A rattle of cha/coffee pulled me out of dreamland. The train is moving fast towards Jammu Tawi station. By that time others are awake. The scenery outside looked really beautiful with lots of greenery and plains. Every now and then we see a huge army camp.
Outside Jammu Tawi Rly. Station
At about 7 AM the train halted at Jammu station. I always had a notion of high security area about both Jammu and Srinagar. But what welcomed us was indeed just another railway station. The place is full of travelers going to Amarnath cave and Vaishnodevi. We went straight up to the travelers’ reception counter outside platform 1 and booked a cab up to Srinagar. The distance between Jammu and Srinagar is 305 KMs and a typical Sumo would cost around Rs. 2300.We bought travel maps and tour guides in the tourist center. We left Jammu immediately as there is nothing much to see there.
With J&K tourist map in reception counter
We were soon on NH1A, which I believe is one of our nation’s key assets. The road is really good for driving. On our way we reached Kud a place famous for mithai. Our driver ‘Khursheed’ insisted that we stop by and buy a packet there.
Prem Patisa in Kud
A waterfall on ourway to Srinagar. Pani in redshirt, Dejo, Srick in background, me in the right.
Around 1:30 we reached Patni Top. Patni top is a beautiful ski-resort on the way to Srinagar. Even though we couldn’t find snow now, it will be thickly covered with snow in December-January. After brief photo shoot in a park we moved on.
Dejo and me in Patni Top || Bornier’s praise to J&K – a board in Patni top, also seen Dejo, Pani and Mehra.
Somewhere on the road to Srinagar, Dejo, Me and Mehra facing Jhelum
It was 5:30 when our cab reached Srinagar. Since we haven’t made any plans as to where to stay for the night we asked Khursheed ‘what would be a better option’. He suggested that we could stay in a boathouse in Dal lake for as low as Rs800 per room. We drove up to the famed Dal lake.
‘Mona Lisa’, ‘Manhattan’, ‘Queens Lap’ these are the names you see on the Dal lake boathouses. The names sound flamboyant. The houses once you are inside look royal. Each of the boathouses tells you a story. The prices of these wooden structures range from 3k to 500 per day per room depending on the season. We rented two rooms. After refreshing ourselves we left the house and reached the lake bank to roam in Srinagar. The city looked really peaceful. The citizens are really helpful. Almost everyone asked us whether we liked Srinagar or not. One army man even told us to come in “couples” next time.
Most of the shops in Srinagar close by 9PM. Even though there is no ‘Kharfew’ you can see lot of army men situated around every corner.
At about 9:30 we decided to have dinner and started looking for a decent Kashmiri non-veg hotel. Dejo insisted that we eat chicken that night: D. To our surprise we couldn’t find a single hotel serving NV. We entered a veg. place asked them where could we find a NV place. Thats when the whole magic became clear. Since it is Vaishnodevi season almost every restaurant turns in to a veggie place. We have to sit in a separate place and eat NV and nobody would advertise about it. Thus we ended up eating chicken in a Vaishno Dhaba.
We spent most of the night talking among us despite the early morning plans to do boating in Dal lake.
Dal lake || Dal lake in night
Dal lake in the background, me in foreground || All of us outside HB Royalhouse
Next day morning…
Coming up: Boating in Dal lake, Journey to Kargil through Sonmarg, Zozila pass, Fotula top, Drass.
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