The Amarnath Yatra was closed as Srinagar was under curfew a day ago. With the roads open, this meant that the yatra and its vehicles will be given preference. Hmmm. And there are 20 k yatris going every day. The already difficult ride just got tougher!!]
We were told that the yatra vehicles would leave at 5:00 am. There was the window we were looking for - "leave by 4:30 am and you could be in Srinagar (just 258 kms away) by 10:00 pm", said our hotel guy in Jammu.
Come on!! What kind of a window is that!! What choice did we have anyways. Leave later and god knows when we would get there.
We woke up at 3:30 am and our kids woke up, without crying, and we left at 4:10 am....way before 5:00 am and reached the highway and we were stopped from entering. "The yatra vehicles are going and you have to wait". Come on...this is cheating!!
We were only let off at 5:15 am; 45 mins wasted. What was a single queue soon became a 5 lane cacophony with everyone trying to get to the highway!!! And nature added its drama with rain. Bring it on!!
Roads were non existent in many places, and landslides were a common fixture as if placed as an art piece on the road side. Another common feature was the Indian army; we waved to all of them. The highlight was driving through india's longest tunnel 9.28 kms long which took us 10 mins.
By 6:15 am, 2 hours since we left the hotel we had gotten to 30 kms. 10:00 pm sure looked realistic. But I kept the faith and slowly and steadily gained speed. After crossing the amarnath vehicles and going on for a few more kms, we stoped by for a quick bread omelette and tea by the roadside. Yummy.
The ride was quick until we hit 20 kms before dal lake and three was a huge jam. Some guy was hit by an army guy and everyone was turning around. We waited patiently and at last got to our boat house by 12:30 am....just 8 hours and half of what I was told....success by any yardstick!!
Srinagar is very beautiful as are the people. More in tomorrow's writeup.
After driving for 6 days non stop for 3583 kms, we stay for 2 nights in Srinagar.
While this trip was for 6 days another journey that began 14 years ago is also being celebrated in this beautiful city.