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Friday, 5 August 2011

Trip to Jammu


Tour Diary

We were planning to visit Mata Vaishno Devi from a long time. Previously  two times we had to cancel Vaishno Devi trip tickets because of workload and tight schedules. There is a famous myth that you can only have Mata Vaishno Devi’s darshan only if Mata calls you.  
One evening we four (PranabS, VaibhavN, SantoshK and VaibhavB) were discussing casually about Vaishno Devi trip again, checked the flight price and got tickets from Jammu to Mumbai for just Rs. 3500/-. Immediately we booked the flight tickets, but the Mumbai Jammu fight price was very high. Also train tickets were not available, so we decided to try our luck in railway tatkal quota. We planned to go to Delhi and then to catch a night train to Jammu. On the way in Delhi we planned to visit the Mughal Garden in Delhi which was opened for a month at that time.
Lady luck smiled on us and we were able to get tatkal tickets of 2AC in Trivandrum Rajdhani from Panvel to New Delhi and also we got tatkal 3AC tickets in Jammu Sampark Kranti from New Delhi to Jammu. So finally we had seen the hope of being blesses by Mata to have her darshan.


DAY 1 (Friday, 25th Feb 2011):
Finally the day arrived and all four of us came to office with our Bags. At 6 PM we had to the catch Trivandrum Rajdhani Express from Panvel station. We reached at Panvel Station at around 5:45PM with smiles in our faces and suddenly got the first shock, there was an announcement... ”12431 H.Nizamuddin Rajdhani Express is late by 1Hr”. Suddenly all the smiles disappeared and we were seeing each others’ Face and as per our Indian mentality we were saying “Oh no…..kisiki nazar lag geyi J”.  At around 7PM one more announcement came...”12431 H.Nizamuddin Rajdhani Express current locations is not tracked...And the train is indefinitely Late...”. This was the second shock we got in an hour, bigger than the first one. During that time two of our colleague Prashant and Kartik arrived at Panvel Station as they were leaving for their GOA trip.
Eagerly waiting at Panvel Station waiting room for the Train

We came to know that there was some accident on the Konkan railway, so that delay was happening. We were eagerly waiting for the next announcement and troubling the enquiry person again and again. Hiccup at the start of the journey …traditionally it is seen not as a good sign. We were in a fear that we may miss the New-Delhi Jammu train if the Rajdhani come very late. Finally around 11PM one announcement came that the route is cleared and Rajdhani will be arriving in next 1Hr. Finally at around 12.30 AM the Rajdhani Express arrived on Platform late by 6.5 hours. As there is no good restaurant in Panvel station we could not have our dinner also, we boarded the Rajdhani Express and asked the attendant about the availability of food. He smiled and said “Sir its 12.30AM, food is not available now, I can give you water bottles”. We were very hungry, so Vaibhav Nanoti and Vaibhav Bagde went to Pantry in search of dinner. When they asked for dinner...The man at pantry replied..”..Sirji..khana khatam ho gaya hai..abhi…. .abhi kal subah ke Breakfast ke liye Halwa ban gaya hai aap wo kha lijiye…”. We took few packs of Halwa and Mango juice from pantry and after having that we went to sleep.


DAY 2 (Saturday, 26th Feb 2011):

Reaching H.Nizamuddin Station in New Delhi

For the first time in this trip something good happened, as Rajdhani recovered few hours we reached H.Nizamuddin at 4 PM nearly four hours before our next train to Jammu (but our plan to visit famous mughal garden dashed by late arrival of Rajdhani). We took a Taxi from H. Nizamuddin station to New Delhi Station. Vaibhav B, Santosh K and Vaibhav N were experiencing Delhi’s winter (Gulabi Sardi) for the first time…..

India Gate

We saw the India Gate, did some shopping in Connaught Place and had dinner in Taste of China... It was Fabulous Chinese Food.... At 8:30 PM we boarded the Utter Sampark Kranti Express for Jammu from New Delhi Railway Station. Vaibhav Nanoti was so happy after getting the Jammu train (as it was looking impossible previous day when we were waiting in Panvel station) and promised us a Pizza party at Pizza Hut for all of us.

 
 At New Delhi Railway station




DAY 3 (Sunday, 27th Feb 2011):
We reached Jammu around 7AM, we could feel cool weather of Jammu after getting down from the train.


 Reaching Jammu Station


As per our plan, we had to go to Katra and on the same day we planned to visit Mata Vaishno Devi temple. Katra is around 45 KMs from Jammu and it takes 45 minutes drive from Jammu station. We booked a Scorpio to Katra for Rs. 900/- and started for Katra. On the way we saw the snow capped mountains, and our driver Dilip Sharma told us that previous night there was snow fall near Vaishno Devi Bhawan. We had our breakfast on the way with mouth watering hot Alu, Paneer Paratha and it was delicious. We reached Katra and our driver took us to a hotel, we asked for the rates in the hotel and found some interesting rates. Rate for ground floor rooms were 1,500/-, first floor rooms were 1,200/-, second floor rooms were 1000/- and third floor 750/- (hotel did not have lift). But quality of rooms were same in each floor. At that time we did not have any idea why the hotel has fixed rates as per the floor, we immediately booked the third floor rooms as they were the cheapest. From the hotel the view was very good, we can see the little snow cover on the Vaisho Devi mountain. We got ready and started for Vaishno Devi temple at around 11.30 AM, the hotel taxi dropped us at the gate from where we have to start our 16KM journey through mountain road to reach Vaishno Devi cave. We started climbing the mountain at around 12.30PM and we decided to walk the 16KMs distance. After 15 minutes climb, Santosh was the first victim of fatigue. So we stopped for a drink, and again started the journey. The road was very good and facilities were excellent and this was start and stop walk. We reached Vaishno Devi Bhawan which is at a height of 5200 feet at around 5.30 PM and after keeping shoes and other belongings in locker we became part of the queue for darshan. After removing shoes it was very hard to walk as there was snow on the floor, but when you are in Vaishno Devi some internal energy comes in you and it helps you to overcome these small difficulties. We heard that the cave door closes at around 6.30PM for two hours for Aarti. So we had to rush, and I think because of the blessing of Mata, we entered the cave just before the doors were closed. Next task was to visit Bhairon Nath Ji temple which is around 2.5 KMs above the holy cave. It was already almost 7PM and Bhairon Nath temple closes at 7.30PM for two hours for Aarti. So we had to reach there within 20 minutes and which was not possible if we would climb 2.5 KMs by foot. So we decided to take horse ride. It was very horrifying ride and the horse was running through steep stairs covered with mud because of snow. Somehow if the horse had slipped, that would have been end of our life. Thanks to Mata again, this time also we made it in time. We did the darshan in Bhairon Nath temple took rest for few minutes and started our return journey towards katra at around 8PM. It was very cold at 5200 feet and we were shivering as we did not carry much warm cloths (as expected from people from Mumbai). As we were coming down the distance was getting longer and longer because of exhaustion. Our legs started paining (by the way Santosh took foot massage also on return journey), and only one line was coming out of Santosh’s mouth “Oi mar geya re”…..  finally around 12.30 AM we reach the plain. We had dinner and reached hotel at around 1.30AM and then we realized why the rates of the hotel was according to floor. We were so tired after 32KMs mountain walk that reaching 3rd floor was another huge achievement. As all the guests in the hotel are Vaisho Devi pilgrims, so after 32KMs of walk people prefer to stay in the lower floors. We did not realize that in the morning and had to suffer in the night. Our legs were in pain in that night and after lot of struggle finally we were  able to sleep, some of us had to take pain killer, some used MOOV J (till that time in our life, nobody of us walked so much in a single day) .

At Vaishno Devi gate, from this place we started our 16KM walk.



All three are in  full mood.. on the way towards the holy cave.



Snow layer on mountain peaks



Jai Mata Di….. Santosh & VaibhavB





Going towards the holy cave



 I was thinking can we have darshan through Video Conferencing….. God pls think about it…..



The Bhawan… It’s not the temple….



VaibhavB resting near Bhairon Baba Temple



Santosh giving tough time to the Horse… going towards Bhairon Nath Temple.


Coming down towards Katra…. VaibhavN, SantoshK and VaibhavB




 Santosh taking foot massage… Oi Mar Geya Re




DAY 4 (Monday, 28th Feb 2011):
Next day we woke up late and still our legs were in pain, we did not have much time in our hand so keeping the pain aside we started making plan. We planned to go to a hill station called Patnitop which is around 100KMs from Katra. We called up our driver Dilip for the car, but he disappointed us and told that the Jammu-Srinagar highway is closed. We enquired different places and started looking for other options to visit. Then we met one driver he said that Jammu Srinagar highway had just opened and he was ready to take us to Patnitop. We booked his Tavera for 4000/- for night stay trip to Patnitop. We started towards Patnitop at around 11.30 AM. On the way in Udhampur we stopped and had some refreshments. Udhampur is the last railhead in Jammu Kashmir and district capital and the Northern Command headquarter of the Indian Army. As the highway was just opened and most of the people were not aware of it, so there was no traffic at the highway, mostly Army and Paramilitary trucks and buses were running. The highway was two lane hilly road passing through some beautiful sceneries, as we were approaching Patnitop mountain with snow covers were getting more and more closer. We reached Patnitop around 3.30PM and booked a hotel near the highway. It was very cold in Patnitop, we could see snow here and there near the hotel and also at the hotel rooftop. We were very excited seeing beautiful landscapes and snow covered mountain tops. Without wasting time we started for a point called Nathatop, which is 14KMs from Patnitop and was fully covered by snow at that time. We took snow jackets, shoes and also picked up equipments for sledging on the way. Both sides of the road were covered with snow and as per the driver the snow covers from the road were just cleared in the morning. When we reached Nathatop and it was snow, snow and more snow everywhere. It was thrilling experience for us, and we forgot all the fatigue and pains in our legs and started climbing to snow covered peak. It was so beautiful and can’t be described by words. We started sledging from the mountain tops and it was experience of lifetime. Childs that were hidden inside all of us had come out and started enjoying. We felt like we were in our childhood and enjoyed as much as possible. We had tea and Maggie in a stall there which was only thing available there. It was getting dark and we decided to come back to our hotel leaving our inside child at Nathatop and carrying some lifetime memories. On the way to the hotel Vaibhav Bagde told us, “Whatever we are looking in this trip we are getting, wish we could see live snowfall”, I was also hoping for that same. We reached hotel, had dinner and watched the West Indies crushing Netherland by 215 runs in world cup group B match. We were very tired so decided to sleep, but before that we told our driver to call us in case there is snow fall in the night. It was so cold that night, I had never experienced in my life. I took two quilts and then only I felt bit warm, also all of us had body pain. I was trying to sleep but sleep was running away from me in that night. Suddenly at around 2AM in the night, somebody knocked the door, I opened the door and saw our driver and he said “Sir, its snow fall outside”. I woke up everybody and started enjoying the live snowfall. It was a very thrilling experience for all of us. We started feeling the snow and shouting and taking photos also shuddering at minus 7 degree cold. The roads and cars were covered with white snow layer, it was UJALA SAFEDI everywhere.

Going towards Nathatop




Climbing peaks for sledging




VaibhavN had a good ride……



Hot tea was a blessing



Catch the snow ball




Vaibhav going inside…..



Scenery in Nathatop



Snow fall @ night



Landscape captured from the hotel window



 Garden in Patnitop
 


 Patnitop



Garden covered with snow at Patnitop


VaibhavN  trying to clear the snow…




DAY 5 (Tuesday, 1st March 2011):
We left the hotel at around 10AM and visited some spots in Patnitop and returned back to Jammu. We had planned to visit the tourist spots in Jammu but unfortunately we were stucked in Jammu Srinagar highway traffic. The 3 hours journey took around 9 hours and our plan to visit the tourist spots in Jammu had to be scrapped, but best thing was I could capture one of my best snaps in that traffic jam. We reached Jammu around 9PM in the night and took a hotel near famous Raghunath temple, so that we could visit the temple next day morning before catching our flight to Mumbai. We did some shopping like shawl, stole etc. for our relatives but Vaibhav Nanoti’s dream of buying a sweater remained as a dream.



Waterfall seen on Jammu Srinagar highway



 Horrible traffic jam at Jammu Srinagar highway



DAY 6 (Wednesday, 2nd March 2011):
Next day morning we visited the Raghunath temple (it was Maha Shivratri also) did some more shopping and left for the Airport. The flight was on time and it reached Mumbai at around 8PM taking a stop at New Delhi. Finally we reached Mumbai with Mata’s blessing, full of memories, GBs of photos and videos and also with some lifetime experiences.


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