Best Places to Visit in Jammu & Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir is known for Shikaras and Shawls, or dry fruits and delicious delicacies. But we can give you more things to explore here rather than the age old routine things done by regular tourists.

You can go off-beat and enjoy more. When we talk of famous cities in Jammu and Kashmir many people do not know more than just Srinagar and Ladakh. But in reality there are many more cities in the state. Let us ponder upon a few.

1. Jammu

It is the winter capital and the largest city in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Developed on bank of the Tawi River. It is well connected with major cities by railway route. There are so many popular tourist destinations to be seen in the city.

  • Bahu Fort- The fort was refurbished by the Sikh ruler Raja Gulab Singh in 19th century and houses a goddess Kali temple.
  • Amar Mahal Palace- It was built in the 19th century by Raja Amar Singh inspired by the French architecture. Now it serves the purpose of a museum.
  • Raghunath temple- It us a complex with seven Hindu deity each with its own shikhara. The main diety is Lord Rama also known as Raghunath. The walls are inscribed and painted with themes based on Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagwad Gita.
  • Mubarak Mandi Palace- This palace was the official residence palace of the royal family of the Dogra dynasty till 1925. It is in the heart of the old Jammu and over looks river Tawi. The oldest building in the complex goes back to 1824. Dogra Art Museum has been set up in the Pink Hall of the Palace now. Though the palace had been subjected to fire tragedy 36 times, it still holds strong. A gold painted bow and arrow of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan has been kept in the Museum as a proced possession among the other art pieces.
  • Bagh-e-Bahu-It is located close to the Bahu fort. Actually the forest area close to fort has been developed into a Mughal Style garden, overlooking Tawi river and Jammu city.
  • Mahamaya Temple: It is a temple dedicated to a female freedom fighter of the Dogra Dynasty in the 14th century. she is believed to have laid down her life to save the region from foreign invasion. The temple is on the banks of Tawi river and the Bahu Fort can be seen from here.
  • Ranbireshwar Temple: It is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva built in 1883 by Maharaja Ranbir Singh. It is one of the biggest temples of Lord Shiva in the entire north India, thronged by devotees all year round.
  • Purmandal Temple or Choota Kashi: this is another temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddesss Parvati. There are many Shiv lingas most believed to have been found here naturally so it is also called Aap Shambhu.

The city is also famous for its markets which are abundant in local products. You can shop for authentic clothes, art and craft items and dry fruits, and don’t miss the famous jammu Rajma.

2. Ladakh

The Indo Aryan and Tibetan decedents can be seen settled here. The culture and history are influenced by Tibet to a large extent. It can also be called mini-Tibet in India itself. There are numerous Monasteries in the region to be visited. A few tourist places are listed below:

  • Monasteries : the most popular monasteries of the region are Phuktal Monastery( the only monastery in Ladakh which can be accessed only on foot; no roads), Diskit Monastery(oldest and largest in north India; made in 14th century), Mulbekh monastery(a double gompa across a crag across 200meters connected by a steep footpath), Lingshed Monastery, Rizong Monastery( yellow hat Buddhist Monastery), Rangdum Monastery( height of 4031 meter), Takthok Monastery( the only Nyingma Monastery in ladakh).
  • Lakes: there are two famous lakes in the vicinity of the Ladakh, namely Tso Moriri lake and Tso Kar Lake. Tso Moriri Lake is at the height of 4522 meters and is protected be wetland conservation reserve. While Tso Kar Lake is a salt lake in the region.
  • Red Maitreya Temple: it is a temple of Buddha from where laughing Buddha, happy Buddha and Lucky Buddha have become common.
  • Mountain Pass: two famous passes namely Chang La (5360 meters, the highest motorable road in the world) and Taglang La(5328 meters in height) are in the vicinity.
  • Hemis National park: it is the largest protected national park of India, and home to Snow Leopards.

3. Gulmarg

It is a famous hill station in the Baramula district. It is a famous destination for snow sports especially in the winter season.

  • Apharwat peak: is a summit at the height of 4390 meters. It is close to LOC. It receives snow almost throughout the year. It can be reached by a cable car ride from a small distance far, but that really depends on the weather.
  • Gulmarg Gondola: it is the world’s second highest operational cable car service. It comes from Apharwat peak and can carry 600 people per hour. In another stretch of this cable car, skiers are brought up to the height of 3747 meters. It has snow all year round so it is a favoured destination for the skiers as the slopes give a variety.
  • Alpather frozen lake: it is a lake situated between the foot of two Apharwat peaks. It is frozen for most time of the year. It is used as skating grounds in the winter season. There are lush green grounds and flowers in the summers which act as a perfect picnic spot.
  • St. Mary’s Church: it is approximately 110 years old built during the british rule. It was revamped in the year 2003. Victorian architecture is reflected in the structure as it has grey stone walls, green tiled roof, and wooden decoration; it gives the look of a countryside chapel.
  • Maharani Temple: it is beautifully constructed on a hilltop in the heart of the city. The shrine can be seen from all corners of the gulmarg city. The royal temple is built by Mohini Bai Sisodhia in 1915. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
  • Gulmarg Wildlife sanctuary: it is a forest reserve where you can see the most endangered species of flora and fauna. You can see red fox, snow leopard and migratory birds like snow cock, blue rock pigeon, and other radiant birds too.

4. Srinagar

It is the summer capital of the Jammu and Kashmir. It is settled on the banks of Jhelum river. The city is known for handicraft and dry fruit as its main attraction. There are many tourist places to be seen in the city such as:

  • Gardens: the gardens are basically designed on Mughal garden patterns. They are Chashma Shahi( the garden has numerous fountains), Pari Mahal( seven terraced garden), Nishanty Bagh( it has a vibrant and vast variety of flowers during spring season),Shalimar Bagh( connected through a stream from the Dal lake; it has running waters that make fountains functional) and Naseem Bagh. Another special garden is the Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden. It is one of akind in the entire Asia spread over 30 Hectares area. Tulip festival is organised each year in the month of April when the flowers are in full bloom.
  • Lakes: Srinagar is known for houseboats or Shikara, which float in these lakes. The most famous one is Dal Lake( 18 sq kms in area, fondly called jewel of Srinagar), nigeen lake( house of colourful shikaras), Wular lake( largest fresh water lake in entire Asia), and Manasbal lake( ideal for fishing; with prior permission). Char Chinar is a set of islands in the dal lake.
  • Royal Palaces: Sher Garhhi Palace( now used for the pupose of administration of government), Gulab Bhawan( now converted into Lalit Grand Palace Hotel).
  • Temples: Shankracharya temple ( devoted to Lord Shiva), Kheer Bhawani Temple( goddess Bhawani).
  • Mosques: there are many sacred mosques in the city such as Jamia Masjid( built in 1394 AD, it has Persian architecture), PAthar MAsjid( stone mosque on the banks of Jhelum river), Shah e Hamdan Mosque( wooden architectural work is worth noticing), Haratbal Mosque( believed to have relics of heir of Mohammad; Moi-e-Muqqadas), Ziyarat Naqshband Sahab( Built in honor of the founder of sufi faith, Khawaja Syed Bha-u-Deen Naqsaband), Khanqah-e-Moula(oldest mosque of Kashmir region made by emperor Jahangir).

5. Anantnag

It is the biggest trading and business centre. It is known for Amarnath caves; the holiest Hindu Shrine at height of 3888 meters. Open only for a short time in the summers for annual pilgrimage summit. Martand Sun Temple; made in 8th century and dedicated to Lord Surya, the prime Deity of Hindus. Sintahn Top is a hill top in the region from where you can roughly see the all-round view of Jammu and Kashmir.

6. Katra City

It is the foothill City of Trikuta Mountains where the holy shrine of Vaishno devi is built. As devotees throng the shrine all the year round it has become a house of tourism industry related to pilgrim. From here three temples can be visited on foot, namely Vaishno Devi Temple, Ardhkumari and Bhairavnath temple.

7. Patnitop

It is a hill-station built on a plateau in the region close to the river Chenab. It is famous for its greenery and peaceful lifestyle.

8. Udhampur

It is basically a transit point for the armed forces. It has eucalyptus tree growth in abundance. Krimchi temple is devoted to Lord Shiva; famous in the area. It is believed to have been built in the 11th century AD, by Raja Kichak of Mahabharat. It is believed that Pandavas stayed here for a while during their exile period.

9. Leh

It is a city in the Ladakh region. There are many monasteries to be visited in the region, such as Likir Monastery, Lamayuru monastery, Thiksay monastery, Hemis monastery, Shey Monastery, Namgyal Tsema monastery( 3 story tall gold statue of Buddha), Phyang monastery, Stakna Monastery, Matho monastery, Spituk monastery, Basgo monastery, Sankar monastery. Shanty stupa is also in the city of Leh, built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist as a part of peace pagoda mission.

Then there is a sacred Sikh Gurudwara by the name of Pathar Sahib; built in 1517 in the remembrance of Guru Nanak Dev who visited this place during his life time. Leh palace is built on the design similar to Patola palace in Tibet. It was constructed in the 17th century. an interesting place to be visited is the magnetic hill which has an optical illusion of an up-hill road going down.

10. Aknoor

It is an archaeological site where terracotta figures and objects belonging to the Harappan civilization have been found. It is believed to be the ancient Virat nagar of the Mahbharata era. Kameshwar temple believed to have been originally made 5000 years ago during the Pandavas era, the main deity being Lord Shiva. There are three irregular shaped Shiv Lingas and three Lord Ganesh idols, along with many other Hindu Deities. Aknoor fort was built in 1802 on the river bank of Chenab River. It is a very beautiful location.

11. Achabal

A small town near Anantnag. It is famous for Achabal Garden. It is a terraced garden in the mughal style with a small tributary of water flowing through the garden to give it a heavenly look.

12. Quaigund

Known as the gateway leading to Kashmir, it is famous for springs in the vicinity. The river Jhelum originates only 10kms from here. Also there is a renowned trout hatchery in the town.

By now we feel we have given many suggestions which shall surely make you visit the region for more than one reasons. There is much more than shopping and Shikara ride in Dal lake. The interiors are untouched and waiting to be explored by true nature lovers. So go on and plan a trip to the heavenly place on earth in India.

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