It was March of 2016 when my family planned on a vacation to Amritsar and then heading higher up to the Kashmir Valley (the paradise on earth as you know it to be). So, I won't scribble about the trip till Amritsar as it was a good and pretty normal one and as normal stuffs were underrated. Rather I have decided on mentioning about the interesting part.
Let me give you an overview of Kashmir's weather conditions then. So, the place reported frequent landslides due to the heavy downpours and also since winter had just ceased, so the melted snow added to the situation. Yeah, we didn't have a prior knowledge of it.
I mentioned earlier that we made a trip till Amritsar, so let's resume from there. After Amritsar, we headed towards Kashmir. So here we could have easily boarded a flight till Kashmir but naah-ah we needed a long road trip to detox our fatty corporate muscles and get them working. In fact we imagined a road trip to Kashmir to be as picturesque and as cinematic as traveling in a convertible car with wind brushing through our hair, lush green hilly scenes, curvy hilly roads and empty scenic roads.
But let me pinch myself. The road trip was fine until Jammu though the roads were a bit uneven but manageable. The real movie began after reaching Jammu where we were stopped by some traffic police warning us not to proceed further and to return back from where we came. But maybe the planets had shifted into not so godly positions for a while when another policeman came and informed us that there were landslides on the way but the authorities have cleared the passage. So, we being over enthusiastic to place our foot on "Paradise" proceeded on our journey. Nah, not in a convertible but an Innova, well never mind.
But as we moved forward the scenes were getting monstrous. The roads became narrow due to the landslides of the previous night. Now, the view we could have from the car was that of rocks and landmasses collapsing down at the left and on the right was the deep trench l. Just a wrong move and either the rocks would crush us or we would go down the trench, the ultimate Paradise. There was continuous work of clearance of the road in progress and one car at a time was let to pass through. As there were other mad enthusiasts ahead and behind us so it took us approximately 10 -11 hours of haulting at the same place without food or any toilet in view. So we were munching on wafers and candies that we bought on the way.
I tried to fall asleep just to avoid looking at the horrifying view that we were stuck with. But hell no, my mind is hyperactive in situations like this. Sensing the intensity of the situation, my brother started tinkering with his phone and within no time booked flight return tickets from Kashmir as we were not mentally, physically or emotionally willing to pass through the same road again. But the main concern now was to pass through that passage and reach our destination. It was 3:00 pm when we got stuck there and it was around 12:30am when we finally could pass through the spot. The amount of exhaustion and horror is unimaginable now.
We were terrified at crossing through the place where the landmasses had collapsed as it was like balancing real skillfully through the passage. Hanuman Chalisa was chanted of course. So now you sense the intensity.
Finally, it was around 3:00am when we reached Srinagar. It was a dark, cold, rainy night and there was a possible powercut as no visible lights were seen on the streets. And at that moment an auto-rickshaw driver tried to communicate with us, enquiring whether we were on a lookout for a hotel room so we agreed as we had no prior hotel bookings. He asked us to follow him as he would take us to a hotel which was supposed to be open at that time of the night. A moment later after following him we reached at a deserted lane where there were other such tourist cars like ours and which was guarded by a troop of other such auto-rickshaws. So as we were behind we could see the driver of a car that was ahead of us being pulled out of the car by one of the rickshaw drivers and the driver of the car probably might have said something to him and the rikshaw driver slapped him. This scene gave us a feeling that something was fishy and the troop of rikshaw drivers were sham.
That moment we asked our driver to immediately reverse the car and flee from there. But here comes the face palm moment- the driver says to my brother,"Bhaiya, main unko bolke ata hu ki hum jaa rahe hai ni to wo bura man jayega". (Let me go and inform them that we are leaving otherwise he might feel bad.) Yeah you heard that right, these were his words then. So my brother replies to this, "Koi ni bhaiya unko main baad me bata dunga aap pehle niklo yaha se." (Don't worry, I'll inform them later and now let us move out of here).
Then we somehow managed to flee from the scene though we caught the eye of one of them who followed us till we reached at one of the hotels and I saw him no more. So finally we checked in at a hotel only to realize later that it was a 5 star.
This was the most bizarre and weirdly memorable travel experience of my life which I can never forget .