Amidst the beautiful valley of Kashmir and the thrill-seekers paradise- Ladakh, Jammu often feels unremarkable. Driving on the roads of Jammu, on the way to Sunderbani, I realised how underappreciated the region is.
Have you ever been completely surrounded by rocky brown mountains and then suddenly shifted to such unending greenery? Have you gone on for miles and miles with shifting scenes, small dhabas on the way and people, so sweet they melt your heart with a smile?
There's a temple on the Jammu-Poonch highway, before Bambhla and after Akhnoor. It is surrounded by two-three sweet-vendor shops who sell amazing 'barfi' which attracts tourists and locals alike. Though I may not have much of a sweet tooth, I still enjoy the occasional delicacy. The temple has a significant story as well but it is better to hear it from the temple priest who engages in conversation much like a tour guide without even charging your pocket for it.
The best part is that unlike Ladakh which is a remote area and Kashmir which is a conflicted area, you won't find internet troubles while travelling in Jammu. So you won't have to postpone your next Instagram shot, nor do you need to struggle to find good accommodations and free wifi.
See the layers in the photograph? You will have a similar travel experience as well. the road may be smooth like a metropolitan, but the barbed wire reminds you that you are in J&K. The trees might make you forget that it is the true north but the mountains accompany you wherever you go. The best thing to do though is go during the clear weather. You wouldn't want to get stuck during the rains. Any time except June to September would be fine for travelling.
Once you find the graffiti stone, understand that you are at Munna Morh. And it is absolutely necessary for one to stop at this place because the view of the valley below will make one forget all one has heard about Kashmir Valley. There is beauty even in Jammu, if you know how to find it.
Some more kilometers of driving and one reaches the perfect place to have lunch, munching on the popular local cuisine. Bhambla is a small hamlet popular for its toda shop. Since nothing much is done about promotions of the place, one must keep their eyes open for the dhaba. Climbing a few steps on the stairs, one reaches a traditional 'khaat' to sit upon while Ramesh Sharma makes fabulous todas with saag. There are no other restaurants or dhabas in its vicinity so it stands out and one must make it their pit-stop.