The Journey to Temple City of India: Jammu

Okay, so I have a confession to make. I’m one of the worst planners in the history of travelling. Most travellers walk around with dog eared Lonely Planet Guidebooks or sheets of paper covered with jagged scribbles. Yeah, I own a Lonely Planet Guidebook, but it looks pristine. As if it was fresh off the shelf. Unread and untouched. So when it came to making the journey from Srinagar to Jammu; I was out of my depth. I didn’t even know where Jammu was. I thought it was the bar where Obi Wan Kenobi met Hans Solo in Stars Wars. I didn’t know it was a huge city on the other side of mountains. I thought at worst the journey to Jammu would take me to a colourful bar with Aliens. Little did I know, it would be more colourful and exciting than that.
going through gulmarg
going through gulmarg


So there we were, having spent a few days on a lake in Srinagar. Full to the brim with all the Chai man can drink, waiting for a car to transport us to Jammu. We made the customary type of small talk that has been heard a thousand times before. “How long is the journey to Jammu?”

“Only five hours”
“What’s the car like?”
“Ah a really good shared car”


Our expressions immediately dropped. There was us, thinking we would be sprawled out in a leather bound jeep, rolling down to Jammu like some sort of Indian pimp. Instead we’ll be cramped with our knees up to our necks, making awkward chit chat. Fumbling every attempt to navigate simple social conventions. Further damaging Anglo-Indian relations, with every word ill timed word that came out of our mouth.


When the car rolled up there was no one in it. Suddenly, the carrot of sleep was dangled in front of us and like the brainless donkeys we were, we chased it with gleeful hope. But then the car door opened and that carrot was eaten by someone else. That carrot of hope was gobbled up by a pregnant lady. You can’t sprawl out with a pregnant lady in the car? There’s no chance of lying down now, is there? Although, her bump would make a good pillow? No, no, that would never work; the babies kicking would wake you up. Looks like the journey to Jammu would be one of sleepless discomfort, for us, for her and for the student in the front.


The reality was, it didn’t matter whether there were two or fifty of us in that car, from the moment we chose to go by car, sleep was never an option. We were on a white knuckle thrill ride and snoozeville and sleepytown definitely weren’t stops. We decided to open the Lonely planet, and there it was; a section about the road we were on. The words, in need of serious maintenance and dangerous, stood out. If we’d had a brain cell between us we’d have booked a nice comfortable flight to Jammu. But no, we aren’t that bright. Our lack of brains cells could lead to our demise. So, we just had to grip the headrest tight and carry on this death road to Jammu.

As we travelled each mile towards Jammu, our knuckles gripped the seat so tight, that they were ghost white. Our eyes were bulging like a cartoon characters, from the strain of focusing on the road in front of us. Staring at the unprotected cliff edge, as we made a turn. As we got further along the road there were large rocks lying in the middle. I tapped the student next to us on the shoulder and asked why there were boulders in the road. He uttered the only words that have scared me in a car as much as “your Nan’s driving”. Landslide!

Further down the road you see jagged looking rocks making a perfect rectangle. My friend taps me on the shoulder and nods in their direction, “German landslide, structured and organized”. As we drew closer, we saw two men sitting in the middle of it. I leaned over to our new friend and ask what they were doing. “Nothing to worry about, just road works”. Two men with rocks as road signs, using a broom and hammer to repair the crumbling road.
jammu city
Jammu City

There are No stops to Snoozeville or Sleepy town but there is one at Chunder Central on the Journey to Jammu

As we started to get comfortable with our fate in the car, we got a whiff of something awful. A stale stench filling the air. The customary check of the armpits ruled us out. Then we realized, there could only be one person. Yes, the pregnant lady had been repeatedly throwing up in her purse. Thank god I didn’t try to use her bump as a pillow. I would have had a face as yellow as a Simpson character’s. The only problem was; the stench was tugging away at our gag reflexes. Every ounce of self control was exerted to try and prevent a chain reaction of chunder. With every lorry that passed, and every turn towards Jammu, we were retching as she threw up in her purse. Electrical items were removed from our bags in case we needed somewhere to be sick. Through a sheer will power, a window and some fresh mountain air, we managed to keep everything down until we reached passed the mountains into the flat planes.

Eventually we reached Jammu in one piece. Our sun kissed skin was as white as a ghosts and we vowed never to criticize any road back home. We had been on a trip. One that we would never forget. One that we’ll never take again. Next time we’ll break the bank and fly to Jammu. Oh and finally we can now point Jammu out on a map.

Hi everybody! My name is Martin and I originally created this article as an outlet for all my Jammu, India travelling tales.
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