Srinagar is the summer capital of the State and, in winter, when Srinagar becomes too cold, the administration shifts to Jammu city in the plains. Click here to know more about Srinagar hill station.
JAMMU – The Jammu region consists of six of the southern districts of the State. The upland region of Kishtwar, Rapuri, Doda, Poonch and Bhadarwah is geographically very similar to Kashmir and is famous for the walnuts, morels and saffron grown there. And the lower hilly area around Jammu is renowned for high quality ‘basmati’ rice as well as dried pomegranate seeds.
The second largest city in Jammu & Kashmir, Jammu city is popularly called the ‘City of Temples’. Innumerable temples and shrines dot the city. their glittering ‘shikhars’ soaring into the sky and seen from a long way off. Most people hurry through Jammu on their way to Srinagar. But it is worth stopping here for a day or so to visit the temples and museums.
The Raghunath Temple is the largest temple complex in North India and much of its interior is covered in gold leaf. The Ranbireshwar Temple, the largest Shiva temple in the region, is famous for the central ‘lingam’, over 2m high, and twelve crystal lingams. The Dargah of Peer Budhan Ali Shah attracts a very large number of devotees of all faiths as it is believed that the shrine protects the people of the city from mishaps and evil spirits. The Amar Mahal Palace Museum has excellent Pahari paintings and the Dogra Art Gallery has fine miniatures of the Jammu and Basholi schools.
A 48 km drive from Jammu brings you to Katra. This is the start point of the pilgrimage to the Vaishno Devi shrine, set in a deep cave 13 km away in the Trikuta hills. The well laid foot path leading to the shrine is brightly lit and an unending stream of devotees can be found trekking up the steep hill right through the night. Some four million pilgrims visit the shrine every year.
The region has a number of popular hill resorts. Sitting atop a beautiful plateau surrounded by giant deodar trees is Patnitop (2024 m), about 110 km north-east of Jammu on the Srinagar highway. It is ideal for a quiet retreat into the hills, as well as walks down hill slopes to sparkling streams and little temples. Just 17 km away is Sanasar, popularly known as ‘Mini Gulmarg’, because it too is set on rolling meadows amidst pine covered hill slopes. Kud (1738 m) and Batote (1560 m) are the other hill resorts nearby.
KASHMIR – Kashmir also known as switzerland of the east because of its natural beauty and land of cherry blossoms and saffron fields, of sparkling rivers and serene lakes, of stunning gardens and stately chinar trees, of flowering meadows and snow-capped peaks. Kashmir is the most famous tourist destination of the india which offers so many attractions such as lakes, monasteries, pilgrimages of kashmir, wildlife of kashmir and many other things. It is said that a visit to Kashmir divides your life into two parts – before and after Kashmir. For indeed, once you visit this enchanted land, you are never quite the same again.
The principal region in Jammu & Kashmir, the Valley of Kashmir is enclosed by the high snow-capped ridges of the Himalayan range in the east and the Pir Panjal range in the west and south. The swift-flowing Jhelum river sweeps past Srinagar and coils its way across the valley. Orchards of walnuts, almonds, apples, peaches, apricots and pears abound. Kashmir’s beauty never fades – it only changes from the radiant white of winter, through the clarity of spring, the cool green of summer and the fiery colours of autumn.
The Kashmiris have an innate love for their rivers, lakes and springs which dot the land. Even the youngest member of the family may be seen plying the ‘shikara’ (a graceful, long canoe) across the lake. While the Jhelum is a primary source of sustenance, the picturesque Lidder River is famous for the Kashmir! brown and rainbow trout. A little out of Srinagar, in a spectacular setting amidst snow-capped mountains, lies one of the smallest but prettiest lakes in the valley, the Manasbal Lake. Further north-west, with a serene, silky beauty, is Wular Lake, India’s largest freshwater lake.
Kashmir’s arts and crafts are part of an age-old, ongoing tradition developed and practised by its people for over 500 years, and passed down from father to son and grandson. Today, handicrafts are a major source of income as they are exported all over the world. A strong Persian influence, painstaking labour and the Kashmiri’s love of life and nature are reflected in the rare perfection of their handicrafts – beautifully patterned, finely woven silk or woollen carpets, pashmina shawls, exquisite papier-mache products, wood carvings and embroidery in wool and silk.
Major tourist places in Kashmir have fairly good transport infrastructures with compatible road, rail, and air links. Some of the places are not connected during the winters because of heavy rain and snowfall. You can find domestic air ticketing and A/C or Non A/C cars with chauffeur for visiting and exploring Kashmir.