A Memorable Trip To Patnitop by CAR
When we bought our brand new XUV 500 in Feb 2015 we are all very jumpy and excited about it. It was a birthday gift for my husband; therefore, he was the most excited one. When the car came home, we just could not get enough of it. The beautiful lines, sturdy design, fully loaded features and what not. We touched it, drove it, loved it and clicked innumerable pictures with it. Our beautiful dog Candy was hyper happy and she was jumping in and out of it. It was like welcoming a new member to the family. In his happiness and exuberance, my husband promised to take us on a long road trip at the earliest possible moment. And we just could not wait for it. Soon the time arrived when my hubby took three days leave and planned a trip to Patnitop. It had snowed a couple of days back and the roads were opened after clearing very recently hence this was the most opportune moment to undertake this trip.
Patnitop is a hilltop tourist place located ahead of Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir, approximately 112 km from Jammu. It is a charming plateau at 2024m. It is a beautiful green meadow surrounded by dense woods and lush green pines trees. A trip to Patnitop is a perfect way to experience nature at its best. This place surely gives the most splendid and grand views and makes the experience all the more enjoyable with a host of adventure activities to keep the thrill high. Being a small hill station, most area of Patnitop can be explored on foot and if need be you can hire a pony.
Patnitop is an anytime place, but the best time is obviously summers. If you wish to enjoy the fun & frolic in the snow and still not travel too much uphill, a trip to Patnitop is the best choice. The place experiences heavy snowfall therefore instead of going all the way to Srinagar snow can be enjoyed at this lovely meadow. Patnitop attracts a large number of tourists all year round as it is not very far from Jammu and whosoever comes to pay respect to Mata VaishnoDeviji surely visits this place.
The Road Trip to Patnitop:
As soon as my hubby informed us of his leave, we all became restless. We wanted to begin the trip right away. So we sat down and started planning our cool trip to Patnitop. The time of commencement of trip was fixed, clothes to be carried were decided, some friends and my locally settled family members were invited, eatables to be carried were decided and my hubby called up and arranged accommodation for the stay. On the day of our move, we had my parents, my sister with her 12 yr old daughter and another friend with family accompanying us on this nice trip. It was a bright and breezy day, we hopped into our brand new car which my hubby had cleaned and prepared the previous day, and soon we were heading towards our destination. I was sure it was going to be a great fun, as ours and the children’s company was wonderful and enthusiastic. All children sat in the back seat, Mom, sister and I were seated in the middle row, Papa was in the co-driver seat, while my husband drove. Our friend & his family traveled with us in their own car.
Now that the tank was full, spirits were high we all had so much to talk and chat about. Kids carried their tabs and some card games. Our son who is 14 also took the initiative of loading some musical numbers suiting everybody’s tastes like ghazals, romantic numbers and some peppy numbers. We all knew this marvellous trip to Patnitop is going to be so much fun.
Travelling is one of the best hobbies one can have. It offers an opportunity for adventure; one can explore the world, or have a refreshing break from the everyday routine. It opens up many new worlds to the traveller. My husband always prefers to travel by car because he feels we can travel wherever and whenever we want. I am a little apprehensive going by road as my husband is a fast driver. Speed fascinates him but is a safe driver. All he needs is map or GPS system; he simply gets into the car and goes.
As it was a weekend, roads were very busy in Jammu city. It was becoming irritating because vehicles were stuck in traffic jams. Soon the roads were cleared and we were on the new expressway to Udhampur, travelling at a leisurely pace. There are people who drive too dangerously and these days there are speed radars manned are by the police to catch such culprits. We saw some vehicles stopped by police. Obviously, they must have been over-speeding.
Since, we started early in the morning, after an hour of travel we started to feel hungry. So we decided to take a break, stop at a decent place and eat whatever we had packed for ourselves which included cutlets, sandwiches, aloo parantha, and the chocolate cake. We stopped at a clean roadside viewpoint from where we could see the Trikuta Hills of Katra and the climbing pathway to MataVaishnoDeviji. We had our delicious breakfast under the blessings of sacred MataVaishnoDeviji, thanked her and were soon on our trip to Patnitop.
We covered 68 km and reached Udhampur after an hour and a half of travel. The drive is really awesome. Patnitop is around 45 km from this place but takes around two hours to reach as it is a mountainous route, the road is single way, and the traffic is heavy consisting primarily of trucks supplying every-day needs to the Srinagar valley. We had to be very careful on the sharp turns. The route is accident and landslide prone. Udhampur is my birthplace and my father feels very connected to the place as he has served here for some years. So we definitely wanted to stop over at Udhampur, visit the old house where we used to stay, see the parks and swimming pool where we used to have a great time and cherish our childhood memories. We went and saw all the places where we had spent our nostalgic days. Nothing major had been changed. We took photographs and shared our experiences with our children.
After a brief stopover at Udhampur, we continued our lovely trip to Patnitop. Whenever the roads are opened after snow, the state administration permits only one side traffic Udhampur onwards on a day as the roads are narrow and landslide prone. If at all vehicles get stuck in a jam it would be almost impossible to clear them. So one day it is UP traffic and the next day it is DOWN. As lucky as we were, the traffic movement was UP on the day of our journey, which suited us nicely. We enjoyed the hilly drive, enjoyed the gossip, mostly it was fun, sometimes annoying & we laughed along as we did not feel bad about bad jokes. Kids were humming instead of singing. Whenever we passed by a beautiful viewpoint, obviously, we pulled over and took selfies which I later shared with my friends. There’s a place called ‘Kud’, 5 km short of Patnitop which is famous for its sweet called ‘Patisa’. They make it fresh here and it is still warm when they serve it. You will find loads of tourists buying Patisa for their near and dear ones. We also could not resist so we just bought just a small packet for our onward journey. The rest we planned to pick up in the return journey. You can see the snow on the roadsides well before you reach Kud. The road starts getting wet from the melting snow, the green and white of nature’s beauty starts from here and is a grand sight to watch. The kids made their first ball of snow at Kud when we stopped for Patisa. They were mighty thrilled.
We reached Patnitop near noon. The road was slightly tricky because it was narrow, wet with snow and loaded with traffic. Though, this was not my first visit (as we use to come on picnics from our school and college every year) it was as new and exciting as the first time. Every time you visit this place it offers you new experiences. The last time I made a trip to Patnitop, it was with my classmates and now with my husband and two children, this time, the experience is going to be even better.
The chilly but beautiful weather of Patnitop was a great welcome and made our trip mesmerizing. White cool snow, fresh air loaded with the fragrance of Pine and breathtaking views filled our senses. We were all mightily excited. My husband had booked beautiful cottages at Patnitop which are available through Jammu and Kashmir tourism. They can be booked in advance costing somewhere around 800 to 3500 rupees. We can spend around two days to explore Patnitop and places nearby like Nathatop and Sanasar (17 km away) which is a famous spot for paragliding and skiing.
The moment we reached Patnitop we first went to our cottages, offloaded the stuff and had a bite to eat as it was getting near lunchtime. The whole area was covered in knee-deep fresh snow fallen over a previously hardened layer of ice. More than the snow, the place was buzzing with tourists, local and outstation, running and slipping and falling in snow. Everyone had a snowball in his or her hand. They were all having a gala time. Our children just could not wait, so we dressed them up for the occasion and let them lose. Oh my! How they ran and enjoyed. We soon joined them and then there were snowball fights, snowman making competition, sliding on sledges and what not. One can enjoy sledging and skiing to a limited extent (as the area is not very large) at very nominal charges. There is a children’s park as you enter Patnitop. The residential huts are around 4 km away inside the woods in another open area. Both the areas are connected via road and a trekking path which can be covered on foot or on a pony. So after a brief spell of fun near the huts we all decided to walk through the snow and head towards the children’s park. What a lovely trek it was! A Beautiful layer of snow and tall green pine trees. We walked, stopped, clicked a number of pics, walked again and finally reached the park. By the time we reached there, we were all again hungry so we had hot stuffed ‘Kulchas’, noodles & spring rolls to eat with hot coffee and hot chocolate to drink. There are some small stalls near the park to serve you with all these items. Patnitop also has nice decent hotels with restaurants serving all kinds of cuisines for all kinds of tourists.
We spent the whole afternoon frolicking in the snow until the children were tired and had all their clothes wet from the melting snow. Soon the sun started going down and the chill in the air increased. The children started to feel cold in their wet clothes so we hired a few ponies and made our way back to the cottages. When we reached our cottages it was getting dark. In the winter months, the sun goes down pretty quickly. We helped the children change into warm dry clothing, fired up the room heaters in the cottages and gathered around to chat and talk about our trip to Patnitop and feel cozy. A great evening it was. At about 8 p.m. we had hot dinner at the restaurant run by J&K tourism. We all were very hungry and the food was really finger licking yummy. After dinner, we chatted for a while until fatigue of the day made us droopy and we went into our respective cottages to sleep.
The next morning was nice, cool and refreshing. We had a good night’s sleep in the warmth of the cottage, woke up and got ready for another great day. After breakfast, it was a nice long trek into the woods and up the hill. Every moment was new and exciting and it was diligently being captured in the camera. We clicked many photographs, made videos in many locations and in many poses. It was a dream. You really have to experience nature to feel its beauty. May God help us preserve it forever. We finished our trekking and were soon back in the park for another spell of fun in the snow. The kids just could not get enough of it.
We spent the whole day doing a host of things. Took best of the photographs, had snowball fights, went walking & trekking, rode the pony, had tea and snacks, enjoyed sledging, rolled downhill in snow and everything else that came to our mind. By the end of the day, we all were refreshed and tired.
Next morning we started back for Jammu and as planned got hands on Patisa, the famous sweet of Kud, for our friends and then did some shopping of Kashmiri stuff at Udhampur. We reached home after having lunch at ‘Punjabi Haveli’ near Katra. The trip to Patnitop was awesome and we all made many unforgettable memories.
Today when we recall our trips we appreciate the well spent time. Travelling is the best way that one can educate oneself about the ways of the world and explore it on own conditions. Nobody can underestimate the educational value of travelling, therefore; as our trip to Patnitop taught us, travelling is a better teacher than books. This is the only way where we get a firsthand experience.