Best place to visit in Jammu & Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir, popularly known as the "Paradise on the Earth", the Northernmost state of India has been endowed with nature’s best and that is why it has been an object of interest for many travel enthusiasts. The state is world famous for its scenic splendor, snow-capped mountains, plentiful wildlife, exquisite monuments, hospitable people and local handicraft.
Today many couples visit Jammu & Kashmir to seek a perfect romantic getaway, whereas the adventure enthusiasts are often seen here with a determination to create history. Nestled in the Himalayan, Pir Panjal and Karakoram mountain ranges are renowned for its natural beauty and gentle people. Jammu and Kashmir are dotted with the most beautiful mountain peaks, massive glaciers, splendid monasteries, blue lakes, rivers, forests, verdant meadows, and tall pine trees.
So, the list of top places to visit in Jammu & Kashmir can help you learn about your options better.
Let's explore it -
The capital city Srinagar is the prized possession of the Vale of Kashmir. The city sits quietly on the bank of Jhelum and contemplates the vivaciousness. The canopied Shikara boats, plush houseboats, snow-capped mountains and the sparkling water of Dal and Nageen Lake come together to bring the picture of authentic Srinagar to come alive. The blessing of Prophet Mohammad from Hazratbal Shrine and Jama Masjid, the divinity of Shankaracharya temple, a glimpse of floating vegetable market and the bountiful flora and fauna, all honor the capital city with a title of Paradise on Earth.
A land like no other with a superabundance of attractions to visit and phantasmagoric and fabulous landscapes, amazing people and culture, Ladakh is truly a heaven on Earth. Bounded by two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the Great Himalaya and the Karakoram, it lies athwart two other, the Ladakh range and the Zanskar range. Ladakh is mystical in all the spheres it covers, from nature, geography, sceneries to the modest cultures that it fosters. Right from gompas to the sensational momos, the superabundance of attractions to visit makes this city make it heaven on earth. It is said that only in Ladakh can a man sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade suffer from sunstroke and frostbite at the same time.
Not far from the hustle and bustle of Srinagar is a pristine little hill-town called Pahalgam. The area holds a rich cover of vegetation, the dominant forest consisting of conifers which account for over 90%. There are many species of rare, endangered and protected species to be found among the vegetation here. Wildlife enthusiasts are bound to spot some Hangul, Musk deer, Serow, Brown bear, Leopard, Rhesus macaque, Grey Langur, Wild bears etc, apart from a large variety of exotic mountain birds. Due to the constant threat of illegal border crossings, the Indian army is always patrolling the area and is on constant high alert. However, the area is safe for tourists.
The most sought after tourist destination is Pangong Tso in Ladakh region. It is the highest among the high altitude lakes in India which are filled with saline water but provides some awe-struck moments to the visitors with the unbelievable phenomenon of changing colors quite a number of times a day. The reflections of the towering Himalayan peaks in the water add more charm to the lake. Currently, Pangong Tso is the favorite location for tourists as the banks of the lake give a soothing bed to relax and the nearby places are enhanced by the beauty of this particular lake. The quiet lake is 134 km in length and 5 km in width is situated at an altitude of 14270 meters. But the major share of the lake lies in the area of China. Now, its recognition is spread everywhere in the world because it is termed as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
Sonamarg, as the name suggests, is famous as the ‘Meadow of Gold’. An endless stream of stunning flowers and undulated trekking routes are its attractions. Sonamarg has to be in every visitors’ list of places to visit in Kashmir for its mesmerizing aura and breathtaking views.
Katra is popularly known as Katra Vaishno Devi and is situated in the foothills of the Trikuta mountain range. It is the place where the holy shrine called Vaishno Devi is situated. The town as a huge tourism industry due to the importance of the pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi in the Hindu religion. There are plenty of hotels and transport services that operate here and the place is best for a pit-stop while on a tour of Jammu and Kashmir. The Vaishno Devi pilgrimage is a 14km trek that can be done on foot, on ponies or by helicopter services to an extent. The journey is beautiful and the landscape is spectacular. Not only does it give one the chance to experience something divine, but it also brings one closer to nature while walking upwards towards the shrine. Katra is a must visit for the spiritual as well as the adventurous who want to experience nature like never before.
Vaishno Devi Temple
Vaishno Devi Temple is among the most visited Hindu shrines in the world, millions of pilgrims visit this temple each year. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Mahalakshmi and as per the belief whatever you wish for here gets granted. The cave-styled temple is located at an altitude of 5200 ft above sea level, so people have to trek to the top from a point. Other than walking you can also opt for helicopter services, pony ride or palanquin to reach Vaishno Devi Temple, one of the best places to visit in Jammu.
The refuge of several Gujjars and Baker walks, Rajouri is situated around 154 kms away from Jammu. The district shares a border with Pakistan and thus remain an intriguing travel destination. Rajouri is blessed with many charming places to visit; Dehra Ki Gali, Thanna Mandi, and Kotranka Budhal are few places that are apt for sightseeing. One can retire to these remote places in summers as the weather remains pleasant here all year round. The magnificent Rajouri Fort, Balidan Bhawan, Dhanidar Fort, and Rama Temple are few places that can be visited in the vicinity of Rajauri. An absolute delight for travel and adventure enthusiasts, Rajouri is amongst one of the top places of interest in Jammu Kashmir.
Amarnath is one of the most important pilgrimages in India for the worshippers of Lord Shiva. The Amarnath cave is the haven to an enshrined image of ice called the Shivling formed naturally, which resembles Lord Shiva. The destination is visited by millions of tourists every year from all across the world in what is famously known as the 'Amarnath Yatra'. The Amarnath cave situated in this town is considered to be a devout location for the pilgrims, most notably Hindus. Legend has it that, this place is regarded to be the same cave where Lord Shiva revealed the secret of life and eternity to Goddess Parvati.
Controversies regarding the proclamation that Khardung La is the highest motorable pass in the world is not yet diminished but Ladakh travelers still believe that it is the highest and most adventurous pass in the world. Despite the controversies, Khardung La keeps on attracting hundreds of adventure seekers every year, be it bikers, trekkers or visitors. Nestled amidst the most reverberating surrounding, the ‘Pass of Lower Castle’ is located at an altitude of 17582 feet. Near to the pass, the collection of awesome valleys will lure you and along with the natural extravaganzas, the Tibetan prayer flags are an additional charm. The pass was constructed in the year of 1976 and later in 1988, it was opened to the public and from then on, the pass was inviting uncountable bikers, trekkers and tourists. It is maintained by the Border Roads Organization as the pass is highly significant and important to India because it was once used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier. Recently, Khardung La became the hot potato of the town with the happy news that a ten-member team of visually impaired people is going to conquer the pass-through cycling in 2017.
The white dome of Shanti Stupa is clearly visible from a far distance when you are on a tour of Leh. Peace Pagoda got its name like that because of many reasons mainly the silence persists in and around the pagoda always. This Buddhist prayer center is the most beloved attraction in Jammu and Kashmir. At a height of 4267 meters, the two storied stupa stands to hold its head high and overlooks the bustling Leh town. The uneven mountain terrains in the surrounding give the pagoda a remarkable shining. It is at a location which is 5 km away from Leh town and one who visits the stupa has to climb five hundred steps. The exotic view of the Himalayan peaks turns the beauty of the stupa also, a peace lover would dedicate his life to have such overjoying moments.
Hemis National Park
Around 4400 sq.km is the area the prime attraction of Ladakh spreads into. We are talking about the renowned Hemis National Park named after the popular monastery in the region that is Hemis Monastery. The very rare species of wildlife is the reason behind its global recognition. Bharal and snow leopards are examples for the unseen animal collection found in Hemis National Park. The park is located on the west bank of the Indus River. The animals, the flora, the birds and the nature in the park and its vicinity are coming under the highly protected areas and this is the only place in India where the protected snow leopards are seen in abundance. The Rumbak and Markha catchments were found to be protected with the discovery of the park in 1981 and it grew into 4400 sq.km in 1990 and becomes the largest national park in South Asia. Argali or the Great Tibetan Sheep, Shapu etc are the supporters of the prey base for the predators in Hemis. Asiatic Ibex, the Tibetan Wolf, the Eurasian brown bear, and red fox are some of the endangered species found before and some are still present in the park.
An important addition to any Jammu sightseeing session is the Bahu Fort. Dating back to the 18th century this fort was built by Raja Gulab Singh of Dogra Empire. It is located at the opposite of Jammu’s Old Town, at an elevation of 325 meters. The thick fortified walls of the structure are built using black mortar and lime. Though there are many attractions inside the Bahu Fort, the most famous one is Mahakali Temple which was built back in the eighth century.
Patnitop is located in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir and is located on a plateau. Every now and then when the snowfall is too much, the National highway gets blocked but when the tourist season is on, the hill station blossoms with beautiful mountains surrounding a majestic little town. There are lakes and temples that one can visit like Naag mandir and Nathatop. The little picturesque town is perfect for a honeymoon away from the noise of big cities and provides the seclusion that couples want.
Another highlight in our list of places to see in Jammu is Raghunath Temple, consisting of seven different Hindu shrines. The complex dates back to the beginning of the nineteenth century when it was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Each of the temples in the complex has a similar spire, differentiated by height. The architectural style here seems to show a blend of Sikh and Mughal styles. Other than the facade and overall look of the temples, the paintings inside them catch the attention as they depict chapters of Mahabharat, Bhagavad Geeta, and Ramayana.
When speaking of Jammu attractions, Bhimgarh Fort is mentioned often. This hill fort is perched 150 meters above ground and there are different attractions here, including a temple, pond and opulent rooms. In its initial days, it was built using clay and was later reconstructed using stones, by Maharaja Rishipal Rana. A visit to this remnant will make you travel back in time, leaving you in utter awe.
One of the top tourist places in Kashmir, without a doubt, is Poonch. The lush green
Meadows, view of snow-capped mountains and the eighteenth century Poonch Fort combine to weave a panorama that makes you weak in the knees. The seven lakes of Girgan Dhok have to be in your itinerary, alongside many religious shrines like Bakhsh Sahib and Gurudwara Nangali Sahib.
Stock photo from khlongwangchao