9th July- 2010: It was raining very heavily on 9th July early morning since 8th night. I had to leave my house by 5.00 am because it takes almost 2-2.30 hrs to reach Bandra terminus from my place. We were 3 people (Me, Sushil & Ajit) from my place. We waited till 5.15 am then without caring for rain we departed for Bandra. Mangesh, Kunal, Shiva, Ganesh and Dr. Ashok Lal joined us at Kurla Station. When we reached at Bandra terminus then we got very frustrated when we knew that our train will depart after 10.00 am and that meant we had to wait there 3.30 hrs. If we had aware about this train delay then we could have left home late. Finally we boarded into Swaraj Exp. at 10.30 am and departed from Bandra.
When we boarded the train we found 80% passengers were going for “Amarnath Yatra”. Still our tickets status was showing us in RAC when checked final prepared chart. We were total 8 people and we had been allotted only 6 berths which were also not in same coach, so we divided into 2 groups 4 people went to S5 and 3 people with me occupied berths into S1. Time was around 10.30 pm. Then the train headed towards Gujrat. Since we couldn’t sleep last (8th) night so, we were much tired and were looking for one empty berth, so that we all 4 people could get rest. By luck we all 4 people got 1 berth without owner and we occupied all 4 berths for 3 hrs and went to sleep.
After Borivali our train was running towards Gujrat by speed of Shatabdi express (One of the fastest train in India), 3 hours of unstopped running, the train stopped at Surat. We gathered up and opened our lunch boxes and ate our meal. Time was around 1.45 in the afternoon. We came out of the train to see another group in S5. Cold drinks were being sold at a stall near our coach. We ordered 4 bottles. We sipped the cold drinks slowly. Spicy Punjabi music was coming to us floating in the slowly blowing cold wind. In around half an hour the driver blew horn. It was an indication that the train was to start. We went inside the coach and laid ourselves on the sleeper again. Cold air was coming from the window. Soon we went into sleep.
10th July - 2010: The train reached New Delhi next day at around 8 am. This meant we were 4 hrs late. After New Delhi our train was diverted on a new route via Muzaffarnagar - Saharanpur due to heavy flood on its original route (Via Panipat -Karnal). On 10th July we had to reach early at Jammu where my Daddy and Ranjan were waiting for us and the all 10 Yatra permits issued by J&K Bank which was with us. That time as per my knowledge, with the help of those permits we would be able to book any vehicle for onwards journey to Pahalgam. But gradually we got delayed by 8 hrs. Instead of 2.30 pm our train reached Jammu station at around 11.30 pm on 10th July.
Jammu is the name of both a city and a region. The Jammu region is one of the three regions of India's northern most state of “Jammu and Kashmir”. Jammu city is the capital of Jammu region and is also known as city of temples. It is a very important pilgrimage destination in India. There are many famous Hindu temples in Jammu city. The famous Vaishno Devi temple too is situated in this region. This temple is around 65 km from Jammu city. From Jammu city, people go to Katra by bus or car, which is around 50 km from Jammu city. Katra town is the base camp for devotees going to Vaishno Devi temple. From here devotees trek on the mountainous path to reach the Vaishno Devi temple which is located at a height of 5300 feet on the holy Trikuta Hills of the Shivalik Hill Range.
When we arrived at Jammu Daddy and Ranjan was waiting for us at Platform no. 1. We met them with wet eyed and a great respect. Then they took us at Saraswati Dham Dharmshala where they had already booked one 11 bed room for us. From Jammu we were 10 people in our team. Next day from Jammu we had to go to Pahalgam - a base camp for Amarnath Yatra. So we had to book any vehicle for 10 people that night at any cost. We were not in mood to waste any single day by staying at Jammu. Ranjan and my Daddy had reached there in morning so they had got enquired for further movement for any team from army camp at Bhagwati nagar and also got contacted with some private travel agencies. So that time they had 2-3 contact numbers of travel agents. Then we started to contact them for any vehicle. They were quoting different fares (Rs. 6000, 5500... and so on) for taking us to Pahalgam. We did some usual bargaining with them to arrive at a mutually acceptable fare. Finally an agent of Lucky travels agreed to charge Rs. 4500. It was a Force Traveller 12 seater vehicle. Then we finalized our pickup points at nearby bus stand.
It was 12.30 am (10th July night) our condition was not too good due to hunger, so we departed to look for any good restaurant or dhaba but it was our bad luck. We could not found any restaurant or dhaba opened. After some time we moved towards station. We got very disappointed when we not seen any dhaba or restaurant opened nearby station. Then we decided to go back to dharmshala then suddenly Ranjan asked us to wait for a min. and he ran away inside the Station. And after few min. returned back with a smiling face and called us with him. We went to platform no. 1, where one IRCTC pantry was opened and that was also supposed to close. Anyway we had Rajma-Rice there and by 2.00 am (10th July night) we came back to Dharmshala. Now we started our useful packaging. We wanted to carry only essential things which were going to be used during yatra and to left our useless items at that Dharmshala. We were late for almost one hour for packaging. Then we went for a small nap.