A single file as the Yatra reaches Maud Bridge Udhampur
Bridges, dry rivulets and heights
The whole of today's walk was in Udhampur, along the highway from Jammu to Srinagar, which was being widened. Heavy earth moving equipments were seen deeply gauging into the mountains at several places. This narrow portion of the highway is subject to traffic snarls on many occasions due to landslides, vehicle breakdowns etc. From the security point of view as well, good connectivity with border areas such as these is of paramount importance.
We were also told of the 10 km Patnitop bye pass tunnel which would cut the distance between Jammu and Srinagar by 30 km. This tunnel, the longest of its kind in India is to become operational next year.
The unhealthy fall out of all this was the dust thrown up and the padayatris struggled, with cloth tied around their noses, bandit-style. The Shivalik ranges were visible all along the route, standing like sentinels and the Chenab river flowed beneath with a quite gurgle.
After a 10k trek, it was closure time and the walkers were taken to a dhaba for lunch which everyone relished. The halt for the night was at Patnitop, probably, the highest spot the padayatris would have stayed during the yatra, at 7000 ft. There was a nip in the air even as they all checked in around noon and it got cooler as dusk fell. It was a delightful exercise for many to sip tea in the hotel lawn, in broad sunlight, watching traffic crawl up the slope to Patnitop. It was also time to savour every moment of the last few days of the walk.