Visit Jammu: A City of Shrines and Palaces (2023)
Jammu is considered to be a gateway to heaven. It is called the city of temples and palaces. It is a city located in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India. Jammu is the southernmost part of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir which is situated on the magnificent Shivalik mountain ranges. Also famous by the name of the Winter Capital of Kashmir, Jammu is a holy and peaceful city known for its beautiful and unique cave temples, religious shrines, and its cultural heritage. Jammu is also the starting point to two of the most famous Hindu shrines in India namely Vaishno Devi Temple and Amarnath Yatra. This fact makes the city very popular and visited by lakhs of tourists every year from all over the world. Jammu is situated against the backdrop of the snow-capped Pir Panjal Mountains and lays a transition between the Himalayan range and the plains. The Shivalik hills cut across the area from the east to the west and the rivers Ravi, Tawi, and beautiful Chenab cut their way through the region. It is a beautiful place to see many landscapes located at a little distance from each other and spend some time away from your daily routine and rejuvenate yourself in nature.
The world-famous Maha Kali Temple considered second only to the Vaishno Devi Temple is located in Jammu. The city was found in 14th Century BC and the area was ruled over by the Dogra dynasty in the pre-independence era. You will find a deep influence of the Dogra community in the form of art, culture. Architecture etc in the city. There are many palaces in the city built by Dogra kings that increase the charm and beauty of the city.
Places To See And Things To Do In Jammu
You will also see the Buddhist Stupas dating back to the 2nd century AD that is located throughout Jammu city that tells a lot about the cultural heritage of the city, speaking volumes of its rich heritage.
1. Vaishno Devi Temple
It is one of the shrines that is most visited by pilgrims in India during all seasons of the year. Like every shrine in the country, this temple also has a legendary story associated with it. The temple is located in a cave and is also known as the holy cave temple. The Temple is dedicated to Goddess Vaishnavi who is believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga. The cave temple is located at an altitude of 5200 ft above sea level. Pilgrims have to trek to the top from a point. There is another option, also, to walk to the temple. You can also opt for helicopter services, pony rides, or palanquin to reach the temple premises.
2. Bahu Fort
Bahu Fort is an architectural marvel located in the city of Jammu that adds another start to its beauty. It is located only 5 km from the main city premises and is visited by lakhs of tourists every year. Bahu Fort is located on the left bank of the Tawi River. The beautiful fort was constructed by Raja Bahucholan over 3000 years ago which makes it one of the oldest monuments in Jammu city. The Dogra rulers made some restorations and renovations in the fort during their rule and extended its reach.
The fort and the Jammu city were approximately developed during the same time and their development is intertwined with each other. This fort is also famous for the Goddess Kali temple located on the premises. The people of Jammu city worship Goddess Kali who is considered to be a reincarnation of Goddess Parvati. Goddess Parvati is considered to be the epitome of motherly love surrounded by feminine energy. The locals often refer to this temple as Bave Wali Mata Temple and the temple is visited by locals and tourists equally.
3. Mubarak Mandi Palace
Another palace increasing the charm and beauty of Jammu city is Mubarak Mandi Palace. The architecture of this place is a classic blend of Rajasthani, Mughal, and European cultures at one place. This fact makes the tourists even more intrigued about the palace. A part of the palace is a big hall which is famous by the name of The Shesh Mahal or The Pink Hall houses the Dogra Art Museum. The museum has several miniature paintings and Emperor Shah Jahan’s golden bow and arrow, among other interesting things that you would want to see during your visit to the palace. The oldest building in this Palace complex date to 1824. The palace has seen its share of history and has itself become a part of ancient history no visited by thousands of tourists every year. Make sure you do not miss visiting this place while you are in Jammu.
4. Mansar Lake
Mansar Lake is a very beautiful lake located in Jammu. It is visited by thousands of tourists around the year. Even the locals in the city come around for a walk and picnics around the lake. The lake is surrounded by dense forest. There are small parks nearby and there is a temple located close to the lake. The lake is also situated between the low lying hills. This makes the lake a very famous picnic spot as well as a spiritual site. Lake Mansar, together with its twin lake surinsar, is very popular in Jammu city. It is located over a mile in length and half a mile in width. Mansar Lake has situated 62 km from Jammu. You can also visit the famous Mansar wildlife sanctuary nearby. Mansar is a perfect destination to escape from the hectic routine and calm yourself after staying in the hustle-bustle. Take some time to immerse in nature and rediscover yourself by spending some time here. There are two temples located here namely, Umapati Mahadev & Narasimha and the temple of Goddess Durga. Apart from these two temples, there are many others located in the area that is regularly visited by the devotees.
Shivkhori is another shrine located in this city of Palaces and Shrines. It is also a popular tourist destination. This is a shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed that the 4-foot lingam inside the cave temple was formed naturally. This self-manifested lingam of Lord Shiva is also known as Swayambhu. It holds great importance in the Hindu religion. The legend says that the cave is dedicated to one of the forms of Lord Shiva, which is believed to be unborn and invisible. People say that upon visiting the cave temple one can experience the divine aura of this form of Lord Shiva.
Shivkhori is a mysterious destination that makes you feel full of love and relaxes your brain. The route inside the cave is challenging and thrilling at the same time. The journey to reach the cave temple requires you to trek over 3 kilometers. You have to go through the stunning mountains covered with lush greenery. The cave consists of naturally formed impressions that look like Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesh, Nandi, Kartikeya, and Sheshnag. This place should not be missed even if you are religious or not. It is a place worth visiting by everyone.
6. Raghunath Bazaar
Amid all temples and palaces, the city has Raghunath bazaar where you will find plenty of people buying things of necessity and others buying souvenirs to take home for friends and relatives. It is one of the most famous shopping destinations in Jammu city. You can buy a lot of things famous in the city you won’t find anywhere else. Some of the things you can buy from the market include phirans, tweeds, carpets made of wool, woven willow baskets, dried fruits, Kesar or saffron strands of the highest quality in the world, brass and silverware, silk and embroidery works, vases, bowls, wall hangings, naqqashi work, furniture, wood carvings, other decorative items made of wood, among many other things. It is a shopper’s paradise and you must visit Raghunath bazaar if you want to take some material memories of the Jammu back to your home for you, your friends, and your family.
7. Amar Mahal Museum
Amar Mahal Museum was constructed by Raja Amar of Dogra in the 1890s. This museum was designed by a French architect and looks like a French chateau with Indian artisans. It is a perfect blend of Indian and French craftsmanship. It was home to the royal family for many years.
The museum is 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 that were collected by the royal family. There are many royal items are on display. Some of the exhibits like the throne of Maharaja Hari Singh are on display. The throne is made of 120 kg solid gold. It is a majestic piece and there are many other items on display. Make sure you visit the palace if you are a historian and love architecture.
Best Time to Visit Jammu
Jammu is open for tourists round the year and every season has its perks as they present you with different landscaped throughout the year. However, the best time to visit Jammu is between October and April. You will be able to see the beautiful landscape at the beginning of winters and snow in different parts of the city during winter.
By the end of winter, you will be able to see the flowers blooming and the whole city come alive with the beautiful flora and fauna. There are some major festivals organized on multiple occasions in the city which are visited by tourists especially. You can decide to visit Jammu during popular festivals like Makara Sankranti in January, Ram Navami in March, and Deepavali in October when the whole town is filled with festivities. However, you can choose to visit depending on your convenience as the town will have something unique to offer in every season.
How to Reach Jammu?
Jammu is well connected to the plains and all the nearby major cities. There are several means of transport available to travel to Jammu. You can choose from air travel, trains, buses, or taxis to reach this heavenly town in this beautiful valley.
Air Travel to Jammu: The Nearest railway station is Satwari airport which is connected to most of the major cities in India. The local airlines and carriers like Air India, Jet Airways, Indigo, Spice Jet, and others have direct flights from Delhi. You can take connecting flights from other local airports in India. You can hire a taxi from the airport to go to your destination in Jammu or the nearby cities if you are planning to go anywhere else. You can easily find good accommodation to stay in Jammu near the airport or the city for all budgets. The airport is located in the heart of Jammu city and is also connected to all major public transport in the city.
Rail Travel to Jammu: The Nearest railway station in Jammu is the very famous Jammu Tawi. There is a train specially named after the station. The railhead is connected to most of the major cities in India. It is also a good way to reach Jammu city. Jammu Tawi or Udhampur railway station is directly connected to prime cities of the country, including Delhi, Bhatinda, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, and Jodhpur via several superfast, express, and mail trains. You can take a taxi or take a shared cab from outside the railway station to reach your destination. Public transport is also readily available outside the railway station.
Road Travel to Jammu: This is the best way to reach Jammu as you will be able to enjoy the views on your way to the city while traveling by road. This might take a longer time than by air or train, but it is worth it. Jammu is connected by a network of roads to Chandigarh, Gulmarg, Jammu, Sonamarg, Delhi, and Pahalgam. Bus service is also available from all the nearby major cities in the north that connect to Jammu. You can also choose to hire a taxi if you want to travel at your own pace to this magnificent place. If you have a flight until Delhi or if you are traveling from Delhi or Chandigarh, you can get a direct bus to Jammu from Delhi and Chandigarh ISBT to Jammu.
Places to Stay In Jammu
There are several places to stay in Jammu for every budget. There are both luxurious and budget hotels you can choose based on your pocket size. Jammu flaunts some of the best hotels and resorts in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Best resorts in Jammu are located in the main city or around the lakes and places offering a magnificent view of these beautiful locations. A visit to Jammu is the ideal way to unwind and relax in the lap of nature away from the city crowds. There are many warm and cozy places to stay in Jammu for all budgets including hostels, resorts, homestays, etc. There are luxurious 5-star hotels, mid-range hotels, homestays, bed and breakfast, and other budget hotels in Jammu and nearby places. Make sure you book your accommodation before visiting the place as the possibility of finding a good or any accommodation gets difficult during the peak season if you just drop by. You can also find many homestays which are quite famous among families as well as young people and adventure seekers as you can have the entire area to yourself and enjoy there as per your comfort. And if you are staying with a landlord at your homestay, you get to enjoy the local Kashmiri food that any restaurant in the city would not do any justice to. If you are affable, you will get a chance to listen to local folk stories and hidden spots for you to see. Some of the luxurious hotels in the area are Ramada Jammu City Centre, Radisson Blu Jammu, Country inn and Suites by Radisson Jammu, Hotel Raghunandan, KC Residency, Zone by the ParkFortune Inn Riveria, Virah Sarovar Portico, and Le Roi among the many brands well known in the hotel business.
Things to Eat in Jammu
The famous food in Kashmiri cuisine. But the food in Jammu is influenced by the Dogra community and their influence on the culture here. The staples here are Dogra dishes which include Aloo Dum, Rajma, Kashmiri Pulao, Wazawan, and the staple among bread is Naan. In desserts and sweets, you will find chocolate barfi, patisa among many other things. You will find famous restaurants and roadside eateries both serving delicious food. Some of the famous food you must not miss when in Jammu is Kaladi Kulcha at Pahalwan di Hatti or many roadside vendors are selling their version of Kaladi kulcha that is worth trying. Kaladi is a local cheese prepared in Jammu that is not found elsewhere in the world. It is a must-have when you are in Jammu. Kachalu, Malpoode, and special Pakodas are the famous street foods available in Jammu you must try when you are here. You will also find the famous Kashmiri dishes here that are a trademark of the state. The most famous dishes in the area are Rogan Josh, Modar Pulao, Matschgand, Shab Daig, Haakh, Yakhni, Nader ki Gaad, Kashmiri Nann are among the few. Make sure you try all the food during your visit. Like all the places, the food is also a unique specialty in Jammu and the nearby places.