18th July, 2008.
Route: Srinagar – Jawahar Tunnel – Patni Top – Udhampur.
Distance Covered: ~230 km
The relaxed day.
The morning was lazy. We decided to go for sight seeing in Srinagar for the first half of the day, went to Shankaracharya temple. After heavy breakfast, we packed our luggage, and started from Srinagar by 12pm. We were told that the roads are in such a good condition that we could reach jammu by 6 hours, we took another 2 hours as grace period. Idea was to reach Jammu by 8, a distance of around 300km.
The traffic on the Srinagar – Anantnag – Jammu highway is a mess, people do not seem to have sense of when to overtake and when not. Cabs, Bikes, buses, trucks all trying to overtake each other, from our direction and at the same time from other direction. The inter city buses are the worst, they drive right through the center at the slowest speed rarely allowing you to overtake and worst stopping abruptly for some passenger to alight. The truck drivers are next; they will not allow overtaking easily. Often you will end up in race to overtake.
We crossed huge convoy of pilgrims going to Amaranth Yatra on the way. The Jawahar tunnel kept going on and on and on. It is almost 2.4km long; it is unique in way; it has emergency exit gates every 100 mts, and phone booths every 200 meters. The Tunnel is a high security zone; there are check posts before entering the tunnel.
The traffic had stopped some 10kms from Banihal. Initially we thought of some security check post as there were lots of army personal around. Later we realized there had been bomb blast at blast at Banihal. Security guards allowed us to go ahead, all the 4-wheelers were stopped are checked thoroughly.
The highway from Srinagar to jammu is completely a ghat section. Its downhill until we reach jammu. Though road was in good condition, it was clear that we would not be able to reach jammu by night. Somewhere after crossing Patnitop we stopped for a quick tea, and decided to halt at the nearest town Udhampur.