Getting Around Jammu And Kashmir
Situated on a hillock, Jammu is the crown of India; the River Tawi flowing by creates one serene image. With a mix of various cultures, ethnicities and religions, Jammu and Kashmir is a hot tourist attraction for Indians and Foreigners alike. Just like a ‘Heaven on Earth’, people come as Pilgrims, or on Archeological Excursions as well as for the love of nature. Besides an appropriate conglomeration of crystalline lakes, bold mountains and meandering valleys, Jammu is also home to various temples and Mosques that are quite renowned. Historic invasions and their remnants are an indicative of rich cultural influences that Jammu & Kashmir had been subjected to. The main places of tourist interest in Jammu and Kashmir are divided into the following categories viz Religious Places, Historical Places and Monuments, Places Blessed with Scenic Beauty.
The city of Jammu is composed of two distinct parts i.e. the Old Town overlooking the TawiRiver and then there’s the New Town. Famous tourist attractions in the region are the Raghunath Temple, Bahu Fort, and the Amar Mahal Museum.
The scenary in Kashmir is painted with high mountains, never ending green patches and flowers that belong to the rarest varieties. Rainbows can be seen across the blue horizon, meadows shining with flower patches blossoming of pansies. There are also the primroses, hyacinths and daffodils growing all over the place. Almond, cherry, apples and strawberries grow in abundance.
An outstanding landmark and famous tourist attraction in Jammu is the Raghunath Temple. Situated at the heart of the city, surrounded by a group of other temples; the temple is dedicated to Lord Rama and is one of the largest temple complexes in North India. Its construction was started by Maharaja Gulab Singh; the founder of the principality of Jammu and Kashmir, back in 1835 AD and was completed by his son Maharaja RanbirSinghin 1860 AD.
The temple consists of seven shrines, each of which has a simple tower. The tower over the central shrine is curvilinear. The fluted surfaces arches and niches indicate a Mughal influence. The inner walls of the main temple are covered with gold sheets on three sides. There are many galleries with innumerable 'saligrams'. A portrait of Ranbir Singh and a sculpture of Hanuman welcome the visitors into the premises.
The surrounding temples are dedicated to various Hindu deities from the epic Ramayana; images of Vishnu in various incarnations, Lord Shiva and the Surya. There also is a stone lingam here and the place is known to be a great centre for Shakti worship.
Peer Khoh is basically a cave shrine located on the Circular Road, 3.5 kms from the heart of the city. A naturally shaped Shiva lingam in the chief attraction and mystery here, as neither its antiquity nor any causes are known. Myth has it that the cave leads underground to several other cave shrines, even out of the country.
Kashmir Tulip Garden
It is the Asia's Largest Tulip Garden; right at the foothills of Zabarwan hills and at the banks of the famous Dal Lake. Itopens to the public every Spring Season when it’s in full bloom. Intended to be a terraced garden, the entire region, is composed of three terraces complete with fountains and other decorations.
Ranbireshwar Temple is located on famous Shalimar Road near the New Secretariat;was built by Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 1883 AD. It is situated opposite to the Dogra Art Gallery in Jammu and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is a local landmark due to its 75m tower and an extraordinary central crystal lingam measuring seven-and-a-half feet in height. It also houses twelve other Shiva 'lingams' of crystal measuring between 15" to 38" and the galleries have thousands of others carved on stone slabs.
The Ranbir Canal that runs through the city outskirts is known for the gardens running beside it which provide a cool picnic spot during the summers. The canal cuts out from the Chenab at Akhnoor, 32 kms away. The water is icy-cold throughout the year, and its banks serve as good viewpoints and walkways.
Bahu Fort and Gardens
The Bahu Fort is located near the Amar Mahal museum and is about 5 kms from the city centre. The entrance is through a large quadrangle; this fort stands on an upland plateau on the left bank of the River Tawi. The Bahu Fort is among the oldest forts and edifices in the city; constructed originally by Raja Bahulochan over 3,000 years ago. The Bahu fort was later improvised and rebuilt as the Mondi Palace by the Dogra rulers. This once mighty Fort is now in ruins and is surrounded by a lush green terraced garden, with waterfalls and flowers of every kind colour.
It is a favourite picnic spot for the city folk. Inside, there also is a temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali. Devotees swarm the place during the festivals that come to pay their homage to the goddess. An extensive terraced garden known as the Bagh-e-Bahu has been developed around the fort ruins.
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Bagh-I-Bahu is the country’s biggest underground aquarium. It has been attracting a huge number of travelers ever since it began. Today, the aquarium has become a centre of attraction for students as well as tourists presenting them with the opportunity to discover the exotic aquatic life. This aquarium-cum-awareness centre is composed of 24 aquarium caves which include13 smaller caves for freshwater fishes, two large caves for marine water species and nine other medium sized aquariums for holding marine as well as freshwater species together. The attraction boasts of best-in-class equipment, a massive public gallery, a museum, laboratory as well as a multimedia conference hall to complete the conglomeration. The entrance to the attraction is so designed to look like the mouth of a fish, whereas the exit mimics the shape of a fish tail. The museum that is a part of this establishment holds over 400 different species of freshwater and marine water varieties of fishes.
Situated right behind the Civil Airport, this famous Durgah of the Muslim saint is the Peer Budhan Ali Shah. Hindu and Sikh devotees, who are also seen at this shrine, vastly outnumber the Muslim devotees on Thursdays.
Mahamaya Temple and City Forest
Located on the bypass Road just behind the Bahu Fort and surrounding the ancient Mahamaya temple is the City Forest. Overlooking the river Tawi, this attraction is composed of a small garden which is surrounded by several acres of woods thereby giving some of the best views.
This renowned holiday destination is 95 km. towards east of Srinagar at about 2400 mt. above mean sea level. Popularly known as the ‘Shepherds Village’, it is the best place for trout fishing. Activities like angling are also common, although the place is also known to be the starting point for trekking and is the pilgrim’s route to Amarnath Cave.
Mubarak Mandi Complex
This complex is known to be one of the oldest structures in the palace complex dating back to 1824. The architectural style predominantly is a mixture of Rajasthani and Mughal styles, but a couple of baroque elements are also seen. The Sheesh Mahal is the most exquisite piece of work in this complex. ‘The Pink Hall’is famous for the Dogra Art Museum that has many famous miniature paintings from various Hill Schools.
Amar Mahal Palace Museum
Built by Amar Singh in 1907, more or less a French chateau with its sloping roofs and turrets, the Amar Mahal is a famous museum. Built over an eerie overlooking River Tawi, this museum was designed by a French architect. Some of the famous exhibits here are the Pahari paintings, the Royal miniature paintings, several manuscripts and a finest library of antique books. The museum also houses a portrait gallery containing the family portraits of some ancient Dogra kings of the region.
Dogra Art Gallery
Located opposite to the New Secretariat, the DograArtGallery has a remarkable collection of Dogra art from the Pahari&Basholi schools. It also houses some fine miniatures of the Jammu and Basohli School of painting. Other artifacts includeTerracottas, medieval weapons, sculptures as well as ancient manuscripts.
One of the most beautiful and picturesque lakes that are known across the globe; it has been the inspiration for renowned poets since time immemorial. The second largest lake in Jammu & Kashmir after Wular Lake, Dal Lake is bordered by lofty mountains on three sides and several gardens, as well as orchards, have been developed along the shores. University of Kashmir is an important institution on the shores of the Dal Lake. Hundreds of ornamented houseboats float on the Dal Lake giving tourists the choice to reside in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.
Another popular lake in the region, the Nagin Lake is known for its water sport activities like diving, water skiing, etc.
Hari Parbat, which is the crown of PathanFort, invisible from every corner of the city. At 400,, ft.the legend has that the hill grew from pebbles dropped by Goddess Parvati to crush a demon who was in the guise of aSharika bird (Maina).
PariMahalwhich was once the royal observatory is known for the laid out garden and is located at a short drive from Cheshmashahi. It used to be a Buddhist monastery at one point of time but later was turned into an astrology school by DaraShikoh, the Mughal Emperor. Built right on the beginning of a mountain overlooking the Dal, this ancient monument and its spacious garden are a treat to the eyes at night.
Called the ‘Abode of Love’, it is said to have been built by Paravarassna II. Legend has it that he resided here on his visits to Sukhswami, the saint living near Harwan. Jehangir in 1619 ordered for a garden laid out at this spot calling it ‘FerrahBakkash’ (Delightful).
Then Zaffar-Khan in 1727 made an extension of calling it ‘FaizBaksh’ (Bountiful). The ShalimrBaghis built upon four terraces. A canal lined with polished stones runs through the garden supplying with water from Harwan.
Chasma – Shahi: On the east of Srinagar and constructed in 1634 by Shah Jahan. Offering an extraordinary look at the Dal Lake is also known for the natural spring of sparkling, fresh and cool water known as Chasma- Shahi (Royal Spring).
Gateway to Ladakh
Houseboats of Dal Lake, Nageen Lake and Naseem Lake in Srinagar are the most talked about attractions. Ranging from two Bed rooms up to four bed rooms and attached bath with dining; most boats also have a Sun-deck. An attendant is there on every houseboat who serves the meals.
Vaishno Devi Mandir
Situated in the Vaishno Devi hills of Jammu and Kashmir, this Hindu Pilgrimage center is dedicated to Mata Rani, also known as Vaishno Devi, Vaishanvi or Shakti. It is one of the most important shrines of Hindu religion and the number of people visiting every year is over 8 million making it the second most visited place of worship in the country.
About House Boats
Ironic but, these were actually introduced in Kashmir by accident. The British Civil and Military officers serving in mainland India used to come to Kashmir with their families during holidays. The Maharaja of Kashmir at that time denied them the rights to build houses in the region or buy land. As such the first Houseboat; ‘Victory’a design by Mr. M T Kenhard was built in 1888. From that very first one, today there are over 500 houseboats in Srinagar.
Besides the magnificence of this region, Kashmir shares its borders with Punjab and Himachal Pradesh two of the greatest tourist destinations in India in their own ways.
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