Saturday, September 8, 2012

Travelog : Kashmir (India)

Couple of day’s back I got a chance to travel Kashmir, known to be the heaven on earth, friendly people, beautiful gardens, vast lakes and exhilarating streams and stunning landscapes.

Our college friend, Kritika's dad is posted at Baramullah, as Major general. Planning started way back in Feb'2012, some of our friends were sure that they will be able to make it, somewhere struggling with their decision, so was I. 
Trail of messages started on Facebook, so that everyone is aware of the plan. We planned to reach Srinagar on 24th Aug. We had a small issue with alcohol so we planned to carry bottles from our city itself, wrapped in clothes. We had 5 bottles coming from Bangalore and I was supposed to carry 2 but due to high taxes in Maharashtra I requested Bagla to buy one from Delhi.

Oh sorry, i forgot to introduce you with my troops, here they are

Travelers Details [Click here]
After so much of waiting and a long chain of persuading, it was August 24th, day when we were supposed to leave all our work and worries on our workplace and move towards a journey of peace and sheer enjoyment. Till today I was informed 8 people traveling, 4 from Bangalore, 2 from Delhi and 1 from Lucknow and we have 7 bottles of alcohol in our language travelling with us to Srinagar.

24 August 2012 : Day 1
Like I already mention I stay in Pune, I planned to travel Mumbai from a cab; it takes less time and can drop me somewhere near airport. I took an early morning cab; we started around 5:30AM from Pune railway station. It took me around 2hrs to reach Mumbai Airport, which was actually too early, coz the flight was at 11AM, had to spend 2-3hours on airport. I took a place in CCD, ordered a regular coffee and gave another shot to complete Meluha (not much into reading books). Around 10 AM I checked in for my flight, boarding time 10:30am. My journey on flight was of 2 and a half hours, which I spent religiously reading Meluha (This time I want to complete this book for sure).

 My flight landed Srinagar around 13:30, as already mentioned only postpaid networks will be working in Srinagar. Kritika informed me that the guys who boarded at Delhi airport already left for Srinagar army guest house and I will have Mr ----- waiting for me at airport. I saw a guy in white shirt and blue jean holding a board with my name Nitish Menghani (Well a correct name is Nitesh) with him there was an army personal, Mr --- I was unaware of his rank, he took me to the waiting room. We had to wait for Sripat who planned to travel alone due to his office work from Kingfisher airlines. I had a very informal chat with Mr --- he was posted in Rajasthan (Bikaner and Jodhpur) for some time and his family was in Mumbai nowadays. He gave me a big surprise that SS is the first one who arrived Srinagar, SS kept it as a secret, man can’t tell you how great it was hearing this.

Anyways it was time for Sripat Bagla's flight to arrive, Bagla has always been a big goof up, create some or other confusion.  Some days before the commencement of our flight he himself called me up and asked me to stay near the luggage conveyor belt at Srinagar airport as he had a pre-paid mobile and it would be difficult for him to contact anyone.

Srinagar airport is divided among two half’s, domestic and International, however some of the domestic flights also get an entrance from international doors, Mr -- was in a dilemma that Bagla is coming in 6E xyz flight i.e. the indigo which gave an entrance to travelers from international doors, I corrected him by informing that he is coming from KF which would be ITRxyz, we lost some of our time due to this miscommunication. By the time we would have come back to domestic side where actually ITR305 landed bagla took his luggage and exited the airport. We kept searching for him, calling here and there where in Mr Sripat Bagla but no sign of him arriving. Mr --- found out that there were two KF flights coming from Delhi, so we waited for another flight, although bagla wasn’t in that also. Than I got a call from Ankur stating that Bagla had already arrived and waiting somewhere near airport but where?? A second after this Bagla called me and told me he is waiting outside airport exit gate, I ran towards the gate and found this guy was happily standing outside and we all are searching him here and there.

Anyways there wasn’t enough time to waste on all this we headed towards the Army guest house with Mr ---. Dagger Guest House that was the name of the place where we stayed in Srinagar. 3 rooms were allotted to guys and 1 for girls.

As soon as I entered the dining room, I saw both nemani family and ss were able to join us, freak I kept persuading them on call but they never revealed the secret. SS was always coming, bugger kept it as a secret. Nemani was unsure till 8th Aug, it was when Ankur had a chat with nemani's dad; they were able to come, but still they had darn 16 days to inform that they are coming, crap felt like I was fooled over here. Anyways it was good to see everyone back in form.

It was already 16:00 as per the plan we moved out for shopping. We were provided with two jeep’s and two TA’s (Territorial army : It is a second line of defense after the Regular Indian Army; it is only meant for those people who are already in mainstay civilian professions)personals accompanied us.

Shopping at Kashmir [Click Here for details ]

After Dal, we headed back to Daggers guest house, we had an amazing night, chit chat, a great officers mess dinner accompanies by the bottles of alcohol we bring into.

25th August 2012 : Day 2
We hired a winger for our tour to Pahalgam and Chandawari. We started somewhere around 7 o'clock from Srinagar, approx. 2hr journey to Pahalgam. 

Activities for day 2 [Click Here]

We came back to Srinagar all wet after an amazing river rafting experience, which again called for a great Daaru party. Abir gave a brief on our college soft target Pillu (showmik das). Once that started boring us, kushagra came up with a spirit calling idea, however we have tried it 2 times nobody came to haunt us, still an another shot. We four people tried to concentrate on a piece on coin murmuring “Holy spirit please come” but as always nothing happened but that became a good joke for audience. Drinks always kept our spirit high, SS and Abir didn’t sleep at all.

26th August 2012 : Day 3
I woke up and found Abir and SS still drinking, this was the day when we were supposed to be ready by 7:00 and leave for Shankaracharya Temple, 30min distance. However, due to all night talking our drunkards were too lazy to get ready. Ss and Abir somehow took shower and were ready by 7:30; around half hour late than our scheduled time, kritika was very angry about this, although Abir’s bakar took good care of it. Kritika furiousness turned into laughter for whole day.

Activities for Day 3 [Click here for details] 

That night we slept early, we had a strict instruction to be ready by 6:00am, so that we can leave as expected schedule. Still we had some time for our drinks.

27th August 2012 : Day 4 
Today's plan, we have to pack our bags and move to Baramullah then Uri and the most important Kaman Post

Activities for day 4 [Click Here for details]

 Next morning we came back to Uri post and were ready by 8:00 to leave for Gulmarg.

28th August 2012 : Day 5
 Today we had a plan to go to Gulmarg, it is a hill station, a popular skiing destination and a notified area committee in Baramula district.

Activities for day 5 [Click Here for details]

We enjoyed our day at Gulmarg, after all it was our last day in the heaven.

29th August 2012 : Day 6
Our flights were scheduled somewhere between 14:00-16:00, so we decided to leave around 8:00 from Gulmarg because it takes a long time at Srinagar airport for luggage check. However, we got instructions that we will be visiting another post Botapatri and as we will be getting some time off from luggage check. We headed towards Botapatri, it was a post hold by 20 GR, and LOC was around 6KM from this post. We were offered tea and biscuits by soldiers. Captain briefed us on the surrounding mounts. We used binoculars to check the post over the surroundings.

After this we headed towards the Airport, to catch our flights.

We guys will never forget the unlimited bak bak, Hell lot of daaru, late night sleeps and early morning reporting, freezing cold water, SS wearing same brown pant for 3 straight days, SS and abir shower, kritika’s anger than unlimited laugh and our never ending discussion on Pressure and Indo-Pak relations.
Two lines I‘ll never forget, 
  • 1 what Abir (Bangalore troop) said "we are out for 5 days, let us forget everything and enjoy at the fullest"
  • And another from our driver "Saheb yaha pagal ko bhi aaram hai, magar army ko nahi"
J&K people and army have seen enough in this region and still facing issues. I guess we need to resolve ourselves first to resolve things at international level..

Anyways would suggest you to visit Kashmir once in their lifetime.