Vaishno Devi and bhaderwah 2019


So it was our mandatory annual mata Vaishno Devi tour.
This tour along with providing us the opportunity to get to the abode of the mata gives us a chance to move about and around in the region , we were done with most of the major destinations by this year , so we thought why not go a little off beat , as bhaderwah is a paradise during the summer months , with its pristine forests and the deodar forests and the grass lands of padri , but in winters the extreme snowfall in the region is a hitch in the lives of the locals , making the place cutoff from the other parts for days.
DAY 1:- .....
So we started off on 8th Feb night from Delhi via train to Jammu was cool in Delhi at that time , not too cold. Upon crossing Ludhiana it became a bit chilly.
Upon reaching Jammu it became evident that the news of maximal snowfall in the Himalayas this year is not merely every year story but is really a extreme of climate change this year , it was really chilly early that morning of 9th Feb in jammu. We started to Katra with the taxis already arranged by our travel agent there. Outbound Jammu and the vistas opened up , the views too good , the peaks in sight were covered with thick layers of snow , I thought if there is this much snow in sight from Jammu itself , what is the paradise unexploded got to offer. The roads have now become silky smooth , back in the days it used to take 2-3 hrs but now things have changed for good. Reached Katra at around 9. We stayed at hotel Prakash , nice rooms and good staff , it's located near the CRPF cantonment in Katra. Got ready by 11am , had breakfast and started Yatra at around 12:00, weather was clear . The aura when you move up towards the abode of almighty is just amazing can't be described with words.with great vibes and determination we moved ahead.
Reached bhavan which around 3:30 it was cold even in broad daylight . There was a bit of rush but managed and finally we had darshan and it was as always divine. We came out and enjoyed the ever tasty rajma and curry rice of bhavan. It was 5:30 by then , most people went back to Katra , but some of us continued towards Bhairon temple further up , just after moving 500m upwards from bhavan the tracks were completely covered with snow and at places Black ice which was extremely slippery ,we made slow progress and made it up around 5:45 ,then after darshan watched the enchanting sunset from the view point. On our way back it was dark , slippery and we had to carry Parashad too with caution with the monkeys always ready to snatch it away. Reached hotel around 11 after dinner and crashed after the exhausting day.
The day was a big one and with the main objective of the trip complete we were excited for the endeavours of tomorrow....



DAY 2:- so after a tight and hectic schedule of day one and a good night's sleep , ready as always we were to embark on today's mission.
Started at around afternoon 1:00 from Katra after exploring the bazaar and a little purchasing , though I haven't even travelled to Katra by train but saw the railway station from outside and it's mind-blowing , along with the tracks laid down the valleys it's truly an engineering marvel. So without deviating any further let's get back , so yea at around 1:30 got back on the jammu-srinagar highway in domel, as the roads are buttery smooth till Udhampur it was a smooth sail , as the Jammu Srinagar highway had been blocked for a couple of weeks then due to persistent snowfalls and landslides ahead of Ramban area , there were many queue's of trucks parked alongside the highway , some even 2-3km long ones. As soon as we crossed Udhampur the road conditions deteriorated and at points there was only dirt track.(the construction of the 4 lane highway is in full swing) it was really dusty , the views were mesmerizing , almost every peak was snow laden. Were not able to breath the clean mountain air (which is very refreshing for us delhites ) due to the dust . Then came another engineering marvel and this one was more grand than anything showcasing our modernization at its best
"The Chenani - Nashri tunnel'' ,
It is a never ending thing is what it feels inside(9km) but with all the emergency rooms and stuff every 200m it's great work. As soon as we crossed to the other side the vistas changed and it was a Christmasy white landscape with snow cover extending till river bed . Theres this famous place peerah, 3 kms on the Srinagar highway from the tunnel , it is very famous for its rajma chawal served with anaardana chutney , it is a delicacy , a must try. After having lunch it was about 4:00 and we still had a long way to go till bhaderwah another 95kms, and traversing at night was risky because of snow on roadside. So we left for bhaderwah from there , we started towards Doda but the road till batote which was mere 7-8 km was slippery and had snow , was not properly cleared so it took 30mins , then it merged with the Kishtwar highway and it was good. Running down alongside was the river Chenab in its valour , there is a dam near batote for hydroelectric power generation. So onwards the road towards Doda is average with quite a few dirt patches , there was a small patch where the road was completely washed off by a live landslide , and the authorities cleared it quickly but there were big stones there. So when our car was crossing the bumpy patch , a pointy stone tore the tire and it deflated then and there , so after being already late this was a bummer , the stepney was installed quickly and we were on the move it was already 6:00 and it started getting cold as the sun was setting in the backdrop , so we reached Pul Doda around 7 where the road bifurcated we took the one less travelled by and that made all the difference (that was cheeky) . So it was dark the road was good but piles of snow were there along the road and the volume increased as we moved ahead. Thankfully we safely made it to bhaderwah around 8 in the night and were in for another surprise . The electricity in the whole valley was snapped due to damage to electric poles caused by the recent snowfall. As the mountain people sleep early ,the roads of the town were already deserted ,after searching around for about an hour we found a decent place for the night near the new bus stand , with power backup for a few hours . We had a fine meal and crashed after the tiring journey . Even to get from the vehicle to the hotel was difficult as it was located on a side road and the road there was not cleared so had to move through slippery snow in the dark. some of us were even doubting the decision of coming to this summer paradise in winter , only to be left with awe the next morning.....

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