts and few places of interest for the ones who are interested in staying here. Frankly, I didn’t find Patnitop very attractive- may be because we travelled there in June, it didn’t feel like a hill station at all!12 kilometers from Patnitop, we halted for lunch at a place called ‘Batote’. As our tourist guide told us, we should not expect many decent eateries ahead of this place. Batote felt like an interesting village. It has mosques as well as temples. Its interesting to observe demographics of the places while heading from Jammu to Kashmir valley. Jammu town and surrounding areas have a Hindu majority. Going further to Udhampur, Hindus and Muslims form 75%- 25% of population approximately and Batote has an equal percentage of population of both the communities. After the sumptuous meal, we headed further. Near the town of Chandrakote, another great river starts racing with us- the Chenab. Now the mountains around seem to be getting taller and mightier as compared to the hills of Patnitop. The great Chenab cuts through the mountain and valleys and plays hide and seek with us- sometimes appearing on our left and sometimes on the right. ‘Ramban’ is another big town we crossed on our way. At Ramban, we saw a lot of people wearing the traditional clothes of Kashmiri muslims, buying vegetables and daily wares in the bazars along the highway. After Ramban, the road doesn’t cross many big towns till Banihal which is approximately at a distance of 40 km. At Banihal, one can see the engineering marvel- the Kashmir valley railway tracks laid on our left side. One can spot the newly built Banihal station and if lucky you may even see a train plying on the route. These trains appear very different than the normal Indian trains because of the bullet train like front of this train.After a short tea break at Banihal, we were reaching Anantnag town any moment. Verinag- on the outskirts of Anantnag is famous for an extremely stunning Mughal garden built by emperor Jehangir in 1620 A.D. It consists of lawns and a spring which is one of the main sources of Jhelum River. This garden with its Chinar trees turning red and orange in autumn; makes the garden look very picturesque. After crossing through Anantnag town and taking the Pahalgam road, comes a place called Mattan. A 1.5 km small road from Mattan leads to ‘Martand Sun temple’. This temple was built in 8th century by king Lalitaditya Muktapida of Karkota dynasty- dedicated to the ‘Sun God’. Today the temple is in ruins as it was destroyed completely by Islamic ruler Sikander Butshikan.Further 42 km of road from Anantnag to Pahalgam is straight without any twists and turns and can be reached within an hour. Now the Lidder river- a tributary of Jhelum gives us company till Pahalgam. We couldn’t help but halt our minibus a little before Pahalgam on the banks of Lidder to take pictures. Lidder river in many ways reminds one of Beas river in Manali. The same clean white water, same pebbles scattered around, same snow clad mountains around and the same icy cold water.In less than half an hour we reached Pahalgam and settled in our hotel located on what looked like the main street of Pahalgam on Chandanwadi road. It was almost 7 pm in the evening and the climate was very cold for a summer evening. We had our food early and slept off covering ourselves with thick quilts.Day4:This morning, we had breakfast of garma garam Aloo ka parantha and left for sightseeing of Pahalgam. First we headed to Betaab valley- named so due to the Hindi film of the same name being shot here.It is important for travellers to note that using private vehicles and outside vehicles (other than Pahalgam number plate) are not allowed in Pahalgam for sightseeing. You need to leave the vehicles in hotel and hire a local taxi from taxi union for sightseeing who have fixed rates for sightseeing depending upon how many places you want to cover- rates ranging from rs.2000 to rs.4000+ (rates in 2014)Betaab valley is not very far from the main town. In fact you are already there by the time you settle down in the taxi. Betaab valley is basically a ticketed park along the Lidder river. The sparkling water of Lidder river, the perfectly mowed grass, and the beautiful pine trees make Betaab valley look extremely gorgeous. Betaab valley is fairly clean (may be thanks to the all-state ban on polythene bags). Best thing about Betaab valley is that whether u click yourself at the river or at the bridge or click random trees and mountains, every angle is going to give you results as stunning as the other. After having a walk through this riverbank park, we headed towards gate. At the gate are a lot of small kids with rabbits and lambs trying to make quick bucks for letting us pose with their cute pets. Jhalmudi and ‘ Bambaiyya’ Bhelpuri vendors outside the gate make this place a perfect Indian picnic spot.Now we were heading to Chandanwadi further on the same road. For Chandanwadi, the road starts sloping upwards, and from there, one can see mind-blowing bird’s eye view of the whole Betaab valley park. Road to Chandanwadi is one of the best roads one would ever get to travel in India. Curvy roads, melting glaciers, a lot of big- small streams coming out of the melting snow, sun lit mountains- everything you see here is out of this world. This road is a photographer’s delight! Guaranteed!Chandanwadi is basically a snow point where u can play in snow even in summers. You can hire gum boots at the many stalls here for reasonable price and leave ur footwear at the same stall. A lot of stalls here also serve hot Maggie! Itni thand me Maggie khane ka maza hi kuch aur hai!Chandanwadi is also the starting point of the holy Amarnath yatra. After playing and falling a lot of times on the slippery snow, we headed back. Aru valley is another place 12km from Pahalgam, famous for its meadows. Its also a base camp for treks to a lot of lakes and glaciers in surrounding areas. Baisaran- also called as mini Switzerland is one of the top rated attractions in Pahalgam. For Baisaran, one needs to take a pony ride from Pahalgam. Its at an hour’s distance by pony. The narrow rocky road on the way looks risky but the ponies are probably used to it. Charges for pony approx. Rs. 1500 (in 2014)Other than these main attractions, there is a Mamleshwar temple dedicated to Shiva and some small parks created by tourism department along Lidder River in Pahalgam town.