Although nestled in the shadow of Kashmir, both literally and figuratively, Jammu has its own share of landmarks worth a trip. Whether you’re a pilgrim making a journey to its revered temples or a traveller wanting to discover its distinctive cuisine, the winter capital of Jammu Kashmir has something to suit every taste. Skim through this quick guide to know what’s meant for you. The best time to visit Jammu is between the months of October to February or March to May. Jammu temperature is also ideal for sightseeing during this time.
Against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, Jammu’s historic temples and palaces resound tales of its rich past. Head to Bahu Fort, known to be the oldest fortification in the city of Jammu, to acquaint yourself with the city’s history. Built by Raja Bahulochan over 3,000 years ago, the fort is also home to a temple dedicated to goddess Kali, the presiding deity of Jammu. And, don’t be surprised if you notice city folk flocking to its surrounding terraced gardens; it’s a popular picnic spot that buzzes with activity in the evenings.
Another landmark to bookmark among places to visit in Jammu is the 19th century brick mansion of the Dogra maharajas called Amar Mahal. In its current form, the palace serves as a museum that allows you access to its famed courts and the Maharani’s chambers. From there, make a trip to Dogra Art Museum to see 9th century bronzes, armaments and Pahari miniature paintings from Basholi. The museum is housed in the palace of Mubarak Mandi, the royal residence of Dogra rulers till 1925. Today, its baroque and Mughal-style courts stand as ruins on the banks of Tawi river. The main railway station is also named as ‘Jammu Tawi’.
For millions of pilgrims, a trip to Jammu is nothing less than a journey of a lifetime. Seek blessings from Hindu deities at the Shri Raghunathji Temple, situated in North India’s largest temple complex in the heart of the old city. The temple comprises seven magnificent shrines, each with a tower of its own. Above all, a pilgrimage that holds great significance to Hindus is the 12km-trek to the cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi from the base camp at Katra. There is good connectivity to this popular temple through Jammu to Katra train. If convenience and time-saving is priority for you, opt for the quick, eight-minute helicopter flight from Katra to Sanjichhat, located 2.5km from the main temple.
Around 60km away from Jammu is the picturesque Mansar Lake, where married couples seek the blessings of Sheshnag, the lord of serpents whose shrine is located on its eastern bank. Legend has it that performing three circumambulations (parikrama) around the lake is good omen for the couples. Regardless of that, the lake is an ideal spot for boating on a breezy evening.
Jammu is known to adopt elements from all North Indian states, while retaining its own signature culinary gems. It’s here that you’re likely to dig into mouth-watering Punjabi chhole-kulche while savouring some unique Dogra dishes—Aloo Dum, Rajma, Kashmiri Pulao, and more. This is where you should go to get the best of all:
Relish authentic Kashmiri flavours at JKTDC’s Wazwan, located on Residency road in the old city. Ask for mutton yakhni (soft pieces of meat in a yogurt gravy) or its vegetarian counterpart made with lotus stem, and wash it down with the cardamom and saffron-infused drink kahwa. For succulent kebabs and a range of cuisines, head to the Imperial Grill Restaurant that comes with a bar and live music.
Jammu and Kashmir tourism is not limited to sightseeing. Enjoy 360-degree views of the city from Falak Revolving Restaurant, a multi-cuisine offering known for its good ambience. Nosh on samosas, chana bhaturas and kaladi kulchas at Pahalwaan di Hatti, and finish it with a glassful of creamy lassi. Pappa di Hatti and Gian di Hatti in Gandhi Nagar offer similar North Indian fare, laced with ghee and goodness.
For a chance to bite into the best street food on offer, keep an eye on Mansar Food and Craft Mela (held in April) and Bahu Mela (celebrated twice a year on Ram Navami) to watch the city come alive.
Raghunath Bazaar is a historic market in the old city is known to be over 100 years old. What started as a congregation of shops selling prasad to the people heading to Shri Raghunath Ji Temple in the vicinity, slowly turned into a bustling marketplace known for everything from sarees and carpets to sweets and dried fruits. But if you’re looking for the famous Jammu walnuts, the one place you’ll be directed to is Hari Market. Every other shop here is lined with walnuts, if not the region’s handicrafts and Dogra jewellery. Foodies can snack on the market’s street food: kachalu, gulgule and rajma kulcha. Poshish, a handloom store run by the Government of J&K at various locations in the towm, offers a variety of traditional items. Pashmina shawls, linen suites, silk sarees, cotton kurtis are among the many things you can take back home.
Stepping into the Maharani’s chambers at Amar Mahal will cost an extra fee. But what makes it absolutely worth your while is a portrait of Queen Victoria on the wall, and a peek into the bathroom that still houses her perfume collection.
Make a trip to Patnitop, Jammu’s very own Gulmarg that offers perfect picnic spots, peaceful walkways and breathtaking views of the towering Himalayas. In the months of January and February, the place hosts skiing courses for beginners, so make sure to not drop that from your itinerary. With 262 km distance between Jammu to Srinagar, you can plan an extended trip to witness the stunning Dal Lake.
|RS Pura Road, Near Air Force School, Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir 180003||IXJ|