Day 3&9 Udhampur-Banhial-Srinagar

To read this log from begining click HERE

3rd Day 2nd September 2014. The day of No Mercy by Rain God.

Have you noticed the irony in this tale??
I mean,I choose September expecting it to be silent and stable month weather wise.And opposite is happening.Rain has been chasing me since first day like an enemy.It is like I am being hunted with a pre planned strategy.

तो भाई लोगों तीसरे दिन की शुरुआत भी बारिश में करनी पड़ी

I had to start my third day ride in rain again

Third day,on a broken,busy and wet slippery Jammu-Srinagar highway.Overtaking the snail paced over loaded truck was very frustrating and tiring.My glasses and obscure visor of the helmet was being lashed with piercing rain drops.Rain drops kept sticking on my glasses resulting almost complete blindness.Very dangerous scenerio on NH.I was not carrying any rain gear so prolonged ride in heavy rain drenched me to the core and in few hours,core temperature of my body dropped shivering started.Each moment on scooter was unbearable and i was no mood to jeopardize my health.

Remember,it is 2nd September 2014,the tragic day when heavy JK floods claimed many lives and devastated the valley due to heavy flash floods.But I am not aware of all these tragic sordid saga and magnitude of the devastating effects of this rain.We could only manage to reach Banihal (80 kms form Udhampur).I was out of energy and stopped my scooter Maple Hotel of JK Tourism.Drenched,Shaken,tired and oblivious of tragic flash floods.Luckily Maple was empty and caretaker Manjoor opened a room for us.Tariff 600 rs.It was still heavily raining at the time of when we entered Maple.

Stuck in in JK devastating JK flash floods for six days at Banihal

Being chased by rain start from the begining at my home for last 3 days,I entered inside premise of Hotel Maple ,Banihal in completely drenched,shivering,and deadly tired state.Thankfully room was available for us and I was able to discard my dripping clothes and put on some comforting dry clothes to feel some comfort after being remain wet for last 8 hours.

Food service was not functioning in Maple but luckily few Dhabas were outside of our hotel.Boy from Kailash Hindu Dhaba served us teas and i was able to warm myself.Rain was still pouring and suddenly I saw a large crowd over the bridge and everyone were shocked to see a raging water stream.Upon enquiring,i came to know that Kashmir valley has been hit by a devastating flash flood and Jammu highway is broken and traffic stalled.Police had warned everyone to remain inside un till further announcement.This was on 2nd September 2014.

I all got calls from my home and Pragya at home were shocked hearing the news of flood and she told that all the TV channel are full of flood news and airing shocking images from valley.She feared the repeat of Uttarakhand flood last year.I assured her that we are safe and staying in Maple GH at Banihal and also warned her that there may no be no more communication for next few days as power is gone here and we may ran out of phone battery.Rain continued for next 4 days.

Stuck and trapped for 4 days at Banihal was very troublesome,frustrating and boring time.No power,nothing to do,no photography,could not move outside due to heavy rain.Only option was to gossip,gossip and sleep thru the day.We had to eat same Kali Dal,Baingan ka Bhurta at dhaba in each meal.Luckily the hotel adjacent to Kailash Dhaba served us Rogan Josh one day but next day that hotel also ran out of Supply and lack of customers forced it to remain closed for next few days.All the shops remain closed during rain barring few shops which were well stocked with Ration and grocery.People’s mobile turned dead without charging.A shop near our hotel had generator and they offered charging facility for 20 bucks and we charged our BSNL phone.I also talked to Jagjit Singhji and he warned us not venture any further towards Srinagar and advised us to abandon our ride and return to home whenever road open.We all became very sad hearing this.

To make the matter worse for us,Banihal is a dry town.No alcohol allowed.You cant talk about liquor here.It is a prohibited item here.But our Doc saab somehow convinced a local gentleman and he fetched a ROYAL STAG which helped us keeping our spirit high and we entertained ourselves in our room while rain was still pouring.During those drinking rounds,Doc and Jassi helped me learn some Punjabi language and they taught me some some Punjabi Galliyan and forced me to recite those Gaaliyan in loud voice while they recorded my non-veg Punjabi dialogue.Lol….What an enjoyable time thanks to that precious bottle of Army ROYAL STAG.

Officially my DOB is in month of June but my original DOB is 3rd Sep.The second day of JK Floods.Doc and Jassi threw a small party for me and we celebrated my birthday at Banihal.Cake and Pastry was available at a Bakery near by.

Finally on 6th Sep around 8 in the nigh,rain stopped and a glimpse of Moon appeared on the sky indicating end to our plight.We were upbeat after seeing scattered clouds and moon peeping out of them.Our face lit up and excitement soared that perhaps we would be able to continue our journey towards Srinagar at the day break.

Next day we prepared our vehicles for further journey but caretaker Manjoor advised us to wait for one more day till he get some news about road status.Previous night a WagonR had arrived in Hotel Maple from Srinagar side dodging the flooded and submerged highway.That car also brought hope for us that may be we can also reach Srinagar somehow.Manjoor called his colleague at Sonmarg JK guest house and his collegaue replied that traffic is open between Srinagar-Sonmarg and there is not much damage at this section.I also enquired from local taxis about road status and each driver told that roads are open till Qazigund after that roads are filled with slush and not even a truck can cross that slush.Back at Maple,some Batote residents were also staying with us,I asked them about any alternative route to reachSrinagar bypassing Qazigund-Khannabal-highway.They said that we can reach Srinagar by taking detour at Khannabal then going to Shopian,Pulwama and then join Srinagrat Naugaon bypass.

8th Sep 2014.We resumed our Ride to Srinagar
Road status and flood situation and damage on Shopian-Pulwama unknown.Very tricky situation.To go or not to go.At one point of such frustrating moment,i even thought of taking Kistwar-Killad route to reach Leh-Manali highway and going to Ladakh.But that too was ruled out as road stauts was unknown for this section.We discussed our strategy among us and decided in unison that we should proceed further to wards Srinagar…Jo hoga dekh lenge.””””

And we started our ride,crossed Jawahar Tunnel.Soldiers posted at tunnel were perplexed to see us riding.They thought us fool.Their glances were like that.Reached Titanic point and saw Paddy fields below drowned in water but still it was a good view from Titanic Point.Camera was tightly packed inside multiple layers of plastic covers,so no photo.My entire attention was focused to find a route which can take us to Srinagar.Crossed Tunnel and filled our petrol supply for next unknown kilometers.

Then Came Qazigund,which was looking like time has frozen there.Most of the shops shut,all vehicles parked silently,no movement,no honking,no hustle-bustle nothing.Curfew like situation.Bunch of truck drivers busy taliking in groups on the road.Entire Qazigund town was silent and sudenly we reached there with the loud Noise of Doc’s bullet breaking the errie silence of Qazigund market.Everyone looked at us disbelief.We stopped in front of a tea shop and instantly mobbed and thronged by hundreds of people who were stuck theres for last 5 days.We were bombarded by their questions….Is road open???
Aap kahan se aaye hai???
Jammu ka rasta khula hai??

While sipping tea at Qazigund,I asked some stranded residents of Srinagar how to reach Shopian.They directed us towards Shopian and assured us we can reach Srinagar as we are no two wheelers.
We reached Shopian soon and main market of Shop was full of mud,shops filled with mud and shopkeeprers wer cleaning their shops.Whole market was Indunated by flash flood fury.We saw cars burried under slush.Somehow we crossed Shopian town and found ourselves being flagged down by army men at a check post set up in the middle of a Orchards.Army guard checked our papers and let us pass after we took our helmets off and he told us to drive very slowly so that CCTV can capture our images.
Shopian is an apple country.Roads were passing through orchards spanning for miles.It was one of my best riding experiences cruising between apple laden trees.
After an hour or so,we came to halt after a huge crowd and parked vehicles stopped our progress.It was a broken river bridge which connects Shopian to Pulwama.
Two-three day needed to repair this bridge…Alas….another obstacle…another frustration…..

But we saw villagers crossing the river stream with their bikes pushing thru river.I asked Doc and Jassi to get ready for some action filled moments as we would also be following villagers and crossing over to other side.They agreed.As soon as we reached a suitable place to cross river and preparing to unload luggage from bikes,I saw two men in a JK Fortunner.They too were going towards Srinagar and trying to find a way to reach Srinagar.An old men helped them in local language and send two young boys with Fortunner to help find way and bypassing the broken bridge.I asked Fortunner guys to drive slowly so that we can also follow them till Srinagar.
Two young boys navigated the car for next 6-7 kms and left the car.We kept following the car for many kilometers through small beautiful interior villages.It was a different feeling riding thru those hamlets and seeing the people and their life style.We eventually lost the Fortunner.But we reached Pulwama helped by local people.Now we were close to Srinagar.We had some pakoras at Pulwama and replinshed our water supply.We reached at periphery of Srinagar and found the road closed due to flood.A large crowd was there and they surrounded us.An army patrolling unit was also stationed there.We approached them and army men warned us and advised us to leave the place ASAP and directed us towards Naugaon bypass which was luckily 4-5 kms from there.Finally we reached Naugaon(Srinagar) and shocked to see thousands of residents strolling on the roads.Their house were under water and Naugaon being on higher ground was spared the fury of flood.Local residents had gathered there and occupied all rooms of nearby hotels.

We reached at Hotel Royal Park.As expected,hotel was over crowded with local families in each room.No chance of room.I pleaded manager to allow to spent the night in reception area floor.We were sipping tea at reception when a man got curious after seeing our riding gears and started a conversation with us.He was from Amritsar and stranded with 5-6 friends.They had two rooms.After listening to our adventure and our Banihal story,he instantly gave us a room,gave food,and even ready to give us money even without knowing our names.What a wonderful person…rare in today’s time.

Room problem sorted out and we were able to get some rest after a 180 kms long tiring ride.

Next day on 9th Sep,Jassi and I went to Airport on my scooter and booked three tickets for Delhi and came back to hotel.Our flight was at 3.45 pm.We packed all our stuff and requested hotel owner to load our bikes on a Delhi Bound truck.We also gave them our entire stock of petrol.Hotel owner badly needed petrol for his car.
Hotel owner assured us and we went to airport,boarded our flight and reached Delhi around 6 pm.Jaspreet was picked up by his relatives at Airport itself while Doc Victor stayed at our Dwarka home.We celebrated our safe return with Tuborgs,Afgani Chicken and Butter Chicken.Next day on 10th Sep,Doc saab took train to Ludhiana and reached his home and I rejoined my school duty 6 days leaves still remaining.
Route=Udhampur-Patnitop-Batote-Chanderkote-Ramban-Banihal-Jawhar Tunnel-Qazigund-Shopian-Pulwama-Srinagar
Distance=310 Kms approx

My 2014 Scooter Ride to Ladakh was finished ……..But…..Man again Proposed and this time God approved….

Me (left) with Jassi en route Pathankot

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My friend Victor in a dhaba on Jammu-Srinaga highway

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Patnitop on a rainy day

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In a tea shop on highway

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My riding buddies in tea shop en route

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The clouds on Jammu-Srinagar Highway

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Me and friend watching the valley below on highway

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Tea break in the heavy rain

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Me inside a tea shop en route Banihal

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Views around Pathankot

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An evening near Pathankot

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Me,on my birthday at Banihal Guest house

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My birthday cake

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My friend preparing for birthday

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Jassi and Victor in photo mode

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Lighting the candle

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Sweet memories

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Mutton Rogan josh in dinner in nearby hotel

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Three of us after Mutton Dinner

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Kailash Hindu dhaba at Banihal.45 years old

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Night photography at Banihal after rain stops

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Few fun moments at Banihal

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Kailash Hindu Dhaba at Banihal

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Dr Victor and Jassi in hotel room

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Few fun moments

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Doc victor offering peg to me

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Some close talk over a peg

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The gang inside JK guest house

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Me,photographing the dhaba staff

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A silver lining in the dark clouds

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Finally moon appeared after 5 days of rain

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Moon shot  over Banihal town after 5 days of rain

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Doc Victor arranging the pegs for photo

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Doc Victor

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The staff at Kailash Dhaba

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All of us in JK Guest House

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JKTDC Hotel Maple in night

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Me,with caretaker of Maple hotel

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Me watching the rain

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Raging stream of river

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Banihal town in rain

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Jassi and me(right) in convesation

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Our timepass

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The Royal water

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Banihal Bridge DSC09258-2

Muddy water of river

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The river at Banihal

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The broken Jammu Highway

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The broken Jammu Highway

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The broken Jammu Highway

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People crossing Broken Jammu highway

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Chicken Biyani at Banihal DSC09342-2

The restaurant which served us Chicken Biyani

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Me surrounded by stranded truckers at Qazigund

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Somewhere near Shopian

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En route Shopian

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The flooded streets of Srinagar

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The flooded streets of Srinagar

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Flight to Home after leaving our vehicles at Srinagar n4

Delhi Airport

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Next Part-How we flew back to Srinagar,retrive our vehicles and resumed our Ladakh Ride

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