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Road-trip to URI

This is in continuation of our travelogue from Bangalore - Srinagar - Gulmarg. If you wish to read to read the previous travelogues, you can visit here

Day 8 - Gulmarg - URI - Baramulla

This was the day when we wanted to actually start the drive to the terrain and places we actually came for. I mean we were never interested to do any tourist places but we just wanted to tick box Gulmarg from our list of visited places as we heard lot of good reviews about it. We weren’t disappointed but weren’t too appreciative of the tourist traps out there which make your whole trip very memorable but with bad taste 😜. Anyway so we woke up early to start early around 6am. We knew that we won’t get anything to eat much at that time at the hotel, so we just made coffee had some cookies to start the day. The checkout process was pretty straight and didn’t take any time. We thanked the staff, loaded our luggage and started our journey to next destination which was URI and Baramulla.

After checking out, we went straight to the market to try our luck with some breakfast and we were lucky to see couple of shops opening up and setting up their stalls. So we decided to eat here as we didn’t wanted to starve all day and were not sure of availability of food on the way to URI.

So we had breakfast at this place and the breakfast was pretty good. We finished the breakfast with a lovely cup of hot tea and Kahwa to stay awake and refreshed and continued the drive to URI.

The Gulmarg special omelette bread bun

Yummmmm .... Pao bhaji

The route to URI was pretty scenic with lovely landscapes and villages in between. We were recommended to take the route via Baba Reshi instead of Tangmarg from where we came and it was a good suggestion. We truly enjoyed the drive to Baba Reshi dargah as the roads were pretty good up to a certain point .. say 12-14kms and then deteriorated till we reached the main highway. On our way, we thought to visit the dargah which is pretty famous in that circuit but somehow we missed the place as we were busy driving and enjoying the drive and landscapes. The breathtaking beauty of this valley just makes you so engaged that you just forget everything else and that’s what exactly happened with us. After about 90mins drive, we arrived at the highway and drove towards URI, the last town of India that became very famous for the battle that happened few years back.

Lovely roads en-route

Local horse riders climbing up the mountain

The route to Baba Reshi dargah

Mobile toilets

Local eateries serving local dishes .. Lakhmi Parontha and some Halwa I guess

Kashmiri Galiyan

Look at those roots

Awesome Views all the way..

and the traffic jams caused by the local sheeps :)

bechara .. latak gaya na :(

again ...

Wonderful views .. aren't they?

Wonderful views .. aren't they?

Winding roads and lovely beautiful and green surroundings

Kids going to school.. well done kids

the color coded sheep

felt like offroading here but then we opted out of it as was a bit risky

Walnut trees all the way here

River in full gushing water

Awesome views

and the town views from the hill .. lovely it was .. the scotland of india

my beast (Raakshas) posing here

Lovely Valley views

Lovely Valley views

Lovely Valley views

Lovely Valley views .. see the green cover.. just amazing

Local shops .. they were very curious why we are there and why the hell clicking pictures :)

Lovely Valley views

Lovely Valley views

Lovely Valley views

Lovely Valley views

Beautiful Kashmiri houses

Finally we reached the main road that leads to URI through Baramulla

@ Baramulla, never thought we will be here someday but were lucky to be there

About URI

URI became famous very recently when bollywood released a movie on the battle of URI. You can read about it here and if you want to watch the movie, its available on Amazon as well.

Trailer of URI if you wish to watch :)

The journey to URI

To go to URI, we had to take permits from the local police station as the Army folks wouldn’t allow you to cross the check-post after the main town of URI to go towards Red Bridge and Kaman Post. So we drove towards URI which was a great drive after you leave the main highway. The climb starts with a very broad (two lane) and well maintained road alongside the river.

on the way to URI

Lovely views all the way

Lovely views all the way

Lovely views all the way

The whole drive is so very green and scenic that you’ll end up stopping everywhere for taking pictures and capturing the eternal beauty of the valley out there. And we did the same until we were alarmed and stopped of taking pictures by Army personnel who came from somewhere and told us strictly not to take the pictures specially of the military establishment which we were anyway not taking. So we were very cautious now of the surroundings and places where it could be sensitive taking pics and refrained from doing so and continued enjoying our drive. We passed through couple of villages on the way to RedBridge and several Army camps which were all very protected.

River flowing in full force

Local bakery selling local breads

Lovely views all the way

One of the towns on the way to URI

URI was 25kms from here and the roads got much better from this point

Swachh India ..

Water flowing down to the river

One of the military establishments and Memorial

On this drive, we were really under an impression that it will be risky to be there, but looking at the Army presence and the number of check-posts en-route, we were kind of not worried anymore and few places sounded too sensitive wherever we saw a huge army presence making us a bit nervous.

But anyway we continued our drive towards the last point I.e., the Red-bridge.

Usual bridges on the way

Look at the natural beauty of this place.. ruined by terrorism and militancy.. so sad to see

Lovely houses in between the lush greens

Lovely beautiful towns

The views to Live for :)

amazingly awesome views and the weather was turning out to be lovely at this time

the barren mountains on the way

Towns settled across the river

To reach red-bridge we needed to take permits from the local SDM office that was located just in the middle of the town. The process is simple, you need to take a form from a shop located outside the SDM office, fill it up, attach xerox or your ID’s (Aadhar card) and then go to the SDM office and submit it there. The SDM office takes about 10-15 mins to approve it after questioning a bit on your intent etc. since we were family and had all the documents ready, we were approved immediately. They keep your original ID’s and keep them over there, that you can take it back while on your way back. So we collected the permit from here and continued our journey forward.

In couple of minutes we arrived at the first check-post where we needed to show the permits to go further and get the car checked. The army guys asked us few questions (that I cannot disclose here) and let us go further after checking the car for anything objectionable. We then started our drive which was pretty scenic after the check-post. The valley opens up quite a bit and the beautiful landscapes show up like a blissful dream. The roads are pretty good all the way up to Red-bridge and pretty wide to drive on without much traffic. The only traffic you would see on this road is of Army personnel and some locals. The road continues alongside the river with beautiful landscapes and mountain-scapes. Red-bridge is almost 16kms from the town and takes only half an hour or so minus the time to cross the multiple check-posts en-route. So we went up to red bridge as that’s the last point we got the permit to go and then returned back to the URI town.

One of the main bridges towards Red-bridge

Drama in the skies continued

Towards Kaman Post/Red Bridge

and then it started to rain.. lovely

Lovely views all the way

This was the point where the red-bridge was located just few meters ahead. We were stopped here and were told to return as no one is allowed to go beyond unless you have further permits to Kaman post..


So we turned towards the town from here and started our return journey

the deep valleys of URI

The DAM site

The return journey

We truly enjoyed the drive till Redbridge and while coming back it started raining heavily and the weather suddenly because awesome. So we drove back to the town and while coming as we were hungry, we thought we pick up something to eat. As it was Ramadan time, most of the hotels were closed or were not serving food. We were suggested by Army folks to go to the dhaba at the sumo stand but that was closed as well. We spotted one army bakery at the check post and checked with the army officer out there if we could go and buy something from there and he allowed us to park our car there and pickup food.

To our surprise the army canteen bakery had only veg puffs/patty and a loaf of chocolate walnut cake. So I picked up few puffs and 2 cakes just in case if we don’t get anything later on and filled ourselves with that .. and were glad we did that as there was nothing enroute to eat. So we had the puffs and cake in the car and then continued our further journey. Before proceeding to Baramulla which was our night stay place for today, we collected our ID’s from the SDM office. The drive back was in full swing rains and was heavenly. After about 90mins of drive we reached the main checkpost, signed out and then proceeded towards Baramulla. We were a bit hungry by this time and were desperately looking for something to eat but we failed in our attempts. After a while, we stopped at a shop and bought a loaf of bread, butter, some snacks, water and ketchup to feed our tummies. This was really helpful in our further journey.. read on...

URI Police Station

Drive towards Baramulla/Srinagar

So the drive back to Baramulla wasn’t bad and we reached our hotel around 4:40 pm in the main town of Baramulla. The hotel was actually located in a building that had a hospital on the first floor and had 2 floors of hotel rooms. The place looked very basic and unlike a hotel but guess we didn’t had a choice there. There were no other hotels open and we didn’t had any way (as the Internet services were banned in Srinagar on that day due to some tension in the valley) to find out availability of any other hotel in that area other than going back to Gulmarg or Srinagar. So we decided to stay here and I think it was a good decision.

So I went and checked the rooms if we can stay for a night. The hotel reception is in the basement so I had to go one flight down (without an elevator) and then go and see the rooms on 3rd and 4th :( floor of the building and then go to basement again for check-in formalities before going up again to get the family to the basement again..believe me it was tough 😂 So as we all were very hungry, we first went to the restaurant again in the basement to have lunch so that we can go to the room only once after the lunch. The lunch was pretty tasty and we truly enjoyed the food out here. The main owner and the manager were pretty helpful and welcoming. They interacted with us while ate and made us comfortable and assured us that we are safe in their hotel which was helpful.

After the lunch we went to our room on the 4th floor which was a tiny room but a brand new room of maybe 100 sq. ft. With a queen bed and that’s it.. with an attached toilet. So we made ourselves comfortable here and relaxed for a while. After that we had endless game of cards that the kids bought from the shop just outside the hotel. This was truly a good evening as we could spend some time off with ourselves playing cards instead of getting busy in something we truly enjoyed the evening. For dinner, we ordered the food from the room so that we didn’t had to go down again and climb all the 4 floors again 😜 The dinner was pretty good as was the lunch. After the dinner, we crashed into our beds and slept like a horse.

Town way Hospital / Hotel

Next morning was a big confusing morning as we didn’t knew what to do, we were locked in to the room as it was a curfew in Srinagar on account of some militant shootout and the whole Srinagar was declared closed. So we deliberated on the idea of staying at the hotel itself or go back to Gulmarg as that was a better hotel and place to be in than Baramulla which was a little bit risky (as per our perception). The hotel guy suggested that we should stay there itself and not risk our lives by going out as there could be some stone pelting or even gun shooting on the roads.. we were kind of scared 😧 and really were looking at our options.. We couldn’t reach out to anyone as the network and data services were shut down to avoid panic in the valley as well...but as a tourist stuck in the hotel room we were very worried.

So did we stay there risking ourselves or proceeded further to Gulmarg or to some other better and safer place.. stay tuned for the next blog post .. the journey from Baramulla to ..........

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