Christmas Getaway

Lot of firsts were reserved for this Christmas. It was the first getaway from Jammu – generally holidays are reserved for going home. First time driving more than 300 kms – on a hilly terrain. And it was the first time to extreme north of India – just 180 kms shy of Srinagar.

The destination was Patnitop. It was an early morning start. The car flew on the empty roads. The bypass road to NH1A is excellent. In fact the whole highway was totally unexpected. Considering that we were going towards Srinagar, the image in the mind was that of a torturous, narrow, steep, bending and curving road. But it was quite the opposite – a comfortable, Shimla kind of highway. In fact the conditions of roads in Jammu City have been a revelation too. They are as good as any.

Coming back to the journey, milestones indicating the reducing distance from Srinagar created excitement enough to stop and pose for some clicks with one of them, which had an Urdu translation as well. While in south India, we constantly complain of a language problem, the boards and names written in the language which make no meaning. Like Sanchit, I also never expected a similar problem in North India as well.

Patnitop was nothing but just another stopover on way to Srinagar – just marketed well, may be because of its appropriate ‘getaway’ distance from Jammu.

There is a resort for night stopovers which we were not really interested. After having breakfast, in which Kava was ordered. It’s a Kashmir specialty – green tea with almonds etc. Didn’t really like it. The weather was awesomely chilly. On getting news of some snow on Natha Top a place around 14km from there we decided to head that way. Rs 50 was charged at the start of the road and someone tried to sell us the idea of renting out gum boots and heavy clothing for the snow. Having experienced enough snow, we could see clearly that there was negligible snow on the hill. In any case, Sanchit and I had trekked several kilometers of more than ankle high snow on the hills at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh in mere sports shoes so we were sure we could definitely make it through here. The way up was disappointing if anyone had expected the white cover. It was a barren brown land. We found a spot, parked the car and climbed up a small hill. The chill was felt immediately as the first step was taken out of the car – the cold wind making the bright sun useless. Within minutes, ears were literally paining with cold, nose incapacitated to do its primary job, the mouth, slightly open frozen in its place and the wind making funny sounds as it passed the teeny tiny gaps in the teeth. All kind of biological sensors under the skin had gone awry.

The loss of 4 senses was compensated by the last one – eyes. It was a visual treat. In front of us were the splendid Himalayas. It was the first time I saw snow clad mountains with the sharp, pointed peaks. Generally the hill tops get curved at the top and are exactly the same as we used to show in the drawing books in our bachpan. But here was something that had come out just out of those books and our imagination.

After some minutes, the 4 senses whose call for some relief had slipped under the beauty of the nature, stood up and it was time to return to the car where the sun and the glasses had colluded  to trap the heat inside the car. It was an instant relief.

My co-passengers slept off on the return journey where the highlight was the Udhampur by-pass road. We had missed it in the morning and had crossed the city. The bypass, though a bit longer was amazing. The car literally flew over the lonely and deserted stretch.

The after effects of around 300 kms of driving were witnessed when, on reaching Jammu, I came out of the car. The knee and the foot refused to move from their places. They had to be moved a lot to get them back into use.

Overall it was a satisfying experience which gave me the confidence that driving down(rather than taking a flight) to Srinagar is a nice option. In any case, the last 100 kms of the 300 km distance is through plains only as you leave the hills behind and enter the valley area.

Hopefully it will happen soon…

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2 Responses to Christmas Getaway

  1. mobilize.org says:

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    • SiD... says:

      Thanks for your comment. As you can see I am not very actively blogging these days so it wont be possible for me to accept your offer. Thanks anyways

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