It was a one day trip, which I took to Patnitop, a hill station in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In the morning, I woke up to the call of a laundry man in the train who declared the arrival of Jammu Tawi station. Half asleep I got down the train believing to experience fresh gush of mountain air in my face but was greeted by railway platform’s permanent residents, flies and loitering dogs. Wondering why it was called Jammu Tawi station and not New Delhi station as the madness of bustling crowd and filth was the same, I boarded a train to Udhampur. Disappointed with Jammu platform I slept through my journey to Udhampur. Udhampur station stunned me with its natural setting and the smell of fresh air made me realize the difference between a city and a hill station’s railway platform.
Nature welcomed me into its fine adobe. My half asleep state seemed trance like while walking through the platform having a natural water spring as the source of drinking water. The day appeared promising. My hotel set right above the railway station, looked like a secluded yet delightful groove. But visiting it evoked the suppressed fear of terrorism. I saw the heavy military presence with massive artillery support guarding the place. Soon, I left my hotel in a taxi to reach Patnitop. The journey liberated me of all my fears and the new spirit of beauty engulfed me. By the time I reached Patnitop I was all in awe of nature. Patnitop became synonymous with river Cheab and luscious pine forest. The curvy climb of the road seemed like a fun natural ride and raised my somber spirit rather than making me sick. All thanks to my hotel’s cook, who advised heavy breakfast to avoid any mountain sickness. Patnitop appeared as the big garden set amongst mountains and forest. Its charm lied in the empty yet beaten trekking tracks, which will disappear in the winter season and the pony rides which will stop due to excess of snow and cold. The place has nothing to offer except that it liberates the being of all its worries and burdens. The pony which I rode was called Amir Sharma not Khan, symbolic of the place’s united religious culture rather than sheer influence of an actor’s name.
The fast paced time declared the moment to move back to Jammu city to catch my evening train while I stole some time for shopping. My afternoon’s joy in Patnitop prepared me to go back to the noisy, bustling city of Jammu. Around three hours drive tired me but my mental health revived on seeing the fine Kashmiri embroidery. The market, the busy traffic roads and noisy clamor of the city withered in the beauty of its handicrafts and handlooms. The fine intricate designs available at much reasonable price taught me to honor the art and dedication of the weavers towards their work rather than monetarily judging the cost of their work.
At night, I walked through Jammu platform to board my train; all rejuvenated after the days travel and carrying bags full of sheer divine embroidery. I realized Jammu had lot more to offer than flies and loitering dogs.
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