Unprepared Yet Upbeat in Udhampur #BlogchatterA2Z

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Udhampur 2_1

Enjoying the snow at Patnitop, December 1997

This post has been written for the theme “26 Places, 26 Memories” for the #AtoZChallenge.


Udhampur is a city located in Jammu & Kashmir. It’s surrounded by lush green Eucalyptus forests, and is a strategic centre for the Northern Command Headquarters of the Indian Army.

My family and I visited Udhampur in December 1997, when one of my maternal uncles was posted there as Brigadier. At the army base, we were treated like royalty, and witnessed their impressive way of life at close quarters.

My uncle planned a day trip for us to nearby hill station Patnitop, which receives dense snowfall in winters. My brother and I were especially excited about this excursion as it was our first time seeing snow. We put on our thickest jackets and set off for Patnitop to much fanfare. What happened there is one of my clearest memories from childhood.


The fateful day chosen for the trip was New Year’s Eve- December 31, 1997. Our group consisted of my maternal grandfather, my parents, brother and I, with the army driver designated to us. The hill station was covered in clear snow for miles around, so we built snowmen, had multiple snow fights and clicked many photos.

When we were ready to head back to Udhampur, we were told that heavy snowfall had blocked the route. We’d have to stay the night there, and return the next day once the snow was cleared.

I was looking forward to celebrating New Year’s Eve by staying up with the adults- a big deal at the age of 10! New Year’s Eve was an important event for me. I believed that the way I brought in the New Year would determine how it would play out. Hence, being stuck in the back of beyond, on such an important night, was really upsetting.

We were given an army hut to stay in, from the few that housed the jawans posted there. This had one bedroom with attached bathroom. The room was sparsely furnished with a double bed, a black and white TV set, a couple of decrepit chairs and a coffee table. Fortunately, there was also a well-stocked kitchen with a cook. My father had carried a bottle of “Black Label” whiskey to be enjoyed with the day-time picnic. He fondly recalls sharing this with my grandfather, using fresh snow as a mixing medium! We ate dinner in the bedroom, chatting away while the TV played Doordarshan, the only channel it received.

Around 10:00 p.m., with nothing else to do, my family went off to sleep. Five of us had to share the double bed. We made the most of the small space by arranging ourselves artistically. However, I was determined to stay up till midnight to ring in the New Year.

Perched amidst my slumbering family members, with the lights out, I watched Doordarshan play old Bollywood songs in black-and-white. 1998 arrived to an animated announcement by an otherwise stodgy national TV anchor. I smiled exuberantly along with him, pleased, despite the peculiarity of the situation.

Back in Udhampur, we learnt there had been a terrorist threat in Patnitop, which was one of the reasons we weren’t allowed to travel back. I’m thankful to god for being spared the terror and gifted fantastic memories instead.

I don’t remember much of 1998, but that New Year’s Eve was certainly very memorable 😉

Come back tomorrow for the letter V and another story!

Udhampur 3_1

U for Udhampur

Book a stay in Patnitop or Udhampur by clicking here.

*The copyright in all pictures belongs to nooranandchawla. 

**This is not a sponsored post, but it contains an affiliate link. If you book a stay using my link, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

A for AmritsarB for BhopalC for CambodiaD for Delhi,  E for England, F for France, G for Gwalior, H for Hemkund Sahib, I for Italy, J for Jim Corbett National Park, K for Kamakhya Devi Temple, L for London, M for Munich, N for NaplesO for Odisha,  P for PragueQ for Qila Mehrangarh Jodhpur, R for Rishikesh, S for Singapore, T for Tarifa in Spain


  1. Once coming back from Srinagar we had plans to take hault at Patnitop but unfortunately our cab got delayed and we had to head straightway to the Jammu’s station. That’s a beautiful place and your blog brought those memories back when we were crossing those majestic hills

  2. I too remember visiting Patnitop in my childhood, can’t remember the year though. I have a very bad memory, I keep forgetting things that happened a few years back & that’s why I click a lot of pictures to preserve some memories. Anyways, coming back to your memories. That would have been an eventful night for you all, 5 people on 1 bed, new year’s eve and the news of terror attacks.

  3. Your Mom’s solo pic is the show stealer of this post, Noor! How chic does she look!
    Glad you’ll avoided ‘fireworks’ of a different kind on New Year’s Eve and had a safe one.

  4. Patnitop is a very beautiful place. I am following all the blogs and I observed how you preserved all the memories with dates and lovely pics. I guess from very starting you are a very organised person If you told me to share my pictures and memories with date and year I will not able to show you. Great work!

    1. Thanks Deepika! I remember all the years and all, but finding the pictures was an exercise that began in March this year, when I decided to do the challenge! It’s been a lot of fun 🙂

    2. Right Deepika and may be she was a born traveler, A wanderlust!! Alphabets khatam ho gaye almost and I am sure still she must be having dozens of stories to tell 🙂

      1. Thanks Priyanka! I actually do have lots, maybe for next year’s A2Z 😋
        Thank you so much for reading and appreciating, it means a lot to me!

  5. Patnitop is in my bucket list since long time..and after reading your post I really want to plan our trip soon ..you had exceptional writing ability and I love the way you naarated each memories in this series. keep up the good work!

  6. My husband was posted in Udhampur before our wedding. He does say it is a beautiful place. So glad to know your experiences too! 🙂

  7. You look adorable as a 10 year old and another cute experience. You have a well knit beautiful extended family darling and that’s such a wonderful thing to have, who else will understand better than me dear.

  8. Your mom defines beauty. No wonder you are so gorgeous. We had plans of a trip to Jammu very recently. But the situation kept deteriorating and we had to back out. Your post let me have a sneak peek at one of my favorite places in the wishlist

  9. Well who does’nt love snow. Once we also got stuck in anow when in Shimla. It was really cold and my grandfather started feeling unwell As soon as the roads cleared we drove down and stopped for the night at Ambala, where all of us had to share the room. Your memory reminded me of mine.

  10. A different kinda New Year celebration. That’s the fun na…when things go unplanned and give us memories of a lifetime.

  11. Quite an eventful trip i must say…..We r almost towards the end Noor… How many travel stories u still have in ur pitara… Enjoyed reading this one too… see u tom.

  12. Another beautiful travelogue with some really nice old clicks, I must say you have been bitten by the travel bug royally.
    #ContemplationOfaJoker #Jokerophilia

  13. This post of yours made me do time travel too. We have stayed in Jammu for 2.5 years so have been to Udhampur, Patnitop, Sanasar etc. Glad that the old telly gave you company to welcome the new year 🙂
    Lovely pics, Noor!

  14. Looks like you had an amazing new year memories in 1997. Spending time with family in one room and there is only one double bed to share wow!!!! 🙂 I’ve never been to Patnitop. There is another place I need to add today into my overflowing bucket list

  15. This was quite a nostalgic read. You guys escaped a terrible situation by god’s grace. This also reminded me of my childhood days. Waiting for the next post eagerly.

  16. I have always wanted to go and see jammu and kashmir at least once in my life. Dont know if it can still be visited. Is it safe to go now? 🙂

  17. That’s a very interesting travel story. Steeped in Nostalgia, it transports me to 1998. I was just wondering how 5 people fit in a double bed, haha.

  18. I so would love to visit this place if possible, and believe me the experience you shared was so beautifully written I felt that warm feeling with the family while reading this statement ‘We made the most of the small space by arranging ourselves artistically’!

  19. It feels like I have traveled with you, that’s how magically you write. Another beautiful travelogue. Kudos.

  20. We visited Patnitop and Jammu and nearby areas for our second anniversary and found it so peaceful and divine .Thanks for sharing your post it brought back my memories.

  21. That sounds like a pretty amazing place to relax and rejuvenate…I never knew about it…Thanks

  22. Wow loved reading about your experience as a child on New years eve with your family at Patnitop…i have not visited it i should looking at the snow it looks stunning

  23. You definitely did have a memorable and unique new years Eve back then. New Year’s is meant to be peaceful and it was really a great option to opt for. You Mom looks gorgeous ♥️

  24. Patnitop sounds lovely and I enjoy reading about your travel memoirs.I could almost see you watching old Hindi songs sitting up in bed.

  25. I like when your said, you guys arranged yourself artistically, It reminded me of my childhood days, when we all cousins use to fight and sleep together, so that we can wake up, play and chat once all adults are asleep… great post Noor

  26. This post brought back memories of Udhampur army cantt. I have visited it many times even though my dad wasn’t posted there but he had other postings in J&K and cousins were posted in Udhampur so we went. Loved reading it!

  27. I have been to Patnitop during school days with parents, My mom is Himachal born, hence she has been to almost all the nooks and corners. This post is a nice reminder of the childhood memories.

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