Jammu and Kashmir as a State comprise of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh regions. In part one of the blog, a humble effort was made to describe the incredible beauty of the culture, people, and places of Kashmir region. In this blog, an effort is being made to showcase Jammu region of this beautiful state which is also known as a jewel in the crown of India. Jammu is also the winter capital of the state. It is believed to have been founded in the 14th century BC by Raja Jambu Lochan who saw a lion and a goat drinking water side by side on the bank of River Tawi. Inspired by the coexistence and tolerance between two arch rivals; lion and Goat, standing side by side, the king decided to build a city at this place on the bank’s of river Tawi also known as Surya Putri (The daughter of Sun).
Jammu region is the land of Dogras which consist of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians. A sizable population consists of nomad Gujjars and Bakerwals who keep on migrating from place to place in search of pastures in order to feed their cattle comprising of Sheep, Goat, Buffaloes, and Horses. Dogras; the people of Jammu are very hard working, simple but very brave, and a peace-loving people. All communities have been living in peace and freely practicing their faith through the centuries. Dogras like their Kashmiri brothers are highly religious. As in Kashmir, you can see a lot of temples, mosques, gurudwaras, churches and other religious places, as well, in every part of the cities as well as in towns and villages in this region. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians join each other in their inter-community celebrations, be it Eid, Diwali, Gurpurab or Christmas. This love amongst the different communities, as well as their peaceful coexistence, is a unique attribute of this Land.
Amazing Places to visit in Jammu:-
Jammu city is divided into two parts, Old Jammu and New Jammu. Jammu is also known as the city of temples. Raghunath temple, Ranbireshwar temple, Bawe Wali Mata temple, and Peer Kho Cave temple are the main attractions in addition to the many small temples spread across the city. There are Mosques, Dargahs, Gurudwaras, and Churches all over the city. Dargah Baba Budan Shah near Jammu airport and Dargah Baba Roshan Shah Vali also known as Dargah Nau gaj (Means nine yards) as he is believed to be very long in height situated in the center of the old city are revered by Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and people from all faiths alike.
The old city has many heritage buildings such as Mubarak Mandi, Amar Mahal, and Dogra Art Museum, Bahu Fort, Raghunath temple, and Gandhi memorial Science college, formerly known as Prince of Wales college are worth seeing.
The places of religious tourism include a pilgrimage to the Holy Cave of Mata Vaishno Ji near Katra town in the Trikuta hills, Shiv Khori temple in District Reasi of Jammu, Sudh Mahadev temple near Chenani and Kirmichi temple in Udhampur District.
Budha Amarnath Ji temple in Mandi, and Gurudwara Nangali Sahab in the picturesque hill on the bank of Drungali Nallah in Poonch district and a beautiful Gurudwara on a hillock at Akhnoor on the banks of river Chenab add to the spiritual and serene atmosphere in the area.
Chichi Mata, Purmandal and Sidh Swankha in the district Samba. Sukrala Mata and Jasrota Mata temple and Jasrota fort in Kathua District.
Pilgrimage to Mani Mahesh, Machail Mata, Vasuki nag temple and Kailash Kund in the lush green meadows of Bhadarwah also known as Mini Kashmir. Dargah Baba Ghulam Shah Badsha in the beautiful hills of Thanna Mandi in Rajouri district.
Heritage buildings of tourist interest around the region include old temples, forts, and sarais (inns) built by the rulers of the state as well as by the Great Mughals all along the old Mughal road.
The list of the old forts includes Akhnoor fort, Ramnagar Fort, Sheesh Mahal Ramnagar, Bhimgarh Fort, Poonch Fort, Basohli Fort, Dharnider Fort, and many others. The entire old Mogul road and the old route from Jammu to Katra Vaishno Devi Ji are dotted with sarais (resting places) which are now in ruins excepting few such as Chingus fort and Chingus Sarai near Rajouri on old Mughal road.
Chingus is a Persian word meaning intestines. Chingus Sarai was used by the Mughals as a transit camp during their annual journey to Kashmir. The great Mughal Emperor Jahangir died en- route from Kashmir, and the wise queen, in order to protect the dead body from decaying, got the intestines and other belly parts removed and buried at the Chingus fort. Jahangir has two graves, one at Chingus where his intestines were buried and the other in Lahore where his body was laid to rest.
Border tourism includes a visit to historic Suchetgarh post which served as an octroi post in the pre-partition era. It is situated in R S Pura area on Jammu Sialkot road and rail link; though road link still exists but rail line has been abandoned after the partition of the country in 1947. Sialkot in Pakistan is only 11 Km from this post. Like Wagah post in Punjab, the road to Pakistan is blocked by the gates both by India and Pakistan.The gates are opened for visits by the teams of UNO or for the flag meetings of sector commanders of India and Pakistan. There is a huge Peepal tree on the zero line, half of which in India and half in Pakistan. A raised platform around this tree is maintained by both the countries on their respective sides. Tourists are allowed to go up to this point on Indian side with the special arrangements with the Border Security Force officers manning this post. While way back one can visit the world famous Gharana Wetlands a home for the migratory birds. This R S Pura area is known for world famous Basmati rice with a unique aroma.
The other border point of tourist intert is Chamalyal border post in Ramgarh sector. This too is very close to the international border with Pakistan. Chamalyal is a shrine of a Hindu Sufi saint Baba Daleep Singh Manhas. The earth and water of the well at this place are called shakkar and sharbat and are known for their medicinal properties to cure all types of skin diseases. Thousands of devotees visit this place throughout the year from all over the country as well as abroad and get cured of the skin diseases.
An annual fair is held on the last Thursday of June every year. People in large number from India as well as from Pakistan participate and share earth and water (Shakkar and Sharbat) from this place. During first few years when the annual fair started devotees from Pakistan were also allowed to cross the international border and participate in the annual fair, but the practice was abandoned after some time for security reasons and now the people from Pakistan celebrate the occasion within their territory and now only few Army officers with their team are allowed to come for paying obeisance on behalf of the devotees from Pakistan.They offer Chadder as a mark of respect on the grave of the Sufi saint on behalf of people of Pakistan. Earth and water of this shrine (Shakkar and Sharbat) are allowed to be carried as much as required across the border for distribution amongst the devotees. This Shrine is a unique symbol of Hindu Muslim brotherhood.
Other places of tourists interests include Patnitop which is located on the hilltop surrounded by the thick green cover of Cedar trees. This place is a fine health resort with the pollution free pleasant atmosphere and is visited by a good number of local as well as foreign tourists especially the pilgrims of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji.
It is just 112 Km from Jammu and 85 Km from Katra, the base camp for Mata Vaishno Devi shrine. Kud and Batote, two beautiful towns are 5 Km each on the western and northern side of this beautiful spot on Jammu Srinagar national highway. Both these small towns too are health resorts. During winters Patnitop receives good snowfall and is visited by more tourists than summers.
From Patnitop one can go to enjoy the beauty of the picturesque Sanasar just 7 Km down the hill and on the way can have a view of Natha Top. Chenani and Mantalai are other beautiful places worth visiting nearby Patnitop. As already said there is hardly any place in Jammu and Kashmir which is not worth seeing. The scenic beauty, green meadows, and natural landscapes in Bhadarwah and Kishtwarh area will never fade from your memory once you personally see these places. Bhadarwah is connected to Chamba in Himachal Pradesh by a 59 Km road, This tourist circuit gives an experience of life, thrill, and adventure.
Basohli paintings of the 17th and 18th century are a unique style of painting fusing Hindu mythology, Mughal miniature techniques, and folk art of local hills. Basohli is a small hill town in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir. It is also known for the weaving of pashmina shawls. Beautiful and greatly revered Chamunda Mata, Sheetla Mata, and Basohli temples are places worth visiting. A cold and cozy place nearby worth seeing is Banni.
Mansar Lake and Surinsar lake in District samba, Katoriasar lake in the Pirpanchal range, and Siar Baba waterfalls in Reasi district are worth visiting.
The greenery of the vast meadows along Mughal road to Kashmir with herds of sheep grazing and moving majestically at the whistles of the shepherds is an example of beautiful bondage between the humans and animals. Noori Chhamb near Chandimarh village on Mughal road is a symbol of love between Great Mughal King Jahangir and Queen Noor Jahan. Chhamb in local language means a big waterfall. During their sojourn to and from Kashmir, Noor Jahan used to enjoy a bath under this waterfall and the king used to see her image in a mirror fixed on a rock at some distance away without disturbing the queen.
It is very difficult to describe the details and beauty of all the places in this heaven on earth in a short blog. Come and see with your own eyes, as the beauty is indescribable…………..( to be continued as part 3 )