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Old 8th December 2015, 04:59   #16
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Default re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

Wow that's one beautifully narrated travelogue I must say, along with some absolute drool worthy pics specially of those enticing meadows at Doodhpathri. Rating a well deserved 5 star. Kudos to you and your family for planning a mouth-watering road trip instead of taking the regular flights.

I had driven to Sonmarg from Chandigarh in the year 2012. The Jammu-Udhampur highway was under construction for its expansion that time and going by the pics it looks quite marvelous now. And surely the Mughal road seems much more scenic than the regular national highway to Srinagar.

A quick question, how did the car perform during the entire journey? Does the 1.5 i-Dtech engine pulls sufficiently on steep hill climbs with a fully loaded boot or did it require regular downshifts to 1st and 2nd gear? Any under-belly hits on those rough terrains?

Looking forward to reading about the remaining portion of your journey. Keep it coming.
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Old 8th December 2015, 09:18   #17
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Default re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

June 15th, Day 9


The plan was to leave Srinagar early, cross Pahalgam, spend time in Chandanwari and then head to Aru. We faced a huge traffic jam near Pampore but once we got out of the traffic jam, it was a smooth drive upto Anantnag where we stopped for breakfast.

Post Anantnag, the road to Pahalgam runs along the lovely Lidder river. The Lidder Valley is a beautiful paradise but not as serene as Yusmarg or Doodhpathri. We reached Pahalgam and went towards Chandanwari.

Chandanwari is a famous tourist place as the Amarnath Yatra starts from this place towards Sheshnag. We were there few weeks before the commencement of the Amarnath Yatra so there were many check posts on the way.

We spent considerable time at Chandanwari, near a glacier formed over a small stream. The not so pleasant bit was I had an argument with a taxi driver who parked his Sumo just before my car and demanded how I had occupied his parking place. A cop who was directing traffic there asked me to park the car there, but when these taxi drivers started arguing, the cop bluntly started supporting them. I was taken by surprise, when he mentioned to the taxi drivers that I had parked the car without asking anybody. I realized that there is no point in arguing with them so we left Chandanwari and started our journey towards Aru.

It started drizzling and we were enjoying the beauty of the place. We stopped at the Betaab Valley near Chandanwari. Betaab Valley is more of a beautiful park which is popular because of the Sunny Deol starrer hindi flick, Betaab, was shot here. Although a little crowded, the Betaab Valley was beautiful. We were enjoying the drizzle and the breeze.

We tried to contact the JKTDC Hotel in Aru but sadly due to network issues couldn’t get it touch. The road to Aru was broken in sections and was very narrow. Again the taxi drivers were not happy seeing a non-JK registered car in their territory so these Sumo’s, Xylo’s and Marshall’s left no stone unturned to throw us out of the narrow road. The City being a sedan with a low ground clearance, it was taking us a little time to negotiate the potholes but these cabbies used to come right head on towards us blasting their horns and in a couple of occasions their moves left us aghast.

Somehow with a lot of patience, we reached Aru. The weather had turned cold thanks to the drizzle, but the snow capped peaks looked lovely. We went with our booking letter to the hotel, and at the reception were told that it is no more a JKTDC property so we must contact JKTDC customer care and get things sorted. Whoa this was one eventful day !

There was no network in Aru so we continued to drive back towards Pahalgam so that we can contact the JKTDC authorities and demand an explanation.

On reaching Pahalgam, we could get in touch with the JKTDC Customer Care. They apologized for this and told that the Aru property was withdrawn just a week back and since the last 3 days they were not able to contact us. Well, since most of the time during the daytime we had been travelling in no network zone so we kind of believed them.

They apologized and ensured that a cottage is made available to us at JKTDC Pahalgam. The JKTDC Pahalgam property was incidentally more expensive than the JKTDC Aru property but since we had a confirmed booking for a night at Aru, a cottage was made available to us immediately at no additional charge. A good gesture by JKTDC !

The JKTDC property was lovely with a huge mountain just behind our cottage set amidst a lush green slope. Our caretaker arranged a bonfire for us, and prepared delicious dinner so that we need not got out hunting for food in the rains.

The food was amazing and the cottage was decent. Even though the Aru property would have been a great place to stay, but Pahalgam was not bad considering that the Aru property was a hotel, and the Pahalgam property had nice independent cottages.


A huge traffic jam in the outskirts of Srinagar
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The calm and serene Lidder valley
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In and around Chandanwari
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Old 8th December 2015, 09:39   #18
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Default re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

Betaab Valley near Pahalgam
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Beautiful vistas on the way to Aru
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Aru, a tiny little hamlet in the Lidder Valley
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The cottages at JKTDC, Pahalgam
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Old 8th December 2015, 09:53   #19
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Default re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

June 16th, Day 10


We got up late and went for a walk around the cottage and around the Pahalgam market. Post brunch, we left for Daksum.

Daksum, another little known paradise, is situated near Kokernag in the Breng Valley. It has only one JKTDC cottage with just two rooms. So anybody planning to stay here will have to book one of these rooms else the only other stay options are at Kokernag.

The road from Pahalgam to Anantnag was scenic along the Lidder River and apart from a small strectch near Achabal, the road towards Daksum is brilliant. On the way we stopped at the famous Mattan Temple as well. The Kokernag to Daksum stretch is amazing, wide roads through orchards, invigorating crisp cold air, stunning views and minimal traffic makes it quite a lovely drive !

We reached Daksum by 11 am and could see the snowcapped Sinthan Top from the JKTDC Daksum property. JKTDC Daksum has a nice little cottage and a big lawn for short walks. Currently the property has only two rooms, but six new cottages were under development a kilometer away.

Fearing that the weather might get rough in the afternoon, we almost immediately left for Sinthan Top near Chhatroo. After the Mughal Road, this was one road which I would love to do again, preferably on a motorcycle for some knee scraping during some lovely corner carving. Daksum – Sinthan Top is a 30 km well tarred road, except only a few landslide sections where one will have to exercise caution at the helm of a sedan or a hatchback with low ground clearance.

As we moved nearer to the Sinthan Top, the views got better. Soon we could see snow on either side of the road. The drive got pleasant and soon it started snowing. Soon the snow around us gave way to ice walls of even 10-12 feet high. Sticking out our tongues to the ice walls was exhilarating!
In no time we reached the Sinthan Top, there were a few cars mostly local people traveling from Kishtwar to Daksum apart from a couple of tourist vehicles. We enjoyed the mild snowfall and once it stopped snowing, we went on a walk over the snow laden pass, played around for almost an hour. Sinthan Top was washed in white with only the tarmac visible, the amazing road that snakes up from Daksum only added to the charm. However, we were told that the Kishtwar to Sinthan Top section is not well tarred and is potholed. We could observe it as the other side of the pass looked potholed and murky.

After spending an hour and half, we drove back to Daksum. Again the drive was very pleasant, the white gave way to green, we could see shepherds grazing their cattle in the lush green slopes and the pine forests and roaring streams added to the drama. Sinthan Top was surely one of the most beautiful places we visited during the trip.

Like most of Kashmir, Daksum also has some pleasant trails for walking. A warm cuppa, an armchair and a lovely book is all you need at Daksum to relax. Electricity is an issue in the interiors of Kashmir so we had our dinner very early and slept well under warm blankets. The next day we planned to drive down to Delhi but since the Sinthan Top to Kishtwar section was bad, the locals did not recommend that route. So the only other way to Delhi was to take the usual Srinagar – Jammu highway from Verinag.

We could not explore the lovely Warwaan valley and the Margan Top as the roads were bad and we were short of time, but the next time in Kashmir I will avoid the usual tourist places and rather explore the elusive Gurez sector, Warwaan valley and the Lolab valley.


The lovely Pahalgam town
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Exiting Pahalgam alongside the lovely Lidder river
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The picturesque Breng Valley
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Our cottage at JKTDC, Daksum
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On the way to Sinthan Top
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Old 8th December 2015, 09:58   #20
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Default re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

The picturesque Sinthan Top washed in white
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The lovely Breng Valley on the way back to Daksum
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Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn6347.jpg
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Old 8th December 2015, 10:03   #21
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Spectacular and virgin Breng Valley
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All you need is a warm cuppa and your favourite book at JKTDC, Daksum
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Old 8th December 2015, 10:17   #22
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June 17th, Day 11


We left Daksum sharp at 6 am and planned to stay in Jalandhar for the night. Daksum to Verinag was a nice drive. The roads were narrow, but no traffic and the early morning fresh mountain air made driving a pleasurable affair.

As soon as we joined the NH-1A after Verinag, we were greeted with a huge convoy of army trucks plus the usual tourist cabs and a lot of private vehicles. We crossed the gloomy Banihal tunnel and till Ramban overtaking was very difficult as there was constant oncoming traffic. The road surface was bad and it was too dusty. As we got nearer to the plains, the weather turned hot and till Batote there was way too much traffic.

Seeing the condition of this highway, I was happy that on our way to Srinagar we took the lovely Mughal Road. I was cursing myself for taking the NH-1A and I was constantly wondering if I should have taken the Kishtwar – Doda stretch from Daksum. But uncertainty of the road conditions forced us to take the NH-1A sadly.

We reached Udhampur by 2 pm and stopped for lunch. We knew the bad roads are all behind us. From Udhampur to Jammu runs a brilliant four-lane winding road free of any diversion or potholes and post Jammu, it will be all usual highways. We were overwhelmed with the City’s performance in such conditions !

Post lunch, the Udhampur – Jammu stretch was a breeze, the views were amazing and there was no serious traffic. We bypassed Jammu and progressed towards Pathankot and Jalandhar. Thanks to the lovely roads, we were in Jalandhar by 7:30 pm. Stopped at Haveli, Jalandhar for dinner and took a long break to decide if we should stay in Jalandhar or continue driving till Delhi.

Delhi was 400 kms away, but since all of us were fresh with no signs of fatigue we thought of continuing further till Ludhiana or Ambala. The road was great, we could cover miles without many breaks or traffic issues. Instead of bypassing Ludhiana, we took the road which goes from inside the city. The bypass had too many diversions and traffic issues as we had observed on our way to Kashmir, so this time we took the road that goes from inside the city and it really made a difference. Huge flyovers, zero traffic and in a few minutes, we had crossed the bustling city of Ludhiana. We reached Ambala late at night by 10:30 pm, stopped for coffee at Haveli, Ambala still contemplating if we should stay in Ambala itself.

The last night at Daksum, we all slept like a log thanks to the cold, as a result none of us were sleepy. The coffee only added to get rid of any fatigue that would have set in. So we continued towards Delhi, the roads were clear and the straight highway meant the visibility was great as well. In no time we had crossed Kurukshetra and Karnal. By 2:30 am, we reached my cousin’s place in Delhi.

So after almost a 20 hour drive with ample stops, we reached Delhi from Daksum !


We left Daksum at about 6 am
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An incredible 99.9 kpl figure
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Winding roads till we joined the NH-1A
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The pathetic NH-1A from Banihal to Udhampur
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A cyclist braving the inclines
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The terrific Udhampur to Jammu stretch made us glee in delight !
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The wide and straight highways in Punjab
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Late night coffee break at Haveli, Ambala
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Old 8th December 2015, 10:21   #23
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June 18th, Day 12


We got up late and had to visit a relatives’ place. During the day, we just relaxed and had enough rest to gear up for another long drive to Ranchi.

At 9:30 pm, we left Delhi for Ranchi. The roads were rather empty and we were staying in East Delhi so getting on to the Yamuna Expressway via Noida did not take much time.

The drive was pretty relaxing through the Expressway and we crossed Agra in the middle of the night.
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Old 8th December 2015, 10:27   #24
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Default re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

June 19th, Day 13


Soon the notorious Shikohabad – Etawah section was covered and we crossed Kanpur when it was still dark outside, at about 5 am.

The Grand Trunk Road, or NH-2 has only a few roadside dhabas in this stretch. We had covered miles in good pace, not exceeding 80 kmph anywhere thanks to the GPS which always use to give an alert reminder on crossing the speed limit forcing us to slow down and drive sedately.

Soon we bypassed Allahabad. The Allahabad bypass is a charm, a wide fenced road with absolutely zero traffic and a very smooth and flat surface enabled us to cover the distance steadily. Post Allahabad, we stopped for brunch. After a quick brunch, we left for Ranchi. There was a small traffic jam in the UP – Bihar border but apart from that the drive through the entire stretch was pretty uneventful.

By afternoon, we left the Grand Trunk Road at Barhi and took the NH-33 to Ranchi. The Barhi – Hazaribagh section is relatively a little crowded stretch, but the Hazaribagh to Ranchi section is absolutely brilliant. Somewhere between Hazaribagh and Ramgarh, we stopped for a late lunch. This strectch of road was certainly one of the better roads in the entire trip.

By 4:30 pm, 19 hours later since we started from Delhi, we were in Ranchi.

13 days and 5300 kms later, we were back home after one of the most beautiful roadtrips we have ever had. We were still as fresh as we were on Day 1, and needless to say, we were very content with the City’s reliability and performance. Sure, it’s no Vento 1.6 but it is indeed a jack of all trades. The amount of space the City’s rear seat offers makes it very practical when you are on a longish roadtrip. One can stretch and flex muscles and relax in the rear sofa. No complaints whatsoever !

Except the one puncture on Day 1 and the minor rubber beading issue with the boot, we had no hiccups with the car. No health issues too, making it a very enjoyable family roadtrip !

With two weeks in hand, we still could not explore the entire Kashmir. Certain places like the elusive Warwaan valley, the Gurez Valley and the Lolab Valley are still in my wish-list. Hope to cover these places soon next time, maybe on a motorcycle.


The Allahabad bypass was a bliss
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn6508.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn6509.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn6510.jpg

Lovely roads in Bihar and Jharkhand
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn6512.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn6515.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn6516.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn6519.jpg

Our reliable mile muncher, the Honda City !
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn6521.jpg
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Old 8th December 2015, 12:24   #25
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

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Originally Posted by GameOfCars View Post
Wow that's one beautifully narrated travelogue I must say, along with some absolute drool worthy pics specially of those enticing meadows at Doodhpathri. Rating a well deserved 5 star. Kudos to you and your family for planning a mouth-watering road trip instead of taking the regular flights.

I had driven to Sonmarg from Chandigarh in the year 2012. The Jammu-Udhampur highway was under construction for its expansion that time and going by the pics it looks quite marvelous now. And surely the Mughal road seems much more scenic than the regular national highway to Srinagar.

A quick question, how did the car perform during the entire journey? Does the 1.5 i-Dtech engine pulls sufficiently on steep hill climbs with a fully loaded boot or did it require regular downshifts to 1st and 2nd gear? Any under-belly hits on those rough terrains?

Looking forward to reading about the remaining portion of your journey. Keep it coming.
Thank You so much Sir.

The Mughal Road is indeed a much more scenic alternative to the regular highway to Srinagar !

The car performed flawlessly, save for a puncture and the minor issue we encountered with the rubber beading of the trunk, which was fixed by the Honda service personnel at Ambala. The i-DTEC might not be great for outright performance but has very good driveability with minimum turbo lag so even with four passengers and a month long luggage on board, the City did not hesitate to go up the inclines. Occasionally it required downshifts, but in most cases the performance was adequate for the terrain. No underbelly hits anywhere in the entire trip. We often found boulders and huge stones lying across the road so one of us just used to get out from the car and move it from the road. With utmost caution and extreme patience, we were able to negotiate the car over very bad patches without kissing the underbelly even once.
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Old 8th December 2015, 13:34   #26
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

Brilliant read of a mind boggling road trip !

It is disappointing to note the local drivers' behavior towards outsiders. I am more impressed by the fact that you kept your cool through out and stayed focused on a great trip.Something to learn for me !

Thanks for inspiring fellow travelers!
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Old 8th December 2015, 13:57   #27
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

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Originally Posted by subbu567 View Post
Brilliant read of a mind boggling road trip !

It is disappointing to note the local drivers' behavior towards outsiders. I am more impressed by the fact that you kept your cool through out and stayed focused on a great trip.Something to learn for me !

Thanks for inspiring fellow travelers!
Thanks a lot sir.

The taxi drivers were really a nuisance and many such cases happened in Ladakh as well while I was in Kashmir. Later on I saw images in many forums including team-bhp of how brutally the non-JK registered cars were smashed. I was glad we never argued with any local person during the trip as the consequences could have been bad.

Nowhere in the entire trip did we face any argument or abusive language at hotels or restaurants or any other place. The locals were warm and hospitable, infact we had a great time having dinner with the local people and listening to their stories on many occasions. Sadly the taxi drivers ruined the otherwise brilliant experience in Kashmir.
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Old 8th December 2015, 14:06   #28
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

Wonderful trip and a beautiful narration //M.. And a special kudos to your dad for his determination to see the Gurez valley.

Rating the thread a well deserved 5*.


Quote:
Originally Posted by //M View Post
We were supposed to reach Yusmarg as we had made booking at the JKTDC in Yusmarg so without wasting time, we crossed Pulwama and headed towards Yusmarg. While heading towards Yusmarg, a small bridge over a stream had collapsed so the cars were diverted. As soon as we crossed the diversion, there were 2 roads going in different directions.
Surprised, rather shocked, we continued to drive.
You didn't mention which route you took to reach Yusmarg...
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Old 8th December 2015, 14:09   #29
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

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Originally Posted by satan's_valet View Post
Wonderful trip and a beautiful narration //M.. And a special kudos to your dad for his determination to see the Gurez valley.

Rating the thread a well deserved 5*.
Thank You sir.

Gurez did not happen, we knew it would be really difficult to cover the entire Gurez Valley in a low slung sedan in the given time so no regrets. But next time Gurez valley, Warwaan Valley and Lolab Valley is going to take priority !
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Old 8th December 2015, 14:22   #30
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Default Re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

Quote:
Originally Posted by satan's_valet View Post

You didn't mention which route you took to reach Yusmarg...
Attaching a few screenshots taken from Google Maps to detail out the route taken during the trip:


Ranchi to Delhi

Ranchi - Hazaribagh - Barhi - Sasaram - Kanpur - Agra - Delhi

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-ranchi-delhi.png



Delhi to Katra

Delhi - Karnal - Ambala - Ludhiana - Jalandhar - Pathankot - Jammu - Katra

Name:  Delhi  Katra.png
Views: 3341
Size:  560.7 KB



Katra to Yusmarg

Katra - Sunderbani - Rajouri - Bafliaz - Pir Ki Gali - Shopian - Pulwama - Yusmarg

Name:  Katra  Yusmarg.png
Views: 3345
Size:  608.9 KB



Yusmarg to Srinagar

Yusmarg - Charari Sharief - Doodhpathri - Budgam - Srinagar

Name:  Yusmarg  Srinagar.png
Views: 3331
Size:  273.7 KB



Srinagar to Sonamarg to Gulmarg

Srinagar - Ganderbal - Sonamarg - Ganderbal - Tangmarg - Gulmarg - Tangmarg - Srinagar

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-sonamarg-gulmarg.png



Srinagar to Tragbal

Srinagar - Bandipora - Tragbal - Bandipora - Srinagar

Name:  Srinagar  Tragbal.png
Views: 3324
Size:  513.1 KB



Srinagar to Pahalgam

Srinagar - Pampore - Anantnag - Pahalgam - Chandanwari - Pahalgam - Aru - Pahalgam

Name:  Srinagar  Pahalgam.png
Views: 3321
Size:  478.0 KB



Pahalgam to Daksum

Pahalgam - Anantnag - Achabal - Kokernag - Daksum - Sinthan Top - Daksum

Name:  Pahalgam  Daksum.png
Views: 3315
Size:  515.1 KB



Daksum to Delhi

Daksum - Kokernag - Verinag - Banihal - Batote - Udhampur - Jammu - Pathankot - Jalandhar - Ludhiana - Ambala - Karnal - Delhi

Name:  Daksum  Delhi.png
Views: 3317
Size:  545.0 KB



Delhi to Ranchi

Delhi - Agra - Kanpur - Sasaram - Barhi - Hazaribagh - Ranchi

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-delhi-ranchi.png
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