All of us have heard about Jammu and Kashmir. But the real sorry part is that it is always shrouded in misconceptions of terrorist attacks and curfews and what not! But those of us who live here know that this is not the case at all, it is like any other state. It has been called the crown of India for a reason; it is perennially beautiful and regal .You have to visit once to experience it for yourself and to be free of the misconceptions about J & K. This state is divided into three regions – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Each has it’s own fair share of views to offer you. Here is the list of places you can go to if you ever decide to visit this beautiful state!
Jammu is called as the City of temples, and for good reason. You will find beautiful temples across Jammu. Some are inside the city and some are on the outskirts. Both have their own charm. These temples are dedicated to various Gods and each has it’s own story. There are multiple cultural heritage centers and various other view points, each having a different story to tell.
- Bahu Fort – This fort was built about 3000 years ago by Raja Bahulochan. It has been refurbished later. It is not just a fort, it houses the Bawey wali mata temple, thousands of devotees go their daily to seek blessings. Bahu Fort also has one of the largest underground aquarium of the subcontinent, a treat for children and is well maintained. So, Bahu fort has something for everybody!
- Shiv Khori – As the name suggests, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva, more precisely, it is Shiva’s cave. It is not a small cave, it is big enough and devotees go their daily to offer their prayers to the God. The cave is very beautiful and it’s roof is etched with snake formations.
- Vaishno Mata temple – This temple is located in the town of Katra and attracts devotees from all over India. It has a beautiful scenery and to get to the temple you have to trek. However, the end result is rewarding.
- Surinsar and Mansar lakes – These lakes are linked with the Mahabharata and have a unique story. These lakes are linked and are surrounded by many temples. As such, they attract many pilgrims who also take a dip in the holy water. These lakes are also popular boating sites and you can see a multitude of fish.
- Amar Mahal Palace Museum and Dogra Art Museum – The Amar Mahal Palace was built in 1862 in French-chateau style. The museum is inside this palace. It is located on top of a hill and overlooks the river Tawi. The most important sight is the Gold throne (and it is totally made of gold). The Dogra art museum on the other hand, holds the essence of the Dogra culture. It houses many objects of cultural and historical importance.
- Peer Kho cave temple – This temple is associated with the Ramayana and is a famous temple of Jammu. It is now dedicated to Lord Shiva and it is said that it once had a passageway which led to Amarnath.
Jammu has more to offer and there are a lot more hill stations, the primary one being Patnitop; you really have to see it to feel the beauty.
Kashmir is like heaven on Earth. It is well endowed with beautiful scenery and thousands of tourists flock to see Kashmir in all it’s glory.
- Gulmarg – It is the most beautiful hill resort in the valley. Different varieties of flowers bloom here and it got it’s name because of them. The roadside trips is every traveler’s dream. It is full of picturesque spots.
- Pahalgam – It is also known as the Shepherd’s valley. It is situated at the confluence of Lidder river and Sheshnag lake. The temperature is cool even during the peak of summer. The popular tourist destinations are Baisaran, Hajan and Chandanwari.
- Sonamarg – The meadow of Gold, it does justice to it’s name. Through Sonamarg the tourists take off to Zojila pass to go to ladakh. The Thajiwas glacier is the major local attraction.
- Amarnath – This yatra is present only during a few months of the year and millions of tourists go there yearly. The trek is really breath-taking.
The road way to Ladakh is perhaps the most dangerous with sharp curves, but it is infact the most breath taking and beautiful journey. Tourists prefer to take the road rather than a plane to Ladakh.
- Pangong and Tso Moriri lakes – Pangong is saline while Tso Moriri is fresh-water. But both of these lakes offer a breath-taking view of the nearby mountains, they are reflected in their waters.
- Royal Leh palace – It is a grand nine-storey high structure built by King Sengge Namgyal. It also has a museum which houses the antiquities of the Kings and Queens.
- Zanskar Valley – The Zanskar river flows through this valley and lends it’s name to the valley. It is the most isolated place and mainly Buddhists live here. It is situated between the Zanskar mountain ranges and the Great Himalayan range.
Ladakh is the most mesmerizing place and everybody should visit it atleast once in their life-time.