Jammu

 
Amongst the three regions of J&K, Jammu, perhaps, offers the widest diversity of terrain and beauty. It is perched on the first sloping ridge rising from the plains of Punjab. The meandering Tawi River flows in the foothills and the backdrop is the imposing Trikuta range. The entire region is pocketed with lakes and valleys of which some are still little explored. Jammu is actually two towns. The old town sits on a hilltop overlooking the river and several kilometers away across the river is the new town of Jammu Tawi. The foundation of the settlement of Jammu is attributed to King Jambulochan of 9th century BC. In 1730 it came under the Dogra rule of Raja Dhruv Deva and became an important centre for arts and culture. Religion, too, played an important part in its development, so beautifully evidenced in its various shrines and temples spread throughout the region. Jammu is essentially a town of temples and shrines.

Places to See:

Raghunath Temple - located in the heart of the city is the largest temple complex in northern India. Dedicated to Lord Rama, it has a unique structure. The inner walls of temple are covered with gold sheet on three sides. The galleries of the temple are covered with lakhs of 'Saligrams' (sacred stones). The surrounding temples are dedicated to other god and goddess from the epic of Ramayana. Construction of the temple was started in 1835 by Maharaja Gulab Singh and was completed by his son Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 1860. Bahu Fort - was originally built by Raja Bahulochan some 3000-years ago but it was modified and improved by the Dogra rulers. Located 5km from the city, it is situated on an upland plateau on the bank of Tawi River. It is perhaps the oldest edifice in Jammu and reminds one of the wars fought, invasions prevented and the grandeur of the Royal family. There is a temple dedicated to Goddess Kali inside the Fort. Close to Bahu fort are exquisitely laid gardens from where one has a very exclusive. Amar Singh Palace - patterned as a French chateau, with sloping roofs and tall towers, the palace was the Royal residence. Now converted into a museum, it has interesting memorabilia of the erstwhile ruling family. It houses the city's finest library of antique books and paintings.

Kashmir

Founded in the 6th century and beautifully located around a number of lakes, Srinagar the 'Beautiful City' is divided in two by the Jhelum River, which is crossed by a number of bridges. The lush greenery of the valley with its terraced rice fields, fruit orchards and swirling waterways spills into the city via the Dal Lake and the great avenues of the popular Chinar trees. It is a city with a distinctly Central Asian flavour. The old city is in the vicinity of the Hari Parbat Hill and includes the labyrinth of alleyways, mosques and houses that constitute the commercial heart of the city. The more modern part of the city is farther up the Jhelum River, above its famous seven bridges. House Boats - have been a part of Kashmir's aquatic culture for centuries. Houseboats of all sizes and costs range the banks of the busy Dal Lake and the quieter, clearer Nagin. Most houseboats on Nagin and the Jhelum are situated on the banks of the lake can be accessed directly from the land, while those in the Dal Lake require a Shikara (canoe) to get to and from them.

Places to See:

Dal and Nagin Lakes - with their famous houseboats and shikaras (canoes) are located in east of the city. Much of the Dal Lake is a maze of intricate waterways. It comprises a series of lakes including the Nagin Lake. The lakes have been formed from ancient oxbows created by the Jhelum River as it meandered across the valley floor. The present lakes are only a shrunken shadow of their former selves. The Dal Lake is famous not only for its beauty, but also for its vibrancy, as it sustains within its periphery, a life that is unique anywhere in world. The Mughal Gardens - are located on the far east of the Dal Lake. The first two gardens, the Chashma Shahi (Royal Spring) and Pari Mahal are to the right of the famous Boulevard Road that circles the Dal Lake. A crystal spring bubbles out of a stone vase at Chashma Shahi. The two larger gardens, Nishat and Shalimar are located much farther down the Boulevard. This is Kashmir at its royal best with the beauty enhanced by the backdrop of lake and mountain and carefully sited for the best views of both. Nishat Bagh is another lovely garden with its 12 terraces representing the 12 signs of the zodiac, which descend gradually and seem to almost merge into the lake. With its flowerbeds, trees, fountains, the Nishat presents a dramatic sight. It has an impressive plantation of huge Chinar trees on the highest terrace planted by perhaps the great Mughals themselves. Shalimar Bagh has an air of seclusion and repose, and its rows of fountains and shaded trees seem to recede towards the snowcapped mountains. One of the attractions is the Black Pavilion, meant for the ladies of the court, set well to the back of the highest of its three terraces. It is more famous because of the celebrated romance between its builder, Emperor Jehangir and his queen Noorjahan. Shankaracharya Temple - is located on the Takht-e-Suleman (throne of Solomon) across the combined lakes. The views from here are spectacular. One can see the entire city of Srinagar and the Jhelum valley with the river meandering its way through it.

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