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Jammu : The City of Temple


No visitor to Kashmir can bypass Jammu, whether the visit is by air or by road. Jammu forms as much a part of the Himalayas as Kashmir. Jammu forms part of the Outer Hills of the Himalayas, the Kashmir Valley and the high surrounding ranges are the Middle Mountains. The ‘’masculine’’ strength of Jammu provided the peace and security, Jammu – the winter capital of the State – still basks in its past glory of Dogra chivalry and the many heroic deeds, kept alive by its handsome contribution to the Indian Army. It is the starting point of the 320 km-long journey to Srinagar over a zigzag mountain road. At a distance of 32 km is Domel from where a road braches off to Katra which is at the base of the famous Vaishno Devi visited by nearly sixty lakh pilgrims every year. Three km further, another bifurcation takes one to the Surinsar and Mansar lakes, which the State can develop as winter resorts when the Valley is closed. Near Katra, at Reasi, on Chenab, stands the fort-cum-palace of General Zorawar Singh, still whispering into the ears of the visitors the death-defying campaigns he had undertaken during the reign of Maharaja Gulab Sing. Dera Baba Banda, where the shrine of another warrior speaks of his exploits and sacrifices. He was Banda Vir Bairagi, Guru Gobind Singh’s most trusted General.

SOME WORTH SEEING TOURIST SPOTS IN JAMMU


1. AMAR MAHAH :
The Amar Mahal presents a beautiful sight to behold. It is located on an eyrie overlooking the Tawi. The very glance of the palace reminds one of a dreamy French castle with sloping roofs and tall towers. The palace reminds one of a converted into a museum. One can also find here family portraits o rulers of Jammu and Kashmir. It remains closed on State holidays and Mondays. The visiting hours 17:00 to 19:00 hrs; and on Sundays from 10.00 to 12.00 hrs.

2. THE MUBARAK MANDI :
The Mubarak Mandi palace complex dates from 1824. It is a blend of Rajasthani, Mughal and even baroque European architectural elements. It also houses the Dogra Art Gallery. In this gallery many masterpiece of the Pahari miniature paintings are on display. Situated quite near to Amar Mahal , mini-buses also ply on the route.

3. PEER KHOH :
Peer Khoh is a cave shrine. It is located on the circular road and is about 3.5 kms from the heart of the town. In Dogri, cave is also called as Kho. As man Pirs and Faqirs have meditated in this Kho, this cave came to be known as Pir Kho.

Day 4: Explore Vishnusar and Kishansar twin lakes
Located on the Shalamar Road near the New Secretariat, and built by Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 1883 AD, ranbireshwar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It has one central ‘Lingam’, made of beautiful black stone, measuring 7.5 feet in height and placed in a spacious pranali and 12 Shiva ‘Lingams’ of crystal measuring 15 to 38 cms. All the Shiva lingas are placed in pranalis. The foundation stone of the temple was laid by Ranbir Singh in 1882 AD. The murtis and Lingams were received by the Maharaja at Rabirsinghpura, and were brought from there in carriages.

SOME BEAUTIFUL SPOTS NEAR JAMMU


1. SAKRALA DEVI :
Jagatjanani Rajarajeswari Mata Mal Devi at Sukrala in Billawar Tehsil of kathua district is a reincarnation of the famous Sharada shrine of Kashmir. Sukral is a small Village located in the side of a pine-covered hill. Situated at a height of 3500 feet it commands an idyllic view of the mountains around and the fields apreads out at its feet. The shrine is, therefore, very popular and with the construction of a motorable road to it, the number of pilgrims has been mounting from year to year.

2. CHI CHI DEVI :
Like Kathua, Jammu District can also boast of two prominent Shakti shrines. One of these is near Samba, about two dozen miles from Jammu on the National Highway, and the other opposite to Jammu city itself. The beautiful white temple, glistening amidst the trees that clothe the mountainside, about 2 kms from Samba town, is on the bank of Basantar river and houses an image of Chichi Devi, besides other. Chichi Devi is mentioned in Durga Saptashati. The present temple is of recent construction and is stated to have been built by a Jammu businessman. A spacious dharmsala has been put up by members of the Mahajan communiry

3. BALAJI SUNDARI :
Kathua District has the distinction of possessing another prominent Debi shrine. This is the shrine of Balasundari. It lies near the town of Kathua itself – in village Nagri on the outskirts of the town. Parole-Nagri is about half a dozen miles from Kathua town, and about eight miles from the National Highway. The temple lies in a tall grove of mango trees A three-day fair is held here on the concluding two days of the Navratras and concludes with a havan or yajna. About fifteen thousand persons attend the fair. The number of women pilgrims far exceeds that of men.

4. PURMANDAL :
Most of the Shiva-Lingams that automatically arose following the rise of the Devika are in and around Purmandal which is the most important shrine on its banks. These, apart from Umapati-Shiva, were those of Indreshwar, Bhuteshwar, Gayaeshwar, Kasheshewar and Bilkeshewar. Purmandal is a small village about 39 kms from Jammu towards its south-east. The whole place was alive with people who had come to bathe and wordhis; booths and stalls, as for a fair, had been purt up in the middle of the sandy place;

5. UTTARBAHNI :
A Few kilometres beyond Purmandal and about 43 kms from Jammu by road is Uttarbahni, another great shrine or tirtha on the sacred Devika. The place is so called because the river here, built by Ranbir Singh. A little to the north-west of the Lakshmi-Narayan temple across the sandy river-bed is a big Shiva temple. The third temple which lies at a distance of about a kilometre from the Shiva temple has a commanding aspect like the Ranbireshwar temple in Jammu city.

6. KIRMCHI :
It is situated at a distance of 20 km off the the National Highway at Udhampur. It is the site of the region’s three oldest temples and one can see clearly reflection of Greek influence in their architecture. Kirmchi is a small village nestled among green hills, one of which was crowned with a fort. the village stands in a beautiful valley of the same name with a small stream flowing below it. Nearby are three old temples in a row facing east, one of them Almost a heap of rubble. There seem to have been two more parallel to them in the east, facing the two temples on the outside, thus completing a quadrangular pattern. But of them no trace remains now. Kanishka might possibly have founded a Buddhist establishment in this ideal spot, but only trace of that remains now.

7. MANASAR LAKE :
It is about 62 km from Jammu. It is a holy site as it shares the legend of Lake Mansarovar. It has become a popular picnic spot. On its bank is located the shrine of the Lord of Serpents, Nag-Devta. The devotees worship here and make their offerings. It is said that the depth of the lake is more than 90 metres. It is about three-quarters of a mile in length and half a mile in width. Nobody swims across it as this is considered sacrilegious.

8. SURINSAR LAKE :
The lake of Surinsar, siruated about 8 kms to the west of Mansar, rivals it in loveliness and charm. This ½ * ¼ mile expanse of clear blue water of singular charm is an ideal picnic spot. It is 42 kms from Jammu city. The water of the lake is pale blue in colour. there is an islet in the middle of the lake. A beautiful little parlour built over it some years back has made it an enchanting spot especially in the morning and the evening when the rays of the rising and setting sun are reflected in the ripples raised on its waters by a gentle breeze.

9. PATNITOP :
It is 110 km away from Jammu. It is a famous hill resort and is situated on a beautiful plateau at an altitude of 2024 metres along the Jammu-Srinagar highway. Thickly wooded forests surround it on all sides. In winter, it is generally covered with a thick mantle of snow games including skiing. At Patnitop, ski courses are conducted in the months of January and February. During the winter months, there are introductory courses for tourists. The gently graded slopes of patnitop are ideal for beginners. The natural scenery all around, presents, indeed, a very charming sight. The tourists here find peace of mind. The J&KTDC has taken several steps to provide all possible facilities to the visitors. A large number of huts and tourist bungalows, apart from private hotels, meet to a great extent the problem of accommodation and thus serve the tourists round the year. Patnitop is also the base for visiting several satellite hill stations and pilgrimage sights. A good number of buses keep plying throughout the day to meet the need to the transport.

10. SANASAR :
Eighteen km from Patnitop are the undulating meadows surrounding the now-depleted Lake Sanasar. The British colonial administrator Buck was so taken in by its natural beauty that he built a forest lodge there. Today, the rich and the famous come here to play golf or for para-gliding and the common man to revive his spirit. Sanasar is connected by a motorable road and daily local bus service. It is one of the most picturesque spots in the whole of Jammu and Kashmir. The lake was formed by the water which came down from the adjoining hillsides. But now there is berry little water in it

11. SUDHMAHADEV :
This is a holy spot near Patnitop. It has great historical importance. It is about 120 km from Jammu and is at an altitude of about 1225 metres. From Patnitop, which is also the base for visiting several satellite hill stations and pilgrimage sites, it is hardly at a distance of 8 km. it is a very popular pilgrimage site. Here the pilgrims come in lagre number on full moon nights to worship a 3,000-years-old ‘Trishul’ said to have been used by Lord Shiva to destroy the demon Shudheet. From here one can go to see the Gauri Kund, which is said to be the legendary spring.

12. JHAJJAR KOTLI :
Located on the banks of the jhajjar rivulet, this beautiful hillside resort makes an enchanting Picnic spot, 32 km from Jammu, on the road to Katra, Srinagar and Patnitop. It has narural swimming facilities and a restaurant where local delicacies are served.

FESTIVAL OF JAMMU


FAIRS and festivals have their own importance. They work wonder in bringing people of different faiths together. They, infact, bring joys and pleasures in the life of people. Some of them which are peculiar to this region and are celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm are :-

1. LOHRI :
This festival marks the end of winter season. The youth and children celebrate it with bhangras. At night fires are lit in homes as well as in public places and people throw parched grain etc. into them

2. TIHAR :
This festival is celebrated in Bhadarwah and Kishtwar in Chaitra. On this day the springs and baulies are cleaned. On the next day the people worship the Nagas by making rice and floral offerings.

3. CHAITRA CHAUDASH :
It is the 14th day of the dark half of Chaitra. It is an important religious festival. A number of rivers and spring shrines such as Purmandal and Gupt Ganga, become the place odfactivity on this occasion.

4. ANNUAL RULAR FAIR AT JHIRI :
The annual get together has become a big one week rural fair. Government departments also participate in the fair by putting exhibits besides organizing cultural programs of music, dance, sports, shinjh (wrestling) and animal show.

5. NAVRATRA :
Navaratri, which is also called Durga Pooja, is celebrated twice a year once during March-April and then in September-October. This festival lasts for 9 days during which period devotees worship Divine Mother Durga, the consort of Lord shiva. Beginning of summer and winter are two important functions of climate and are considered sacred for worship of goddess Durga. During March-April, the festival is known as Ram Navaratri, because the ninth day of the celebration is Ram Naumi, the birthday of Lord Rama. During September-October, the festival is indicated by Durga-Navarati.

6. MELA PATT :
Mela Patt or Pateru Kud is a very important fair. It is celebrated in the heart of Bhadarwah town. It takes place 15 days after the Kailash Yatra and lasts for 3 days. People belonging to all faiths come to witness it.

7. KISHTWAR JATRAS :
Jatras are seasonal festivals that are usually held when people are free from harvesting their crops. The people dance for joy on these occasions

JAMMU : HOW TO GET THERE


BY AIR :
Jammu airpot is 8 km from the city centre. Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Sahara Operate regular daily flights between Jammu and delhi, Srinagar and Leh.

BY RAIL :
Jammu Tawi is a major railway junction of Northern Railway. It receives a large number of express, mail and passenger trains from most parts of India.

BY ROAD :
Jammu is connected to all the major cities and towns of northern India through the National Highway 1A network from Jammu to Delhi (586km), Chandigarh (436km), Ambala (319km), Ludhiana (278km), Amritsar (243km), Jalandhar (219km), and athankot (116km).

SEASON :
The best season for visiting Jammu is September to April.