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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

Which are the famous places for sightseeing in and around Jammu?

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Answer: Beautiful hills, steep and pristine valleys and fresh, misty air welcome you to your trip to Jammu. The charm of the place and its people will force you out of your cosy blankets, while you find yourself exploring the magnificent city and its awe-inspiring past. The culture of any place is evident in the various remnants of history, and Jammu is no different. Being largely a military area, tourism is not very high on the priority list, and most travellers stop at Jammu for a transit to other cities. Yet, there is enough beauty to be explored if you're willing to. Visit these top sightseeing spots in and around Jammu and be ready to be mesmerised:


  • Bahu Fort

    This ancient fort is believed to have been built by Raja Bahulochan, about 3000 years ago and later refurbished by kings of the Dogra Dynasty in 19th Century. The fort is believed to be one of the oldest standing building in Jammu with an interesting story behind it. It is believed that Raja Jambu Lochan, brother to Raja Bahulochan and the king credited with establishing the city, saw a curious sight of a tiger and goat drinking water from the Tawi river, without the tiger attacking the meek goat. He saw this as a divine sign, one that spelt peaceful coexistence, and decided to establish the city of Jammu here.
    The fort now also houses a
    Mahakali temple (aka Bave Waali Mata) within its premises, in favour of the deity who is believed to preside over the region. The aquarium in the garden, the Bagh-i-Bahu, of the fort is one of the subcontinent's largest underground aquarium, housing over 400 varieties of fresh and marine water fish - all maintained in state-of-the-art equipment. An obvious delight for children, adults too love to revive their childhood memories here, especially with the fish-shaped, magnificent entrance to the complex!

    Timings: 6am to 8pm
    Entry: INR 20

  • Mubarak Mandi Palace

    Built over a span of 150 years, this royal building served as a massive palace for rulers of the Dogra dynasty. It was infact the main seat of the kingdom until 1925, after which Raja Hari Singh moved the royal seat to Hari Niwas Palace in Northern Jammu. Prone to earthquakes and fires, parts of this building, like the Gol Ghar, lie now in ruins, adding to the palace's old world charm. The Pink Hall inside the palace has now been converted to a museum that holds several miniature paintings and emperor Shah Jahan's golden bow and arrow, among other interesting things. The architecture of the palace is borrowed from European Baroque, Mughal and Rajasthani styles, bringing forth a unique blend of different cultures, that adds a distinct character to both the palace and Jammu.

    Timings: 10am to 6pm
    Entry: Free

  • Mansar and Surinsar Lakes

    Harking back to the legends of Mahabharata (an Indian epic), this lake is linked with Arjun and his son, Babar Vahan. The myth suggests that Babar Vahan mistakenly killed his own father, and to bring him back to life, used the mani from Sheshnag (or the six-headed snake god), which he got from creating a surang (or a passageway) with his arrow. The site where he made the surang is now known as Surinsar and where he emerged with the mani is called Mansar. The lake now stands surrounded by temples and shrines, which makes the lake popular among pilgrims, who take a dip in its holy waters as a ritual. The lake is also a popular boating spot, where you can even feed the multitude of fish.
    The
    Mansar Lake is around 62 km and the Surinsar Lake, which is an extension to the Mansar Lake, is around 24 km from the main city of Jammu.

  • Patnitop

    About 112 km from Jammu, this is a popular tourist destination, with surreal views of green valleys and snow-capped mountains. Earlier known as patan da talab (or the princess's lake), its current name seems to be a simplification on the part of British rulers. Kick back, unwind and let nature allow you to rejuvenate your soul. For trekking enthusiasts, the long, winding roads provide a great opportunity to wander around and explore. Looking for a longer trek? Take the 14 km hike up to Nathatop for some exhilarating views. If you're seeking some adventure, both Nathatop and the Sanasar meadow (20 km from Patnitop) provide ample opportunities for paragliding, rock climbing, trekking, abseiling and camping.

    From Jammu, it would take you around 3 hours to reach Patnitop. You could either hire a cab for this journey or opt for one of the shared Sumos, which cost you around INR 200, much cheaper than an individual cab.

  • Vaishno Devi (Katra)

    Visit the magical and scenic Mata Vaishno Devi cave-shrine, after a 14 kms steep, hilly trek from Katra (50 km from Jammu), while enthusiastically chanting Jai Mata Di with other pilgrims. Pay your respects to Maa Vaishno Devi, a reincarnation of Goddess Shakti, and soak yourself in all its legend and culture. There are three Pindis at the temple representing three Goddesses- namely Maha Saraswati, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Kali. Picturesque surroundings and the verdant, green surroundings keep company to tourists and pilgrims on their journey to the temple.

    Most pilgrims prefer to take the train till Jammu and then opt for either buses or cabs till Katra. Buses ply at a good frequency of 10 to 15 minutes and are a cheaper alternative to cabs. From Jammu, it takes about 1 - 1.5 hrs, depending on the traffic and the mode of travel you choose. The best time to visit this shrine is during the months of
    March to October, even though the temple is open for devotees all throughout the year. Pilgrims must also remember to leave behind any leather shoes or accessories as these are forbidden at the shrine.

Put on some comfortable shoes and set out to explore. Don't forget to charge those camera batteries!

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