Paradise On Earth - Jammu & Kashmir
Jammu & Kashmir is a state of India which is divided into 2 divisions – Jammu and Kashmir Valley. It consists of 22 districts. The state J&K has two capitals. Srinagar is the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir while Jammu is the winter capital. During summers the temperature in Jammu may go up to 45°C making it difficult for the visitors to move about the place comfortably. On the other hand Kashmir, during the same period of summers, witnesses temperature that may remain within the range of 14 – 30°C. Hence Kashmir can be a worthwhile proposition for a visit to be made for sightseeing.
Tourists can enjoy beautiful places that are extremely scenic and enthralling such as – Srinagar Jammu, Udhampur, Patnitop, Katra, Pahalgam, Gulmarg and other less-traveled places. Strolling on the streets does give visitors an experience so different that one is goaded to go on a walk, again and again, for as much as the possible time that one can possibly eke out enjoying along with the leisurely walk, street food and shopping. Floating markets are a paradise for shoppers and sightseers alike. It proves to be a thrilling experience for both.
The food, traditional, local, or exotic is extremely liked and savored by one and all. Some of the famous food preparations commonly available to the visitors are Khatte Baingan, Kulcha, Chicken Pulao, NadrooYakhni, Kashmiri Rajma, Haak, Dum Aloo and other lip-smacking cuisines.
The scenic beauty of Kashmir makes it a paradise on earth. Nature’s bounty nourishes the soul of the onlooker. The snow-capped mountains and the wildlife are soothing to the eyes. The handicrafts that are locally made are beautiful and creative so that one is so captivated by the beauty that one cannot resist owning, at least, some of them.
Things to do in Kashmir
Tourists visiting Jammu have ample opportunities to indulge in some adventurous activities. One can even trek to Vaishno Devi Temple. Every year a number of devotees visit the sacred pilgrim spot. Tourists can enjoy skiing in Patnitop. Patnitop is a beautiful hill station where a number of tourists indulge in skiing. The elegant skiing locations are available to a tourist of which some of them are astonishing trekking paths. One can experience the thrilling helicopter ride from Jammu to Poonch. It is so exciting to see the mountainous terrain with vegetation from atop a helicopter. Thus witnessing the pretty views from the sky makes it a memorable experience. Tourists can indulge in boating in Mansar Lake situated in Jammu. One can devote 2-3 hours to explore the lake. One coming to Kashmir can enjoy Shikara ride in Dal Lake, which is an experience of a lifetime.
One can witness the floating markets where one can come to know the lifestyle of Kashmir. Clicking photos in Kashmiri clothes are loved by tourists. One can visit the floating garden of Dal Lake and Nehru Park in Shikara. Gondola or cable car can be availed to take a ride at Gulmarg valley. The ride offers one the opportunity to view the Gulmarg valley from a height. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful scenic view of the beautiful Gulmarg valley covered with snow or lush green vegetation. One can even take a trip to Ladakh, depending upon the available time. One can satisfy one’s curiosity regarding the tales prevalent about the Magnetic hill. The interesting thing about this hill is that the vehicles moving uphill require no burning of fuel in the carburetor. One can climb uphill in their vehicle with vehicles ignition off but to come down one needs to accelerate their vehicle.
Staying in House Boat for a day or two is in itself an uncommon experience. So why not go for a houseboat rather than a hotel. One can easily chill out in Kashmir and experience the serenity. The hospitality at the boathouse just makes one delightfully happy. One can buy Kashmiri Shawls, Jewellery, Carpets, Kashmiri Dry Fruits and antique Copper. There are some famous markets where one can indulge in shopping. The famous market includes – Raghunath Bazaar or Hari Market. The market is famous for items of Wooden carving. The market is located in Jammu.
Then there is Kashmir Government Art Emporium where you can get a good quality carpet, handicrafts and other items. Gole Market is situated in Gandhi Nagar, Jammu. It is the most frequented market. One can find items here according to one’s needs and desires. If visiting in the month of October make sure to visit the Ladakh monastery because every year in the month of October 30 and 31st Tibetian festival, SpitukGustor Zanskar, is celebrated with a grandeur unmatched.
For foodies, Jammu & Kashmir has to offer a number of street foods to its visitors. Relish Gheoor which is a flour-based both salty or sweet dish and one is for a surprise. EvenKalaadiKulchawill make you adore it. Kalaadi is nothing but a kind of traditional cheese. Then there are – Laal Maas, Halwa, Rajma chawal, Kashmiri Biryani, NadduYakhni, Sku &Thupka, Pava, Khambir, Kadam Saag and a lot more other delicacies that will keep one busy in deciding to choose which one to eat. There are other magnificent places to pay a visit to like – Shalimar Bagh in Srinagar, Monastries of Kashmir, Mubarak Mandi Palace in Jammu, Bagh – e Bahu Garden in Jammu, Bhimgarh Fort in Udhampur, Mansar Lake in Jammu, Bahu Fort in Jammu, Raghunath Temple, Manda Zoo in Jammu, AmarMahal, Jammu and other beautiful tourists sites.
Places to visit in Kashmir
Srinagar is the most frequented place in Jammu & Kashmir. Tourists make a beeline for Dal Lake where they prefer to hire Shikara. Tourists can shop for the local Kashmiri items from floating markets. A lot of Bollywood films have been shot at Dal Lake. Due to the scenic and picturesque view, Srinagar is considered to be the heart of Kashmir where most of the activities are centered.
Gulmarg is one of the most famous hill stations. It is popular among the tourists as a skiing destination. According to mythology, Gulmarg was originally known as Gaurimarg in the honor of Goddess Parvati. History reveals that the British used to visit Gulmarg to escape the summers of North India. Tourists can indulge here in snowboarding and skiing activities. One can see and experience the snowfall that makes the place so picturesque and beautiful. There are some of the places here that are famous for skiing and trekking like- Kongdori, Shark Fin, Apharwat Peak, Nagin Valley, Frozen Lake, Bota Pathri, Khilanmarg.
Pahalgam is situated at an altitude of 7200ft and is located on the banks of river Lidder. The place is famous for picnic spots around the banks of the Lidder river. It is also famous for the Amarnath Yatra. Amarnath Yatra is organized annually and has great religious significance. Some of the Bollywood movies are have being shot here.
Katra is located in the foothills of the Trikuta Mountain Range. It is also named KatraVaishnu Devi. Vaishno Devi temple is situated in Katra. Every year a lot of Devotees visit Katra for Darshan of Ma Vaishno Devi. It is a good 14 Km trek to the Vaishno Devi shrine. Weak and old people can opt for helicopter service to reach the shrine.
Jammu is the winter capital of Jammu & Kashmir. Jammu can be seen holding a number of Palaces, Temples and Parks. Bahu Fort is also a temple. It is located 5 Kms away from Jammu. Bahu Fort is situated on the banks of river Tawi. Then there is Peerkho caves which are found next to the Tawi river. The Peer Kho caves consist of 12 Shiva Lingams. The Jammu city is the starting point for many pilgrimages who come to visits Vaishno Devi and Kashmir Valley. The city is well-connected by rail.
6. Patni Top
The Patni Top is situated in Udhampur. Udhampur is the district of Jammu & Kashmir. The district is situated on a Plateau. The place holds magnificent, scenic and picturesque views for the tourists as the surroundings are lush green. The place has Lakes and Temples to admire. Tourists visiting can visit Naag mandir and Nathatop. It is a must-visit place for tourists visiting Jammu and Kashmir.
Rajouri is the district in the Jammu division. It is about 154 Kms away from Jammu. Tourists visiting this district can find a number of splendid and magnificent Forts and temples like- Rajauri Fort, Balidan Bhavan, Dhanidhar Fort and Rama Temple. There are other interesting sightseeing spots like- Dehra Kigali, Kotranka Budhal and Thanamandi. The place can be visited both in summers and winters as the weather is pleasant throughout the year. It is one of the most visited places in Jammu and Kashmir.
Udhampur is considered to be the second-largest city in Jammu. It is named after Raja Udham Singh. The city generally caters to the taste of history lovers. Tourists will find many relics dating back to the time of the epic of Mahabharata. There are a number of elegant places like – Moungri cave Shrine, Pingla Mata and Sudh Mahadev temple. Then there is the Krimachi group of temples that are the oldest structures in Udhampur city. It is also well known for the underground river Devaki. Devaki was known to be the sister of Ganga. Ramnagar Fort is at a distance of about 40 Kms from Udhampur. It was built by Raja Suchet Singh. The history behind the fort lures the visitors out of curiosity. Further, the natural environment around here poses a magnetic force of attraction for the place.
Hemis is a small village located on the bank of river Indus. It is situated at about 45kms away from Leh. Hemis is famous for its monastery and a National Park. The national park is spread over an area of 600sq Km. The main wild animals that roam here are - Bharals and Snow Leopards. Hemis Monastery is the largest monastery in Ladakh. Hemis festival is being organized in the month of June or July and hence visitors can time their visit accordingly to participate in the festival
10. Dachigam National Park
Dachigam means ten villages that were relocated to build this national park. It is located at about 22 kms from Srinagar city. In the past that is in the year, 1910 it was declared as a protected area. It was converted into National Park in 1981. Dachigam National Park is home to a number of wild animals like – Leopard, Musk Deer, Jackal, Hill Fox and Himalayan Black Bear. There are a number of bird species like – Cinnamon Sparrow, Woodpecker, Black Bulbul and a large number of migratory birds. The state animal Hangul can also be seen in this park.
11. Kazinag National Park
The main attraction of this Kazinag National Park is that there are about 17 species of butterflies that one finds here to one’s astonishment. An endangered animal, the Markhor, can be seen in this natural reserve. Markhor is the national animal of Pakistan. Apart from the aforesaid species of animals, one may come across Musk Deer, Snow Leopards and Brown Bear. Visitors coming here can stay at Limber Wildlife Sanctuary. Tourists can opt for tents and sleeping bags that can easily be hired.
12. Kishtwar National Park
The Kishtwar is situated in the Kishtwar district. In the year 1981, it was declared a National Park. The Park is home to about 15 mammals - Kashmiri Stag, Hangul that migrates to and from DachigamNational Park. There are, to the joy of the visitors, a number of migratory birds visiting this park. Adventurous activities are actively carried out for the tourists that include trekking and camping.
13. Salim Ali National Park
The Salim Ali National Park is situated in Srinagar named in the honor of renowned Indian Ornithologist, Dr.Salim Ali. It is home to a number of animals like – Hangul, Himalayan Black Bear, and about 70 species of birds. It is considered to be the best bird sanctuaries in India.
14. Amarnath Temple
The Amarnath Temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas. The temples throughout South Asia commemorate the location of fallen body parts of Hindu deity Sati. The Amarnath Cave is situated in Jammu & Kashmir. It is located about 141 Km from Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir. There is snow all around the Amarnath cave. In summers from July to August, the Amarnath cave is opened for the devotees. According to mythology, it is the cave where Lord Shiva revealed the secret of life and eternity to Goddess Parvati. It takes around 3-5 days to reach. There are 2 routes that lead to Amarnath one is the Baltal route which is short and is a trekking route and the other is the Pahalgam route which is long but is most preferred by the devotees.
Sonamarg is located in Kashmir surrounded by glaciers and serene Lakes. The town of Sonamarg is situated at 80 Kms north – east of Srinagar at an elevation of around 2800 Km from sea level. There are a number of mountain lakes located around Sonamarg. They are; Gangabal, Vishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Kishansar. The Kishansar lake is famous for fishing. It is considered the most famous tourist attraction of Jammu & Kashmir.
Where to Stay in Kashmir
Kashmir has a large number of facilities available to the tourists where they can comfortably stay during their tour schedule. Srinagar, Jammu, Udhampur and other important cities and districts of the state provide ample opportunities to stay and palatable food to the tourists. Houseboats can be a preferred stay option for many who are near Dal Lake in Srinagar. Depending upon the site or visit one can even opt for tents in the camping sites for a memorable stay in the wilderness. One can find budget hotels to luxury hotels that are spread at the various places in Jammu and Kashmiris per one’s budget.
How to Reach Kashmir
Visitors wanting to come to Jammu & Kashmir can board a flight to Srinagar airport which is 15 kms away from the city. It is well connected to important cities. Visitors can board Indigo, Jet Airways, Go Air which operates regular flights for Jammu, Leh and other prime cities. After reaching the airport visitors can hire taxis to reach their destination of choice. Tourists can also board flights to Jammu as Jammu has its own airport
The National Highway - NH 1 & NH 44 connects Kashmir to important cities of India. Then there is the Jawahar tunnel that connects Jammu to Kashmir. The major buses that are operated by J& K state road transport corporation connect Jammu to nearest cities such as Srinagar, Patni and Amritsar, Ludhiana, Delhi, Shimla & Manali.
The nearest railway station is in Jammu. The Jammu Tawi railway station is situated at a distance of about 300km from Srinagar. Visitors can board Jammu Mail and New Delhi – Jammu Tawi Rajdhani Express to reach Jammu.
Best time to visit Kashmir
The best time to visit Jammu & Kashmir is between October and March when the weather is pleasant and is optimally suitable for visiting splendid sites in and around Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir witnesses summers in the month of March and end in May making days warm and nights cold. This season witnesses the Amarnath Yatra being undertaken. Tourists arrive in large numbers to visit Amarnath. Witnessing snowfall during the months from November to February makes it an unforgettable experience for the tourists. Yet Jammu & Kashmir can be visited all round the year.