Jammu and Kashmir's element of surprise: #28States28Plates Day 9 Blog
Day nine of evo India's #28States28Plates drive would be taking us to the crown of our country — Jammu and Kashmir. We were headed to Jammu from Chandigarh, a six hour drive, which in evo India time translates to almost 7 hours because of the stops we have to take every now and then for pictures.
We left Lemon Tree Chandigarh at 9am and quickly made our way through the city. Chandigarh has some really good roads and being India’s first planned city, the traffic isn’t too bad. Before we knew it, we were on the NH205 heading to Jalandhar. We arrived by lunch time and started to look for restaurants so we could get one last taste of Punjabi food. We stopped at the famous Haveli restaurant just outside Jalandhar and ate their Special Thali till our stomachs couldn't take anymore. It really is that good!
After lunch, the next stop on our list was Kathua, the first town after entering J & K where the border check post is located. Why, you ask? To conduct an RT-PCR test. Jammu and Kashmir requires a negative result on either the Antigen or an RT-PCR test entry. Since only a result within 72 hours is valid, we had to do the test at the border check post itself. So, a word of advice for all the travellers heading to Jammu and Kashmir — take an RT-PCR test before going through, or get one done at the town of Lakhampur situated in Himachal, just before the J&K border. While the test at the border doesn’t take more than an hour and is free of cost, the centre is crowded, with no regard for proper social distancing and improper use of masks by almost everyone.
Seven negative results later, we were allowed in and about an hour and a half later we arrived at our night halt in Jammu. We headed for dinner to the Bazaar restaurant where the chef whipped us some delicious local food. On the menu for us was authentic food from Jammu and Kashmir — Kaladi Kulcha, Rajma, Dum Aloo, Khatta Maas, Lamb Yakhni and Mushroom Kulcha. The food was much better than we expected, and had a flavour very unique to what we’d been eating recently. The meal was followed by gulab rabri, which we have to say was about as sweet as the local people themselves!