Post leaving my corporate job I wanted to something outrageous. I was thinking of backpacking northern India from a long time. It was time to put this plan in enforcement mode. My first stop was the valley of flowers. Yup right as you thought. Srinagar in Kashmir. The best time to visit Kashmir is during the months of March to October. During this period the weather conditions in Kashmir are at their best. This period covers three seasons in Kashmir i.e., spring (March-early May), summers (early May-late August) and autumn (September-November).
How to reach?
The only mistake that I did was, not to catch a bus not via Chandigarh, but took a bus via Delhi. Delhi can be a brutal assault on your comfort as the summer months are bad with humid and polluted atmosphere getting into your skin. The annoying traffic adds to the frustration.
Somehow after fighting all these odds I reached ISBT and took a bus to Jammu. Which is easily available in the evenings and it reaches Jammu the next morning. This is going to be a journey of about 12+ hours, so try and take a sleeper bus if you can.
I reached Jammu at around 9:00 AM in the morning, woke up at the bus stand and found their are no buses available to Srinagar. The terrain and the dangerous passes through the mountain does not allow buses to be a part of this journey. Instead what you can get is a 7 seat car like and MUV which will take you to Srinagar.
Most of the highway is well maintained by the military and state government I must say.
The highway last only for a quarter time of your journey. The rest is through the rocky mountains which are dangerous and requires time and patience to cross.
The highway starts from Lal Chowk, Srinagar and then passes through Pulwama district, Anantnag district, Kulgam district, Ramban district, Udhampur district and ends in Jammu city. The highway lies in Kashmir valley for first 68 km up to Qazigund, and then passes through series of Mountains up to Jammu. The highway is famous for Patnitop Hill station, Jawahar Tunnel, Sweets of Kud and Tea of Sarmuli. The highway is often closed during winter days due to heavy snowfall in Kashmir valley and district Ramban. Many landslides and avalanches in the mountainous region leads to closure of highway during winters.
The railway line connecting kashmir valley with Banihal has eased traffic on the highway. Many people prefer to travel in train up to Banihal as it is economical and time saving. The government of Jammu and Kashmir spents lot of money every year on maintenance of this highway. At many sites new roads with less number of road curves and tunnel are constructed. This would not only provide comfort to the passengers but would also reduce distance between two cities. Udhampur-Jammu highway is the small part of this highway.
A small video that I made from inside of the MUV in which I was travelling.
Srinagar is the summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and the largest city in the Kashmir region. The first thing that comes into mind with Srinagar is the beauty and charm of Dal Lake that defines most of Srinagar.
Tired by a overnight journey from Jaipur to Srinagar, I was exhausted and straight away checked in the resort nearby Dal Lake.
Getting to Dal lake
I stayed in the Lal Chowk area of Srinagar. Lal Chowk is often referred to as Ghanta Ghar (House of the Bell). It is a tower with a clock and a bell. With hotel lined streets and a bustling market, it is always full of action.
Once I managed to look beyond the barrage of tourists and vendors, Srinagar beyond a major tourist hub emerged before us.
My hotel was adjacent to the Dal Lake. Srinagar was devastated by the floods last year, however over an year they have done a lot to overcome it.
A beautiful sit out in the middle of the road, the Lal Chowk is ideal for some social mingling. From reading the morning newspaper to a congregation of seniors in the evening, it served its purpose well. Resting on one of its sheltered benches on a sunny day, made me feel “just like the local”!
Tip for Srinagar
I highly recommend walking to Dal lake, if you are staying at Lal Chowk or thereabouts. It was a perfect introduction to life in Srinagar.
Hotel Green View
The New Green View is located inside the Dal lake, so every time you have to use a Shikara/Small boat to reach the property. Which can beld be interesting for some and irritating for others. From the front you will thus have a lake to see – thus you will enjoy having your drinks/smokes from the front but the view from the rooms are not that great. The rooms are old and have a damp feeling. There were lot of mosquitoes and I could here rats making noise all night. So if you want to relax a lot in the hotel don’t go for it. I used to travel all day and just used the rooms at night so had no issues. So if you have money, avoid it. You can just book it for one night and then explore other houseboats nearby.
It was getting late already and after 24 hours of traveling, I wanted to have a good night sleep. So I slept waiting for the next day!