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Old 7th December 2015, 19:29   #1
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Default Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

They said Kashmir is a politically volatile place infested with 20th century wars, making it dangerous and risky to call it a family holiday destination in today’s times. They said Srinagar is crowded, they said Dal Lake is dirty, they said Gulmarg is expensive, they said any other part of Kashmir is plain dangerous.

They said, why Kashmir?

We said, Why not !


The land of lush green meadows
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5566.jpg

Snow capped peaks
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5207.jpg

Beautiful roads
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5215.jpg

Beautiful lakes
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5900.jpg

Glaciers
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn6012.jpg

Ice walls
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5157.jpg

Shikara rides
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5865.jpg

Roaring streams and rivers
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn6164.jpg

Bone jarring journeys
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5159.jpg

Yet scintillating vistas
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5145.jpg

Kashmir is indeed a paradise
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5753.jpg

Last edited by //M : 7th December 2015 at 19:30.
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Old 7th December 2015, 19:33   #2
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Default re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

Sometime in April:

It was decided that I will head to Ranchi, my hometown, in June to spend time with family. My younger brother will also have his summer holidays during this period. So without even having a plan, my parents had a plan. My mother wanted to revisit the Shrine of Goddess Vaishno Devi and take a shikara ride at Dal Lake. My father made sure we go for this holiday, but instead of taking a flight we will rather take the car. I was plain delighted, a roadtrip to the Vale of Kashmir ! So the route plan was made, keeping in mind that Katra and Srinagar had to be given priority and it had to be a strictly 2 week trip. Yes I got a 2-week leave, actually managed to convince the boss somehow.


Fast Forward to June 6th:

I was heading to Ranchi from Pune, still unsure about the routes. My parents had made the plan: Ranchi – Delhi – Jammu – Katra - Srinagar – Gulmarg – Pahalgam – back via Jammu. The usual tourist circuit.

I was still not sure how will I convince them to take the Mughal Road, the unexplored valleys and sections via the Poonch district and to the far north, beyond Srinagar !
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Old 7th December 2015, 19:36   #3
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Default re: Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!

Well,that crisp preamble sets the stage for something grand I guess. Will be hooked onto this thread!
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Old 7th December 2015, 19:41   #4
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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 7th, Day 1


We left Ranchi, sharp at 6 am very excited for the second long roadtrip in our City i-DTEC. The first roadtrip was along the Western and Eastern coasts of India, covering a total distance of about 6500 kms in 14 days.

The summer heat was evident as we crossed Barhi, Aurangabad and Sasaram. The roads were excellent, especially the ones in Jharkhand till Barachatti. There was considerable truck traffic near the Bihar – UP border but with some lovely Kishore Kumar numbers playing in the car, none of us bothered about the traffic and the heat waves. In no time, we had bypassed Mughalsarai and somewhere between Mughalsarai and Allahabad, we suffered a puncture. I was driving at about 70 kph, when suddenly I could feel the car steering towards the left. We stopped by the roadside, and checked for a puncture. Yes there was one, and the nail seemed to have flown out somewhere leaving a hole forcing a flat tyre.

The car was jacked up and the tyre replaced with the spare wheel. Within a few miles, we found an establishment. We stopped to get the puncture fixed while we had lunch at a nearby dhaba.

The summer heat was scorching, it was hardly evident in the car with the Automatic Climate Control doing its duty. But outside, the temperatures were boiling. After ensuring the puncture was fixed, we started off towards Allahabad.

The Allahabad bypass is an amazing stretch of tarmac, absolutely flat, wide and has minimal traffic making driving a breeze !

Soon we were approaching Kanpur, the sun had set and we entered into Kanpur to find a decent hotel. Crowded roads and no electricity welcomed us, a few good hotels we found were either plain expensive or did not have rooms available. Too much traffic made us frustrated and we managed to exit Kanpur via Kalpi road onto NH-2. We stopped on the highway, had dinner and were still contemplating if we should continue driving further.

None of us were tired and the car was also performing flawlessly but crossing the notorious Etawah – Shikhohabad stretch at night was not in our minds. But finally by the time we finished off our dinner, we had already decided to hit the road.


Lovely flat tarmac in Jharkhand and Bihar
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4917.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4919.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4925.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4926.jpg

And the occasional overloaded vehicles we crossed by
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4930.jpg

Terrific Grand Trunk Road was a bliss
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4934.jpg


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

Last edited by //M : 7th December 2015 at 19:44.
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Old 7th December 2015, 19:47   #5
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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 8th, Day 2


Some sections had a little traffic specially around toll booths, but within a few hours we had entered the brilliant Yamuna Expressway just before Agra. It was about 2 am when we had entered the Expressway, what a terrific road all the way to Noida !

The night was dark, only a few vehicles were on the Expressway but we were enjoying the drive. The beautifully laid stretch of tarmac had to be one of the best straight roads in the country. At dawn, we had entered Greater Noida. The incredible Buddh International Circuit was on our left and we marched towards Delhi. In the very early hours of the day, we were at my cousins place and had taken them by surprise as we were supposed to reach by the afternoon.

The whole day was spent in Delhi with my cousins and friends, the City was given due rest after a good wash. We planned to leave early next day for Katra.

The terrific Yamuna Expressway greeted us at Agra
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4938.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4945.jpg

With the Buddh International Circuit in sight, ab Dilli door nahi
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4940.jpg
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Old 7th December 2015, 19:53   #6
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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 9th, Day 3


We left Delhi early, and could easily avoid all the traffic till Sonepat. We had stopped for breakfast at Murthal, the hot piping paranthas were delicious and wholesome. With so many dhaba’s and amazing food, I think Murthal should be official declared the “Parantha Capital of India” !

Somewhere between Panipat and Karnal, the City’s trunk had an issue. It simply stayed open. We observed a bent rubber beading probably fouling with the trunk, must have happened while we were loading the heavy luggage into the boot. We frisked and tried to fix it but the trunk simply refused to shut. It was too early in the day and the Honda service center at Karnal was shut, it would open only after 2 hours as per the security guard. So we frisked the trunk again and voila it worked. But temporarily. Again after Kurukshetra, it started its moodswings. We somehow managed to reach the Honda service center at Ambala by 9:30 am. It had just opened and we explained to the Service Manager how we the trunk had been acting. The manager immediately inspected the trunk and called his team for fixing the issue.

The team fixed the rubber beading and checked for any other issues. They checked the fluids, brakes and ensured we have a great journey ahead. The manager ensured we get the best treatment, breakfast was served to us which we politely refused as the wholesome paranthas at Murthal did well to serve our gastronomic desires.

Very impressed by the service team at Honda Ambala, we asked them about the service invoice but the manager refused to take a single penny from us. He was impressed in knowing that we have been driving all the way from Ranchi and insisted that it is his duty to ensure satisfaction of all the customers so he refused to take any money. We left Ambala pleasantly surprised at the gentleman’s gesture and headed towards Ludhiana.

The Ludhiana bypass was under construction and had a lot of diversions. It took us a lot of time to negotiate the traffic there. The road from Ludhiana to Jalandhar and Pathankot was amazing. Beautiful surface and arrow straight roads.

We crossed Pathankot and entered into the state of Jammu and Kashmir. But there was a huge mob due to some political reason and hence the Samba to Jammu stretch was choc-a-block with heavy traffic. A kind soul asked us if we were heading to Jammu or beyond Jammu, we answered him Katra and he asked us to follow him. We took a detour through the outskirts and within 20-25 mins we had crossed Jammu and were driving on the fantastic Jammu – Udhampur highway. The new highway from Jammu to Udhampur is a driver’s delight. Wide swooping corners and fast straights were delightful !!

We took the exit towards Katra and the road turned bad. A single lane road with many mini buses slowed us down. We crawled into Katra by 8 pm and reached our hotel, got freshened up and started the climb to the Shrine of Vaishno Devi by midnight.

Great roads Delhi onwards
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4954.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4958.jpg

We entered into J&K, no prepaid mobile network anymore saar !
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4965.jpg

Amazing Jammu - Udhampur section
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4971.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4975.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4976.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4981.jpg
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Old 7th December 2015, 19:58   #7
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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 10th, Day 4


The whole night we walked to reach the main Shrine at about 6 am. The whole atmosphere was lively, people chanting prayers and making a steady progress on foot or on horseback. This was the 4th time I had been to the Holy Shrine but this time I was disappointed. The previous times we have had a pleasant trip, but this time it was different. Police pushing people to stand in a queue just before entering the main gate, the Cloak Rooms refusing to take any belongings, too much crowd everywhere and all building complexes and washrooms too dirty.

After a lot of patience, we were able to do the Darshan and by the time I could move away from the crowd, I was too disgusted. The police were still pushing people, even shouting and abusing them. The authorities hardly cared for any belongings. After a lot of drama, we could complete our 4th visit to the Holy Ardkunwari, the Holy Shrine of Vaishno Devi and to the Shrine of Bhairav Baba. We got back to Katra by afternoon, had a sumptuous lunch and just relaxed in the hotel.

I was still not sure how to convince my parents to take the Mughal Road !

The Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4990.jpg

Aerial views of Katra from a few vantage points en route
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4997.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn4998.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5000.jpg

The route/walkway to the Shrine, as viewed from our hotel room
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5002.jpg
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Old 7th December 2015, 20:13   #8
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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 11th, Day 5


We left early from Katra, I was particularly excited as we were about the travel through the historic Mughal Road (yes somehow convinced my folks ). We took the road to Sunderbani from Katra and headed towards Rajouri via Naushera. The road was lovely, minimal traffic and scintillating vistas. Soon we crossed Chingus Serai. Legend has it that Emperor Jehangir died on his way to Delhi and his intestine (known as chingus in Persian) was buried here by Noor Jehan, hence the name Chingus Serai.

We reached Rajouri and I expecting a lot of check-posts but there were none. The road so far was great, but the Rajouri to Bafliaz section was potholed, narrow single lane with a lot of Sumo and Marshall shared cabs around. It was a little difficult to negotiate the potholes on the low slung Honda while these shared taxis blasted through the hills.

We could barely maintain 15 kph till Bafliaz, the road though was very scenic through Dheera Ki Gali (known as DKG). ‘Gali’ essentially means a Pass, like in the Ladakh and Spiti region a Pass is called ‘La’. Similarly in this part of Kashmir, a Pass is called a ‘Gali’.

From Bafliaz to Shopian runs a road that will delight every petrol head in us. Called the Mughal Road due to its historic significance, this 100 km stretch was one of the major highlights of the trip.

The Mughal Road crosses through sparsely populated villages and scintillating hamlets. It has some lovely swooping corners, a well laid surface for most of the part and the views we could enjoy from this road were worth a million bucks !!

We crossed the Noori Chamb, a waterfall along the Mughal Road. Legend has it that Noor Jehan used to take her shower here while Emperor Jehangir used to spy on his beloved wife while she used to take a dip in the waterfall. The waterfall was named after Noor Jehan.

We also saw transit camps along the Mughal Road, particularly the magnificent Aliabad Serai which is just a few min walk down the road. But the thought of climbing up the steep slope made us cancel the decision to walk down.

But the highlight of this route was the very picturesque Pir Ki Gali, at about 11500 ft asl it is the highest point of the Mughal Road connecting Srinagar to the Poonch district. There is a shrine at the Pir Ki Gali, but it is not any Peer’s grave or mazar, but a meditating place of the Hindu Saint, Sheikh Abdul Karim who, during the Mughal Period, used to meditate here.

The road after Poshiana has some landslide sections and due to a few landslides the road was broken in patches till Pir Ki Gali but the road from Pir Ki Gali to Shopian is again a brilliant stretch of tarmac. After a great time at Mughal Road enjoying the beauty of the valley, we reached the apple town of Shopian.

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. The GPS could not detect the route so we casually asked a cab driver about the directions to Yusmarg, all he could say is "Jab pata hi nahi hai to kaun bola yahan aane" (Translation: "When you don't know the route, who told you to come here") in a very rude tone and drove off.

Surprised, rather shocked, we continued to drive. There are no signboards on this road and the GPS couldn’t show the route causing confusion. The road was just a single lane tarmac with broken sections and the occasional shared cabs. Soon before dusk, we reached the beautiful JKTDC property at Yusmarg.

We confirmed our booking on reaching as Yusmarg had no phone network so we could not connect to the manager from Shopian or Pulwama. We were given a lovely cottage with stunning views of the meadows, a beautiful lake and the amazing snowcapped peaks of the Pir Panjal range. There are some lovely walks around the JKTDC property, we took a small walk around the property but as it was getting dark and cold, we rushed back to our cottage.

Yusmarg, in Kashmiri means the meadows of Jesus. It’s a beautiful and calm place, an absolute paradise. The night was very cold, the coldest in the entire trip. The manager of this JKTDC property was a gem of a person, told us great tales about the surroundings from his childhood during dinner. Apparently we were the only tourists in entire Yusmarg, which is essentially a small hamlet having only one decent hotel, JKTDC. The JKTDC property was huge, sprawling with lush green meadows and lovely cottages that adorned the place.

After a sumptuous dinner, we called it a night.

The Katra - Sunderbani stretch
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5005.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5010.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5014.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5016.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5018.jpg

The Honda resting alongside the Chenab river
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5019.jpg

The Sunderbani - Rajouri sector had lovely roads
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5024.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5026.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5033.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5035.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5042.jpg

Bad roads from Rajouri to Bafliaz
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Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5059.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5064.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5065.jpg

Scintillating views of the Pir Panjal range from Dheera Ki Gali (Poonch District)
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5071.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5072.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5075.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5076.jpg
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Old 7th December 2015, 20:20   #9
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The historic Mughal Road from Bafliaz to Shopian
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5077.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5082.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5096.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5104.jpg

Noori Chamb, a waterfall named after Empress Noor Jehan
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5105.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5106.jpg

The good, bad and ugly sections of the Mughal Road
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5108.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5112.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5124.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5126.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5133.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5136.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5137.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5141.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5143.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5145.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5157.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5159.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5164.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5165.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5171.jpg

At the Pir Ki Gali, the highest point on the Mughal Road
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5174.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5182.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5185.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5187.jpg
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Old 7th December 2015, 20:29   #10
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In and around Pir Ki Gali
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5191.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5197.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5198.jpg

The Pir Ki Gali to Shopian section of the Mughal Road
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5202.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5207.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5215.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5230.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5231.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5233.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5240.jpg

Aliabad Sarai, a transit camp along the Mughal Road
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5242.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5243.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5248.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5249.jpg

Melting glaciers and winding roads
Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5252.jpg

Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5254.jpg

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Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5261.jpg

Sukh Sarai, another Mughal transit camp
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Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5264.jpg


On the way to JKTDC, Yusmarg
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Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5291.jpg
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Old 7th December 2015, 20:45   #11
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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 12th, Day 6


Early morning we went out for a stroll, the snow capped peaks were glowing thanks to the sun rays piercing through the clouds. The meadows were a little damp due to the overnight dew, the breeze was a little cold too but still the scintillating views were worth a dekko.

Soon we got back to the JKTDC property, the manager had arranged four ponies for us to go around the lush green meadows and to enjoy the flowing streams. We stuck a deal for a 2 hour pony ride and went around small hamlets and streams surrounding Yusmarg. Quiet and serene, the vistas were straight out of landscape paintings.

We got back, had breakfast, washed the car, checked the air pressure and left for Doodhpathri. The road to Doodhpathri is decent, some good sections while some really bad sections. On the way we crossed the famous shrine of Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali at Charari Sharief.

Doodhpathri, as the name signifies, means Valley of Milk. Legend has it that Sheikh ul Aalam Sheikh Noor din Noorani visited Doodhpathri to offer his prayers, while he was searching for water he dug up the ground and found milk instead of water. Hence the place is called Doodhpathri.

Just an hour and half from Srinagar, yet so pristine. Doodhpathri is still one of the hidden jewels of Kashmir. The alpine valley is home to beautiful Pine and Deodar trees. I have never seen meadows as beautiful as the ones in Doodhpathri. One can just take a walk down the rolling hills, get mesmerized by the views, see the snow capped peaks, grazing cattle, horses running around in gay abandon and just stay here forever. I was smitten by the beauty of this place.

The enchanting, serene and calm paradise had no tourists or visitors. We were the only people there apart from a few shepherds and a lone chai-wala. We were so lost in the beauty of the place that we almost forgot that we have to reach Srinagar as well.

Soon after spending some time there, we left for Srinagar via Budgam. Post Budgam, the road was good and by afternoon we reached our hotel at Dal Gate, on the banks of the very famous Dal Lake.

Post lunch, we went to see the beautiful Mughal gardens in Srinagar, the Nishat Bagh, the Shalimar Garden, the Chashm-e-Shahi and also drove up to see the Pari Mahal.

Later by late evening we went to feast on delicious Mutton delicacies at Adhoos situated near Lal Chowk, the heart of Srinagar. If you are a non-vegetarian, Adhoos is a must visit while you are in Srinagar. Adhoos also has a bakery and we bought some delicious cookies before we headed to explore the market area near Lal Chowk.

Compared to the very cold previous night at Yusmarg, the evening at Srinagar felt almost like summers !

Snow capped peaks around Yusmarg
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Our cottage at JKTDC
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Lovely walks around the JKTDC property
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Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5397.jpg

The meadows of Yusmarg
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Sheep crossings
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The beautiful hamlet of Charari Sharief
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On the way to Doodhpathri
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Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5499.jpg
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Old 7th December 2015, 20:51   #12
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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 enchanting and scintillating meadows of Doodhpathri

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The famous Mughal Gardens of Srinagar - Shalimar Garden, Nishat Bagh and Chashm-e-Shahi
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Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5651.jpg
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Old 7th December 2015, 21:19   #13
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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 13th, Day 7


We got up very early and left for Sonamarg, the road was excellent and the views were amazing. As we got nearer to Sonamarg, we could see glaciers along the tributary of the river Indus. It was a beautiful sight. We reached Sonamarg at about 7:30 am, had breakfast at one of the eateries and contemplated if we should continue towards Zoji La. But the timings at Zoji La didn’t make things favorable for us, so we returned back towards Srinagar and decided to head towards Gulmarg, another alpine paradise of Kashmir.

The roads were good, we took the Srinagar bypass via Ganderbal. But the Tangmarg road had lot of traffic. We reached Gulmarg before noon, but the weather had turned ugly and within a few minutes dark clouds had gathered over the meadows. The Gondola cable ride was stopped as it had started snowing and raining heavily in the Kongdoori Mountains and the Apharwat range.

Entire Gulmarg was crowded and dirty to our surprise. Many agents and taxi drivers troubled us seeing a non-JK registered cars. The cops troubled us too even after showing them all the documents. They made us park our car very far off from the parking lot and as a result we had to walk a lot. We chose not to argue with the local people and avoid unnecessary hassles, but many agents demanded extra bucks for getting us the Gondola cable ride tickets. We were very disappointed but we refused to pay a single extra penny over the ticket cost. As the weather turned ugly, we had no choice but to find a shelter so we started walking towards our car.

We waited for a couple of hours for the weather to get normal, it did but by that time the place had become so cold that taking a cable ride was ruled out. Moreover, the behavior of the local taxi drivers and agents had left a bad impression on us, so much so that as soon as it stopped raining we walked back towards our car and left for Srinagar.

By the time we were back in Srinagar, it was just 5 pm but it was raining heavily. We waited for some time, it stopped raining and we took a nice Shikara ride in the Dal Lake just before sunset. The Shikara Ride lasted for almost an hour. We saw the floating markets, many houseboats, explored the Meena Bazaar on the Dal Lake and bought some souvenirs for near and dear ones.

The Shikara ride was so pleasant that it made us forget the Gulmarg episode entirely.

We had another day in Srinagar as per our pre-planned hotel bookings but having visited almost all major tourist spots in and around Srinagar, we felt we were short of options. I enquired about the roads to Gurez Valley, most people suggested that Gurez is a nice place and most Kashmiri’s haven’t been there let alone tourists but the roads were very bad.

Still not sure where to go the next day, we called it a night.


On the way to Sonamarg
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In and around Sonamarg
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Alpine pastures
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Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5753.jpg

Gulmarg
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Shikara Ride at the Dal Lake in Srinagar
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The Shankaracharya Temple as visible from Dal Lake
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Sunset at Dal Lake
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Honda City i-DTEC: 5300 kms in 13 days! A family road-trip to the Vale of Kashmir!-dscn5896.jpg

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June 14th, Day 8


Early morning at 6 am, my father woke us up. We were still in our sleep, I just heard him mention “get ready, we are leaving for Gurez Valley now”. I rubbed my eyes and jumped up in excitement.

The plan was to drive sedately as much as we can till noon, and then retreat and come back to Srinagar. Although Dawar wasn’t very far off but negotiating the bad roads in a sedan would take its own sweet time. We knew we won’t be able to reach Dawar, enjoy the place and come back to Srinagar, all in just one day. We couldn’t extend our stay in Srinagar as we had bookings in Pahalgam and Daksum. So we just thought to have a leisure drive hoping to reach the Razdan Pass and come back from there.

We left from Srinagar very early, it was still dark outside. We crossed the beautiful Hazratbal Mosque, Nageen Lake, Ganderbal and soon we reached the Manasbal Lake. The Manasbal Lake is a nice, small lake good for small picnics. We continued towards Bandipora. The roads were bad so we progressed slowly. Soon there was a huge waterbody on our left, we realized it was the Wular Lake.

Wular Lake is a large wetland and is one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world. We stopped for a while, clicked a few pics and left for Bandipora.
Bandipora is a very small village, so small that we didn’t even get any basic breakfast joint anywhere. Maybe it was too early in the day for that, but we bought bread, cookies and some fruits for our breakfast from a local general store. The owner of the General Store was surprised to see tourists and he mentioned the road is very bad to Gurez Valley so we must be very careful.
We slowly traced our path towards Razdan Pass. The road from Bandipora to Tragbal was very bad, really pathetic. With very careful maneuvers, the City didn’t scrape its bottom even once. But this was proper 4x4 terrain. Sedans can do it, but with extreme caution and patience.

After Tragbal, the roads turned even bad. We realized that at speeds not exceeding 10 kph, we would hardly have time to reach the Razdan Pass. Plus the road was terrible, we felt if we proceed further we might torture the car. So with a heavy heart, just 8 kms before Razdan Pass we turned back towards Srinagar.

By afternoon we reached Srinagar via Bandipora and Sumbal. The same evening we heard about a small militant attack at Sopore.

After getting back to Srinagar, we went to see the famous Shankaracharya Temple. The climb to the temple had some lovely serpentine curves. Photography is not allowed in the temple premises. The temple is at an elevation so one gets a lovely vantage view of the entire Srinagar city.

Later in the evening we went to the market area to buy local handicrafts and also tasted some yummy Wazwaan cuisine at one of the restaurants near Lal Chowk.

Next morning we would leave for Aru with bookings already done at the JKTDC Hotel.


The majestic Wular Lake
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On our way to the Razdaan Pass
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Manasbal Lake
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