It was a family trip. Journey started with Me flying from Bangalore to jammu , Mom-Dad from Ahmedabad to jammu and bhaiyaa-bhabhi-tanish from Bombay to jammu. i reached a day before (Tuesday) due to cheaper flights availability on that day. (Bangalore-jammu Round trip flight costed me around 4900/- monsoon sale by spice-jet :) :) amazing deal isn't it?) i also booked a decent hotel (hotel Raghunath) in famous 'Raghunath Temple' area (near to hari om market) some 7km from jammu airport. checked-in the hotel and crash in the bed as i was fully tired.
This is supposed to be a peak season in jammu but due to recent floods in J&K , Normal life was disrupted. reports of landslides or house collapse from various parts of remote hilly areas in Udhampur-Reasi district. life remain out of gear for few days as the floods have caused wide spread damage to roads , railway tracks and other infrastructure across the region. J&K tourism was affected big time. Hotels were empty,NO rush on NH-44 (one of the busiest route in north), Yatra to vaishno devi was suspended for few days (but it is open now). Rescue operations were still on by the Army. we were somehow lucky as jammu was back to normal and recovering after disruption.
I slept the for 14 straight hours and woke up at 10 a.m.(Wednesday) i got fresh and started my hunt for the breakfast. i found an old restaurant in Raghunath temple area. i ate sumptuous (tandoor) aloo parathas there. in 24 hours, i saw the transition from south to north. In south India , i eat rice idli in the morning breakfast (hard to get a good aloo paratha for Morning breakfast) where in here (in jammu), you will get a Good aloo paratha for decent price and no sign of idli's. i never ate the 'tandoor aloo paratha' (tawa aloo paratha) before and i somehow liked the tandoor paratha. i finish my breakfast , went to hotel and booked a cab to jammu airport (then katra) to pickup the family. i checked out from hotel and went to jammu airport to pickup my family.
Jammu airport is very strict and secure. our driver park our car some 500mts away from the jammu airport as cabs are not allowed in the airport. (you need to register your car some 2 hours prior to pick up to get inside the jammu airport) , flight was on time and we headed towards katra without wasting any more time. jammu to katra is 50km and it takes around 2 hours to reach katra as the route is hilly (NH 1A and NH 1C). the entire route is so scenic and picturesque that it feels like to seat there forever and just see the scenic beauty. we stop by at one dhaba for our lunch.
Standard Food Menu at any Dhaba includes : Aloo/Onion Paratha , Aloo-Onion Mix Paratha , Roti , Rajma-Chawal , Aloo-tomato gravy subji , Aloo dry subji , Mix Dal and Maggi
|View Opposite to Dhaba|
Hotel was pre-booked in katra. we checked in the hotel around late evening. we took rest on that day. we were less worried about getting up early , queue up for the yatra purchi (ticket) , either we have to take horses on the way up or take horses till adhkawari and take battery cars from there. we were free from all the hassle as we booked the helicopter service long back.we had a good night sleep. we woke up next morning,got freshen up, ate our breakfast and reached the helipad in katra.till hear everything was going according to plan.
|View From Hotel at Katra|
Our Original Plan for The "Viashno Devi Darshan" got screwed due to fog in the morning at the bhavan and helicopter can't land on the helipad (situated 2.5 km away from the bhavan) due to low visibility. we have waited for 6 hours at the katra for the helicopter service to resume but it didn't happened. our initial idea was to finish the darshan in one day and roam around the other three days in patnitop , but we had to cut down our patnitop stay by one day and decided to dedicate that day (Saturday) for the Vaishno devi Darshan before leaving back to home. Journey to patnitop starts here, we went to hotel around 2'o clock from the helipad. packed our luggage , checked out and started for Patnitop. we booked a innova through hotel. (was getting at decent price from market rate). distance from katra to patnitop is around 80KM (2:30 hours approx)(via NH-44 aka NH 1A).
Patnitop, is one of the beautiful hill stations which is famous for its picturesque surroundings. it is located in the Udhampur district. Route was beautiful. coming from the noisy and polluted area surrounded by Big Residential/Commercial buildings to fresh air and lush green surroundings will take your breath away. few stretches of the route was so calm and serene that you can also hear the sound of the wind that passes by the forest.
|Chenani View - en-route to Katra from Patnitop|
As soon as we reach patnitop , it was started getting cold. (jammu in other hand was hot). Again, the hotel was pre-booked. (and looked like we were the only guest) , it was a Good hotel (hotel Samson). we took Proper rest on that Day.
|Beautiful View from the Hotel - Patnitop|
|Hotel Samson - Patnitop|
|in the Morning|
|JKTDC Cottages at patnitop|
|Way to JKTDC cottages - Patnnitop|
|JKTDC Cottages area|
|JKTDC Cottages at patnitop|
after our visit to JKTDC cottages , we went to Children's Park. Park was ok and it was not maintained Properly. we cam out quickly from the Park. our next destination was the Picnic Spot. as soon as we enter the spot it felt like we are roaming in countryside of Austria. it was so serene and surrounded by lush green grass. the site was picturesque.
|Picnic Spot - Patnnitop|
after finishing the visit the Picnic Stop , we headed for the sanasar. Sanasar, located just about 17km from patnitop. Nathatop is a place on the way to sanasar. it is a beautiful place where it is surrounded by clouds and you can hardly see anything as visibility was too low. it was chilly also. felt like just seat there for hours and do nothing.
|On the way to Sanasar|
|Nathatop mein ek Baba Dhyaan mein paye gaye!!|
|Baba ko jab gussa aata hain to ye roop dharan kar lete hain!!|
then we headed towards sanasar , as soon as we entered the sanasar , i was speechless. i have never seen such a beautiful place in my life. it was like heaven on earth. so serene , calm , surrounded by lush green meadows , clear blue sky , tall pine trees , horses and cattle grazing , beautiful sanasar lake , it was beautiful. i wanted to seat there for hours and do nothing. just wanted to seat and watch the beauty around it. i was amazed by the fact that such places do exist in India. i fallen in love with the place.
|Beautiful sanasar lake in sanasar|
|Horses and cattles grazing|
i am gonna cherish the beautiful memories spent here. it was completely mesmerizing. if you are looking for a quiet holiday then sanasar is the place.after the hectic day , we headed back to hotel at patnitop. we took Proper rest on that day as we were planning to leave early next day. we checked out hotel on the early morning (Saturday) and headed towards katra.
NH-44 was maintained by the BRO (Boarder Road Organization) , i found some interesting quotes on the way to katra on NH-44 , they are called as BRO Code.
- After whisky drive risky
- if married divorce speed
- Drive Cautiously someone is waiting for you
- Drive with care , make accident rare
- Speed is a knife that cuts the life
also read the notice that "shooting stone area starts" - stretch between Chenani and Udhampur. not sure what it means.we reach katra on time.
Main agenda of the tour was the Vaishno devi Darshan and it was still pending. as soon as we reach katra we enquired about the helicopter service at niharika bhawan , but no luck services were not running due to fog at the bhavan. so we have decided to go by horses. we kept our stuff at the hotel, got fresh and started our journey to bhavan. first thing first is to take yatra ticket from Niharika bhavan , without which you are not allowed to enter the vaishnodevi bhavan. as soon as we got the tickets , we went at the start of the line to get the horses. (380/- rs. till adhkawari + Might charge extra if overweight) we have decided to take the horses till adhkawari and idea was to take the battery car till bhawan as rush was not there. we took the horses and reach adhkawari. we got three places for battery car. (300/- rs. each) so mom-dad-bhabhi-tanish went by battery car from bhavan. Me and big bro have decided to take horse ride from adhkawari to bhawan. (400-450/- to bhawan). we reach bhawan on time. as there was no rush , we had our darshan so easily with minimal waiting time.
one thing my big bro was constantly praying while going from adhkawari to bhawan was it should rain and clear the fog , so that helicopter service can resume and we can utilize the helicopter service back to katra while going down. Mata rani heard my big bro's prayer and it rained , Fog got cleared and we were sure that helicopter will restart and we have chance.as soon as we finish our darshan , we ran towards the counter , the guy told it is the last service and we should be really quick to reach helipad , which is 2.5 km away from bhavan. counter guy gave us the five tickets and suggested to take horses till helipad and reach ASAP. we reached the helipad on time and we got the helicopter back to katra , we were relieved.
Overall an Amazing experience in Jammu and Gonna explore more in near future..!! Cheers..!!