How To Reach Srinagar from Jammu (Routes and Fares Updated for 2018)

How to Reach Srinagar from Jammu

How to reach Srinagar from Jammu is one of the basic questions that any traveler to Kashmir wants to know more about. Unfortunately, all the government services are useless as the numbers provided on the Kashmir Tourism department websites are never answered. However, here’s the complete guide which will help you reach Srinagar from Jammu. This is based on my observations from December 2017.

Kashmir used to be one of the most popular tourist destinations up until a few years ago when terror activities began gaining the attention of the mainstream media. The capital and central city in Kashmir is that of Srinagar – which is ideally the base city for most tourists coming to Kashmir. Let us now take a look at how to reach Srinagar.

There are two ways by which you can reach Srinagar – directly via flight, or via Jammu. Let us take a look at each of these ways:

How to Directly Reach Srinagar

How to reach Srinagar from Jammu - Srinagar Airport
Srinagar Airport (Image: Wikimedia)

One of the easiest ways to reach Srinagar is via flights. You can book a flight from almost any city in India to Srinagar. Most flights will come via Delhi or via Jammu. Srinagar Airport (SXR) is named the Sheikh Ul Alam Airport after the Sufi Mystic who lived here in 1400 AD.

Time Taken: Time taken between Delhi to Srinagar via flights is approximately 1 hour 30 minutes while the flight between Jammu and Srinagar is that of about 20 minutes.

Cost of Flight: If booked in advance, the flights between Jammu and Srinagar cost about Rs. 1500 and the flights between Delhi and Srinagar cost Rs. 3000 – the price can change depending how close you are booking from the date of travel. Vistara is one of the best airlines if you’re looking to travel between Delhi and Srinagar.

How to Reach Srinagar From Jammu

How to reach Srinagar from Jammu - Jammu Tawi Railway Station
Jammu Tawi Railway Station (Image: IndiaRailinfo)

The second option that you have is reaching Srinagar via Jammu.

Jammu Tawi railway station (JAT) is the biggest railway station in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Many trains come here and the station is well connected with major cities. Trains from Delhi and Punjab are frequent and come in every day. The Jammu Rajdhani and Jammu Duronto are among two of the best trains which will bring you to Jammu.

In order to reach Srinagar from Jammu, you have three options – either take a shared cab, or take a private cab all the way to Srinagar, or take a cab up to Banihal from where you can take a train to Srinagar. There are no trains that connect Jammu with Srinagar. 

Let us now take a look at all these options in detail:

Cab Between Jammu and Srinagar

How to reach Srinagar from Jammu - Tavera
Tavera Taxis are a popular way to reach Srinagar from Jammu (Image: CarWale)

A cab between Jammu and Srinagar comes in two options – you can either book an entire cab, or take a shared cab. These cabs run from Jewel Chowk in Jammu.

Cost of Cabs Between Jammu and Srinagar:

As of December 2017, different cabs charge you at different rates. The cost of travel from Jammu to Srinagar in a tempo traveler ranges between Rs. 400 to Rs. 500 – though if you are not a local chances are you’ll be forced to pay Rs. 500 per person.

If you decide to take a more comfortable mode of transport such as a Innova, Tavera or a Xylo, you will be charged up to Rs. 700 to Rs. 900 per person.

Time Taken To Travel From Jammu to Srinagar By Road

How to reach Srinagar from Jammu - Srinagar City View
A view of the city of Srinagar.

On an average, it takes about 8 to 9 hours to reach Srinagar from Jammu, it is best advised to leave early in the morning around 8 to 10 AM so that you reach by 4 PM to 7 PM. However, the time is variable depending upon the traffic and the army movement as there is only one road that connects Jammu with Kashmir and that road has a lot of public movement as well as truck traffic.

In winters, when it begins to snow, the road is often open to only one side of the traffic (i.e. you can go to Jammu from Srinagar on one day and on the next day you can go to Srinagar from Jammu – it is alternative traffic). This is because of the snow and to keep the highway uncluttered.

Are The Roads Between Jammu and Srinagar Safe

Yes, the roads between Jammu and Srinagar are completely safe. However, if you go there during winter or monsoon, you might be slowed down due to landslides – which are infrequent but not uncommon in these roads. Sometimes, small rocks tend to fall from the mountains which may damage the windshields of cars. However, all of these are rare incidents.

Let us now take a look at our second option:

How to Reach Srinagar from Banihal via Train

How to reach Srinagar from Jammu - Banihal Railway Station
Snow covered Banihal Railway Station!

Another option that you have is to hail a cab at Jammu and get off at Banihal, from where you can catch a train. You will need to reach here via a cab as there are no direct trains from Jammu to Banihal.

The cost of travel between Jammu to Banihal is approximately Rs. 400 in a car and about Rs. 250-300 on a tempo traveler. These cabs drop you at Banihal railway station from where trains run to Srinagar almost ever hour between 7 AM to 7 PM. Don’t be too late though as you might miss the last train.

The cost of a train journey between Banihal to Srinagar is Rs. 20 as of December 2017. This is a 1 hour 30 minute journey which may take up another 30 minutes due to slow speeds and unplanned halts. Sometimes if there’s too much traffic on the roads, this might be a faster way to reach Srinagar than compared to a cab.

Everything about Kasol: How To Reach, Where To Stay, Where to Trek

Kasol, a small village in Himachal Pradesh has shot to limelight over the past decade. Till the early 2000s, Kasol was a little known hamlet which passers-by would take a halt at before they reach the holy shrines of Manikaran, 4km away. However, Kasol has become a hub for many Indian and international tourists due to its proximity to Malana – the village popularly known for marijuana plantation and for some of the best quality hashish.

The awareness around this formerly hidden hamlet in the Parvati Valley is increasing, thanks to social media. With the boom in social media, Kasol tourism too, is booming. While ‘scoring’ hash is one of the top motives that many people come to Kasol for, there’s more to the city than just that. Here’s a look at Kasol beyond Hashish: How to spend a weekend in Kasol.

How To Reach Kasol

  • The best way to reach Kasol is via buses.
  • Assuming that you board a bus from Delhi, you’ll need to get off at Bhuntar, which is an hour and a half away from Kasol.
  • There are many bus operators that can drop you off to Bhuntar, but in my opinion, Swagatam Holidays offers one of the best services. Their volvo bus takes 12 hours to reach Bhuntar from Delhi and costs around Rs. 1400 (As of 2017).  If you’re looking for a cheaper option, many state-run buses too operate on the route and charge much less. However these buses are not recommended for those who are not frequent travelers to the hills.
  • From Bhuntar, you can easily find buses that take you to Kasol. These buses are frequent and run every 30 minutes. A journey from Bhuntar to Kasol costs around Rs. 50.

Alternatively, you can take a flight from Delhi to Bhuntar too. Flights cost about Rs. 4500-6000 (one-way).

Is Road Travel to Kasol Safe?

The view – this is why you MUST take a road trip to Kasol.

This was a question that was bothering me for many days. I had been planning to take a trip to Kasol for about 3 years but this was the question that always used to haunt me. However, after having taken my first trip to Kasol, I now know that the roads are very safe and you won’t feel a thing especially if you travel in a multi-axle Volvo bus.

If you’ve traveled on the serpentine roads of Mussoorie, you’ll find the roads to Kasol a child’s play. However it is strongly recommended to take a bus or have an experienced driver drive you if you’re planning to take your own vehicle as these roads are not meant for those who haven’t driven on hills before. The road is beautiful and you get to see the Beas and Parvati Rivers flowing all the way.

Best Time to Visit Kasol

Clear blue skies and brown mountains. The landscape changes depending on which season you’re there.
  • The best time to visit Kasol is March – June: However, it will be peak season so expect a lot of tourists in Kasol, which is becoming more and more ‘commercial’ with every passing day.
  • For those looking forward towards visiting it in an ‘off season’, check out early November to Mid December when Kasol is usually empty, just before the Christmas tourists begin to infest the town. However, expect freezing cold weather, with temperature usually in single digits to below zero. Early January to Mid February too, is off-season.
  • The rainy season is not recommended due to the hilly roads being prone to landslides. July and August are a risky time to visit. Though there haven’t been many instances of landslides near Kasol, it is still unadvised to visit.

Where to Stay in Kasol

  • For those willing to spend the least amount of money, check out the hostels. There are two major hostels here – The Hosteller and Nomads Hostel, both of which offer very affordable beds at as low as Rs. 270 per night.
  • Some riverside guesthouses are there for those who prefer a little more privacy. Right opposite the Moondance cafe you can find Alpine Guest House, Sunrise Guest House, Park View Guest House, Raj Palace, etc, all of which offer decent rooms at affordable prices (around Rs. 1000 to 1500 per night)
  • There are many high-end options too, such as The Himalayan Village, Hotel Sandhya, Parvati Kuteer among others.
  • There are also many camping options, you can either stay at a riverside camp place where you get pre-set camps, or rent camping equipment and find your own spot.

What To Do In Kasol

Keep in mind that Kasol is a very small place. It can be explored by foot in a couple of hours.

  • Kasol is home to a number of cafes offering various international cuisines. It is strongly recommended to try out Israeli food here. Evergreen Cafe is a must-visit.
  • Kasol is a trekker’s paradise. If you love to trek, you can walk to Chalal, or head over to Barshaini and explore Kalga and Pulga villages nearby. Then there’s also Tosh, which you can reach via Barshaini, about 40 minutes bus ride from Kasol. Here’s where all your party scene is at.
  • It is also possible to trek to Malana from Kasol. Between Malana and Kasol, the village of Rasol too, has been getting many trekkers’ attention these days.
  • If you’re the religious types, check out Gurudwara Manikaran Sahib in Manikaran, where you can take a dip in the hot water pool which has naturally hot water from hot springs. There’s also a ‘hot cave’ inside the Gurudwara which is said to have mythical healing properties.
A panoramic view of Gurudwara Manikaran Sahib
  • The Kheer-Ganga trek is perhaps the most popular trek near Kasol. Not experienced for beginners, this Trek takes you through a beautiful path and takes you to a different world altogether.
  • The Kasol riverside is a good place to kill endless hours. The bridge that connects Kasol with Chalal has many small ridges where you can walk down and sit near the riverside, doing nothing, looking at the stream all day long.

What NOT To Do in Kasol

Not cool bro. Not cool.
  • Drugs.
    Please don’t.
    Though it is the bitter truth that it is this hashish driven narco-economy that brings most tourists to this place.If you’re standing around the city alone, you’re bound to be approached by peddlers every now and then. These can be shady looking locals who’d have a variety of substances ranging from hashish to acid, or saffron clad babas offering you sell ‘dum’. Often, police would stop your cars and buses and check your stuff before letting you pass while on your way back.Say no to drugs.

Top 5 Must-Visit Places in Mussoorie!

Mussoorie, the queen of hills is one of the most popular hill stations in India. What makes it even more popular among visitors is that it is the best weekend getaway from Delhi and other nearby major cities. The city has no accessibility problems and is well connected. Let us take a look at the top 5 places to visit in Mussoorie, without which your trip would be incomplete!

  1. Chaar Dukaan – Sisters Bazaar – Laal Tibba

Once you reach Chaar Dukaan from Landour, you will feel the stark difference in the two parts of the city. While Mussoorie/Landour are bustling with locals and tourists, Chaar Dukaan has a relatively lesser number of people. The road from Chaar Dukaan to Laal Tibba, and from there to Sisters Bazaar is even quieter and peaceful. This side of the city is the home to a number of people who like to stay away from the noise of the world, amid nature. A number of British cottages and estates from the 1800s are still in use, and are owned by the who’s who of the country.

While Chaar Dukaan is all about the food, and watching the sun set from the balcony at Café Ivy, Sisters Bazaar is famous for the Prakash Stores, where you can get Mussoorie’s finest Peanut Butter. People from all over the country come to the store for their delicious peanut butter.

Mussoorie in one glance, as seen on the way down from chaar dukaan. 

A photo posted by Mussooriegram (@mussooriegram) on

Depending on the route you choose, you are likely to also cross Laal Tibba, one of the highest points at Mussoorie, from where, on a clear day, you can get an uninterrupted view of the mighty Himalayas! This is one of the most popular places to visit at Mussoorie. Visitors at Laal Tibba area also recommended to try out their delicious coffee as they look at the mighty mountains ahead of them.

When it comes to the top tourist places in Mussoorie, this is what the ‘Mussoorie experience’ is all about. Chilling around in the serene hills of Landour, sitting with your friends and enjoying the beauty of nature. Solo travelers too, find this place rather attractive.

The home of George Everest is one of the best places to visit in Mussoorie
  1. George Everest’s Home

Sir George Everest was one of the most popular residents of the city. The man is more popularly known for the fact that the world’s highest mountain peak is named in his honor, but he has much more to his credit. He is one of the most established geographers of the Himalayas. He helped complete a geographical survey of India that started from one of the southern tips and went all the way up to the Himalayas, covering 2400 kilometers in the process!

His house is a spectacular sight. On the left, there is a small trek, which gives the people a great sight of the valley, while on the right is a scenic spot, where you can just chill. With nothing but trees and valleys in sight for endless kilometers, this is one of the must-visit places in Mussoorie. One must try out the delicious aaloo parathas that the local vendors sell there! We advise you to drive carefully as the road is rather broken, and those on two-wheelers should drive slow, especially when they are on the edge of the roads.

Kids sharing a light moment with a lama at Happy Valley’s Buddha Temple
  1. The Buddha Temple at Happy Valley

The Tibetian part of Mussoorie, Happy Valley is indeed one of the ‘happiest’ places in town. With young kids jumping around, and with the Buddhist priests, the lamas smiling around you, this is a place full of positivity. The bright colors of the Buddha temple are fascinating, and are a must-visit. This is definitely one of the most serene tourist places in Mussoorie. You can also purchase some Tibetan prayer flags from the lamas.

Other than that, what also makes Happy Valley one of the best places to visit in Mussoorie is the fact that it is one of the most serene and silent places. Drop by here any afternoon, and relax in the sunlight, as the gentle breeze blows across your face.

A misty afternoon at the Eco Park in Dhanaulti
  1. Dhanaulti

While Dhanaulti is technically not in Mussoorie, it is not even in the Dehradun district! This sleepy town, 28 kilometers from Mussoorie, falls in the Tehri Garhwal district. This sleepy hamlet of a town is popular for two reasons – firstly for the Eco Park, which is the biggest attraction here, and secondly, for the number of hotels and adventure sports spots that have opened up here. Those tired of the day to day life of Mussoorie find a peaceful night’s sleep at Dhanaulti.

On your way to Dhanaulti, you’ll see the mighty Himalayas. A number of mountain peaks, including those of the holy Kedarnath and Badrinath, as well as Bandarpuch are visible on clear days. The roads are full of views of step farms, where potato used to be the major crop years ago. We advise you to drive carefully during the winter/monsoon months as the fog might limit visibility.

Ruskin Bond celebrating his birthday at the Cambridge Book depot, May 2016.

      5. The Cambridge Bookstore on a Saturday

The biggest attraction in town, as the city’s own superhero, prominent author, Ruskin Bond makes an appearance at the store, every Saturday around 3:00pm. (Provided his health and weather are good). Those who might not be able to visit on a Saturday can ask the store owners to get a book signed for you, and couriered at your address! This is a unique experience, and Mr. Bond is very friendly with everyone who visits. It is due to his overwhelming presence that the Cambridge Book Store too, is a top tourist attraction in Mussoorie. If you are in town on a Saturday, make sure you add this place to your list of places to visit in Mussoorie!

 

Comment below if you have any questions!

Ghats of Banaras: Where The Fire Has Been Consuming The Dead For Over a Millennium

Banaras had been on my wishlist for almost five years now. The desire to visit this city increased upon watching Masaan. During a session in college, one of my professors talked about spending a few hours in Banaras, and how it changes the way you view life and death. Sarthak (a friend from college) and I finally got to visit Banaras two years after that session in early 2015.

The Ghats of Banaras:

It was about two in the afternoon that we finally went to visit the Ghats (For those who are not familiar with the term, Ghat is the Hindi word for river banks). Banaras has 88 Ghats, most of which are in a straight line from Assi Ghat to Dasashwamegh Ghat. Three Ghats on this side of the river (Banaras), and one on the other side of the river (Ramnagar) are cremation ghats.

The other Ghats are used for various other purposes such as prayers, bathing, and for other ceremonies. The Ghats are named after the people who own them, or on some famous people associated with the city in some manner. The two major ghats that allow cremation are the Harish Chandra Ghat and the Manikarnika Ghat. In Hinduism, a death in Banaras is said to be a direct road to heaven.

Harishchandra Ghat: For Those Who Die a Sudden Death

The Harishchandra Ghat has been named after the mythological Indian king, Raja Harishchandra (fun fact: the first ever Bollywood movie was made on this King’s life). A popular king in Indian folklore, Raja Harishchandra was a king who gave away his kingdom to a sage, and found a job on the ghats, lighting dead bodies. A man of honor, he didn’t allow his wife to cremate his own son because his family didn’t have the money. The Harishchandra Ghat is believed to be the place where this legendary Indian King worked.

This Ghat is especially for those who die an unnatural death (road accidents, falls, etc.)

Manikarnika Ghat: Where The Fire Has Been Burning For Over a Thousand Years

While we were on a boat overlooking the ghats, my friend Nitin (a resident of Banaras) told me about how the fire at the Manikarnika Ghat has been burning for over a millennium. The legend goes that this is where Lord Shiva was asked by Parvati to search for her earrings (Mani Karnika means the jewel that adorns the ears). It is said that after a body is cremated here, Shiva asks the souls if they have seen the earrings. This is one of the oldest cremation Ghats in the country. The name of this Ghat is also a tribute to the Laxmi Bai, the Queen of Jhansi a famous Indian freedom fighter, who was born in Banaras and was named ‘Manikarnika’ at birth.

At the Ghat is also ‘Mukti Bhawan’ where the nearly-dead come to die. They are given a period of 48 hours or they need to check out. A documentary was recently released about this place.

The social structure at Manikarnika is what awes me. In death too, the Indian society is rigid about the social order. Those of a higher caste get a better place, as well as a priority in their cremation. For Brahmin deaths, there is a different section on a raised portion of the Ghat. For every other caste, it’s a common ground. Cremations in Banaras are a costly affair.

I was told that the cost of just lighting the fire takes about 2000 rupees. This is just the cost of the fire. A normal pyre needs about 300kg of wood, which is also sold at the Ghats. The costs associated with the priests, the Doms (who take the body to the water), as well as various other costs associated with ceremonies and ingredients offered to the gods.

That Moment of Enlightenment:

As I said earlier, I was told that a visit to Banaras could change your perspective of life. I was told about moments which would make me realize how nothing is permanent and how ‘ash to ash, dust to dust’ feels like. While on the boat, I was talking to a friend of Nitin’s about how I had been planning to visit Banaras for a long time. His response was what stayed with me for a long time. Looking at the burning bodies on the banks, he said, eventually, we all come to Banaras.

However, as I stood on the Ghats of Banaras on a hot March afternoon as the ashes of the departed flew across my face, I thought of the fire that has been burning for over a millennia, I thought of the king who stood with truth, I thought of Buddha, the enlightened one who delivered his first sermon nearby. I finally had my moment of enlightenment that I was looking for before I came here. Death too, is a business in Banaras.