Dinner at the top : "What's special ?", asked a friend. "Rajma Chawal, saab" came the reply. "Ok, What else is available ?", the friend asked again."Well, that's the only thing available". We stared at each other, a smile broke out. "Yeah, get us Rajma Chawal". We had our dinner quite late in the night, as our driver was in no mood to stop anywhere. Some amount of stern voice was needed to make him stop. This was a typical road side dhabaa. Rajma chawal definitely has to be the staple diet of Jammu. We found many such dhabas along the way. Served with steaming hot rice and a very special chutney (couldn't really make out the ingredients of the chutney) , didn't seem special at first. With the very first spoon, we realized, "Boy!! this is yummy".There is a very special ingredient in the delicacy which gave a very distinct flavour - lots of ghee!!! And boy, did we enjoy. Special indeed.
Places to stay : We reached Srinagar around 1 am. It was quiet, with empty roads and not a single soul at that time of the night. However, there were army barricades and personnel at almost every turn. Our driver who was in more hurry than us took this opportunity (of empty roads) to speed away.Only to be severely being reprimanded by an army officer at a check post.As we went past the majestic Dal lake, we could see the brightly lit up boat houses. We reached the hotel, ' Ab-i-Hayat'.(09906460372).(Near Nathu sweets, just in front on Dal lake). After some yelling, calling and even honking, the hotel authorities opened the gates and let us in.We bid our driver adieu and settled into our hotel rooms. They were basic hotel rooms, with two beds, T.V., toilet bathroom attached, a study table, cupboard. There was a discussion of changing the rooms to another hotel etc. the next day. However, after way too much discussion and convincing, common sense prevailed and we decided not to waste valuable time in searching, bargaining for another hotel. I guess the hotel room rent being Rs. 700/- only also helped.It was time to do some Srinagar site-seeing.
Places to visit / Things to do :
We took a vehicle to travel across Srinagar that day. A one day site-seeing trip should cost you roughly around Rs. 1400/-. But it depends on the vehicle too. Here are the places that we visited -
However, we found a guy who had some extra tickets and charged us a bomb for them. We took the tickets anyway, and took the Gondola ride. As we traveled up, the visibility changed. There was lot of snow out there. As it was summer, the snow was not fresh and was more solid and slippery. People were slipping and falling. There are sking equipment available, if one wished to ski up there. There were ski instructors who could give you a 10 mins pillion ride for a mere 100/-. It began to rain and people were constantly being told to return. After enjoying our time in the snow, we returned back. On our return, we tried the Kashmiri kabah. I won't go into details of this beverage. If you haven't tried it. It is served really hot and served in glasses instead of cups. This rich, exotic drink will surely surprise you.