A Delhi to Srinagar road trip is a 2 days affair at the least. An ideal way to plan the journey is to stay in Jammu for the night on Day 1 and then continue to Srinagar on Day 2. That is how we had planned our itinerary as well.
The road from Delhi to Jammu is a national highway and in excellent condition for its entire length. You can easily cover this stretch in 10 to 12 hours, depending on your speed and breaks.
The journey from Jammu to Srinagar can be completed by either the NH44 or the Mughal Road. We chose to travel by the Mughal Road as I find it to be more scenic than the Jammu Srinagar Highway.
Below is a detailed narration of our journey for the first 2 days of the trip, as we traveled from Delhi to Srinagar by Mughal Road. To read the previous part of this travelogue, please take a look at The Chronicles of Ladakh – Prologue.
There is not really a lot to write about Day 1, to be honest. It was a long and monotonous drive on the highway on a hot day in the month of May. We started from Delhi at 3 am and made it to our hotel by 3 pm, after a drive of 12 hours.
The real fun of the trip started after we left Jammu for Srinagar and journeyed on the historical Mughal Road. Read on to find out more.
Delhi to Srinagar Road Trip
It is strange how the days just before any vacation or trip start to seem longer and longer. On the other hand, when you are on the trip, out there having fun, time just flies by, and it’s over before you even realize it.
The same thing happened to us. The plan for the trip was set and all arrangements were made weeks in advance. All that was left now was to wait for the journey to start. And the wait was just super long.
Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Leh Ladakh – A Complete Travel Guide
Day 1 – Delhi to Jammu
But finally, D-Day arrived and we were all set to embark upon an adventure of a lifetime. The first incident that got me a bit worried though happened in the evening before the trip.
We planned to start at 2 in the night so that we can reach Jammu well in time. To ensure that there was no last-minute hassle, I decided to tank up the Diesel in my Thar in the evening itself.
I went out to the fuel station, got the tankful done, and returned home. While I was parking my car, I did not realize how close I got to a pole while reversing the vehicle.
As a result, I hit the pole behind and the left tail light of the car was broken. It was not a good sign. The trip had not even started and the car already got a little damaged.
It was late in the evening and there was nothing that I could have done about it. With a sigh, I checked if the tail light was working and thankfully the bulb was at least still turning on, even though the glass was broken.
I decided to get it fixed either on the way somewhere or in Jammu or Srinagar. With that thought, I parked the car and started to finish my packing.
You can also see a view of our journey at the link below.
Start of the Journey
The journey on Day 1 was going to be a long and boring one and I knew that. There was nothing to see or visit on the way and the distance was way too great.
The good part however was that the roads on the entire stretch from Delhi to Jammu are super smooth and it can be covered in a fairly decent time.
Lavish arrived at my place sharp at 2 am as decided. The next 1 hour was spent making sure that I had packed everything, loading the bags in the car, and getting a cup of tea before we started.
At around 3 am, we started from my home in Delhi and after that, it was just a long and monotonous drive.
We stopped at a toll plaza somewhere on the way and bought a fast tag because I did not have one in my car. So the only choice was to either buy a new fast tag or pay double the toll at every booth.
Other than that, the only breaks we took were to stretch our legs and to get something to eat.
After a tiring journey of 12 hours, we reached Jammu at around 3 pm. We went straight to Hotel One Earth Trinetar as we had already booked our stay there before starting from Delhi.
This was the third time I was staying at this hotel. It is a good hotel but the main reason why I like staying here is that it is on the outskirts, right along the highway.
Staying here meant that we will not have to enter Jammu City and can be on our way to Srinagar early in the morning of the next day.
End of Day 1
It was the month of May and the weather was terribly hot. Jammu felt like it was burning. We did not even dare to pull the curtains of our hotel room, so harsh was the sunlight.
We checked into the hotel. For a while, did not even know what to do next. We were both tired and sleepy but going to sleep at 4 or 5 pm would mean that we would be up by midnight.
The second season of the web series Panchayat was released just a few days ago so we decided to watch that.
We had only gone halfway through the first episode when we both realized that we will doze off any minute while watching it. It was just not possible to keep our eyes open anymore. We were just so tired.
We stepped out at 5 pm and went to the Pahalwan Restaurant for dinner. It is right across the road, in front of Hotel One Earth Trinetar and I like the food there.
With our bellies full, we were back at the hotel by 6 pm and it was time to call it a day. Yes, we were both actually fast asleep by 6.30 pm. That was the end of our journey on Day 1.
Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Kashmir – A Complete Travel Guide
Day 2 – Jammu to Srinagar via Mughal Road
The second day of our Delhi to Srinagar road trip started early, and I mean really early. Since we went to sleep by 6.30 pm the previous day, I was wide awake at 2.30 in the morning. For a while, I tried going back to sleep but to no avail.
I finally gave up, got out of bed, and walked over to the window of the room. It was dark outside, very silent, and definitely way too early to start the day. While I was standing there, I realized that Lavish was wide awake as well.
For the next hour and a half, we watched some TV and discussed our travel plans, and the route for the day – just waiting for the dawn to break. Finally, at 4 am, we started to pack our things and get ready, to make sure that we are on our way to Srinagar by 5 am.
Jammu to Srinagar by Road
There are two ways that you can travel between Jammu and Srinagar. The first and the most commonly used route is the NH44, also known as the Jammu Srinagar highway.
There however exists a second road as well that not many tourists travel by. It is called the Mughal Road and this is one that we intended to use for our journey today.
If you were traveling by the Jammu Srinagar highway, the total distance between Jammu and Srinagar is about 250 kilometers which can be covered in 6 to 8 hours easily.
But by Mughal Road, both the distance and the travel time will increase significantly. It will be a long journey of 350 kilometers that can easily take you anywhere between 12 to 15 hours.
So why did we want to go by Mughal Road and not NH44? There were two reasons behind it.
The first one was that I find it to be more scenic than the Jammu Srinagar highway. It passes through some internal areas of Kashmir and you get to see what the local life in the area looks like.
The second reason is that the traffic on this road is sparse, as compared to the NH44. The only vehicles you will find on this route will be of the locals traveling between the villages.
On the other hand, the Jammu Srinagar highway is always crowded with local traffic, tourist vehicles, and a long line of trucks. The traffic jams of NH44 are also legendary, sometimes lasting for several hours of the day.
For more details on this route, please take a look at How to Plan a Journey on the Mughal Road.
The last time I traveled on the Mughal Road, it took us about 14 hours to complete the journey. I knew that it will probably take us equally long this time as well and this is why we wanted to leave as early as we could.
We packed up our bags and were all set to leave by 5 am. It was way too early to expect the hotel’s kitchen to open so we decided to have our breakfast somewhere on the way.
I had already cleared the bill before we went to sleep the day before. So now all that we had to do was to load our luggage in the car and be on our way.
We started from Jammu at around 5.45 am and the journey for the first hour was smooth. Jammu was just waking up as we crossed the city and reach the small town of Akhnoor, about 30 kilometers from Jammu.
The road conditions were good and since it was early morning, there was hardly any traffic around. But I think if you were on this route in the middle of the day with the usual city traffic, it will definitely take you longer than an hour to reach Akhnoor.
We were following Google Maps and I am not sure which road it took us on but we bypassed Akhnoor completely. Or I did not realize it and we crossed the town.
Anyway, we noticed a spot with a few dhabas on the way and decided to take a break to have breakfast.
Akhnoor to Rajouri
The journey continued to be a smooth one until Sunderbani, which is about 50 kilometers from Akhnoor. The road conditions were smooth, the scenery was good, breaks were frequent and it took us about 90 minutes to complete this stretch.
We stopped again at Sunderbani for tea and Aaloo parathas.
The sun was up by now and the clock read 9 am by the time we left Sunderbani for our next destination, Rajouri, a major town on this route.
When I was on the Mughal Road the last time, the road between Sunderbani to Rajouri was good and I was expecting it to be the same this time as well. But I was wrong.
The distance between Sunderbani and Rajouri is about 70 kilometers and there was road construction work happening at a lot of places. The progress was slow but we were still able to make good time and reached Rajouri by 11 am. This is when all hell broke loose.
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Rajouri to Thanamandi
In all my years of travel, there are two places that I only remember because of the terrible condition of the roads there. The first place is Rohru in Uttarakhand and the second is Rajouri in Kashmir.
I have been to several other destinations where the roads were equally bad but that journey was at least scenic and adventurous.
In the case of these two places, there was nothing in terms of adventure, and the scenery was all covered with dirt and dust.
I hated traveling through the stretch in and around Rajouri. To make things worse, it had rained there the night before and there was mud and slush in a lot of places. Our average speed dropped to as low as 10 kilometers per hour.
After a super bumpy ride of 20 kilometers, we arrived at Thanamandi and stopped for lunch. I was really hoping that the road conditions will improve after Thanamandi but they didn’t.
Thanamandi to Baffliaz Bridge
The road between Thanamandi and Baffliaz is a narrow stretch of about 28 kilometers. The road is first a steep climb of about 15 kilometers and then an even steeper downhill of 12 kilometers till Baffliaz Bridge.
This road is barely wide enough for one car in a few places and sees two-side traffic all day long. The authorities are working now to widen the road and there was construction work happening on the entire stretch.
I was super annoyed by now. The progress was slow and to make things worse, there was now a burning smell coming from somewhere in the car.
At first, we did not know what it was. It got me really worried since it was just the second day of the trip and a burning smell like that was not a good sign at all.
After a bit of poking our noses in the air, we realized that the smell was coming from the front wheels of the car.
It solved the mystery and was also a bit of a relief. I had gotten my car serviced just before the trip and the brake pads were changed as well.
As the new brake pads adjust and settle into the braking system, there could be some burning smell from the resin that they are covered in.
What was surprising though was that this smell was now coming after the car has already been driven for about 1000 kilometers from the change.
It could be because this was the first time that the car was on such a downhill road and the brakes were being used aggressively. But I still decided to get the car checked in Srinagar where we were planning to stay for two days.
Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Pahalgam
Baffliaz Bridge to Peer ki Gali
We reached Baffliaz Bridge at 3 pm.
It took us a full 4 hours to complete a distance of only 45 kilometers from Rajouri to Baffliaz. We took a short break to get something to eat and also to inspect the tires and the burning smell.
To my complete surprise, there was a bit of smoke coming out from the brakes. This baffled me completely because I did not expect it to be that bad.
I also noticed that there was a bit of a wheel alignment problem. The car was pulling away to the right when we were crossing bumpy stretches or at steep turns.
So getting the car inspected in Srinagar before we continue our journey any further was of utmost importance.
Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Sonamarg
Peer ki Gali Pass
Peer ki Gali is a high-altitude pass on Mughal Road. The pass is named after a Sufi saint who used to meditate there. It is a highly scenic pass and possibly the biggest attraction of a journey on this route.
Peer ki Gali gets snowed out completely between December to April. The road gets blocked and a journey on Mughal Road at this time is not possible.
Once you cross Baffliaz Bridge, the scenery also changes for the better. You start gaining altitude and the views just keep getting better and better. The road condition also improves tremendously.
After a brief break at Baffliaz Bridge, we were soon on our way to Peer ki Gali. The journey once again turned enjoyable and to my relief, the burning smell from the wheels also was gone. The wheel alignment problem however remained.
We were running a lot behind on our schedule and tried to keep our breaks limited but the amazing views en route forced us to take breaks every now and then.
After a fun drive of 45 kilometers and about 90 minutes, we reached the top of the pass.
Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Gulmarg
Peer ki Gali to Shopian
There is a shrine at the top of the pass, dedicated to the Sufi saint the pass is named after. Almost everyone who crosses the pass stops here for a break and to pay respect at the shrine. We did the same.
There is also a small market in front of the shrine, a few dhabas, and tea stalls where you can get something to eat and drink. The entire top of the pass feels like a picnic spot and you will find a lot of local families walking around having fun.
We spent another 30 minutes at Peer ki Gali and then started to drive down towards Shopian.
Our Delhi to Srinagar road trip was finally coming to an end. The sun was starting to set already but the views were so great that we could not help taking breaks whenever we could.
At around 6 pm, we arrived at Shopian, after a full 12 hours since we started from Jammu.
Shopian to Srinagar
The road to the famous Aharbal Waterfall bifurcates from the main road near Shopian. When we left Jammu, we had plans to pay a quick visit to the waterfall as well but it was a bit late to do that.
Srinagar is another 2 to 3 hours of journey from Shopian. Since it was already 6 pm, we decided to skip Aharbal and continue straight to Srinagar.
This is a viewpoint just near Shopian where you can get an awesome view of the sunset.
After another short break at this viewpoint, we moved on to our final destination for the day, Srinagar City.
Our next break however came soon after at this place. This was the best of all the views we got on our Delhi to Srinagar road trip.
The next break was near these fields where we could not help but stop to capture the sunset.
The road between Shopian and Srinagar is mostly good. But at the same time, it is also a single-lane road that sees quite a bit of local traffic.
The progress remained to be slow. It was only at 9.30 pm that we finally made it to our hotel in Srinagar, bringing an end to our Delhi to Srinagar road trip. It took us a full 16 hours to complete the journey on the Mughal road this time.
Hotel Grand Valley Inn is the one where I always stay whenever I am in Srinagar. That is where we were going to be staying this time as well for the next 2 days.
Getting the car checked was my agenda for the next day but then another problem raised its head. We checked in to the hotel, had something to eat and before going to sleep, I thought to transfer the photos and videos to the laptop.
There was still some space in my Nikon but the GoPro memory was almost full. So I turned on my laptop and connected it to the GoPro. The battery of the laptop was a bit low so I plugged in the charger but nothing happened.
For some reason, the laptop was not detecting the charger at all and the battery wasn’t getting charged.
This was another problem that needed attention. The trip ahead was a long one and I would definitely need my laptop to transfer the videos and the pictures. That evening, we used Lavish’s laptop to complete the transfer and went to sleep.
- Journey Ahead: Hazratbal Shrine & Liberty Cafe in Srinagar
The plan for the next day was to visit Hazratbal in the morning and then the local market to get the car and the laptop fixed. Please click on the link above to continue reading the next part of the travelogue.
Delhi to Srinagar Road Trip – Conclusion
I hope the travelogue, pictures, and details on planning a Delhi to Srinagar road trip were of help. If you have any questions, you can contact me on Instagram and I will be happy to answer. You can also consider subscribing to my YouTube channel and asking a question there.