Is Kashmir safe to travel for tourists?


Kashmir is often referred as Jannat, Paradise, Heaven etc. and that’s indeed a true or I would say an understatement for what it is and what your experience when you are actually in Kashmir. I’m not sure what the heaven really looks like but if it is what we have always heard of, I’m sure Kashmir will certainly qualify to be one such place in heaven for sure.

In this travelogue, I will be narrating our experience in this paradise called Kashmir and share our trip details for anyone who would want to go on this absolutely stunning road less travelled..hopefully this will make the readers get a true picture of Kashmir valley, get an understanding of how to plan a trip to Kashmir valley offbeat places, what to do, what not to do etc. and most importantly answer the most frequently asked question "Is Kashmir Safe for travel?"

Before I go into details here are some highlights of the trip and why you should read this long blog

  • Experience of a lifetime at one of the top mountain passes of the Kashmir valley

  • Driving through the snow capped mountains on back-breaking slushy Icy muddy roads

  • Savouring the best of Kashmiri Wazwan food

  • Meet some of the heroes of the trip and their godly hospitality

  • See some of the Wonderful valleys and vistas of India’s unexplored regions

  • How Indian Army works relentlessly to keep us safe

  • Get a close up view of some of the Pakistani mountains we saw from close distance

Some pictures of the trip

So we wanted to go for a long drive from sometime and couldn’t plan for it as were caught up with household chores and daily mundane activities but after a long wait we somehow made this happen this time. The big question was where to go? Given the number of days we had in hand we knew that we cannot do more than 20-25days trip, so we started planning accordingly. The planning as usual started with the place to go and the big contenders were Sikkim in North east, Bhutan, Nepal, or Kashmir valley. After doing some research, Sikkim, Bhutan and Nepal were looking difficult as it was going to be rainy season there and it wouldn’t have made sense to drive all the way and then get caught up in the rains. So the only choice was Kashmir valley as most of the other places anywhere in India would have been very hot or we would have done them already. So it was Kashmir!

Now when we travel, we travel with complete preparations and to help us with a successful trip, we only and only trust one person who’s known as the king of roads, human gps and is popularly known as “HVK” or “HivayKing”. So after several discussions with HVK, the places to visit along with itinerary was finalised as below..

D1: Bangalore - Bombay

D2: Bombay - Chittorgarh

D3: Chittorgarh - Karnal

D4: Karnal - Jammu

D5: Jammu - Rajouri - Mughal Road - Aharbal Falls (Must do) - Dudhpathri - Srinagar

D6: Srinagar - Gulmarg - Baramulla -

D7: Gulmarg - Uri - Baramulla - Handwara - Bungus - Handwara - Kupwara - Lolab Valley/ Chandigam

D8: Chandigam - Kupwara - Tangdhar

D9: Tangdhar - Titwal - Tangdhar - Kupwara

D10: Kupwara - Bandipora - GUrez Valley

D11: Gurez Valley - Bandipora - Sonamarg - Manasbal lake - Srinagar

D12: Srinagar - Pahalgam

D13: Pahalgam - Dakshum - Sinthan Top - Kishtawar

D14: Kishtawar - Cliff Hanger Route - Khilar - Kishtawar - Batote - Jammu

If Manali route is open:

D14: Kishtawar - Cliff Hanger Route - Khilar - Udeypur - Keylong

D15: Jammu/ Manali - Delhi

D16: Delhi - Jhansi - Narasingpur

D17: Narasingpur - Nagpur - Hyderabad

D18: Hyderabad - Bangalore

Once the itinerary was finalised, we were all set for the trip. We spoke to few of our friends and relatives about the plans, and were hugely discouraged to go to Kashmir for a holiday. Well, this was something we were expecting but now were very disappointed as none of the places we thought of were really looking doable either because of weather or the dates were just not matching with the plans. So we continued our thought process and finally decided to go to Kashmir in spite of many concerns raised by our beloved friends and parents. Kashmir is often considered very unsafe by many of us and the media often highlights the disturbances in the valley making it sound like a very unsafe place for tourists... whether it is safe or not.. we will share our views in this blog.

Anyway so we decided to take the road less traveled as we knew somewhere within our hearts that we will be safe and it will all be OK and even if something happens, it’s fine as you gotta take some risk in life to do what usual people won’t do! This paid off well and we are still alive 😜

Now the date was fixed and the itinerary was ready. I got our beast a.k.a., Raakshas (our Ford Endeavour) serviced two days before the trip start date so that we don’t get any surprises on the road and have a worry free trip. So the Raakshas was ready to roll and all the packing was done one day before the trip start date. We loaded up all the luggage in the huge Belly of our Raakshas on the eve of the trip start date to save time the next day. Now the wait for the morning and to start the trip finally began... so we had a good nights sleep that night.

The D-day: Bangalore Pune: 890kms: 12hrs drive time

So after a good nights sleep we woke up, got ready and started rolling around 6am for our next pit stop, Pune. The drive to Pune is very good and the roads are simply awesome.

Fully loaded Raakshas all set and ready for the long long trip to the crown of India, Kashmir

Route taken : Bangalore - Tumkur - Chitradurga - Hubli - Kolhapur - Satara - Pune

One can easily drive on an average 120-140kmph speeds till Hubli and then after around 90-100 for the rest of the distance. We’ve done done this circuit a lot of times now and it’s very convenient and safe. The only issue sometimes is the lack of good eateries but you can manage with eating at Kamat’s till Hubli or then some local dhabas on the way to Pune. So we stopped here at one of the joints for breakfast

We generally stop at “Kamat’s” for a coffee and breakfast break and then at “Goa-ves” for lunch. If you’re a non-vegetarian, then we would strongly recommend to try this restaurant and have Chicken Kolhapuri and Chicken dum Biryani which is simply yumm..

On the way to Pune

Lunch @ Goa Ves restaurant, on the way to Pune via Bangalore, our usual stop!

We reached Pune around 7:30pm and stayed at one of my best friends house which is right on the highway so that we don’t have to spend too much time next morning getting out of the city. The road to Pune was in excellent condition barring the numerous diversions because of the road widening going on (during April 2019).

Day 2 : Pune Dhule : 340kms : 7hrs drive

Next day we got up a bit late than planned and that delayed us for the early start. But anyway we packed our bags, dumped it in the car and got going. Today we knew that it will be a long drive and through the mad traffic of Mumbai/Nashik so we zoomed through the early morning traffic towards the Mumbai expressway. There’s no fun of driving holiday is you don’t try the local food so on the expressway we had to stop for breakfast at the most famous food joint, the great grand “Sree-Dutt” 😀.

So we enjoyed some local savouries like Vada-pao, Kothimbir-wadi, Sabudana-vada here and then continued our journey.

After a long drive and driving around 4-5 hours, we we feeling a bit tired and hungry again so we kept looking for a good place to eat. On the highway, we found one place that was looking decent and most importantly looked like had a Air-conditioner as we badly needed to have a good meal without suffering in the heat. So we stopped here and had our much needed lunch break. After the meal we started again towards next destination and we didn’t knew where we can reach today ..maybe Indore or Ratlam!

FastTag experience throughout the trip was a mixed bag. Some places it worked beautifully but some places the attendant needed to come and physically scan the tag

So we drove for another couple of hours before we were feeling too tired to continue further and decided to stay anywhere we can get a good and safe hotel on the way. So we connected with the CHD (central hotel desk) folks who helped us with the hotel booking at Dhule. This is one of the best part of traveling on road that you don’t have to be worried about reaching at a pre-decided and Pre-booked place and you can stay wherever you feel like.. and all this is a blessing with the CHD services provided by HVK group. See below for what CHD is and how they operate if you want to have a hassle free Road trip!

So CHD is basically a group of Volunteers within HVK group who help the fellow roadies book and stay in the hotels where they're traveling. This saves a lot of money and as well as the effort and uncertainty of booking the hotels beforehand. Through CHD, they help you book the hotels on the go and also takes care of your preferences and facilities if possible.

Hotel for today: Hotel Jhankar Palace, Mumbai Agra road

Hotel review: The hotel itself was good enough for a night and had a huge place for parking. It was on the highway and looked decent enough for a family stay. We checked-in after the formalities and straight away went to our room to relax. The climate there was too hot and the bathrooms had only the hot or boiling water coming... we wanted to take a shower but couldn’t as the boiling water from overhead tanks was too hot for a bath. We waited for a while but the water didn’t cool off even till next morning. Anyway, I somehow took the plunge in the water to have a relaxing sleep.

After a hot bath, we decided to go to a nearby Gurudwara (Sikh temple) and paid the visit. It was a small but good temple. After the visit to gurudwara, we returned to the hotel for the dinner at their in house restaurant, which was a pure-veg restaurant :(

The food at the restaurant was good but it took real long for the food to get ready. So after a good dinner, we slept like babies... zzzzzz...zzzzzz...zzzzzzzz

Next morning we woke up early to continue our drive towards Jaipur, our next planned stop.

Day 3 : Dhule - Ratlam - Jaipur : 820kms : 14hrs drive

This morning was a good, bright and sunny morning. We woke up around 6am and continued our journey towards Jaipur. We couldn’t get the breakfast at the hotel as it was too early for them and didn’t had anything ready. We decided to leave without the breakfast and have it on the way.

Route : Dhule - Ratlam - Chittorgarh - Bhilwara - Kishangarh - Jaipur (Bhagru)

The roads on this route were very very good and the entire stretch was almost empty. The only traffic was of the commercial vehicles (trucks) and that too mostly were well behaved and were driving in their lanes mostly. This helped us zoom through and maintain a good speed for the entire stretch.

On the way, we stopped for a breakfast break at around 9am at a local dhaba where we got the local savouries like samosa, poha(rice flakes), kachori, jalebi etc.. yumm..

Yummy POha

Farsaan/ Phafda :)

Kachouri, Samosas's etc

Garam garam Chai

Imarti

Imarti

The beautiful and yummy snacks

After a delicious local breakfast, we continued our drive towards Jaipur and hope to reach Jaipur by evening (as per google maps). The rest of the drive was uneventful and was too plain. The traffic wasn’t much, the roads were good, so we managed to speed up but this is where I think over sped a bit and got caught for it as well 😂😂 yes there were interceptors on the way and we were caught doing over 140kmph 😂 so had to shell out 400 bucks for it. The roads were too good to slow down and then we continued for sometime within the speed limit range but then again we couldn’t slow down and continued with a speed of around 120kmph.. until we reached our hotel. In between we had lunch ata local dhaba that served some very nice food before vied our hotel at Hotel Hiwayking on the Jaipur-Agra highway.

A local vendor selling Kakdi

The barren land

Lovely colors of India and the vehicles

Save water guys, its going to be a luxury very soon..

Jai Shani Dev ...

Gas top-up at Reliance Petrol bunk. This guy tried cheating us or maybe looked like cloning the Credit Crd but I noticed it and stopped him and questioned him on what he was upto. Then he immediately went to the office and tried telling me that they have a process where the customer needs to give the card and he will need to authorise it before filling in the diesel and hence he was trying to to do that. I spoke to the manager and he was also supporting his person which I'm sure was their modus operandi. No where in any place I have seen this practice otherwise. I anyway took my card and drove off.

So, after reaching the hotel which was right on the highway, we checked in, freshened up and then straight away went for dinner after a cup of good coffee in our room. The hotel was good and had all the amenities you would expect on a highway hotel plus it had few options to shop and eat. So the kids decided to eat at Subway and we settled for a North Indian meal at their restaurant. After the meal we went to our rooms and dozed off for as early morning start next day.

Hotel Hiway King

Day 4 - Jaipur - Panipat - Karnal - Jammu : 850kms, 14hrs drive

This day was the day of the main drive to the foot hills and that would take us to where we wanted to go, away from the heat and traffic and mad crowd but we weren’t sure if we can make it to Jammu and drive for almost 14+hrs as it was showing in google maps. But anyway we checked out in the morning around 6:30am and proceeded towards Jammu.

In this trip we followed a practice to carry boiled water in a thermos flask for tea/coffee on the go and we boiled the water today before leaving the hotel and made us a nice cup of coffee for a good start of the day. After about few hours we stopped at Bikanerwala for breakfast just before Jaipur and exiting towards Sonipat.

Breakfast at Bikanerwala

The roads were fabulous here and we were going great guns before the cops stopped us again for over speeding 😂 and we again got fined. We were told by the cops last evening that the receipt we have is valid for 24hrs and we will not have to pay another fine.. so we were relaxed and showed the receipt to the cop who caught us this time. We thought they’ll let us go without fine but we were absolutely wrong! We were told that as we have repeatedly oversped, we will now have to pay 1900rs or got to court for getting back the license. This obviously made me really worried as we had a good amount of drive to b done and we didn’t wanted to drive without a license specially to the hills and sensitive areas like Kashmir. So we requested the cops to take the fine and let us go.. on this they said they can settle the matter there itself is we pay them something.. so we paid 500rs without a receipt and carried on!

This was certainly not something I wanted to do but had to as I didn’t had a choice. So we continued our journey towards Jammu.

Open and empty roads

The road side kulfi's :)

The banta! Not sure if many remember this drink.. this used to be our cold-drink before Pepsi and Coke killed the market for this awesome product!

Lovely sunset near Jammu

just entering Jammu

The roads on this stretch were absolutely brilliant and we could manage to cover a lot of distance in a short time thereby reaching Jammu by 7pm. Jammu hotel was on the highway again with a good parking space.

Hotel Mango, Jammu. The hotel was good for a night stay and had restaurant as well so we didn’t had to go out. Here we tried Kashmiri cuisine for the first time and were not disappointed. The food was delicious and the service wasn’t bad as well. They had buffet option as well but that didn’t had the stuff we wanted to eat, so we went ala-carte. After a sumptuous meal, we went back to the rooms and dozed off after packing the stuff for next few days. We generally carry only a bag or two to the rooms and rest keep it in the car itself so that we don’t have to lug everything. So after the repacking of the clothes etc., for next few days according to the weather, we slept well.

Day 5 - Jammu - Srinagar (via Mughal Road) : 8350kms, 10hrs drive

We were looking for this day when we would drive down to Kashmir and would be driving in the deep forests and awesome valleys of Kashmir. I heard a lot about the Mughal road that leads to Srinagar but never traveled on it so this time instead fo taking the normal highway from Jammu to Srinagar, we took this route which is more picturesque and fun to drive on

Route plan: Jammu - Naushera - Rajouri - Pir Ki Gali - Shopian - Pulwama - Srinagar

After checking out from the hotel around 7am we straight away proceeded towards Srinagar via Sunderbani, Naushera. After an hours drive or so, the roads started getting narrow and winding on the hills, the terrain became more greener and hilly and the scenery got more and more interesting.

One of the beautiful views of the valley from this spot

We stopped at a roadside food joint to have breakfast and got some awesome pakodas. The guys had Paneer, Bread, Onion and Aloo pakodas and they were all yumm.. we had the breakfast here and then moved forward. The roads from here got better and better with views to really live long for :) enjoy the pics..

Paneer Pakodas

Assorted Pakodas

Paneer Pakodas in making

Wood fired Oven

Army movement was too much on this road.. when we were having breakfast we aw almost 2 convoys of 20+ trucks

Some temples on the way

Awesome views all the way

Awesome views all the way

Awesome views all the way

Awesome views all the way

Awesome views all the way

Awesome views all the way

One of the mosque's on the way

Notice the big and beautiful houses of Kashmir.. but for some reason many of the houses were abandoned.. or looked like ncomplete

We were stopped here by these gentlemen and asked for donation for Ramadan. We gave our contribution and moved on.

After a good long drive, we stopped here for lunch. tHis was a very small joint but as we didn't had choice we thought to check with him if he has anything to eat. He told us that he has some Kashmiri food and can make omelette. So we ate here and we were not disappointed for sure. The food was really yummy and we really liked their hospitality.

Kashmiri Wazwan food

Chicken curry, Rishta (Meat Balls) and Rice

Rajma Curry

Happy family :) It was so satisfying meal

One of the check-post where we had to make an entry to proceed further on Mughal Road..

Beautiful valleys

Towards Bufliaz

Valleys of Kashmir

So after about few hours drive when we reached Buffliaz bridge, the weather started changing and immediately it started raining with thunderstorms and showers. We continued our journey further and in about few kms from here, there was an army check-post where we were stopped and told that we cannot continue further until tomorrow! We were shocked and had no clue on what to do! Our Airtel and Vodafone phones stopped working here and only JIO was working so we called our friend “HVK” to check what are the options in hand. Surprisingly the only two options were to either stay at the check-post for couple of hours if the army guys would allow us further if the weather clears up or go to the town and look for some home stay for a night.

Valleys of Beautiful Kashmir

When we reached here, it started raining heavily reducing the speed and visibility drastically

At this point, we saw a huge line of vehicles waiting to cross the check-post. We continued forward thinking that this might be for commercial vehicles, but we were stopped as well and told that we can't proceed further as the weather is not good and its very risky to proceed further. We were advised here that we should turn back and go the town and stay there. I wasn't sure if there was any good accommodation in the town and I checked with the police folks out there, they recommended to go to Surankote as there he said we might get a guest house or a rest house. So we waited there for a while hoping them to allow us proceed and maybe the rains to slow down but we were wrong. Neither they allowed us to proceed or the rains slowed down.. We then had no option but to either stay there in car for the night in the rain and proceed further in the morning at 6am when they'll open the way or go back to the town and look for a guest house.

Heavy rains on the way back to the town

Beautiful bridge

So we stayed there itself for sometime thinking on what are our options and there comes one police officer on our window knocking and telling us to move from there. He suggested that we should go to Surankote village that was just 10kms backwards and stay there in the Dak Bunglow as that’s the only good option for a stay for a family. We liked the idea and followed his advice and drove back to the Surankote town. It was terribly raining out there and it was getting worse by the hour. Upon reaching the town, we enquired about the Dak Bunglow and proceeded towards it.

We found this Dak Bunglow which was a little off street but nearby from main town junction. To my horror, I found the door locked but after some checking I realised that there’s a small door within the main door that was open. So I went in and looked for someone who could help us get a room to stay for a night. The caretaker came out and told me that yes the rooms are available but they’re very basic ones. The VIP room was occupied and will only be available after couple of hours by evening. As we didn’t had any choice, we agreed to take the room available at that point and then change to VIP room when it becomes available. So I went out, got the car inside the Dak-Bunglow premises in the pouring rain and we all then went to the room that was a basic room but was a saviour for us. The rain GOD’s continued to shower hard along with thunderstorms while we settled ourselves.

The caretaker was a good old man who assured us that we are safe here and we need not worry about anything. Since it was Ramzan time, he said that he can arrange for food once he comes back from his prayer and we were very relieved after hearing that. He also said that he’ll cook whatever we want and that can be done within the timeframe. It was just around 4pm but because of the weather and rains, it was sounding like that it’s almost 7pm as it got very dark. The rains became very heavy and slowly the hailstorm started making it more dramatic.

After a while the caretaker got some Pakodas for us from the market and also bought some Chicken for dinner along with Paneer so that he can make some Paneer and Chicken gravy for us for dinner. So we had nothing to do but enjoyed the rains and weather for the rest of the evening. After about 8pm we got the dinner and the caretaker really served us with an awesome Chicken gravy with Paneer matar and Rice. We enjoyed our dinner hoping the rains will settle down and hopefully we will be able to move forward next day to Srinagar.

We were lucky today to get accommodation here as there was literally no other good place to stay in the town. If we hadn’t come here, we would have either stayed in the car whole night or stayed in some guest house which as per the caretaker were not very good or even safe with family that I agree. Anyway, so we stayed here overnight and had a good sleep. The caretaker provided additional blankets to us as it got really cold in the night.

Next morning we bid goodbye to the caretaker, thanked him for his hospitality and care and moved further towards Srinagar.

Day 6: Surankot - Srinagar via Mughal road

So we woke up around 6am to take a stock of the situation and start our further journey. We weren’t sure if the Army folks will allow us to cross the check post today so we requested the caretaker to check for us as his brother seems to be working there. He quickly checked for us and suggested that we leave around 8:30am to avoid the early rush of trucks and cabs. We agreed and leveraged the time to have breakfast and then get ready.

After getting ready, we bid goodbye to the caretaker, thanked him, gave him some tip and proceeded further towards Srinagar via Pir-Ki-Gali which is basically a high altitude mountain pass. So we drove for about 12-14kms before we saw a huge pile up of traffic that looked like a traffic jam but it was actually a Army check post where we everyone who was passing the check-post had to go through a full vehicle check up and all the members had to show their valid ID’s. The process took almost few hours as there were about 150+ cars and trucks ahead of us and around 250+ behind us. I cannot share anymore details as this is very sensitive area and Army folks specially told us not to take or put any details of this place with anyone. Respecting the privacy of our country, I wouldn’t be able to share any further details on this.

Beautiful views on the way to Srinagar from Mughal road

Beautiful views on the way to Srinagar from Mughal road

Checkpost where we were stopped last evening. We were so thankful to these guys that they didn't let us go last evening as we would have missed all the scenic beauty of this place if we would have driven through this place in dark ir during heavy rains. It wasn't very risky but we wouldn't have enjoyed it in dark. That when we say that everything happens for good!

Beautiful views on the way to Srinagar from Mughal road

Local bakeries selling breads etc.

Beautiful views on the way to Srinagar from Mughal road

Beautiful views on the way to Srinagar from Mughal road

Anyway, so we moved forward after the check-post and after completion of the formalities towards Pir-ki-Gali. Further to this point, the roads were non existent, there was a lot of slush along with snow on the sides of the road and the scenery was just simply out of the world. We were so enjoying the scenery and took a million pics and videos of the entire drive. It was not less than a movie scene everywhere with lots and lots of snow mountains and beautiful vistas everywhere..

Beautiful views on the way to Srinagar from Mughal road

Beautiful views on the way to Srinagar from Mughal road

Beautiful views on the way to Srinagar from Mughal road

Beautiful views on the way to Srinagar from Mughal road

Vultures eating their kill!

Beautiful views on the way to Srinagar from Mughal road

Beautiful snow capped mountains

Beautiful views on the way to Srinagar from Mughal road

We were stuck here or crawling from here for next 3 hrs because of the check-post and the army folks checking all the vehicles. This slowed us down and wasted around 3 hrs of time.

Look at the queue

People waiting for their turn

Beautiful views on the way to Srinagar from Mughal road

Beautiful views on the way to Srinagar from Mughal road

So we stopped on the way on one of the small fast food joint for a break. After some delicious omelette and Maggie we proceeded to the mountain pass where we stopped again for some fun and a photo shoot with the snow capped peaks of Pir-ki-Gali. Enjoy the pics...

Thats the glacier just before Pi-ki-gali

Lovely views

Lovely views and awesome drive

Lovely views

Slush all the way..

Vulctures

Snow walls

Lovely views

Muddy Slushy Roads

Broken roads

The roads here were a mix of muddy-slushy-broken with big craters as expected on any pass after the snowfall. The weather was almost around 0 degrees Celsius and the breeze was ice cold. On the top of the pass there was a Dargah (Mosque) that we wanted to go to but because it was raining and bitter cold, we skipped it. We enjoyed the place for a while and then started our descend from the mountain pass towards Shopian and finally to Srinagar. The descend was good as well with lots of views and opportunities to take brilliant landscape pictures. After a good drive, we reached Srinagar around 6:30 or so.

Lovely views

Lovely views of the waterfalls

Drive to Pir-ki-gali

@ Pir-ki-Gali

@ Pir-ki-Gali

@ Pir-ki-Gali

@ Pir-ki-Gali

@ Pir-ki-Gali

@ Pir-ki-Gali

@ Pir-ki-Gali

@ Pir-ki-Gali

@ Pir-ki-Gali

The weather here was too dramatic. .. in few minutes it was raining, then started snowing, then came the dar clouds... wow what a scene it was.. @ Pir-ki-Gali

Lovely Views @ Pir-ki-Gali

Lovely roads and scenery all the way to Shopian

Mesmerising.. views..

Lovely drive

Here the traffic was stopped to go to Pir-ki-Gali from Shopian side

On the way to Srinagar

On the way to Srinagar

Shopian Bazar

Check-post On the way to Srinagar

On the way to Srinagar

Local shops On the way to Srinagar.. notice the broken buildings

Rice fields On the way to Srinagar

On the way to Srinagar

On the way to Srinagar we saw these building that was totally broken and looked like a haunted house. Seemed like someone has bombarded this house

On the way to Srinagar

Lovely roads ..On the way to Srinagar

Lovely roads ..On the way to Srinagar

Lovely roads ..On the way to Srinagar

Mosque ..On the way to Srinagar

Entering the town

@ Dal Lake

@ Dal Lake

@ Dal Lake

@ Dal Lake

@ Dal Lake

Wonderful views of the @ Dal Lake

Finally @ Dal Lake

As we entered the town, we were very hungry as we couldn’t get anything good on the way to eat so we were looking for a good place to eat. As we were heading towards our booked Houseboat, we saw couple of restaurants selling Shawarma rolls and we stopped there for a quick meal. Generally a Shawarma roll costs about 60-90 Rs in Bangalore or if you go to a good restaurant, it might be around 100 bucks. Here we were surprised that it costed around 180rs for a small roll ... I totally believe the guy saw us and as we were tourists, he cheated on us and charged us more.. I cannot believe that they would be selling a single roll for 180 bucks 🤔 Anyway, so picked up few of them, filled our tummies and then proceeded towards our houseboat. The map suggested us to take the full round circle of the Dal lake so we did that while enjoying the views of the dal lake before we reached our houseboat named “New Jersey” at Nageen Lake.

One of the shops at Srinagar who cheated us :(

We knew the owner and the caretaker of the houseboat as we stayed in this same houseboat couple of years earlier while going to Ladakh. As we reached the houseboat, Javed (caretaker) and Basheer(owner) came out to receive us and welcome us back to the houseboat. They helped us offload the luggage and settle it in our room. We then freshened up and settled for a cup of tea. After the tea, we just relaxed and prepared for next days drive. Javed informed us that the dinner will be ready by 9pm so we were waiting for the dinner time and to finish dinner on time so that we can sleep and take rest.

After finishing the dinner, we dozed off and had a good night’s sleep as the drive even though was not very tiring, it became too long at the end of the day. Anyway so we just went to bed after a good dinner.

New Jersey Houseboat @ Nageen Lake

New Jersey Houseboat @ Nageen Lake

New Jersey Houseboat @ Nageen Lake

View from the New Jersey Houseboat @ Nageen Lake at night

View from the New Jersey Houseboat @ Nageen Lake in morning

View from the New Jersey Houseboat @ Nageen Lake

Next morning, we loaded the car with our luggage, thanked the caretaker and Javed and moved towards our next destination, Gulmarg.

From this point, I’ll be breaking the journey narration into individual posts to keep it short and relevant for the folks who would want to do this circuit individually or as a whole.

The rest of the (planned) itinerary was like this

Day 7 - Srinagar - Gulmarg - Baramulla

Day 8 - Gulmarg - Uri - Baramulla - Handwara - Bungus - Handwara - Kupwara - Lolab Valley/ Chandigam

Day 9 - Chandigam - Kupwara - Tangdhar

Day 10 - Tangdhar - Titwal - Tangdhar - Kupwara

Day 11 - Kupwara - Bandipora - GUrez Valley

Day 12 - Gurez Valley - Bandipora - Sonamarg - Manasbal lake - Srinagar

Day 13 - Srinagar - Pahalgam

Day 14 - Pahalgam - Dakshum - Sinthan Top - Kishtawar

Day 15 - Kishtawar - Cliff Hanger Route - Khilar - Kishtawar - Batote - Jammu

If Manali route is open:

Day 16 - Kishtawar - Cliff Hanger Route - Khilar - Udeypur - Keylong

Day 17 - Jammu/ Manali - Delhi

Day 18 - Delhi - Jhansi - Narasingpur

Day 19 - Narasingpur - Nagpur - Hyderabad

Day 20 - Hyderabad - Bangalore

Now this was the itinerary but we couldn’t completely follow this for the rest of the trip but still could do a lot of exciting stuff and made the best use of the time whatever we could. Please click on the links below for next episode and for further journey..

Jump to Next blog post : Day 7 - Srinagar - Gulmarg - Baramulla


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