Top 12 Tourists Places to Visit in Jammu and Kashmir!
The Jammu Division of Jammu and Kashmir state is essentially hilly excepting the southern plain along the border of Punjab. The undulating and mountainous topography is drained by the Chenab and Ravi rivers and their tributaries.
The incised meanders, gorges, cataracts, river terraces and the snow covered peaks and pine and oak covered slopes present enchanting sights for the tourists. The tourism potential of the state has however, not been adequately developed in the region. It is the cultural tourism in Jammu region, which is attracting more tourists and generating more income for the state.
Jammu with a population of about two lakhs is the summer capital and the second largest town of the state. For most of the tourists, who visit Kashmir, it is the transit point. There are however, several interesting points in the city which fascinate the tourists. Some of the historical and cultural centres which may be visited are as follows:
The Ragunath Temple is the centre of the city, only a short stroll from tourist reception centre. This large temple complex was built in 1835. The Rambireswar Temple, also centrally located, is dedicated to Lord Shiva and dates from 1883.
On the northern outskirts of the town, just off the Srinagar Road, is the Amar Mahal Palace, a curious example of French architecture. The palace museum has a family portrait gallery and another important collections of paintings.
The Dogra Art Gallery in the Gandhi Bhavan near the secretariat, has an important collection of miniature paintings, including many from the locally renowned Basholi and Kangra School. The gallery remains open from 7.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in summer and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in winter but is closed on Monday.
Vaishno Devi is an important pilgrimage centre for the Hindus. It is situated in the Lesser Himalayas near Katra (Fig.10.3). This temple situated in a limestone cave is dedicated to the three mother goddesses of Hinduism. About fifteen lakh (1.5 miUion) pilgrims visit the Vaishno Devi each year after making a 12 km steep climb from the road head at Katra or taking a shorter and easier climb from a new road. The annual turn out of the Vaishno Devi Trust is about Rs. 2,000 crores. The Trust is so rich that often the State Government of Jammu and Kashmir borrows money from the Vaishno Devi Trust to pay the salaries of its employees.
Patnitop having an altitude of 2,024 m above the sea level is an important hill resort between Kud in the south and Batote in the north. Patnitop is intended to be the nucleus of tourist developments in this area, and there are tourist huts, a Rest House and a Youth Hostel.
Kud is a small township about 6 km south of Patnitop. This is a popular lunch stop on the Jammu to Srinagar route at 1,738 m above the sea level, There is a well-known mountain spring, Swami Ki Bauli about 1.5 km from the road (Fig.10.3).
Only 12 km further on, and connected to Patnitop and Kud by a number of footpaths, this hill resort at 1,560 m was the overnight stop between Jammu and Srinagar before the Banihal Tunnel was opened. As in Kud, there is a spring close to the town of Batote, known as Amrit Chashma. This spring is about 2.5 km away from Batote. There is a Tourist Bungalow, tourist huts and several private hotels in Batote (Fig.10.3).
Sudh Mahadev is situated about 8 km to the east of Kud or Patnitop. There is a Shiva Temple at Sudh Mahadev which is visited by a large number of pilgrims on Asadh Purnima (full noon in July-August). About 5 km from Sudh Mahadev is Man Talai, where some archaeological discoveries have been made.
East of Jammu, these lakes are picturesque and the scene of an annual festival at Mansar.
Well known for the mining of precious stones (agate, ruby, etc.), Kishtwar is situated in the Doda District of the Jammu Division. It is connected with Jammu City by a metalled road. There is a trekking route from Kishtwar to Srinagar via Sinthan Pass. There are many waterfalls around Kishtwar, and about 19 km from the town is the pilgrimage site of Sarthal Devi.
It is also known as mini Kashmir. This beautiful valley attracts a large number of tourists every year. Every two years a procession of pilgrims walk from this beautiful high altitude valley to 4,400 m high Kaplash Lake. A week later the three day Mela Patt festival takes place in Bhadarwah. There is a Rest House in this scenic location.
This tunnel also known as Banihal Tunnel joins Jammu with Srinagar. During the winter season (December to March) the Valley of Kashmir was often completely cut off from the rest of India before this tunnel was completed in 1967.
The 2,225 m long tunnel is 200 km from Jammu and 93 km from Srinagar and has two separate passages. It is rough and damp inside as the water seepages from the roof of the tunnel. As soon as you emerge from the tunnel you are in the green, lush Vale of Kashmir (Fig. 10.3).