Bhaderwah v 2.0


Sandeep Kaul
Day 2 - 10 June 2018

We leave Udhampur early. We have to reach Bhaderwah. Go up to Padri. Come back to Bhaderwah.

But, not before a leisurely cuppa in the verandah overlooking the front lawn. And, a spot of brekker. Or, is it packed? It's all a blur now!

Note: The brekker is packed.

Traffic is sparse within the city and all hell breaks loose once we reach the highway.

The widening makes the road narrow, bumpy and awash in dust. Topped by those manic, local mini bus drivers who overtake you from any side with their musical horns tooting away for 10-minutes at a stretch. How I retain my composure all through is something I marvel at today.

Anyway, the Chenani-Nashri tunnel entrance brings peace and it is 9-10 km of a straight-line, no overtaking drive until the exit where we go around the roundabout one extra time for luck. I don't know why actually, but we do go around twice. And, then chart a course to the right, away from the enticing pleasures of the Vale of Kashmir that is straight ahead.

The road narrows. The traffic dies down. We stop once to give my cramping leg some respite. The Chenab flows peacefully along.

Note: We open the packed breakfast. Anda bhurji and parathas. And, some laoolee cake all the way from Delhi! Yum!!


The Chenab flows quietly

We get entangled in an army convoy but manage to overtake the vehicles until we stop again and find ourselves at the end of the convoy once more.

We part company at Pul Doda...they are headed towards Doda, or Kishtwar. Who knows? We are happy to be on the road to Bhaderwah. At Dradhu we leave the cut to Bhalra, and Jai, and carry on straight. At the Y-point before entering the town we take the left fork to get into the mess of the market after which we get on to the mess of the road that should take us to the Bhaderwah Development Authority accommodation.

We reach with the vehicles caked in dust from the last few km and find the place not to be what we expect. However, we are told about another hotel a bit down the road which is where we finally book ourselves. Another place not really worth remebering so all that I can say is that it is on the Sarthingal road, towards Padri.

Next stop Padri. I hope that dhabas are running because it is way past lunch with no sight of food.


Padri, here we come (that flash of blue is Doc P's new set of wheels)


The road we've just driven on (Shot on a Motorola phone, by the way!)

A km or two short of Padri, we stop to get that Firefox cycle out of the i-toonty. Kabir assembles it in front of a gawking crowd who have stopped for snow fun at a snow bank along the road but find a cycle being extracted from a car and then being put together and somebody actually cycling up the gradient to be out of this world.

We motor behind the yet-to-be-famous youngest Himalayan cyclist and reach our destination for the day.

The youngest Himalayan cyclist with his fans at Padri


Now to eat something or is this after we've eaten?

The dhabas are open. Pakoras and plates of Maggi are ordered. To be washed down with chai. The pass is teeming with people but who cares when you have a full stomach and a cool evening in June?

On the return to Bhaderwah, the youngest Himalayan cyclist zooms down 16-17 km before a combination of freezing fingers, bumpy ride and an urgent call make him return to the warm confines of the Tyota Leeba. Call? Call of nature, guys.


The sprightly Tyota Leeba leads the way


A better portion that has been washed for us!


And, God said, let there be light...

Back at the unnamed hotel, we rest and gear up for the next day.

The meadows call.
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Day 2: Udhampur to Padri to Bhaderwah

We were up early. Partly the heat and partly the excitement of the day ahead.
The house help was more than helpful. Bed tea was on the dot. A packed breakfast of ande ki bhurli and parathas stood us in good stead later in the morning.

Sandy is right. At the Chenani-Nashri tunnel, for 9.1 kms, no one overtook us, either from the left or from the right. No one pushed us off the road. For 9.1 kms, it was a boring, straight line drive.
And then it is up up the mountain and on to Bhaderwah. Hunger pangs prompted Sandy to call and ask for a break. You see, the khana ka dabba was in my gaddi O:)

The Bhaderwah Development Authority property, now outsourced to a private player, is poorly managed and overpriced. We gave it a miss even though we had a booking there. The bachhas did use their kitchen services to polish off a few maggis and some dumplings.

We paid an advance to the unchristened hotel down the road and then escaped to Padri Galli, 40 kms away.

Readying for the final ascent.

The other sets of wheels

And he's off to conquer his first pass.....

The Bakkerwal Residency.....going cheap!

The gang!

Head Turner

As always, our revelers left enough evidence of their having been there. The crows and ravens had a field day.

Life is a drag....



As in life in general, there were some ascending, some descending. No one just standing and whiling away time. :)

Chhayos not a patch on the tea we had there.


The man and his machine


We opened our diaries and ticked off Padri Galli and then it was downhill, back to base. Of course, the dwi chakravahan and the rider rode 17 kms in that cold rainy weather.

I did manage to pick up a wonderful piece of driftwood which is now being fashioned into a table.



Sandeep Kaul
Day 3 - 11 June 2018

Today is the day.

The unnamed hotel stay is over. No time for breakfast...we'll have it on the way.

While Tyota Leeba folks get ready for Jai, the missus and I wander down the road, then off the road and finally to the edge of the Neru river/nallah/stream flowing past. Whatever you call it, the water is crystal clear. And, no, at the time of the wandering the name is unknown to me but now I do know thanks to you know what.


Morning walk on the Sarthingal road


Another view


Space is not a constraint


The Neru is placid but clear and the phone is not a OnePlus!

We return to the unnamed hotel to find the the remaining travellers ready to depart.

The luggage is lugged down the narrow flight of stairs. The boot of the i-toonty is opened for it is no longer a sedan but a goods carrier on charter. The driftwood piece is taken out so that incoming baggage can be fitted in. The driftwood becomes a centre of attraction for the neighbours who have just seen off friends or family and are marvelling at the sight of our gaggle of travellers. Are we going to carry it all the way back to Delhi? What will we do with it once it reaches the capital? A table? Why not leave it with them and it'll be put to better use. On a winter evening it can warm them once put to fire. Maybe even do a roast. A table seems such a waste.

An 180° turn and we are off. I am in the lead and hoping that the road leads us in the right direction. The town is waking up so the narrow road is easy to navigate. We reach the high street and, having visited earlier, need not ask for directions. We know the way out.

From here on it is a stop-go kind of a drive.

We need to buy essentials like potatoes, onions, tomatoes, some other vegetables, atta and such like. Jai is in the middle of nowhere and we want to ensure we don't go hungry. So we move. Find a shop. Stop. Buy some stuff. Move again. Find some other outlet. Stop once more... you get the drift, don't you?

Multiple stops later (at least 2-3) we reach Ghatimore where begins our search for a place for breakfast. But we fail. We need something ready-to-eat. Or, something that can be ready to eat is a short period of time. Not the uncooked stuff we are carrying.

Our chinta for breakfast ends at Chinta. At a spanking new eatery.


No chinta (worries) at Chinta (Okay, that's a PJ but couldn't resist)

The ladies take charge of the gas stove and before the customers ahead of us can start on their Maggi, we have our breakfast in our hands!

The drive is a relaxed one thereafter.


The blue and white and green of Jai and the phone is still not a OnePlus!

And, we reach Jai.
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