Posted 03 January 2023 in Winter Wandering

Why a visit to Jammu this winter season is a must

Most travellers and backpackers have Jammu and Kashmir on their itinerary or bucket list as one of the must-visit places in India. Jammu is a city of the newly-formed Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir, located south of Srinagar, which is the summer capital. Its location is on the southwest part of the Union Territory, along the river Tawi.

Owing to its historical significance, Jammu was the head and capital of the Dogra dynasty, and later in the 19th century, it was added to the domain of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Not only in terms of trade and commerce, but Jammu is also the home of the University of Jammu, one of the iconic and prestigious universities in North India. In terms of religious significance, Jammu houses numerous mosques, temples and monasteries that draw devotees and pilgrims all year round.

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Named after Maharaja Jambulochan, who ruled around 14th century BC, Jammu is one of the most populous cities in the district and the second most populous in all of J&K. Even after the turmoil that goes around now and then in this Union Territory, Jammu remains to be one of the most visited places in India, with tourists coming in from abroad as well.

Best places to visit in Jammu

  • Vaishno Devi Mandir: Trikuta is a three-peaked mountain, within the hold of which, inside a holy cave resides Vaishno Devi or Mata Rani, the temple of which is visited by millions of tourists all year round. Devotees come here to pray for the health and wealth of their families and loved ones. There are no statues or idols inside the cave, only three stone formations, known as ‘pindis’, around which devotees take walks and pray.
  • Raghunath Temple: Built during the Dogra rule and when the dynasty thrived, Raghunath Temple is dedicated to Lord Ram, who is the avatar of Lord Vishnu. This temple tells the story of Ram and Krishna and also has numerous wall paintings dedicated to Lord Shiva and Surya. Devotees visit the temple with equal devotion and pray to Lord Ram with full devotion.
  • Surinsar Lake & Mansar Lake: Located about 40 km away from the main city of Jammu, this lake adds to the wondrous view of Jammu that people visit to witness. Another lake, Mansar, is considered to be the twin of Surinsar Lake, as it is located nearby. They are separated by the Surinsar Mansar Wildlife Sanctuary in the middle.
  • Amar Mahal Palace & Museum: Belonging to the Dogra royals previously as it was their last official residence, Amar Mahal has now been converted into a heritage museum. The museum is the home to stupendous antiques, including a 120-kilo golden crown, hundreds of original age-old miniature paintings and a collection of over 25,000 rare books and journals that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
  • Wave Mall Jammu: Stirring away from the historic and religious places of interest, tourists might also fondly visit the Wave Mall, one of the most exquisite malls in Jammu. It houses various apparel shops, food courts, well-lit game rooms and a theatre for people to enjoy a night at. Tourists can pick up souvenirs for their loved ones from here, as many local shops sell antiques and other items that work as perfect gifts people can take and gift friends back home.
  • Leh-Manali Highway: This scratch of a well-beaten highway connects Manali to Leh via Jammu. If you plan to visit Leh by road, then you can avail buses or cabs from the JKSRTC terminus that takes its route on this highway. Bikes or self-driven cars can also be taken on this route and the scenic view of this area is splendid and breathtaking.

Food and local cuisine in Jammu

Authentic Kashmiri dishes that are a staple to the valley are filled with a lot of spices and a mix of decadent flavours. Some of the typical dishes that can be found in Jammu are:

  • Kachaloo Chaat: This street food dish brings the best world of sour and spicy together. It is prepared by mixing taro roots and potatoes, with lemon juice, tamarind, chilli flakes and black beans. It is a heavenly combination of sour and spicy - something that a portion of ideal street food should be made of.
  • Khatta Meat: Staple to the valley since its inception during the Dogra dynasty, this dish is made of mutton slow-cooked in a sour thick gravy, served with bread or rice. This sourness of the dish comes either from dry mango or pomegranate seeds which adds to the culinary perfection of the dish and gives it uniqueness.
  • Nadru Yakhni: This sour and slightly salty dish is made of lotus roots that swim in a sauce made of yoghurt and other spices like cumin and tamarind.
  • Seekh Kebab: Although this is something found all over North India, Jammu seekh kebabs are authentic and power-packed with rich flavours, owing to the delicate taste that comes from Kashmiri spices.

Travel tips

  • If you are a traveller who is not an Indian citizen, then it is advisable to carry your passports at all times, especially during sightseeing.
  • Dal Lake not only offers Shikhara rides, but you can also take morning walks or strolls along the lake for scenic beauty.
  • No matter which season you are travelling, carrying warm clothes is important. While travelling during winter months, carrying jackets, mufflers, woollen caps and other essentials like thermals are a must.
  • Some tourists may feel a lack of oxygen due to high altitude and low pressure. Carrying medicines for such occasions or other medicines for cough and cold might come in handy during your travels.
  • Prepaid sim cards do not work here. Carrying post-paid sim cards is the best option. You can also take post-paid sim cards once arriving in Jammu. They have a validity of a few days to a few weeks which can be discarded as you come to the end of your trip.
  • Pre-booking hotels or camping sites where you plan to put up is important to avoid the last-minute rush. Carry good and proper shoes and hiking boots if you are planning to trek. You may even have to take long walks, so comfortable sports shoes are recommended.
  • While being a tourist in Jammu, it is important to keep in touch with your hotel or other local authorities. In case there are any issues or turmoil, they will grant you aid and let you know whatever protocols need to be followed.

How to reach Jammu?

  • By road: Jammu provides excellent road connectivity to some of the major cities with a 500-700 km radius. Private Volvos and state buses are easily available from bus terminuses in Amritsar, Ludhiana, Delhi, Manali, Chandigarh, Leh and Mumbai. Connectivity is made easier with the best route of National Highway 1A. For the convenience of the passengers, cars and private and shared cabs are also available from outside these bus stands. Private cars can also be self-driven by following the smooth and easy NH 1A route. NH 1A is also excellent for bike rides for adventurous souls who wish to enjoy the stunning views as they go.
  • By rail: Jammu’s single railway station, Jammu Tawi, connects the city to the leading major metropolitans of India like Mumbai, Delhi and Chandigarh. Regular express trains are available from these cities to Jammu directly. It takes approximately 8 hours to reach Jammu Tawi from New Delhi Railway Station, 28 hours from Bandra Junction (Mumbai) to Jammu and 6 to 8 hours from Chandigarh Junction Railway Station, depending on train availability.
  • By air: Jammu Airport, commonly known as Jammu Civil Enclave, connects Jammu to the rest of the country with connecting and direct flights to Jammu from major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Agra, Hyderabad and Jaipur. There are several daily direct and connecting flights from Delhi. Direct flights take about 1 hour and 35 minutes to reach Jammu while connecting flights via Srinagar can take 6-10 hours, depending on the layover time.

Places to stay in Jammu

  • Lemon Tree Hotel Jammu: For tourists who are availing of trains to reach Jammu, Lemon Tree Hotel is a safe option. Being a 4-star hotel with great services, it is located just 400 m away from Jammu Tawi Railway Station.
  • Hotel KC City Center: Located at Hari Market, this hotel offers amazing in-house facilities complimented by parking facilities, free Wi-Fi and a lounge.
  • Zone by the Park Jammu:Offering premium facilities with unique dining and a lavish spa, this property close to Jammu Tawi Railway Station is one of the best places to stay in Jammu.
  • Clarks Inn Express: This hotel allows families, solo travellers as well as unmarried couples. It follows COVID-19 protocols with thermal screening, masks and sanitisers installed at every corner. It has an in-house restaurant with a dining area along with a bar section.
  • Fortune Inn Riviera Jammu: If you plan to put up at Fortune Inn, then pre-book the ultra-luxurious suite for extra discounts. This suite has a separate living area and has all modern amenities, with 24-hour receptions and kitchen services.
  • Radisson Inn Jammu: With state-of-the-art features and world-class amenities, Radisson Blu Jammu is one of the most beautiful properties to live in while visiting Jammu. The staff service is excellent and the food served at the hotel (complimentary breakfast or dinner according to the package you avail) is mouth-watering and delicious.

Weather in Jammu

  • Jammu has a moderate subtropical climate during the summers. The months of March to May are typically the summer months in the Jammu district. The temperature can go as high as 45 degrees during May. However, the average temperature during the summer months sways between 14 and 30 degrees Celsius, with pleasant evenings.
  • Unlike Kashmir and Ladakh region, the Jammu district receives much heavier rainfall as it does not fall on the rain shadow area of the Himalayas. The monsoon months of June to August can be quite unpleasant, especially with tremendous humidity.
  • Months of September and October bring in the autumn vibe to the places, as lush green trees turn orange and fire red, making the scenic view stunning and mesmerising. The temperature starts dropping from September and starts becoming cooler.
  • November to February is the winter months in the Jammu district. January is the coldest of all months when the temperature can hang around 2 degrees Celsius. The average temperature in these months can be 4 degrees at the lowest and 18 degrees at the highest. Jammu attracts tourists during this peak season who wish to participate in adventure sports.

Best time to visit Jammu

  • Ideally, visiting Jammu can vary from person to person, depending on which time they find the best fit. However, tourists start showing up in Jammu from September, and this tourist rush keeps increasing till February. March and April often attract tourists who wish to witness the spring season in full bloom. Winter months attract tourists as well. For all those who wish to see snow and witness snowfall in Jammu, this is the best time to visit.

Conclusion

Jammu is more than a tourist getaway. This valley sitting between towering peaks is profoundly peaceful. You will feel the tranquillity in your bones when you wander through the tree-lined natural pathways of this valley. Jammu will help you discover your spiritual side and teach you to be a stronger and wiser version of yourself.

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