We had asked around for an alternate route into Kishtwar (in Kashmir), hoping that we would be able to avoid riding all the way back to Banikhet. The locals weren’t too familiar with the routes but offered us all the information that they could. Nothing was certain, but I gathered that we had to keep riding back on the route that we had come, until we found a dam (before the dam that we crossed on our way up), which they speculated would go join the road to Kishtwar after the point where it was blocked by snow. If this route did in fact work, we would be able to cut across into Kashmir without having to go all the way back.
We set-off in search of this new dam. Progress was slow because it was raining quite a bit. The copious amounts of cow dung on the road didn’t help matters. I forgot to mention this while I was writing about our ride to Bairagarh, but the road is used more by cows and buffaloes than vehicles (not really, but there actually are thousands and thousand of them on the road). As a result, you often find the road is entirely coated with, well, shit, and you can’t really tell whether there is tarmac beneath it. If you go fast, you’re likely to end up looking and smelling like the road. So, there is no choice but to go slow, and hope that the spray is minimal.
After several hours of riding, we finally managed to find the dam that we were looking for. There was a CISF checkpost at the dam manned by a ridiculously difficult officer. His approach to things seemed to be fairly simple. Refuse everyone entry so that he could never be held responsible for anything going wrong. The chap first told us there was no road on the other side. We told him we knew there was one. Then he said that it is a busy road and will take a long time to ride through it. We said we didn’t care. Then he said that a bus fell off some days ago and so it wasn’t safe. We told him that we still wanted to go. Eventually, he walked into his room and sat behind his chair to think things over for a while. He eventually came back and said that he wouldn’t let us through because he had decided so. It was the strangest thing ever, but we realised that there wasn’t much that could be done to make this gentleman comprehend anything. What the moron refused to realise is that because go his idiocy we would need to ride 2 whole days more to get to Kishtwar (going all the way around).
Rather than allow this to ruin our day, we decided to just laugh it off and get back to riding. We had to cover another 90 kilometres through stormy weather, back across the Chamera dam, and retrace our steps all the way to Banikhet. We were certain we didn’t want to stay there for the night (after the dreadful experience we had over there a few days before), so we continued riding towards Pathankot.