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Old 2nd January 2010, 20:09   #1
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Thumbs up Escape to Gulmarg

Life is moving by fast and I want to explore the incredible India. At the same time I was very much influenced by the latest Tata Safari 2.2 advertisement.

The following posts will unfold this incredible journey to Gulmarg from Pune along with Jammu, Srinagar & Delhi. Stay tuned..

I always wanted to ..
Escape to Gulmarg-tbhp-tease.jpg


& What would I remember ?
Escape to Gulmarg-tease2.jpg



Special thanks to HV Kumar, Tanveer & Suman for their guidance and timely help in accomplishing this trip.


Around october 09, as usual I encountered tanveer's thread on his ladakh trip and got drowned in his lovely photographs. I wished if I could also do the same kind of trip, if only office leaves and time could be bargained.

At the same time, my elder kid asked me if i had ever built a snowman and how does christmas trees look like when they are covered with snow .
I gave it a long thought and then, the earliest of the early memories flooded me, when I was 4-5 yrs old playing in snow in Srinagar and dipping hands in icy Dal Lake in shikara and getting a scolding from everyone.

It then started to itch me day in and day out, what if i were able to take family to Jammu, Srinagar and Gulmarg to acomplish snowman and snow on christmas trees, during my kid's christmas break.

Likewise as they say, man proposes - god disposes happened and I could see the light at the end of tunnel, when I got my leaves sanctioned all for 13 days.

By last week of October the train reservations, though in waiting were done & I hadnt thought about road journey until i re-chanced upon reading tanveer's thread and oogling over his pics and his stay at gulmarg. At the same time, the himachal tribal circuit thread also came up under my lens and was getting strength to take the road less taken.
I floated a query on this forum for a possiblity of this plan and got so many positive information from HV Kumar and others, that I thought, this was indeed possible.
Since plan-b i hadnt discussed with family and friends, everyone went ballistic and I was told to book air tickets instead of even rail tickets, leave alone the poor road trip from Jammu to Srinagar.
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Old 2nd January 2010, 20:56   #2
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Great beginning, with equally great pics. Obviously the family going ballistic didn't deter you, and they ended up being the gainers for it! Looking forward to the rest of the story & pics.
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Old 2nd January 2010, 21:43   #3
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Pics have certainly set the mood. Had been eagerly waiting for your thread.

Congrats for the safe completion of this trip. The first pic sure looks tempting, alas the vagaries of daily life. My friend from srinagar has been telling stories about the same and tempting me for a trip. For the time being, will make do with your adventure.

Keep posting.
Regards and wishing everyone here a happy and prosperous new year.
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Old 2nd January 2010, 22:57   #4
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PICS?!! PICS?!! STORY?!! STORY?!! when when??!!!!
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Old 2nd January 2010, 23:54   #5
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Default Chapter 1

Sometime around November 2009.

After much cajoling family and wife, offered them a plan a or plan b which was like booking railway tickets all the way until jammu and then take a flight to srinagar and back home sameway, otherwise take the safari. The train tickets were booked finally and then I started frantic posts and search on the road route.

Again HVK comes to rescue and gave me a link to the logs and blogs of his trips to ladakh in sep which are like a ready reckoner dictionary. "Precise like a rolex"
The following route was finalized with help of posts from members on the forum
  1. Starting on 19th Dec early morning and doing a night halt at udaipur
  2. Starting from Udaipur on 20 Dec early morning towards jaipur-delhi-sonepat-panipat and night halt at Karnal.
  3. Start from Karnal on 21st Dec early morning towards jammu, katra.
  4. Night halt at Katra on 21 and 22 Dec (Bookings confirmed at JKTDC)
  5. Start for Tangmarg on 23rd Dec (Night stay at tangmarg JKTDC,23,24,25)
    Roam Gulmarg/Srinagar etc etc etc..
  6. Start for Jammu 26th, night halt at Jammu TRC JKTDC..damn expensive :(
  7. Start back towards delhi on 27th Dec and do a night halt at sonepat or Karnal.
  8. Aim udaipur for 28th Night and then make a run to pune on 29th Dec.
If only I had known what things were in store, the plan would have to be altered after pt.#1

After this frantic discussions on the budgeting etc was carried out and the outcome was, no matter what, air/rail/road the cost was 19/20 (very much near to similar).We instantly ruled out air travel.

In the meantime, we booked hotels at jktdc and got good value for money bookings on the dates as planned just in time. Few telephones to jktdc and everything was set and confirmed.

My safari has completed 10k mark and is mostly troublefree hehehe (only last few days before travel would tell)

I read up twice or maybe thrice the blogs and logs of HVK and cajole wifey dear to undertake the road, instead of rail and the ice breaker line was.. Do you want to travel peacefully ? or do you want me to run after kids from bogie no.1 until bogie no.22 of jhelum everyday for three days :o.

Look we both will share 50% of the running ok.. Wife was like.. what...#$@ grumble grumble.. After 10 mins of so a sweet voice says...suniye ji, if you are ok, I am ready to go by road provided, you dont drive non-stop and halt at 6:30pm and start at 9am. Kids can walk and stretch around as and when they like.

I was like huh....9 to 6 only, walk and stretch eh :O :O. When do I drive then

After thinking out aloud in my mind, we decide that road it is.. hurray but the train tickets still stand until last 3 days or until the safari is declared fit. And add to that the long list of woollens and other relevant stuff mentioned in the log like medicines, food etc etc.

By end of november we are done with basic woollens and shoes etc and the next thing is getting pre 15000kms mark servicing at 12000kms only.(details in my ownership thread)

End of nov and start of dec, ludhiana is burning and I am really worried. But after a few days, the situation is undercontrol.

I have already made a booking for servicing at BUB 10 days in advance of start day, which makes me really bitter, when the servicing is not done. After 2 days, I go to Pandit Auto. for a full check and servicing before the trip. Every nook and crany of the engine is checked and after changing few vital parts, the full thumbs up ready to roll signal is given.

Finally..the train tickets are cancelled and put to rest

Last minutes checks and buyings of vital stuff like foods and others is done.
However, a last minute information from a friend in Kashmir, makes us drop the petromax and the dog chains..err snow chains.(chains are available on hire they say up there)

Finally the D-Day arrives and after completing office, I head back home. While at stopped at red light, a frantic bike slips over rubble and rear ends me near the tail pipe. I hear something break like shattering glasses. I realise it only when my co-passenger tell me that someone hit the vehicle. I jump out of the safari and find a biker slowly getting up and dragging his bike away. I ask him if he's ok and then I look at the damage..the rear rhs reflector is cracked and broken. The biker says extremely sorry and makes a genuine sorry face that it broke coz he skidded and I cant as well do much about it and let him go after confronting him. Lucky me, his face didnt hit the tail pipe

Its T-9 hrs and i am at shell diesel pump, getting a full tank @40.95 rs / liter.

After packing up, and loading the rear bay to the height of the rear seat, we decide to call it a day. The kids are put to sleep and wifey also goes off to sleep. I am like tired and eager to get a full rest and wakeup and roll out around 3:00AM. With eyes closed, get into the bed, only to find myself awake 10 mins later posting at t-bhp and I am really wide awake.. anxiety. Even a dozen tries isnt getting me sleep of more than 10 mins.

Every second is like a eon.

Slowly the clock makes a beep and its 2:30.

Wife wakes up and finds me red eyed fully awake. What she says next make me take a good powernap of 1 hr.

After I wake up around 3:45 am, the journey begins.

In anxiety and excitment, I pack up the camera in the luggage which is taken out in somewhere in upcoming chapter 2.

Today is 19th December.

Finally after all the puja and good wishes we roll out at 4:15AM

The time is 4:57am & I am paying toll money of rs. 140 at talegaon end of the great mumbai-pune expressway.

By 6am , we are crossing turbhe railway station and then on thane belapur road. Endless readings of negotiating the thane ghodbunder road is making me now even more confused. I miss out a turn and am lost.. what the heck, I halt the vehicle and go to a chaiwala and asks him for directions which helps me get back on track after loosing good 45 mins.

Thanks to the chaiwala and now i am negotiating the thane ghodbuner roads carefully, telling myself beta.. get ready for loads of twists like these.
In no time we are takng the famous right turn at the hotel fountain after paying 15/- toll at ghodbunder toll plaza.

What I see next, is the worst imagination i could ever ever have .

coming up chapter2.. have you seen trucks ? and have you seen honeybees behive ??

Last edited by Rahulk76 : 2nd January 2010 at 23:56.
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Old 3rd January 2010, 00:17   #6
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Default Luggage

The luggage looks something like this
Escape to Gulmarg-p1010043.jpg
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Old 3rd January 2010, 00:22   #7
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good doing Rahul, this will be interesting, I am hooked.

God, so much snow
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Old 3rd January 2010, 00:30   #8
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With kids in tow, limiting luggage only upto the rear seat height is no small feat for such a long journey.

Had you considered going via Pali-Nagaur-Hisar-Ambala stretch? The roads are newely built and traffic is minimal. You can also bypass most of the cities.
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Old 3rd January 2010, 07:25   #9
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To be honest, when you look a long post, it actually takes self motivation to begin. But your writing is so lucid that I didn't realize I have reached the end of the post. Great start and looking forward to the interesting travelogue to unfold.
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Old 3rd January 2010, 15:53   #10
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Default Chapter 2

Soon as we pass over the bridge after Fountain Head hotel and are heading north on NH8.

"Oh, my God," wife said, setting eyes on what was left of the space on the road ahead."There are trucks all over the place, counting all in all 4 lanes full of trucks jostling for space"

"Rahul"? repeated my wife.

"Yes", I look at her puzzled face & then slowly scan the road ahead for gaps in the sides of the truck and in between them & finally spot a innova playing kind of video game, in & out of lanes bypassing the truckers who have decided not to leave any space for us mortals.

I decided to follow him and also play the tricks of traffic learnt in Pune and slowly inch forward and reach the IDAA Surat-Dahisar Toll Plaza (KM470) at around 08:13am and pay toll of Rs. 45.

"Wow, the roads are clear ahead" exclaims my wife.

By now its almost quater to nine and the kids have woken up. Both are cranky and I feel that its not the best mood set to drive all day down with them in this state.

"Let's stop over for tea. We will prepare some milk, have some home made breakfast feed kiddo's and then hit the road." I said.

Soon we pull over into "Silver Miles" to have some expensive normal chai. Eveyone is refreshed by the end of the breakfast.

I decide to pull out my camera from the luggage and snap a few pics.

With diaper changed, the younger one is back to chirpy normal and I am glad

Escape to Gulmarg-p1010002.jpg

The road we came from..

Escape to Gulmarg-p1010003.jpg
Soon we cross some amazing scenaries & beautiful roads.

Escape to Gulmarg-p1010005.jpg

"Oh " exclaims my wife pointing to upcoming toll plaza. "I'll fish out the change quickly"

"How much ?" I said to the guy at IRB Surat Dahisar Toll Plaza (km470).
"41, and give 1 rupee change" came a stern gruffy reply.

By 9:13am, we are past that toll gate, speeding ahead at 90KMPH.

Soon, I see bunch of truckers in the right most lane ahead, and decide to take over from the left. I am past the first truck, and suddenly my wife screams.

A cold shiver passes my spine, as I frantically put 2nd gear from 4th braking heavily. The second, third truckers have decided suddenly to change the lane from right to left without bothering.
Its a very close call.

I swear at the truckers for this stupid maneavour.

"Don't do that thing again, rather stick to the right lane when overtaking" Mrs. Kumar said in most coldest voice.

"I'm really sorry," I say in my most softest voice.

After getting a grip, we are back on road, sticking to the left lane instead of right lane & overtaking only via right. I 'm slowly learning that truckers prefer to give side from the right, when beeped or dipped properly.

Exceptions are some mischeavous truckers who wont give side and you have to take over from left. Leave alone the rhs/lhs indicators.

Soon, we cross irb surat dahisar (km356.2) at 10:27am paying toll of Rs. 45, irb surat dahisar (km297.30)
at 11:27am paying a toll of Rs.39 & idaa bharuch-surat at 12:27pm paying a toll of Rs. 45.

"Look, we have crossed surat," exclaims my wife.
"Yes," I say. "Please take out the print out I gave you and mark up the sections we have already covered and tell me whats upcoming" I say to her with a smile.

"Papa, ?" whats that.. said my daughter pointing to this
Escape to Gulmarg-19122009001.jpg
"Beta.. thats a train bogie"

I saw a couple of them. We wondered what they were doing enroute to destination via road.

Till now we have covered the Ghodbunder-Manor-Charoti-Talasarai-Gujrat Border-Vapi- Navsari-Surat Bypass- and nearing Ankleshwar.

The roads a little devoid of truckers to my delight
Escape to Gulmarg-p1010004.jpg

As we are nearing Ankleswar, I call up HV Kumar to ask a few things and later come to know that the section from Ghodbunder until Baroda is the busiet truckers road in India and you will only find less trucks past baroda.
3 kms away from the Narmada bridge I see another pile up of trucks and see a few cars taking a U-turn. I wonder why ?

Its almost 1 pm when I decide to ring up HV, for any advise.
Escape to Gulmarg-p1010006.jpg
His calm voice and reassurances give me strenght to carry on until next 15-20 mins into the jam or else take a U-turn, and go back into ankleshwar and take the old bridge. Otherwise go on the other side of the road and follow the other cars.

Looking at my tight spot in the left most lane surrounded by big trailers and truckers, I slowly inch by inch maneouver the vehicle into the right lane, looking for a median gap at the same time looking forward to seeing the traffic move.

I fail to realise that this maneover took me almost 30 mins and its 1:30 already.

"What a waste, lets have lunch here only" says my wife. She goes to the back to the middle seat and opens up the tiffin boxes she packed last night and we have a mid-day mid-road lunch .

Much to my woes, the clock is ticking away and I can see the traffic ahead move slowly.

Suddenly, I find myself within 500 meters of the famed narmada bridge and very near to the median gap.

HV calls up to find out the situation. I update him. We finally agree that, it may not be a worth to go back through ankleswar now as more major pile up would be behind us. The fuel condition is also optimum right now, and I would have to maintain 80-90kmph to reach my first destination of the day, Udaipur/Chittorgarh today.

I thank him for the information and hang up, only to find myself joyfully riding over the narmada bridge.

"How can I forgot you," I say as I click away a few snaps of the Narmada
Escape to Gulmarg-p1010009.jpg

Escape to Gulmarg-p1010010.jpg
Escape to Gulmarg-p1010011.jpg
Escape to Gulmarg-19122009002.jpg
As soon as i am done, I am at narmada infra bharuch toll plaza paying a cool Rs. 16. The roads are good and flying by.

We are past L&T Vadodra Bharuch Toll plaza after paying Rs.60 at 2:49PM.

The roads are really good in Gujrat. Another important thing we saw that most of the bridges were named properly.
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Old 3rd January 2010, 16:16   #11
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"Papa, ?" whats that.. said my daughter pointing to this
Attachment 255640
"Beta.. thats a train bogie"

I saw a couple of them. We wondered what they were doing enroute to destination via road.





Most probably new bogies for Delhi Metro. They come via sea route and are then carried over trailers to Delhi.
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Old 3rd January 2010, 17:04   #12
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Default Chapter 3

We speed up and soon cross Bharuch bypass - Palej - Karjan and are past Vadodra bypass entering the famed NE1.
After pay of a toll of Rs. 71 at 3:38pm on ahmedabad - vadodra expressway. We speed up to 100kmph max allowed on this road.
The roads are just beautiful, no undulations and tarred . very well maintained.

Escape to Gulmarg-p1010013.jpg
my co driver has become a little upset as its a plain straight road
Attachment 255718

Escape to Gulmarg-p1010015.jpg
We are nearing the end of the expressway where we would halt to refuel and refresh. Its almost 4:30PM and I am having a little tired back. But the spirit of vacation should help us overcome that and reach first destination of the day in time we hope
Escape to Gulmarg-p1010016.jpg
Soon we take a left hander and exit expressway & take a right on the flyover to start the journey Udaipur.
Escape to Gulmarg-p1010019.jpg
Escape to Gulmarg-p1010018.jpg
"How much?," I say to the toll guy at ahmedabad sardar patel ring road at 17:18pm ?
"Only Rs. 18 sir, with a smile"

Then we start again aiming for udaipur in hearts knowing that daylight is there only for another hr or so. Wife & kids are fast asleep in the back.So there is very little or less conversation.

I speed by Kathpur toll plaza at 18:00.. paying a toll of Rs. 30. I stop by a hotel before RJ borderin Himmatnagar only to make up that we can make it to udaipur latest by 10-11. A chat with HVK confrims this.

A little further into distance, the light is fading, and the dreaded twilight zone in combination of ghats have arrived.

Vantada toll plaza rolls by at 19:07.. paid a toll of Rs.25.

I speed past Shamlaji after halting for a quick tea break. Kids have woken up and are tired and cranky again.
Its time to decide as the time is running out fast.The roads are superb and smooth and the ghats have started. I miss out clicking the ratnapur RJ state superb entrance due to limitations of my camera.

By this time my eyes are hurting due to the headlights of other vehciles and I know that I cannot continue for longer than 1 hr in this condition and that too in ghat section.

We cross Kherwara toll plaza at 19:58 by paying toll of Rs.20 and finally get a place to rest at decent RTDC, Rishabdeo around 20:15.

The alarm is set for 5 am next day. We have decent grub and call it a day.

Tommorow is 20th Dec and we need to be in Katra, Jammu by afternoon of 21st Dec. Sounds easy doesnt it ? to start the chapter 4 of the onwards journey.

Quietly I pull out Volini Gel and rub it on my knees and shoulders. "I should have joined gym a month back..damn" I quietly say to my self "

Click.. Good Night

FYI: The name of the hotel is RTDC, Tourist Bunglow, Gavri Rishabdeo. Its bang on the side of the main highway, flanked by a BPCL petrol pump.
Below is from the return journey.
Escape to Gulmarg-p1010021.jpg

Safari Basking in the morning sun
Escape to Gulmarg-p1010020.jpg

Last edited by Dippy : 5th January 2010 at 14:20. Reason: Deleting pic on request
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Old 3rd January 2010, 17:23   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkbharat View Post
good doing Rahul, this will be interesting, I am hooked.
God, so much snow
Thanks Bharat. Yes there was lots of snow.
Quote:
Originally Posted by amikacin View Post
With kids in tow, limiting luggage only upto the rear seat height is no small feat for such a long journey.
Had you considered going via Pali-Nagaur-Hisar-Ambala stretch? The roads are newely built and traffic is minimal. You can also bypass most of the cities.
Yes Amikacin, limiting luggage is its self a ardeous task. Thanks to intelligent packing and preplanned list of stuff to be carried.
Pali-Nagaur-Hisar-Ambala stretch? Nope havent heard about it.. Maybe next time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by akbaree View Post
To be honest, when you look a long post, it actually takes self motivation to begin. But your writing is so lucid that I didn't realize I have reached the end of the post. Great start and looking forward to the interesting travelogue to unfold.
Thanks akbaree. Appreciate it.
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Old 3rd January 2010, 19:59   #14
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Pardon me for my ignorance. That Pali to Ambala stretch is accessible for those entering Rajasthan through NH 14 via Abu road. I was wrong.


But abother thing i noticed is that you could have bypassed Delhi by taking Rewari-Jajjhar-Rohtak-Panipat route provided you were not thinking of a halt in Delhi. The distance is 154 km and the roads are okayish.

I read about the same in sen2009 's thread of Himachal Triabal circuit.
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Old 3rd January 2010, 20:17   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahulk76 View Post

By 9:13am, we are past that toll gate, speeding ahead at 90KMPH.

Soon, I see bunch of truckers in the right most lane ahead, and decide to take over from the left. I am past the first truck, and suddenly my wife screams.

A cold shiver passes my spine, as I frantically put 2nd gear from 4th braking heavily. The second, third truckers have decided suddenly to change the lane from right to left without bothering.
Its a very close call.

I swear at the truckers for this stupid maneavour.
Having being in one similar one myself can understand the numbness you face at those moments. Difference, Speed = 120, Metal siderail on the left and a truck coming out of its lane, just as I approach it for overtaking. Tyres burnt and hearts sank but with nowhere to go you have to face the brunt of it.

Learnt always to honk while overtaking after this, even if they are following a line and give way . Those were my initial ownership days of the Safari and my first & last emergency braking experience in it.

Please carry on, why did you stop.
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