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India Tourism Guide >> Jammu & Kashmir Travel Guide
Jammu & Kashmir Travel GuidePlaces to See in Jammu & Kashmir
Gulmarg is surrounded by dense forests of tall conifers ,Gulmarg is known for unparalled beauty nad is rated as one of the matchless tourist spots of the world.It is famous for Golf hikes and boasts of a beautiful highland golf course. It is premier resort for winter sports in the country.The meadow of Flowers is a world famous tourist spot in the Baramulla Distt of Kashmir. The altitude of Gulmarg is 2730 meters.
How to Reach Gulmarg: Gulmarg is in Baramula Distt and is 57Kms from Srinagar District .The nearest Airport in Badgam Distt.This Airport is connected with major cities of country. The nearest Rail Head is at Jammu . The journey from Srinagar to Gulmarg takes approx. 2 hours in bus and may take short time by chartered conveyance. The road to gulmarg is very beautiful and is lined with poplar trees all through. All sorts of transport is available to Gulmarg from Srinagar bus stand at Batmallo and from various tour and travel opeartors at the prices fixed.
Jammu. the Duggar land where the past still has a living presence. A land of grand ancient temples, and beatiful palaces. All nestling in the foothills of the Himalayas. It is said that, on becoming King, the Suryavanshi Jambu Lochan went on a hunt and, crossing the Tawi, found a deer and a tiger drinking water from the same tank. His ministers explained that this meant that the soil of the place was so virtuous that no living creature bore enmity against another.
Raja Jambu Lochan, who lived in the later vedic period, decided to found his capital , Jambupura, on his soil, on the right bank of the Tawi, overlooking his brother king Bahu's fort. Today the temple of Maha Kali ( better known as Bahu or Bawey Wali Mata), located in the Bahufort, is considered second only to Mata Vaishno Devi in terms of mystical power.
The present temple was built shortly after the coronation of Maharaja Gulab singh, in 1822. The existing fort, as well as the Manasabdar's palace inside it, was constructed in 1820. Jammu is justly famous for its temples. Infact it is known as the city of temples and the every fame of its tends to overshadow its palaces, forts, forests and powerful ziarats.
If Bahu Mata is the presiding deity of Jammu, the dargah of Peer Budhan Ali Shah is the other shrine that protects Jammuites. The other major tourist attraction is the Ragunath Temple Complex. Maharaja Gulab Singh began the construction of the Raghunath Mandir Complex in the crowded downtown Bazaar named after it, in 1851. It was left to his son, Ranbir Singh, to inagurate it six years later perhaps the most popular temple north of Benares, it contains representations of almost entire Hindu pantheon, though the emphassis falls on the various incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The complex houses a rich collection of ancient texts and manuscripts.
KARGIL (2704 m), 204 kms from Srinagar in the west and 234 kms from Leh in the east, is the second largest urban centre of Ladakh and headquarters of the district of same name. A quite town now, Kargil once served as important trade and transit centre in the Pan-Asian trade network. Numerous caravans carrying exotic merchandise comprising silk, brocade, carpets, felts, tea, poppy, ivory etc. transited in the town on their way to and from China, Tibet, Yarkand and Kashmir.
The old bazaar displayed a variety of Central Asian and Tibetan commodities even after the cessation of the Central Asian trade in 1949 till these were exhausted about two decades back. Similarly the ancient trade route passing through the township was lined with several caravanserais. Now, since 1975, travellers of numerous nationalities have replaced traders of the past and Kargil has regained its importance as a centre of travel-related activities.
The palace is distinguished monument and a historical building. The nine-storeyed palace was built by the 17th century illustrious ruler of Ladakh, Sengge Namgyal. It is an imposing structure, though in ruins now, situated on a hill and commands a grand view of the Leh town.
The building in grand Tibetan architecture is said to have inspired the famous potala of Lahasa, built half a century later. Namgyal Tsemo, the peak overlooking the town, are the ruins of the fortbuilt, by the king Tashi namgyal in the 16th century, as a royal residence.
Ladakh is a land like no other. Bounded by two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the Great Himalaya and the Karakoram, it lies athwart two other, the Ladakh range and the Zanskar range.
In geological terms, this is a young land, formed only a few million years ago by the buckling and folding of the earth's crust as the Indian sub-continent pushed with irresistible force against the immovable mass of Asia. Its basic contours, uplifted by these unimaginable tectonic movements, have been modified over the millennia by the opposite process of erosion, sculpted into the form we see today by wind and water.
Yes, water! Today, a high -altitude desert, sheltered from the rain-bearing clouds of the Indian monsoon by the barrier of the Great Himalaya, Ladakh was once covered by an extensive lake system, the vestiges of which still exist on its south -east plateaux of Rupshu and Chushul - in drainage basins with evocative names like Tso-moriri, Tsokar,a nd grandest of all, Pangong-tso. Occasionally, some stray monsoon cluds do find their way over the Himalaya, and lately this seems to be happening with increasing frequency. But the main source of water remains the winter snowfall.
Dras, Zanskar and the Suru Valley on the Himalaya's northern flank receive heavy snow in winter; this feeds the glaciers whose meltwater, carried down by streams, irrigates the fields in summer. For the rest of the region, the snow on the peaks is virutally the only source of water. As the crops grow, the villagers pray not for rain, but for sun to melt the glaciers and liberate their water. Usually their prayers are answered, for the skies are clear and the sun shines for over 300 days in the year.
Ladakh lies at altitudes ranging from about 9,000 feet (2750m) at Kargil to 25,170 feet (7,672m) at Saser Kangri in the Karakoram. Thus summer temperatures rarely exceed about 27 degree celcuis in the shade, while in winter they may plummet to minus 20 degree celcuis even in Leh. Surprisingly, though, the thin air makes the heat ofthe sun even more intense than at lower altitudes; it is said that only in Ladakh can a man sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade suffer from sunstroke and frostbite at the same time!
- Pahalgam Tourism
Pahalgam has a golf course at 2400 meters above the sea level. Camping equipment, ponies and skiing equipment is readily available. Kolahoi is a popular destinantion via Aru a charming meadow. Pahalgam is base camp for the pilgrims of Amarnath.
Pahalgam is in Anantnag District and is about 96 Kms from Srinagar. The nearest Airport is in Badgam Distt. This Airport is connected with major cities of India.The nearest Rail Head is at Jammu and from there National Highway NH1A connects the Kashmir valley with India. The road to Pahalgam takes from Khannabal or alternatively from Bijbehara villages from this National Highway. Every sort of transportto suit every budget from Buses to Taxisply on this Highway.
It takes around 10 to 12 hours to cross this mountaineous road which crosses some beautiful spots andthe famous Jawahar Tunnel linking Kashmir Valley with India. Bus service is available from Srinagar and Anantnag which leave at fixed time from the Bus stands.Taxis and other sort of transport can be hired from Srinagar at pre-fixed rates.Assistance isavailable at Tourist Reception Centre Srinagar. On Road to Pahalgam one comes across the beautiful Lidder Valley with important spots of Mattan and Aishmuqam.
Patnitop is enveloped by thickly wooded forests,Patnitop offers beautiful picnic spots, peaceful walks and breathtaking views of the mountainscape of the Chenab basin. In winter, the resort is generally covered with athick mantle of snow thus providing opportunities for various snow games includingskiing. It is the best developed tourist spot of Jammu and is second to none in its natural charm, climate, pine forests and lush green cover.
Sonamarg is a place of enthralling beauty. Three lakes viz Kishensar,Vishensar and Gangabal can be viewed from Nichnai Pass. 20 Kms east of Sonamarg is Zoji-La Pass at 3540 mtrs which leads into Ladakh Plateau. Sonamarg is in Srinagar District on the Srinagar Leh Highway approx.110 Kms from Srinagar.The nearest Airport is in Badgam Distt. This Airport is connected with major cities of India.The nearest Rail Head is at Jammu and from there National Highway NH1A connects the Kashmir valley with
India. Every sort of transport to suit every budget from Buses to Taxisply on this Highway. It Takesaround 10 to 12 hours to cross this mountaineous road whichcrosses some beautiful spots andthe famous Jawahar Tunnel linking Kashmir Valley with India. Bus service is available from Srinagar which leave at fixed time from the Srinagar Bus stand. Taxis and other sort of transport can be hired from Srinagar at pre-fixed rates. Assistance isavailable at Tourist Reception Centre Srinagar.
Srinagar district is situated in the centre of Kashmir Valley, is surrounded by five districts.In the north it is flanked by Kargil,in the South by Pulwama,in the north-west by Budgam. The capital city of Srinagar,is located 1730 metres above sea level.The district with a population of around 9,00,000 souls(1991- census), is sperad over an area of 2228 Sq.Kms.It comprises three tehsils/ towns viz Srinagar, Ganderbal and Kangan, four blocks (Srinagar, Ganderbal, Kangan and Leh), besides 175 villages.The population density in the district Srinagar is 401 per Square Kilometer which is highest in the state. The literacy rate of the district was 33.80%in 1981.
According to a popular legend which is mentioned in Kalhana's Rajtaringini Kashmir valley was a vast lake. Kashyap Rishi drained out the water and made it habitable. It is said that originally Yakshas, and Pisacas tribes inhabited the valley at the higher reaches and did not allow the inhabitants of the valley to live in peace. King Ashok brought Budhism to Kashmir which was strenthened by Kanishka. In 6th century Huns came to rule the valley and Mihirkul was one of the infamous Hun ruler. The area attained freedom in 530 AD which was shortlived.
According to Sir Aurel Stein the famous interpretor of Kalhana the chronicler of Kashmir the city of Srinagar had big market and mansions made of wood touching the clouds. Hieun-tsang the famous Chinese traveller visited Srinagar and has described it his memoirs.
Various capitals were established by the latter kings but ultimately the city of Srinagar was destined to be the capital of the State. These capitals are now found only in ruins or history. Some of the famous capitals are Prvaerpora of Praversen, Prihaspora of Lalitaditya, Jayapida's Jayapora, Avantivarman's Avantipur and cities of Kanishkapura and Juskapura.
During muslim rule Sultan Sadar-ud-din founded Rinchenpur and Ala-ud-din founded Alauddinpura near Hariparbat Hill. ZainulAbideen founded Nowshera as the capital while Akbar founded Naagar Nagar and raised 28ft tall wall around it.
Vaishno Devi Tourism
The sacred cave shrine of Vaishno devi is 13kms from Katra nestling on the top of Trikuta Hills. Vaishno devi is the mother goddess in its three forms Mahakali,Mahalaxmi,and Mahasaraswati. Its at a distance of 61 kms from jammu,and the cave is 30 metre long and one and a half metres high. Pilgrims enter in small groups thorugh narrow opening walk thorugh ice cold waters to reach the shrine. According to legend,the mother goddess hid in the cave while escaping a demon,whom she ultimately killed. Now due to the heavy rush of devotees to the shrine an artifical cave has also been built near the old natural cave.
Zangla the old castle now in ruins except from a small chappel, occupies a hill, overlooking the desertic valley below. Nearby is the old Nunnery worth a visit for the austere life style of the small monastic community of nuns.
Lying deep in the northern arm of Zanskar at the end of the 35 km. Long rough road from Padum, Zangla was being ruled by a titular king till his death a few years back.
An old monastery situated in the nearby village of Tsa-zar has exquisite frescos that should be missed. The village lies mid-way between Stongdey and Zangla. Zangla is the nodal point on the popular Padum-Strongdey-Zangla-Karsha-Padum round trip, which covers most of the cultural sites of Zanskar.
The old rope suspension bridge spanning the tumultuous Zanskar near Zangla- a rare feat of folk engineering - is no more in use, but still visible. The river is now crossed by a temporary footbridge for approaching the left bank along which the trail to Karsha follows. Zangla is also the take-off point for the Padum-Markha valley treks.
The 240 km long Kargil-Padun road, of which the first 90 km stretch is paved, remains opened from around mid July to early November.
Zanskar road winds down the steep slopes of the watershed to the head of the Stod Valley, one of Zanskar's main tributary valleys, the majestic "Drang-Drung" glacier looms into full view. A long and winding river of ice and snow, the Drang-Drung" is perhaps the largest glacier in Ladakh, outside the Siachen formation. It is from the cliff-like snout of this extensive glacier that the Stod or Doda River, the main tributary of river Zanskar, rises.Zanskar
comprises a tri-armed valley system lying between the Great Himalayan Range and the Zanskar mountain; The three arms radiate star-like towards the west, north and south from a wide central expanse where the region's two principal drainage's meet to form the main Zanskar River. It is mainly along the course of this valley system that the region's 10,000 strong, mainly Buddhists population lives.
Spread over an estimated geographical area of 5000 sq. kms. High rise, mountains and deep gorges surround Zanskar. The area remains inaccessible for nearly 8 months a year due to heavy snowfall resulting in closure of all the access passes, including the Penzi-la. To-day, Zanskar has the distinction of being the least interfered with microcosms of Ladakh, and one of the last few surviving cultural satellites of Tibet.
Within the mountain ramparts of this lost Shangrila stand a number of ancient yet active monastic establishments. Some of these religious foundations have evolved around remote meditation caves believed to have been used by a succession of famous Buddhist saints for prolonged meditation in pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment.
Dance and Music of Jammu & Kashmir
This dance is almost steeped in antiquity. Rouf is always performed in the accompaniment of pleasant pathetic song. It is performed on all festive occasions and particularly on the evenings of Ramzan and IDD days. Group of women face each other and perform simple footwork which has a sensuous charm about it. Hafiz Nagma is based on the classical music of Kashmir- the Sofiyiana Kalam. The Sufiyana Kalam has its own ragas known as Muquam. The prominent instrument used in Hafiz Nagma is called Santoor-a hundred stringed instrument played with sticks. The danseuse in this tradition is known as 'Hafiza'.
Wildlife in Jammu & Kashmir
Located very close to Srinagar (22km), Dachigam National park with its splendid forests and magnificent scenery is easily accessible. The two sectors of the park -Upper and Lower Dachigam are spread over an area of 141 sq. km. And altitudes vary between 1700 and 4300 meters. Two steep ridges enclose the Park with its great topographical variety - deep ravines, rocky outcrops, steep wooded slopes and rolling alpine pastures. Tumbling down from the Masrar Lake (4300m), up in the high ranges, the Dachigam River winds through Lower Dachigam.
History of Jammu & Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir came into being as a single political and geographical entity following the Treaty of Amristar between the British Government and Gulab singh signed on March 16, 1846. The Treaty handed over the control of the Kashmir State to the Dogra ruler of Jammu who had earlier annexed Ladakh. Thus a new State comprising three distinct religions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh was formed with Maharaja Gulab Singh as its founder ruler. The feudal dispensation in the State, however, was too harsh for the people to live under and towards the end of a hundred years of this rule when their Indian brethren were fighting for independence from the British under the inspiring leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the Kashmiris led by a towering personality, the Sher-I-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, rose against the autocracy.
Handicrafts of Jammu & Kashmir
A Carpet is a life long investment-it may well be the single most expensive purchase during your trip to Kashmir. Kashmiri carpets are world renowned for two things- they are hand made and they are always knotted, never tufted. It is extremely instructive to watch a carpet being made- your dealer can probably arrange it for you. Stretched tightly on a frame is the warp of Carpet.
Shopping in Jammu & Kashmir
There are pure wool shawls called raffal which have different counts of wool - 40, 60, 80 etc., and the shawl is progressively more expensive as the count increases. Shawls mixed with other fibers like cotton and cotton derivatives are far cheaper. On the other and, woolen shawls mixed with pashmina will be far more expensive. Then too, there are shawls that look and feel like pashmina and which are priced between wool and pashmina.
Festivals in Jammu & Kashmir
This festival is also known as Makar Sankranti. It heralds the onset of spring. The whole of Jammu region wears a festive look on this day. Thousands take a dip in the holy rivers. 'Havan Yagnas' light up nearly every house and temple in Jammu. In the rural areas, custom requires boys to go around asking for gifts from newly-weds and new parents. A special dance called the 'Chajja' dance is held on the occasion of Lohri. It makes a striking picture to see boys along with their 'Chajjas' elaborately decorated with coloured paper and flowers move on the street in a dancing procession. The whole atmosphere comes alive with the pulsating drum beats.
Adventure Tourism in Jammu & Kashmir
The ideal trekking months stretch from April to November;no special permits are required,though registration with the nearest tourist office is necessary.The state affords some spectacular contrasts in nature with its alpine pastures,barren wastelands and rugged mountains.Srinagar is a good take off point for trekking in the Kashmir valley or in Zanskar(by road to kargil).In the Ladakh region,Leh is the best point for base camp.Mules and porters charging approximately $ 4 per day can be engaged from the area's nearest tourist office.Guides are also available and there are several specialised agencies in Srinagar and Leh dealing in trekking tours.
Important Facts of Jammu & Kashmir
CAPITAL: Summer(May-October)- Srinagar Winters(Novemenber-April)- Jammu LANGUAGES : Urdu, Kashmiri, Hindi, Dogri, Pahari, Ladakhi,
Flora & Fauna in Jammu & Kashmir
The State is rich in flora and fauna. In Jammu, the flora ranges from the thorn bush type of the arid plain to the temperate and alpine flora of the higher altitudes. Of the broad leaf trees there are maple, horse chest nuts, silver fir etc. At the higher altitudes there are birch, rhododendron, Berbers and a large number of herbal plants.
Pilgrim Places in Jammu & Kashmir
To the west of the city is the much lower hill of Hari Parbat, which is surrounded by a fort. On this hill is the temple of Sharika Devi, believed to be a form of Durga Mata or Shakti. 25 kms from Srinagar, past Ganderbal, is the most important pilgrim place in Kashmir, the only exception being Amarnath cave. This is the temple and spring of Tulla Mulla, the local name of the Goddess Raginia, believed to be another form of Durga Mata.
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