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Old 1st September 2012, 12:46   #361
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 4
26 - July - 2012

The way back to Bhaderwah
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We reached Bhaderwah by 16:30 hours

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Old 1st September 2012, 14:15   #362
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

You reached Sarthal the previous evening & leave next morning at 845 am – then what is the purpose of going there at all?

Of course. What did you expect us to do? Have morning bed coffee, breakfast on bread toast & omelette with cheese? We are on a driving holiday – which means we drive, not loll around. We reach place A, sleep there, leave at day break for place B.

Did you not like the photos of the landscapes that we drove by to reach Sarthal? And after that? Exactly, that is what a driving holiday is about – not to reach a destination, but the journey itself.

No, we have been asked this Q several times before – 100 times, No. Holidays do not mean getting up at 9 am, eating, strolling around napping, lunching, napping.....and so on. Our driving holidays are tightly packed with driving action!


So how was the stay at the spanking new tourist bungalow – must have been great, eh?

You must be joking! The only thing good about it was the place Sarthal was not cold at night! The toilets did not have any water, and 2 of 3 were terribly dirty. Water was carried for us in buckets. In fact, the next morning, Agent Vinod kept a bucket out & collected rain water for his bath! I think some of the team liked the river too.....

Anyway, it was a nice place in this wilderness since we had no alternatives & i suppose this is the best that can be done in the circumstances.


Why did you suddenly decide to leave Sarthal? Was it because you felt unsafe there?

Everyone loved Sarthal for its greenness, wilderness, the utter lack of infrastructure & the dominance of nature. There were some discussions on hanging around & taking a short trek around, but then the heavens came down & the heavy downpour dampened all spirits – both Agent Vinod & I would have loved to have garama garama bajias, it made us homesick for Pune & Bombay.....

Safety? We are undaunted by stories of human massacre. That is what Kashmir is known for any in the last 2 decades of bitter militancy, and such things leave us unmoved.


Road from Sarthal looks pretty bad – can a small car do it?

This road is a seasonal road closed over 6 months a year due to snowfall. It is in its best form now. Thanks to the years of militancy, population & economic activity have drastically fallen, and the road also reflects the low ebb of activity. I would not say the road was “bad” or a small car cannot make it. It definitely can. But landslides are pretty common & being a PWD-maintained (and not BRO) road, expect lower levels of efficiency in clearing them.


Why are there no photos of Chatergala Pass?

Atop the 4000 mtrs+ Chatergala Pass, there was an army guard post and there were signboards prohibiting photography. No stopping at the top either, so we kept going.


Bhaderwah looks like Ooty, don’t you think?

Bhaderwah was a big surprise. We never expected such a large sprawling town here. It was huge, it had 3 petrol pumps, a “new” bus stand (which none of the buses use!!!), cyber cafes, photo studios, ATMs, etc. My first job on hand was to back up data – car cam videos, GPS tracks – since my laptop had stopped working ever since I had left Delhi & unless I downloaded data onto the laptop, I stood the risk of losing lots of it (which I had already!). So I sat down in one of the cyber cafes and made DVDs of my data. We also had a nice lunch of a special type of paratha in the market place. Nice to be seeing so many people after being in the wilderness last 2 days.

Bhaderwah is being developed as a major tourist destination in South Kashmir by the Govt, and there is a tourist bungalow here too. I suppose there are also a few small hotels, although we did not really see any.

Agent Vinod decided to park his car n Bhaderwah & accompany us in the Scorpio to Jai.


The road ends at Jai?

Bhaderwah itself has nothing for the tourist. There are a couple of places around Bhaderwah, one of them is Jai. I reckoned that we could comfortably reach Kishtwar that night, so why not go for a whirl to Jai, which was close to Jai.

Jai is the place which makes it to tourist brochures describing Bhaderwah. Nothing much there except a few patches of green meadow. I suppose I was disappointed with the place.


Earlier, you mentioned the Langera-Bhaderwah road – what of it?

That road comes to Bhaderwah via Paddari. Still incomplete beyond Paddari on this side.


Were Sarthal, Chatergala, Bhaderwah & Jai crowded with tourists?

Ha! Tourists – what are they?
We were the only ones everywhere, unless you want to count the 2 local cars that we saw blasting away music in Jai.
What would bring them to any of these places, except the love to drive & rough it out? How many Indian tourists do you know who like to do such holidays.
But I am sure that these are the places to watch in the coming years – Gulmarg, Sonmarg & Pahalgam, move over, you are history...

Last edited by hvkumar : 1st September 2012 at 14:17.
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Old 1st September 2012, 17:55   #363
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 4
26 - July - 2012

We are on our way to Kishtwar
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Old 1st September 2012, 18:01   #364
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 4
26 - July - 2012

We have to turn right and take the Doda bridge towards Kishtwar
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From now on it is the same route we took on day 1

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We were near Thathri

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Last edited by laluks : 1st September 2012 at 18:07.
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Old 1st September 2012, 18:05   #365
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 4
26 - July - 2012

We rolled on
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Kishtwar is another 44KMs

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Old 1st September 2012, 18:11   #366
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 4
26 - July - 2012

We moved on

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Madam Safari enjoying the drive

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Old 1st September 2012, 18:18   #367
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 4
26 - July - 2012

We moved on

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Can you spot a blast in the picture?
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New tarmac

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Kishtwar still ahead
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Pappu Pardeep runs quite a lot of bus services to the town nearby and also all the way to Pathankot
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A tortured Sumo

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Old 1st September 2012, 18:26   #368
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 4
26 - July - 2012

We moved on
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We reached Kandini
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This was an interesting scene. There was a guy sitting inside the engine bay pumping the fuel pump maually, while the driver was peeping his head out of the window and driving
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What all juggaad we do


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Old 1st September 2012, 18:29   #369
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 4
26 - July - 2012

We were nearing Kishtwar
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That's our View point
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The next day we will be heading to Srinagar via Sinthan pass
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Old 1st September 2012, 18:33   #370
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 4
26 - July - 2012

We reached Kishtwar by 18:30 hours
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Old 1st September 2012, 18:39   #371
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Quote:
Originally Posted by laluks View Post
...
What lovely pictures saar! Just one OT question(s) - been meaning to put it up since ages. Sorry if it has already been asked in this or other threads.

I believe a lot of the phases of the trip would have experienced heavy showers. Did you carry any additional covers/waterproof material to save the camera? And assuming that is (of course) a SLR, how many GBs of picture data did you amass on this trip?
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Old 1st September 2012, 18:41   #372
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Day 4
26 - July - 2012

Kishtwar Police Station
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Left of this road is a natural playground - a large open area
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This is the famous circle of Kishtwar - From here you can plan many driving loops
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We go towards Hotel Khistwar in Gulab Garg road
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A good message
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We reached Hotel Khistwar by 18:45 hours. After freshening up me and HVK went to the city and found out where we get what kind of stationeries in Kishtwar .

By 20:00 hours we ordered some chicken dishes to the room and chatted for a very long time about work, travel, business etc etc...

By around 22:00 hours we retired for the day.

What a drive it was from Kishtwar to Kishtwar via Tiyari, Khillar, Sach, Sarthal, Bhaderwah!!

Tomorrow we start our next loop.
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Old 1st September 2012, 18:46   #373
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Quote:
Originally Posted by ninjatalli View Post
I believe a lot of the phases of the trip would have experienced heavy showers. Did you carry any additional covers/waterproof material to save the camera? And assuming that is (of course) a SLR, how many GBs of picture data did you amass on this trip?
Just a plastic cover

All pictures were clicked in M mode or 6.9 Mega pixel mode and not at the max resolution since all pictures were just for documenting the drive. In a few places where the scene was beautiful clicked some pictures to keep in Raw.

Had 32GB worth of cards in total in hand of which 16GB got used up, including some videos.
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Old 2nd September 2012, 09:22   #374
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

SARTHAL TO KISHTWAR SECTOR


And we thought Kashmir was undeveloped – these roads don’t say that!

These are myths in your mind, fuelled by a rapacious media which hankers after sensationalism. India is a country of Ramas, the ever-do-gooder and the Ravanas, the vilest of them all.

One episode of a person getting killed in one corner of a large State like Kashmir gets more publicity in the national press than 10 people getting killed daily on the railway tracks of Bombay. The general impression that gets built up over time is that the entire region is unsafe. I have driven to some of the “unsafest” of places in the most “dangerous” of times – whether it is in Kashmir or the North East of India or Maoist regions of Central India, but I don’t remember feeling more unsafe than a pedestrian on Bombay’s streets!

Anyway, you can see for yourselves from Lalu’s photos that Kashmir is like any other part of India, teeming with people going out the hustle and bustle of their daily lives, no different from what you would see anywhere else in the country.

Lovely roads in places where it matters. For example, till 2-3 years ago, both the Batote-Doda-Kishtwar or the Bhaderwah-Doda roads were not great, but now you can see how they beat your city’s roads! Mobile connectivity, cyber cafes, jeep taxi services, advertisement hoardings for the latest Titan watches – all these are part of Kashmir life too.


What do people do here for a living?

The country side is green with paddy & corn fields.
Shepherds were tending to their cows & goats.
Sumos were transporting people all over the place.
Schools, hospitals, Government offices....
You saw us eat food at restaurants, stay overnight at hotels, download data at cyber cafes, buy biscuits at grocery shops.....
There is a robust economy out there....


Can I stay in Jai?

Apart from the tourist bungalows – fashioned like an igloo – there are no other places to stay at in Jai.

There are some who may warn you against staying at such remote places thanks to the lingering militancy – like Sarthal or Jai.

One thing that happens on most of these places is the annual yatras – the festival of some local temple. For instance, Gulabgarh is the base town for the Kailash Yatra, the annual trek to a temple nearby. Even Sarthal has some such day every year.


So many switchbacks in route – from Jai back to Baderwah?

Bhaderwah-Jai is currently a dead-end road. But they are building a direct road from there to Kishtwar, no idea which year it will be completed. After that, the distance to Kishtwar will be reduced considerably. And tourists will start flowing in.....................


Are these roads open through the year? Night drive restrictions? Militancy problems?

No.
Snow closes down the Bani-Sarthal-Bhaderwah road. But Bhaderwah & Jai are apparently open even in the deepest of winters, with lots of snow all around.
No check posts. No night drive restrictions.
Militancy? NO one can really say. The newspapers do not tell you the real story.


What is the guy doing on the bonnet?



This car was moving with the guy sitting on the bonnet priming the fuel pump. Must be a leaking fuel line taking in air so this is the only “jugaad” solution.
Only in Incredible India.


Eeks – you came back to Kishtwar – why?

Yes. We completed a full circuit that started in Kishtwar & ended in Kishtwar.


You did not stay in JKTDC in Kishtwar this time?

No. We found the Hotel Kishtwar a nicer place. New hotel. Good food. Same rates.


Time to show us the map of the round circuit?

Yes, coming....
Kishtwar-Gulabgarh-Tyari-Khillar-Bagotu-Sach Pass-Satrundi-Bairavgad-Kothi-Langera-Kyari-Bani-Sarthal-Chatergala-Bhadewah-Jai-Bhaderwah-Doda-Kishtwar


Let us assume I don’t have a car – or I am not confident of my small car doing it. What is the best way I can do this drive?

Very difficult. No taxi operator will know or ever go on these roads.
You have a small car – you have to have large courage!
Jeep taxis ply everywhere – you can always share a seat in Kishtwar-Gulabgarh, Gulabgarh-Khillar, Khillar-Chamba. But I did not see any taxi services in the Bani sector, which is KOthi-Sarthal-Bhaderwah. Bhaderwah is well connected with buses & taxis with Doda. And Doda even more well-connected with Kishtwar.


So many days of travel, I have forgotten when & where you started!
Don’t you guys ever get tired?


Let me recap:
Jul 20, night – Bombay-Delhi drive
Jul 21 - reached Delhi
Jul 22 – Lalu, Romin/Megha reach Delhi by air from Bangalore, we drive overnight Delhi-Jammu-Kishtwar
Jul 23 – Agent Vinod escorts us from Jammu, having driven there direct from Pune, we continue to Patnitop, Sanasar & Kishtwar
Jul 24 – Kishtwar-Gulabgarh-Tyari-Khillar-Sach Pass-Bairavgad, cliffhanger & glacier day
Jul 25 – Bairavgad-Langera-Bani-Sarthal
Jul 26 – Sarthal-Bhaderwah-Jai-Bhaderwah-Kishtwar

Tired? You saw the landscapes? You did not breath the fresh air? Feel joyous at the magnificent mountainscapes, greenery & beautiful country side?
Do you think anyone can tire from getting up early morning, eating 1-2 meals a day, sit in the car all day?
How can you feel tired? Try it sometime, you wll never travel any other way again.

Everyone was feeling fitter than what they do back home in their polluted cities, stressful professional & personal lives.
Great to be away from mobile networks, emails & Face Books.
Raining one day, sunny the next, gloomy after....
And a whole new world of discovery.....


What comes next?

Next comes the drive to Srinagar via the Sinthan Top.....
....but not before we see the route maps – based on our GPS tracks – and my drive details
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Old 2nd September 2012, 09:32   #375
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Default Re: Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts

Jul 24, 2012, Cliff hanger & Glacier Day - Kishtwar-Gulabgarh-Tyari-Khillar-Bogotu-Sach Pass-Satrundi-Bairavgad


Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts-kishtwarbairavgad2.jpg


Jul 25, 2012, Alpine glory - Bairavgad-Tissa-Kothi-Langera-KOthi-Kyari-Bani-Sarthal


Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts-bairavgadkishtwar.jpg


Jul 26, 2012, Green meadows - Sarthal-Chatergala Pass-Bhaderwah-Jai-Bhaderwah-Doda-Kishtwar


Cliffhanger Himachal, Hidden Kashmir and a search for Mughal Ghosts-bairavgadkishtwar2.jpg
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