Jammu is the southernmost-part of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir which sits proudly on the magnificent Shivalik mountain ranges. The Winter Capital of Kashmir, Jammu is a holy and peaceful city known for its majestic temples, religious shrines, glittering “shikhars“, and cultural heritage. Since it is also the starting point to the hugely popular Vaishno Devi Temple and Amarnath Yatra, it is visited by tourists from far and wide.
Nestled against the backdrop of the snow-capped Pir Panjal Mountains, Jammu forms part of the transition between the Himalayan range in the north and the dusty plains of Punjab in the south. The Shivalik hills cut across the area from the east to the west while the rivers Ravi, Tawi and Chenab cut their way through the region.
The City of Temples, Jammu houses the famous Maha Kali Temple which is considered second only to the Vaishno Devi Temple. Originally found in the 14th Century BC, the area was ruled over by the Dogra dynasty in the pre-independence era. Buddhist Stupas dating back to the 2nd century AD are peppered throughout Jammu, speaking volumes of its rich heritage.
The eccentricity of Jammu is also prevalent in its Dogra cuisine, the crown of which is the scrumptious Wazwan (traditional Kashmiri buffet). Jammu is truly a melange of pilgrimage, leisure, natural beauty and heritage.
Places to Visit
Jammu is referred to as the Gateway to Heaven, and the impeccable beauty and magnificence of the Bahu Fort surely stand to be a significant contributing factor. Located only 5 km from the central part of the city, the Bahu Fort stands tall and sturdy on the left bank of the Tawi River. Raja Bahucholan constructed this magnificent fort over 3000 years ago, making it one of the oldest monuments in the city. The Dogra rulers then made some restorations and renovations to the fort and extended its reach.
Legend says that the construction of the city of Jammu itself and that of the Bahu Fort are connected and are mutually inclusive events. Raja Jambu Lochan, then reigning king of the region, went on a hunting trip. This trip is where history was made for the city because, during this journey, the Raja witnessed a very curious and mind-boggling event- he saw a tiger and a goat drinking water by the Tawi River; side by side, together, calmly and peacefully, without the slightest attempt of attack by the tiger. He thought to himself that undoubtedly this was a divine location and decided to establish his new capital here – a place that signified peaceful coexistence. Later, his brother, Bahu Lochan, built the mighty Bahu Fort here.
This fort is also famous for its Goddess Kali temple. The people of Jammu worship Goddess Kali, a reincarnation of Goddess Parvati and a potent symbol of motherly love enhanced by insurmountable feminine energy. Inside the Bahu Fort is a temple dedicated to the great Goddess Kali. The locals often refer to this temple as Bave Wali Mata Temple.
Mubarak Mandi Palace
The architecture of the palace is an elaborate blend of Rajasthani, Mughal and European influences.
One of its most spectacular segments, The Shesh Mahal or The Pink Hall houses the Dogra Art Museum which has several miniature paintings and Emperor Shah Jahan’s golden bow and arrow, among other interesting things. The oldest building in this Palace complex dates to 1824, having seen its own share of time and gathering specimens from all these ages, becoming one itself.
Fringed by dense forest, small parks, temples and low lying hills, Lake Mansar, together with its twin lake surinsar, is a very popular picnic spot and Pilgrimage site. Over a mile in length and half a mile in width, it is situated 62 km from Jammu. Besides being a popular excursion site, it shares the legend and sanctity of Lake Mansarovar. One can also visit the surinsar lake and the Surinsar – Mansar wildlife sanctuary nearby. Mansar is a perfect destination to escape from the hectic schedule of life, immerse in nature and rediscover yourself.
Mansar Lake is also home to two temples, Umapati Mahadev & Narasimha and temple of Durga apart from many others which are regularly visited by the devotees. The shrine encompasses a big boulder on which some iron chains symbolize the small serpents waiting on the deity of the Sheshnag.
Most of the newlyweds consider it auspicious to perform three circumambulations (Parikarma) around the lake to seek the blessings of Sheshnag. Many Hindu communities perform the Mundan ceremony (First haircut) of their male children here. It is also a common belief that the waters of Mansar Lake can wash away the sins committed. Apart from all the religious and sacred activities, Lake Mansar is also famous for its flora & fauna and the perfect natural environment. Well-lit cemented path with projected view desks has been constructed for watching various species of fishes, tortoise and seasonal birds. The lake also houses around 207 species of algae, seven species of fish and 15 species of waterfowl. The beautiful lake is also a famous boating spot.
Shivkhori, a divine shrine of an avatar of Lord Shiva, is located in the lap of nature in the form of a cave on a hillock in Udhampur district in India’s own Heaven on Earth, Jammu and Kashmir. The 4-foot lingam was formed naturally in a cave. This self-manifested lingam of Lord Shiva is also known as Swayambhu and is of great importance in Hindu religion. According to some, the cave is dedicated to one of the forms of Lord Shiva, which is believed to be unborn and invisible. As one explores the cave, they experience the divine aura of this form of Lord Shiva. Shivkhori is an enchanting destination famous for its religious belief. The route inside the cave is challenging for many, and the thrill is worth experiencing as devotees are sure to feel blessed at the sight of the idol.
Devotees of Lord Shiva from all over the world visit the cave to offer their sincere prayers. The journey to the cave-shrine requires trekking over 3 kilometres of the route through the stunning mountains covered with lush greenery. The cave consists of naturally formed shapes or impressions that look like Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesh, Nandi, Kartikeya, and Sheshnag. Many find these naturally formed impressions very intriguing and get drawn to this mystical location like bees to honey. The magical vibe of the cave is sure to mesmerize you, and you will want to keep coming back to Shivkhori again and again.
Located in Trikuta hills, 13 kms from Katra (in Jammu and Kashmir); Vaishno Devi is a town that’s home to the famous Vaishno Devi Mandir. This renowned shrine allures millions of devotees from all over the world. Popularly known as Mata Rani, Vaishnavi and Trikuta, Vaishno Devi is a manifestation of the Hindu Goddess Durga. It is believed that during the pooja and aarti, Goddesses arrive at the Holy cave to pay their respect to Mata Rani. Devotees believe goddess herself calls the devotees to reach here.
Vaishno Devi is said to be Moonh Maangi Muradein Poori Karne Wali Mata (the mother who fulfils the wishes of her children). The Devotees believe Goddess herself calls them to reach here. The darshan of Maa Vaishno Devi in the holy cave is in the form of three naturally formed rocks which are known as pindies. These pindies manifest the three forms of the goddess as Maha Kali, Maha Saraswati and Maha Lakshmi.
Vaishno Devi is a religious trekking destination which was managed by the Holy shrine board in 1986. To reach the mandir, pilgrims walk about 13km uphill to reach the caves which are among one of the 108 Shakti Peetha. It takes about 6-9 hours depending on the weather and pace. Ponies and Palanquins, as well as helicopter services, are available by various vendors to take you up there. The whole way is decently paved with lots of shops selling snacks, food and religious goods. More than one crore devotees visit Vaishno Devi temple each year.
Amar Mahal Museum
Constructed by King Raja Amar of Dogra in the 1890s, this museum was planned by a French architect and looks like a French chateau with Indian artisans. It was home to the royal family for many years.
Made of red sandstone, the palace was turned into a museum with rich collections of paintings, books, inscriptions and sculptures. The Durbar hall of the museum is adorned with family portraits of rulers of Jammu and Kashmir along with magnificent Pahari paintings. The exhibits like the throne of Maharaja Hari Singh are made of 120 kg solid gold and a spectacular sight.
Peer Baba Dargah
Dedicated to an Islam saint, Peer Budhan Ali Shah, this Dargah, attracts devotees across religions.
The saint was said to have lived for 500 years, only on milk. He also shared connections to the Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. Visit on Thursdays, to this unique Dargah, which shares spirituality across religions and legends.
28 km from Jammu in the charming town of Akhnoor lies the impressive Akhnoor Fort. Loaded with rich fortifications meant to provide protection to its people, this fort is perched on a cliff, situated on a historical site by the banks of the river Chenab, said to date back to the Harappan civilisation.
This large fort is a great example of fine Indian military architecture. Built across two floors, the fort has thick, strong walls with bastions and two-storeyed watchtowers guarding its perimeter. Within the fort lies the grand palace of Raja Alum Singh, monarch of the fort. The walls facing the courtyard are decked with pretty decorative arches, adorned with exquisite mural paintings. This majestic fort may be accessed from the river or from the northern entry gate. Perched atop a hill, one receives breathtaking views of the Shivalik range and the Trikuta mountains, complemented perfectly with the Chenab river flowing below.
There is a lot of history associated with the land occupied by this monument. As per historical records, this fort was built on the ruins of the ancient Archaeological town of Manda, where remains of the Harappan civilisation and the Kushana dynasty have been found by Archaeologists. Due to its historical and cultural significance, it has been deemed a national monument and is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Dogra Art Museum
Housed in the Mubarak Mandi palace, the museum is an ideal destination for witnessing and experiencing the folklore and culture of Jammu along with Ladakh and Kashmir.
Located in the Pink Hall of the palace, the art gallery displays paintings of the Jammu, Kangra and Basohli school of art, including intricate miniature paintings.
One reaches Nathatop after a short trek from Patnitop. The hill station is covered with snow during winters thereby enhancing its beauty two times. One can happily go skiing in these mountains. Nathatop has become very famous for its paragliding and sometimes people from different parts of the country travel to experience the beauty and these experiences offered by the place. One gets an excellent and clear view of the Himalayas from the peak of these hills. It has an altitude of about 2711m.
Nathatop has a variety of roadside food vendors who sell yummy delicacies to fill the bellies of the visitors coming there. It has a pleasant climate and is fun to hang out at. It is a must-visit place for nature lovers and those who love to sit quietly at one place and enjoy the serenity of a place.
It is a peaceful place away from the fast moving lives of the city. Pir Panjal Mountains, when visited during winters, are filled with snow all over and are a treat for the eyes! Snow is replaced by lush green grass in summers.
Must Try Food in Jammu
1. Imperial Grill Restaurant & Legends Pub
2. The Grandstand
3. Pirates Of Grill
4. Nox Cafe
5. Khanna Khazana
7. Hotel K.C.Residency
8. Papa Di Hatti
9. Eden – Botanic Kitchen
10. Grill Inn
How To Get Here
Jammu is well-connected with all the major cities in the country via rail, road and airways. The Jammu Tawi railway station is one of the most accessible stations, with trains at frequent stoppages. The National Highway connect road services efficiently. Jammu Airport has air services at frequent intervals.
Jammu has an excellent airport which has many flights from Delhi and Leh. Spice Jet, Jet Airways, Air India and Goair have flights from Delhi. Taxis are easily available at the airport. The nearest international airport is the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi while the other nearest domestic airports are in Srinagar and Leh. To travel from the airport to the main city, taxis are easily available.
Nearest Airport: Jammu
Jammu is located on National Highway 1-A and is connected to all major highway networks of the country. You can use state transport as well as private taxis or drive yourself. A lot of tourists undertake the road journey from nearby cities like Srinagar, Amritsar and Patnitop to Jammu.
The Jammu Tawi railway station is one of the most accessible stations, with trains at frequent stoppages. It is connected to all the major cities in India like Delhi Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Trivandrum, among others.