5Th August 2015, Wednesday……Day (5) Bhaderwah-Jai Valley-Bhaderwah 80 km
Had a fabulous sleep inside the car parked on the road near Chandi Mata Temple Bhaderwah, the best of the trip so far. I was feeling very fresh. It was drizzling and with hovering mist and clouds, Bhaderwah looked fantastic.
Built with a typical pahadi style, homes and buildings, scattered all over the slopes, were looking beautiful. Cheerful devotees climbing up the stairs of the temple, ringing of prayer bells, recital of adhan from a nearby mosque were all making the atmosphere very serene and uplifting.
Perched at 5000 feet above sea level and in a saucer shaped valley, Bhaderwah is a beautiful town, 205 kilometers away from Jammu. Because of its scenic beauty it is called ‘Mini Kashmir’.
The place came to prominence when Yash Chopra produced block buster bollywood movie ‘Noorie’ was released. The movie was shot at a place 10 Km away from Bhaderwah amidst thick black forests of deodar, near a nallah with a crystal water flowing.
A water tap closeby came handy, brushed and freshened up. Drove to a tea shop, had tea and made some inquiries. The man told me that due to a major landslide on Doda road, the main road out of Bhaderwah was blocked and that it might take few days when it opens for traffic. He advised me to visit Jai Valley 32 km from Bhaderwah.
Since Bhaderwah was a kind of mystery town, I kept driving from place to place. Exploring the area, found this beautiful building, newly built civil hospital on Doda Road. Explored the internal roads, walked through the mohalla lanes and market area.
The scenes around were quite different to what I was used to. Burka clad women, men folk with flowing beard, a different accent and dialect, it took me awhile to adjust to this new environment.
Unlike the previous day, market was crowded, shops were open and doing brisk business. There were way too many meat shops. Garbage was littered everywhere. While the valley and mountains around looked so beautiful, its occupants seem unaware of it.
There were hardly any tourists in the town. I seemed to be the only one and this made me quite conscious. Such a beautiful place and no tourists. It was bit weird. May be because of security concerns. Presence of security forces parading everywhere made me even more suspicious.
While walking through a busy bazaar I came across a comparatively neat sweet shop. Walked in and ordered Chana Poori. It was not good. They did not serve tea, so I asked for Lussi which was not good too.
From the market I drove on the road towards Radio Station and found wide open place. It looked like bus stand but not in use. A circus crew was camping nearby. There were few guest houses as well. I took the opportunity to clean the car and plan my next move.
There was no electricity in the town. I came to know later that there was a regular five hour power cut in the town. My camera battery had almost exhausted. Car charger had also stopped functioning. So I needed to charge camera battery and cell phone as well.
I decided to drive towards Jai Valley, hoping to find some place for charging along the way. It also meant I could not click pictures freely.
The road to Jai climbed steeply and soon I found myself driving at a vantage point from where I could see the whole of Bhaderwah. It became bit hot too. My swollen elbow started paining as well. Found a nice shelter along the road, rested a while and clicked this picture.
After driving for awhile I arrived at a place which had few eating joints. I went inside one of them. Still no electricity but my swollen painful elbow needed a massage. I requested the man to give some lukewarm water. Initially he refused but after looking at my swollen arm he not only gave me hot water but also offered to massage my arm.
The man’s name was Sanjeev and true to human spirit refused to charge for this.
Although not on google map yet the entire road to Jai was pretty good. There were towns, villages every where till almost very close to Jai. There was a building on the road with a running tap outside. A lady was standing closeby. I asked for her permission to have a bath, which she gladly did.
Although, with a swollen elbow, it was bit tough yet bathing under the open, heavenly skies and beautiful surroundings was a wonderful experience.
After spending over one hour bathing I drove further. A quick glance through the left window I saw a beautiful large grassy spot down in the valley. it looked so fantastic. I thought it must be Jai Valley.
Driving down from Jai Top and crossing a beautiful forest soon I reached Jai Valley.
I continued driving along the valley until the road end when I heard a whistle and stern voice asking me to stop and return back. It was a security camp and driving was prohibited. There was no such sign board though.
A kutcha path lead to the bed of the meadow. The sight of two car parked in the valley was a kind of relief. It was good to see some people around, although they were not from a distant place yet the very fact that they were out there to enjoy the nature made me bit comfortable.
The Govt has build beautiful igloos, bridges, huts and benches all around the meadow. Sadly Igloos were in shambles and most of the infrastructure lay waste and unused. There was no caretaker around as well.
Beautiful igloos, a gujjar home, solar lighting machinery and few picnickers roaming around in the valley.
The meadow was quite long, not very wide but had a beautiful murmuring stream flowing through it. The landscape around was simply beautiful. Perfect setting for spending some quality time with friends and families.
Lalpari posing in the beautiful Jai Valley.
Beautiful landscape at jai Valley.
Another beautiful view from Jai Valley.
Beautiful Jai Valley
A bridge on the singing rivulet in Jai Valley.
Another view of beautiful Jai Valley. The other cars had left Lalpari was the only vehicle left now.
Murmuring rivulet and beautiful meadow at Jai Valley.
I loved sitting quietly on one of these benches for sometime, listening to the song of the rivulet.
The bridge over the rivulet looked beautiful. It reminded me of a painting one of my friends painted and gifted to me. The painting is still with me but I wondered how he knew I would be living that painting one day.
After filling water from the rivulet, gujjar women with their children are seen going back to their homes.
When I walked into his tent, the old man greeted me with a smile. While preparing tea for me, he narrated how he and his family was barely able to make ends meet, that he lived in a nearby village and everyone these days wish more and more tourists visit these areas.
Another old man joined and both narrated how in the 1990’s the whole area used to be occupied by the militants who use to rule the whole place. They moved in droves and some time use to play cricket in the meadow. Nobody dared come close to these places in those days. Thanks to the security forces who have cleared the areas and made normal life a possibility.
They told me that there was BDA run hotel at the far end of the meadow and if I wanted I could stay there.
For awhile I walked towards the hotel but when I found it was too far and evening was setting in fast, I abandoned the thought I turned back towards where Lalpari was parked.
I decided to head back to Bhaderwah and find a suitable place.
After driving for about 10 kilometers I saw a beautiful valley with nice pucca buildings. I came to know later that it was Chinta Valley a lovely summer destination.
It was pitch dark when I reached back in Bhaderwah. While driving on the road I had noticed a good restaurant on college link road. The place was a newly opened family restaurant run by a local man. The man was away to Jammu and was assisted by a young boy named Rajesh.
It had nice clean sitting area and ample parking. It stood on the junction of two roads and was just right for me. I had nice time thereafter at the restaurant, chatting with Rajesh, charging the batteries, yummy dinner and nice walk on the vacant road.
After Rajesh pulled the shutters of the restaurant down and went to his room on the backside of the road. I was alone on the road.
After sometime, I slipped inside the car as well, pulled the covers over and tried sleeping while pondering over what lay next…….!!!