Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Overland Kashmiri Trip from Srinagar, Jammu to Delhi

After chilling on Nageen Lake in the excellent 'Lake Superior' Houseboat, owned and operated by Gullam Langoo, for 2 luxurious days it was time to head back to the hub of Delhi.

Watching the sunrise over the Himalayas, with the lake people coming to life is a great way to end a ski season, or for that matter a week or three, in Gulmarg skiing. I visited the Hazbaral shrine on Dal Lakeside which had many worshippers visiting, praying and chilling on the green lawns with friends and family. I returned to chillax for the afternoon, to be paddled around Nageen Lake, finishing off a Wilbur Smith novel as the water lapped up on the Shikara sunbathing in perfect 25-28 degree sunny weather.

I normally fly out back to Delhi but was keen to go 'overland' and try something new. For backpackers and dirt bags a like 250 rupees for the (hopefully 8 hour) jeep ride takes you to Jammu (the winter capital) from Srinagar (the summer capital) connecting you to the train that will deliver you back to Delhi. We set off and it wasn't long until we passed through the tunnel and started winding our way through the deep mountain pass, with a lot of traffic ie trucks and buses, it's a little nervy with the (typically) crazy passing manoeuvres and huge drops of hundreds of meters vertical. It was a good jeep, a Chevy Tavera and I was joined with 7 others crammed into the ride, albeit fairly comfortably as we listened to some 'classic' Indian music. Good spirits and trying a some great local food & snacks a long the way ie cashew nuts (that didn't cost the earth) and an interesting kind of Kashmiri Tea (unlike the Northern Kawa) that was more savoury in which you added sesame seeds and salt - very very palatable!

We winded our way down, watched my monkeys on the side of the road and then (the inevitable happened) with us breaking a front axel on the Chevy. A bit of surprise actually as it was rather a new vehicle. We limped a long, after much debate and made it to a mechanic, which was rather hilarious watching them get the crow bar and hammer out - clearly not having a scooby doo (clue) what they were up to. Oh well 8 hours turned into 11 and unfortunately I missed my 9.45pm train (380 Rupees) but made it onto the 11.45pm having to buy a general ticket (130 Rupees) but grabbing a 2nd class sleeper seat (luckily not a full train) and upgrading for an additional 120 Rupees, so not a bad result and time to bed down on the train and awake an arrival in Delhi. The 2nd class sleeper is certainly the way to travel, especially if you can score a top berth as this is fixed, and superb for longer trips as you have a seat and the option of having a little siesta should you feel.

We pulled into a roasting Delhi of 33 degrees + and I welcomed my crazy old friend, good old Delhi, it's always an adventure and something crazy around every corner!


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