The city of Jammu has a myriad of places to visit within the city and in the distant outskirts. The Mahamaya temple is an ancient structure which is approached through a narrow path through the trees. Hundreds of monkeys have turned those very trees into their dwelling. Standing outside the temple, one can get a beautiful view of the city from atop the hill. We then made our way to another hill-top landmark. Situated in isolation on the outskirts, the Amar Palace and Museum is quite a unique structure. Head down and you get to the Raghunath temple, which is a hive of activity, with many devotees and visitors thronging the area. Bahu Fort is another place of interest and is rather easily accessible. However, with the sheer volume of people, you have to wait for a good photo opportunity. India’s largest underwater aquarium, Bagh-e-Bahu, is also right there. However, the Tiger was not allowed inside, obviously.
Next on the cards was our final destination for this trip, Srinagar, and that meant the winding roads and beautiful, scenic routes would go on almost endlessly as we made our way up and down the mountains. Leaving Jammu behind, we headed towards Nagrota and crossed it in what seemed like a jiffy. Udhampur is the first major town as you enter. It is the headquarters for the Northern Command of the Indian Army, while also housing a support base for the Indian Air Force. The roads are immaculate but have strict speed limits and a number of speed bumps, especially before the many gates to the various Army quarters.
As you exit city limits, the roads don’t really get any wider, but the continuous presence of Army vehicles, especially personnel carriers in convoy, can slow down the flow of traffic tremendously. Patnitop is a hill station en route. Situated 6,640 feet above mean sea level, it ismesmerising especially before summer sets in completely.
The climb through Kud, just before Patnitop, is quite a task with traffic, but once you get past the hustle and bustle, it’s a more or less enjoyable climb to the top. The tall trees and pristine forests are engulfed in clouds and the area is quite cool. Just off the main highway is a road leading to Sanasar, a town famous for its sights and adventure sports. There are several view points along the way which let you have a spectacular view of the green valley and the clouds, which, quite breathtakingly, are actually visible below where you stand.
The road ahead is right beside the river and though it’s quite a way down, there are points which allow for a view unlike any other. Titanic Point is one such view point. Located on the edge of a tight hairpin along the mountain road, it overlooks the entire Kashmir valley. It makes for a mandatory stop after the smooth but challenging roads. There are many turns to tackle and, with a motorcycle like the Tiger 800XC, which time and again has proved its prowess in the bends, makes short work of taking corners and lets you enjoy the road to the maximum. The way it easily glides into the turns and holds its line makes it a joy to ride. Get down from the addictive turn-rich roads and you find yourself at the Jawahar Tunnel – a 2.5-kilometre-long and dark drill-job through the mountain – which takes you to Banihal, and on to the Green Tunnel, which then leads into Srinagar.
Entering Srinagar late in the evening is not something you would call a pleasant ride, but, nevertheless, once you get past the busy part of the city and head towards Boulevard, the traffic thins out quite a bit. The view ahead began to fill with lights from a range of houseboats and the Dal Lake became clear, glimmering with the reflections of hundreds of lights. The day was done and the moon was out. We were in Srinagar.
Distance travelled: 900 km