A trip to Patnitop: The Hidden Paradise

Jammu’s very own hill station, Patnitop is located at 6,640 feet, the highest point along the Jammu-Srinagar Highway. Unlike the usual hill destinations in the country, “discovered” by the British or developed a century or more ago, this is a tiny 20 CE hill station with no Mall Road and no cantonment. Take a trip to Patnitop this vacation season to explore this hidden gem.

The Sights

It’s easy to walk around the hill station of Patnitop–it’s only 5 sq km in area. If you wish, there are ponies for hire, and most places can be approached by car. Chinar Garden, Picnic Spot (complete with swings and slides) and Skating Garden are the three must-visit spots on standard itineraries.

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Photo by Vinayaraj

Excursions

There are two excursions out of Patnitop: one to Madha Top, the ridge opposite Patnitop, and the other to Sanasar, a grassy meadow fringed by fir trees. Somewhat inevitably, it has been given the sobriquet “mini Gulmarg”. The quiet Sanasar is a hub for various adventure activities including paragliding and jungle camps.

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Photo by Dr Thakur Naveen Kotwal

Madha Top: 112 km by road, Madha Top is a 5-hour trek from Patnitop en route to Sanasar.
Sanasar: 17 km from Patnitop, you can book a cab or take the local buses to reach here.

Places of Worship

The 6 CE Nag Temple at Ishadhari is within Patnitop itself. The small bazaar that has sprung up around it offers some cherry-like dried fruits that double up as prasad as well as mementos.

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Photo by Vinayaraj

Just outside Patnitop is Shudh Mahadev ka Pahad, which houses a holy trishul. Slightly further away is Mantalai, with its apple orchards and citrus groves. Lord Shiva is said to have married Parvati Devi here. Near Mantalai, Krimchi is the site of the oldest temples in the Jammu region.

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Photo from official tourism website of Jammu and Kashmir

Snow, Snow Baby!

Bound by dense forests of pine and cedar, Patnitop is not unlike an oasis in the desert, because in relatively low-lying Jammu District, it is one of the few areas that receives snowfall in winter.

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In winter, there’s a thin layer of snow covering Patnitop — thin, but enough for enterprising locals to run a skiing school, strictly for beginners or those unlikely to see snow again in a hurry. Sledging, snowmen and snowball fights!

Shopping Delights

Even though Patnitop is not a shopper’s paradise, it has its own little market which offers local souvenirs at pocket-friendly prices!

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Where to Stay and Eat

When it comes to hotels in Patnitop, the pretty hill station has limited but nice accommodation options for guests. JKTDC’s Cottages offer 12 cottages with fully equipped kitchenettes.  Subhash Palace on NH1A is a good hotel with all rooms facing the valleys of the Chenab Basin.

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Photo from official tourism Facebook page of Jammu and Kashmir

Situated on the highest point of Patnitop in Padora Enclave, Green Top with 31 rooms, offers unmatched views and enjoys the most silence. There are limited number of restaurants in Patnitop as most hotels have their in-house dining options. You may find some local eateries in the main market serving hot maggie and flavoured tea, but nothing exceptional.


So next time you plan your Kashmir vacation, do take a trip to Patnitop for some solitude and to enjoy the stunning vistas of the Chenab Gorge and its pine trees!


About the author

Jigyasha loves to read and travel!