Exploring Bhaderwah and its vicinity is incomplete without a drive along the Bhaderwah-Bani-Basohli Road circuit. This road circuit connects Bhaderwah with Lakhanpur in J&K. Lakhanpur, 23 kilometres from Pathankot, is the gateway to Jammu & Kashmir. The Bhaderwah-Bani-Basohli Road has been granted a national highway status and it is scheduled for completion in 2017. Consequently, because of this roadwork and two lane creation, the road conditions span from excellent to poor “kuccha” (unpaved) roads. A motorcycle or a vehicle with a higher ground clearance is essential. The road is also plagued by landslides, and for that reason a four-wheel drive is highly recommended. Getting stuck owing to a landslide, when a friendly rubble clearing bulldozer is a day or two away, is not a pleasant experience.
However, don’t let the bum aching road detract from the breathtaking natural beauty of this route. Unfortunately, things are changing fast under the guise of rural development. We believe that in the next three to four years before this circuit shall change from relatively unexplored to being over-exploited. Therefore, it is worth taking some time out to visit this beautiful place while it remains untouched and unexplored.
A four-wheel drive or a motorcycle
No fuel station between Basholi and Bhaderwah, make sure that you carry enough fuel. You don’t need to carry extra fuel other than a tankful.
The temperature may dip to single digits at night, carry ample warm clothes, especially if you are planning to camp along the way.
A few hotels in Sarthal serve simple food like tea, dal and rice. Snacks may be bought at Basholi or Bhadwerwah. Carry any special food items with you.
You will be driving at an altitude of 3020 metres near the Chattargala pass (the highest pass in this region). As a point of reference, Leh is at an altitude of 3524 metres.
This is a fair weather road. It is closed between December and April due to heavy snowfall. The road is metalled between Basholi and Bani. After Bani the road starts to degrade and it slowly disintegrates into a rough trail after Sarthal. The road improves between Chattargala and Bhaderwah.
- A 4×4 Maruti Gypsy
- 4 man tent, which gave us the flexibility to camp at beautiful campsites along the road
- Gas fired barbecue and an LPG cylinder – we love our kebabs and grilled Kashmiri trout with a few drinks after the sun goes down
- An ice box for frozen food and beer
- A sturdy tripod and camera
- Bhaderwah town
- Sonbain Glacier
- Chattargala pass
- Seven waterfalls
- Trout farm that sells Kashmir trout
- Bani town
- Ranjit Sagar lake
- Vasugi Nag temple to Kailash Kund.
- Day Trek to Sonbian Glacier.
- Day Trek to seven waterfalls.
- Gorge your taste buds on excellent Kashmir trout fish. Easily cooked and succulent to eat, it is a treat for all foodaholics.
- Enjoy warm fresh Jalebi and local barfi (sweet) at Sarthal
- Watch foxes in their natural habitat between Chattargala and Sarthal.
Overnight at Sarthal. Sarthal has two government-run tourist cottages. The local watchmen will rent out a room for around Rs. 700 per night. However, these rooms are dirty and poorly maintained. Sarthal also has a basic hotel, with shared bathrooms. Do not expect a luxurious overnight stay.
Our pick – We recommend carrying a tent. This route has a few exquisite campsites. A tent, gives the flexibility to camp at any place that catches your fancy.
Lakhanpur lies on NH1A that links Jammu with Pathankot in Punjab. It is 23 kilometres from Pathankot, 252 kilometres from Chandigarh and 517 kilometres from New Delhi by car. From Lakhanpur, Basholi is 70 kilometres, via Mahanpur.
Bhaderwah is a town in Doda district of Jammu & Kashmir. It is 80 kilometres from Batote town and 200 kilometres from Jammu.