Jammu – The City of Temples
Renowned as city of temples Jammu, is a perfect destination for those looking for secluded atmosphere, Bestowed with innumerable temples, and surrounded by Pirpanjal and Sivalik mountains, Jammu, the summer capital of J&K, has climate similar to northern India. Renowned for its intricate taste of temples, historic architecture and beautiful palaces Jammu has been rightly named as a perfect destination for those looking for a peaceful pilgrimage. Situated in the northern part of India, Jammu is the essence of everything that is Indian - its culture, history, tradition, people, and natural splendor. The state has a long history encompassing around 4,000 years and there are many prehistoric sites, which give indication of human settlement in this region in those times. It is believed that Raja Jamboolochan founded this exotic city in 14th century BC. The city, which figured in ancient epic Mahabharata, was named first as Jamboo, but later it became Jammu. History and archeological evidence says that Jammu was the integral part of Harappa civilization. The region of Jammu has several upland valleys in the middle Himalayas which are part of great natural beauty. The mountains here are covered with thick forests of oak and chestnut, and higher up with deodar and pine. The majestic Chenab drains this beautiful landscape, carving spectacular gorges in its long and serpentine course. The city of Jammu has quite a number of attractions that includes temples, palaces, lakes and museums. The city is located at the foothills of the Himalayas and has a rotating sub tropical climate of dry summers and cold winters. The languages spoken here are Hindi, Kashmiri, Dogri, Pahari and English. Jammu offers many adventure sports such as mountaineering, nature walks, trekking and rafting. The best time to visit is from October to May. A visit to the city will let you savor its the pristine locations where timeless traditions show you colorful patterns, enchanted festivals and rituals of timeless land.
Places of Interest
» Mansar Lake:
The Mansar Lake is located 62 km’s. from Jammu and is known as one of the beautiful lakes in the region. Fringed by forest-covered hills the lake offers boating facilities and other recreational activities. Every year around Baisakhi, a food and crafts festival is organised here by J&K Tourism.
At a distance of 40 km’s from Jammu, lies the Purmandal Temple Complex built on the banks of the sacred, mostly underground river Decak. Often referred to as 'Chhota Kashi', its main temple is dedicated to 'Umapati', while the other temples are associated with Shaivites of the Kashmir Valley.
» Bahu Fort:
The Bahu Fort structure is more then 3000 years old and is perhaps the oldest monument found in the region. Constructed originally by Raja Bahulochan, the existing fort was improved and rebuilt by Dogra rulers. There is a temple dedicated to the Goddess Kali inside the fort. The fort overlooks the river running through Jammu city. Today the fort is surrounded with a beautiful terraced garden.
» Peer Baba Budhan Ali Shah:
This well-renowned shrine or Dargah of the famous Muslim saint, Peer Budhan Ali Shah, has devotees thronging from all the communities including Hindus and Sikhs to pay their homage and ask for blessings from the venerated saint.
» Mubarak Mandi Palace:
A visual treat, this palace is a delightful fusion of Mughal, Rajasthani and European architecture. The highlight of the palace is the Sheesh Mahal, the Palace of Mirrors and the Dogra Art Museum which boasts of a rich collection of Pahari school of miniature paintings (paintings of various hill schools).
» Raghunath Temple:
Amongst the known temples in Jammu is the fascinating temple complex of Raghunath. Situated at the city center, this historic temple was completed in 1860 by Maharaja Gulab Singh’s son. The highlights of the temple are its inner walls covered with gold sheet on three sides. The complex consists of seven shrines each with a tower of its own. It is the largest temple complex in North India. Though only 150 years old, the complex is remarkably known for its sacred scriptures and ancient texts that are housed in a large library. The arches and surfaces are undoubtedly influenced by Moghal architecture and the main deity is dedicated to Lord Vishnu’s eighth incarnation and the Dogra patron diety The Rama.
» Nandini Wildlife Sanctuary:
The sanctuary is best known for its wonderful species of pheasants. Among the other avifauna are Indian Myna, Blue Rock Pigeon, Red Jungle Fowl, Cheer Pheasant and Chakor. Spread over an area of 34 square kilometers the sanctuary also provides refuge to a wide variety of mammals that include: Leopard, Wild Boar, Rhesus Monkey, Bharal and Grey Langur.
Katra - Abode of the Goddess
Katra is a quintessential little town located at the foot of the Trikuta mountains 48 km’s from Jammu. The town is more famously known as the base from where Hindu’s begin their holy visit to the famous shrine of Mata Vaishnodevi. Every year, more than 4.5 million pilgrims pass through Katra on their way to the holy shrine. The cave shrine of Maa Vasihnodeviji or Trikuta Bhagwati has been a beacon of faith and fulfillment to millions of devotees from all over the world. The pilgrimage to the Shrine holds great significance for the pilgrims. Apart from Mata Vaishnodevi Katra is also known for other interesting and local tourist locations such as
Places of Interest
» Mata Vaishnodevi:
The shrine of Vaishnodevi is known in India as one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Goddess Shakti. The temple is situated at an altitude of 5200 feet and is reached after an ardous trek of 12 km’s uphill. The temple is attached with many ancient legends and stories of how it came to its birth. According to a Hindu epic, Mata Vaishno-Devi took birth in South India and was named as Trikuta. Later she came to be known as Vaishnavi, because of her taking birth from Lord Vishnu’s lineage. When she was 9 years of age, she sough her father’s permission for doing penance on the sea-shore. It was at this time that Lord Rama an incarnation of Vishnu was passing by and his eyes fell on this divine girl in deep meditation. Vaishnavi told Lord Rama that she had accepted him as her husband. Lord Rama then told her that as he was deeply devoted to Sita he could not fulfill her wish but vowed to marry her when he would be born again as Kalki. In the meantime Rama asked her to meditate in a cave found in the Trikuta range of Manik mountains situated in North India and this is where her shrine was founded.
» Aghar Jitto:
Just 5 km away from Katra is Aghar Jitto, the Shrine of Baba Jitto, a devotee of Mata Vaishno Devi and a revolutionary who led a campaign against the feudal order. According to legends, a dip in the holy spring water, flowing in front of the shrine, does miracles to pre-natal women for safe delivery of children.
» Dera Baba Banda:
At about 30 kms from Katra lies this major Hindu-Sikh pilgrimage centre. Baba Banda Bairaagi was Guru Gobind Singh's favourite 'Saint-soldier', who had the gurudwara constructed on the banks of river Chenab, where he spent his last days.
» Baba Dhansar:
Located 10 kms from Katra (1 km on foot) is Baba Dhansar, a beautiful and cool picnic spot. Here, a huge spring gushes out of the mountainside in a thick grove of trees and forms a number of small waterfalls before flowing into the holy Banganga. Next to the spring in a small grove in the rock face is a naturally formed ‘Shivling’ on which droplets of water fall naturally all the year round. A major ‘mela’ (fair) is held here during Shivratri.
» Shiv Khori:
This holy cave is nearly a kilometer long and houses a 4 ft high, naturally formed ‘Shivling’. It is considered second only to the shrine of Maa Vaishno Devi in religious importance. There are stalactites & stalagmites dripping milky limestone water from the ceiling. Situated at a distance of about 100 kms from Jammu and about 75 kms from Katra, Shiv Khori hosts a major fair on Shivratri day every year.
Patnitop - Pond of the Princess
Relatively unknown, compared to the other tourist spots in the state Patnitop is no less beautiful or serene. If one is aiming to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life then this place is hard to beat. With its beauty of a hill station, Patnitop is a charming plateau at 2, 024 m and is surrounded by dense woods and lush greenery of Pines. Tracks lead to pockets where time stands still and calm prevails. Picturesquely situated at a high altitude, there are many pleasant walks around this popular hill station. Patnitop is a good starting place for many short or longer treks into the nearby mountains. An attractive one-day walk is to Shiva Garh, about 11-km from Patnitop at an altitude of almost 3,500 metres. Good bridle paths passing through wooded lanes and fascinating scenery link Patnitop with Kud and Batote. There are three, gushing, ice-cold freshwater springs in the area, which are said to have medicinal properties..Origin of the name Patnitop is a distortion of the original name of "Patan Da Talab" meaning "Pond of the Princess". In olden times a pond existed in the meadows and a local princess often used to have her bath there. Part of the pond still exists near the youth hostel. It may be that the British had difficulties recording an English spelling of an Indian name correctly in their revenue records. Over the years the name changed from "Patan Da Talab" to Patnitop. Patnitop is located in the Lower Himalayan range around 112 km’s from Jammu on the strategic Jammu – Srinagar Highway.
Places of Interest
This lovely place is only 19 km’s from Patnitop and is known as a quality resort in this area. With a cup-shaped meadow - surrounded by gigantic conifers the resort is an ideal place for paragliding. The best time is from May to June and September to October.
» Sudh Mahadev:
This holy spot near Patnitop is at an altitude of 1225 mtrs., about 120 Kms. from Jammu. Situated in the town of Chanhani in the western part of the Jammu, the Sacred Temple of Sudhmahadev was constructed by Chaudhari Ramdas of Chanhani and his son Chaudhari Parag Mahajan about 80 years ago. People come from all places to worship the famous Trident and a mace, which is said to belong to Lord Shiva. The Devak stream originating at this place disappears magically among the rocks a few kilometers down stream. The temple has a natural black marble 'lingam' and Goddess Parvati mounted on Nandi. The 'Dhooni' (sacred fire) commemorates the spiritual attainments of Baba Roop Nath who is said to have attained Samadhi there. According to a popular legend, it is believed that Lord Shiva who was in his Samadhi (deep meditation) shot his big Trishul (trident) to protect his consort Uma startled suddenly by her loud cry. However, it was Shiva's devotee, Sudheet who approached Uma to pay his respectful obeisance and since he was a demon in his previous birth, his demoniac looks frightened her and she made a loud shriek. The trident however killed Sudheet. Shiva realized his mistake and offered to resuscitate him but Sudheet preferred the death given by Lord Shiva Himself. Touched by his devotion, Lord Shiva prefixed his name to the place forever and the broken trident in three pieces, is still installed in the temple.
» Gauri Kund:
A further 5 km’s uphill is the legendary spring where the Goddess Parvati used to bath before commencing her daily prayers at Sudh Mahadev. This spring came to be named after Her as 'Gauri Kund'.
Pahalgam - Valley of Shepherds
Pahalgam is located in the western part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, in the northern region of India. Situated at an altitude of 2130 meters above sea level and positioned beside the Liddar River, in the Liddar valley, Pahalgam is at a distance of 95 km east of Srinagar. Pahalgam is known for the crystal clear waters of River Lidder which is just before the entry into Pahalgam and is an ideal spot for trekking, picnics and pony rides. Pahalgam is adorned with lush greenery and tall pine trees. Pony rides take you around this whole place. The picturesque location of this place also makes it an ideal spot for movie shootings. Pahalgam is also the starting point to take you to Pilgrimage shrines of Amarnath Caves, which is said to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Every year in July-Aug thousands of Pilgrims approach the caves through here.The Valley of Shepherds as it is called, the mystic land of Pahalgam soaked in the morning dew, looks afresh and is protected by fir and snow capped peaks that forms an ideal destination for the trekking aficionados. A plethora of mountains and glaciers, it offers breathtaking views of the valleys and the surrounding area. In short Pahalgam is rightly called the Jewel of the Liddar Valley.
Places of interest in and En-route to Pahalgam
» Aru village & valley:
Aru is a small village which forms the first step to the Kolahoi trek. Situated at the height of 12,729 feet, it lies at a distance of 14 km’s from Pahalgam. The Kolahoi Glacier is 36 Kms from Pahalgam. Tarsar Lake nearby is a beautiful lake, 35 kms ahead.
» Baisaran Meadow:
Baisaran lies at a soaring height of 2438 metres above sea level. It is situated at a distance of 5 km’s from Pahalgam and is densely covered with pine forests and snow clad mountains. 11 km’s from Baisaran is the Tulian Lake, placed at an elevation of 3353 metres above the sea level. The region is blanketed by snow for most of the time.
» Mamaleshwara Temple:
Mamaleshwara is a small Shiva temple only a km or so downstream from Pahalgam. It is thought to date from the reign of king Jayasima and was built early in the 12th century, or even earlier.
» Betaab Valley:
Enroute to Amarnath, the Betaab valley has got its name from a Hindi Indian hit movie “BETAAB”. The film was picturised in this beautiful valley. Located at an altitude of 2530 meters above the sea level, this picturesque valley has all that which can attract you to its beauty. The eye catching sapphire like waters, the green fields, the meadows (The “Deodar trees*”) add to the charming beauty of this heavenly valley.
» Awantipura Temple Ruins:
Founded by Avantivarman who reigned Kashmir in the 9th century, this ancient township is 29 kms from Srinagar and lies en-route to Pahalgam. The site has two imposing temples, the larger one of Siva - Avantisvara is marked by huge walls, some half a mile beyond the town on the outskirts of village Jaubror. The subsidiary shrines are to the rear corner of the courtyard. The complex has, over the years, lost its grandeur and been reduced to ruins, though it is still visited by the devout. Half a mile up is Avantisvami - Vishnu, a better preserved, though smaller temple
» Martand Sun Temple:
Martand, located atop a plateau, close to the township of Anantnag, has a temple dedicated to Surya, the "Sun God". Built by king Laitaditya Muktapida (7th to 8th century AD), it is a medieval temple with a colonnaded courtyard and the shrine in its centre. The temple complex has 84 columns and offers a commanding view of the valley of Kashmir.
» Aish- Muqam:
Aishmuqam is a beautiful village located about 75 km south of Srinagar. This village is associated with Sheikh Zain-ud-din, the principal disciple of a famous saint of Kashmir called Sheikh Nur-ud-din. Sheikh Zain-ud-din is believed to have lived here in a cave in the 15th century. Main attraction here is the shrine of Aishmuqam. This cave shrine located on a hill draws a large number of visitors. Folklore has it that Sheikh Zain-ud-din found numerous snakes, reptiles and cobras on his arrival at the cave. The saint took a club which he had received from his mastern and transformed it into a dreadful cobra by his spiritual power, and the snakes vacated the cave.
Gulmarg - Land of the Snows
Gulmarg’s legendry beauty, prime location and proximity to Srinagar naturally make it one of the premier hill resorts in the country. Originally called Gaurimarg by shepherds, its present name was given in the 16th century by Sultan Yusuf Shah, who was inspired by the sight of its grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers. Gulmarg was a favorite haunt of Emperor Jehangir, who once collected 21 different varieties of flowers from here. From Gulmarg a picturesque view of the Himalayas is visible from each and every corner of Gulmarg. The sight of the snow capped peaks, glaciers and fir woods in Gulmarg leave you speechless at the very first glimpse. The drive to Gulmarg takes around 2-3 hrs by road and is located at a height of 2650 meters above sea level. The journey to Gulmarg is fascinating as it gives a pretty view of flat expanses of rice fields interspersed with small hamlets, and rigid avenues of poplar. Depending on the season, nature’s colors could be translucent green in spring, summer’s rich emerald or autumns golden hues, when scarlet chillies festoon windows of village homes. After Tangmarg, the climb to Gulmarg begins through fir-covered hillsides. At one point, known simply as View Point, travelers generally stop their vehicles for a few minutes and look out a spectacle of snow – covered mountains almost within touching distance.
Places of interest
This smaller valley is about a 6-km walk from the Gulmarg. The meadow, carpeted with flowers in the spring, is the site for Gulmarg’s winter ski runs and offers a fine view of the surrounding peaks and over the Kashmir Valley. It’s a 600-metre ascent from Gulmarg to Khilanmarg and during the early spring, as the snow melts, it can be a very muddy hour’s climb up the hill. The effort is rewarded, if it’s clear, with a sweeping view of the great Himalayas from Nanga Parbat to the twin 7,100-metre peaks of Nun and Kun to the southeast
» Baba Reshi:
Baba Reshi is a holy place located on the slopes below Gulmarg. This famous shrine is noted for its patron saint Baba Reshi, who was a well-known Muslim courtier of the Kashmir King Zain-ul-Abidin. The tomb was built in memory of the saint who died at this place in the year 1480. Dating back to the Mughal period, this tomb is visited by thousands of devotees all through the year
» Mount Apharwat and Gulmarg Gondola:
Gulmarg boasts Asia's highest and longest cable car project, the Gulmarg Gondola. The two-stage ropeway ferries about 600 people per hour to and from Kongdoori Mountain, a shoulder of nearby Afarwat Peak (4,200 m (13,780 ft)). The first stage transfers from the Gulmarg resort at 2,600 m (8,530 ft) to Kongdoori Station in the bowl-shaped Kongdori valley. The second stage of the ropeway, which has 36 cabins and 18 towers, takes skiers to a height of 3,747 m (12,293 ft) on Kongdoori Mountain, a shoulder of nearby Afarwat Peak.
» Alpather Lake:
Beyond Khilanmarg, 13-km from Gulmarg at the foot of the twin 4, 511 metre Apharwat peaks, this lake is frozen until mid-June and even later in the year one can see lumps of ice floating in its cold waters. The walk from Gulmarg follows a well-graded Pony track over the 3, 810 metre Apharwat ridge, separating it from Khilanmarg, and then up the valley to the lake at 3,843 metres. The more adventurous trekkers can climb straight up the boulder-strewn slope of the ridge and descend the other side to the path. For horse riding aficionados, Alpather Lake makes an exciting day's excursion, starting early morning and returning late evening.
Yusmarg - The Sacred Valley
Yusmarg is a small meadow set in the heart of mountains to the south-west of Srinagar. It is an ideal picnic spot and the Nilnag Lake can be visited from here. A two hour drive from Srinagar ( 47 kms ) will take you to acres upon acres of grassy meadow ringed by forests of pine, and towering beyond them, awesome and majestic snow clad mountains. Yusmarg has several important mountain peaks to boast and the most famous amongst them are Tatta Kutti and Sang Safed. Here in Yusmarg are walks of every sort - a leisurely amble along flower-strewn meadows or away to where a mighty river froths and crashes its way over rocks, its mild white foam earning it the name of Dudh Ganga. The word “Yus’ is said to be the short form of Youza or Jesus Christ (Peace Be Upon Him) who according to a popular belief is said to have passed though this valley while traveling to Kashmir.
Places of interest
It is famous bluewater lake 4 Kms from Yusmarg connected with bridle path. It is wonderful picnic spot.
» Tomb of Sheikh Noor-ud-din-Noorani:
The tomb of Alamdar-e-Kashmir is situated 28 Kms in southwest of Srinagar at Chrar-e- Sharif in Budgam District. The shrine on the burial site was constructed by the then ruler of Kashmir Zain ul Abideen. Sheikh Noor-ud-din was born in Kaimoh and his ancestors belonged to Kishtwar. He was a pious soul and travelled throughout Kashmir to spread the message of his religion. He meditated for 12 years inside a cave. Four centuries after his death Afghan governor Atta Mohd. Khan issued coins in his name. The shrine alongwith Khanqah was gutted in a devatating fire in 1995. A new shrine is planned to be constructed in its place.
» Doodhganga River:
The Doodh Ganga Stream takes birth in the slopes of the Pir Panjal range. In these areas it is called Sang-e-Sufaid. Following in the direction of north east, it enters the plains of Punjab (Pakistan) at a distance of few miles from Cherar Sherif and then turns to the north. Flowing near the suburbs of the Srinagar city it drains into the Jehlum River near one of the city bridges lovcated above the Jehlum.
Kashmir - Paradise on Earth
Discover why Kashmir is the adventure and cultural capital of the world, why our natural beauty will leave you awe – struck and why our rich cultures and wildlife will fascinate you. In Kashmir, you will have the chance to challenge yourself a little or a lot if that is what you are after. The valley of Kashmir is an adventure playground in one of the corners of the Himalayan world and is an ultimate eco-tourism destination with some of the world’s most spectacular alpine scenery. It is a land of diversity and stunning natural beauty with majestic mountains, glaciated peaks, mysterious valleys, trout filled rivers, pristine lakes and amazing topography. Much of Kashmir is untouched and unspoilt, especially the upper Northern area. Through the ages it has remained another name for paradise. A dream garden, painted anew each season and never fading in its compelling beauty throughout the year. Spring comes in gentle pastel shades-pink, blue and white. Summer slowly brightening hills and valley and adds a profusion of sunny flowers. Then the autumn brings deep mellow richness of red golden tinge turning the trees to fire. And then suddenly it is winter. The unique and bewitching valley of Kashmir leaves no heart unmoved. The valley is bounded by the Karakoram range on its north, Ladakh on its northeast and Jammu on its south. Srinagar, the capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is situated by the river Jhelum which happens to be the support and lifeline of the Kashmir valley. Today Srinagar is a resort for the tourist who can experience, at first hand, the peculiar beauty of the valley that has attracted the Chinese, the Mughals and the British to it. Its waterways with their own quaint lifestyle, the unique Houseboat, the blossoming gardens, water sports activities, shopping for lovingly hand-crafted souvenirs and the nearby resorts make it a cherished spot among those looking for a memorable holiday.
» Dal Lake:
Dal Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes of India and the second largest in the state. Its three sides are surrounded by majestic mountains and a large number of gardens and orchards have been laid along the shores.. Dal Lake is unique in having hundreds of houseboats, which afford an opportunity for tourists to reside on the lake in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.
» Nageen Lake:
Nageen lake is located just a small distance away from Dal Lake. In fact both the water bodies are interconnected by a small water channel. In summer time the water is pleasantly cool. The lake is one of the best ions, which you can enjoy a captivating round of boating. Even in the middle of the lake you can experience the thrill of shopping.
» Wular & Manasbal Lake:
It is difficult to describe in mere words the beguiling beauty of Wular Lake. For one, its formidable size - this is one of Asia's largest fresh water lakes - for another, it changes character with every few miles. The drive from Srinagar will take you to the calm waters of Manasbal , where there is no other sound but birdsong. Manasbal has often been described as the bird watcher's paradise, and as your shikara glides through this mirror of tranquillity, you will experience yet another facet of Kashmir.From Watlab, the Wular Lake stretches away as far as the eye can see, edged by picturesque villages around terraced breeze-rippled fields of paddy, in a riotous burst of colour, the sheer grandeur of the spectacular countryside at leisure.
» Shalimar Garden:
Shalimar garden was built by Mughal Emperor Jehangir in the year 1619 AD and called it "Farah Baksh" (the delightful). Eleven years later Zaffer Khan the Governor of Kashmir during Emperor Shah Jahan's reign extended the garden and called it "Faiz Baksh" (the Bountiful). The garden was graded in three sections. The outer garden known as the Diwan-i-Aam, the central portion the Emperor's garden called as the "Diwan-i¬Khas" and the uppermost by far the best garden was for the Empress and her ladies. The romantic effect of numerous fountains in large tanks and central water channel, cascades, and monumental pavilions, mighty chinars, lush lawns laden with colour and fragrance speak volumes for the taste of Great Mughal.
» Nishat Garden:
Nishat garden, the garden of Delight, is the largest Mughal Garden on Dal-Lake and was laid out by Asaf Khan, brother of Nur Jahan, The empress of Mughal India and wife of Jahangir, in the year 1632 A.D. It is located on Dal-Lake about 2.5 Kilometers to the south of Shalimar and commands a magnificent view in the west and with a panoramic back drop of mountains in the East. The garden had originally 12 terraces. Enchanting central water channel, rippling fountains in large tanks and channels and sparkling cascades amidst bountiful colours, lush lawns and mighty chinars are principal features of this pleasure garden.
» Pari Mahal:
The name Pari Mahal appears to be a distorted version of "Peer Mahal" built by Prince Dara Shikoh, eldest son of Emperor Shah ]ahan in the year 1640 A.D. for his tutor Peer Mullah Shah. Once the royal observatory, it is a seven terraced garden located on the base of Zabarvan mountain range over-looking city of Srinagar and Dal-Lake. The Mahal built for the meditation and summer residence of Peer Mullah Shah is a replica of typical Mughal architecture in garden layout, water now been restored to its glory with captivating terraced gardens, motorable road up to the garden and wonderful lighring effects which look marvelous and captivating at night.
» Tulip Garden:
Tulip garden previously named as Model Floriculture Centre, is located at the base of Zabarwan Hills with partial fromnt view of picturesque Dal Lake. This garden was conceived, conceptualized and created by Mr. Gh. Nabi Azad, the then Chief Minister, J&K in the year 2006-07. Main aim of this garden is to boost floriculture and advance tourism in Kashmir Valley. Over 12 Lakh tulip bulbs of 68 varieties of different colours are said to be blooming here every year.
» Cheshma Shahi:
Chashma Shahi is a beautiful garden situated at the distance of almost eight kilometers from the city. It was a natural spring around which a garden was developed by the brother of Nur Jahan, the famous queen of Jahangir, the third Mughal emperor. He was so fascinated with the surroundings that he not only decorated the spring’s surroundings with beautiful floral plants and ornamental trees but also roofed the spring. A reservoir was constructed around the spring from which water gushed through canal network to causing fountains to play day and night, creating a soothing atmosphere during the summers. Among the Mughal gardens of Kashmir Chashma Shahi fascinated Shahjahan, the fourth Mughal emperor, the most owing to the fact that it haunted him with the sweet memories of his beloved queen, Mumtaz Mahal who always accompanied him during his visit to these gardens. Mughal royal families were charmed by the scenic beauty and landscapes of its surroundings in addition to the sweet water of Chashma Shahi having medicinal value and a special department was created to carry its water to Agra to be used in the royal kitchen. Hundreds of ponies were used to be engaged with almost a hundred of supervisors who supervised the operation of carrying water from the valley to Agra in large earthen wares which were carried by the ponies, two at a time by a single pony, and a caravan of almost thirty to fifty ponies at a time used to travel from Chashma Shahi to Agra and vice versa via Mughal road cut through Poonch and Rajouri distts. at present. These earthenwares were covered with red cloth pieces and were used to be kept moist so as to regulate the coolness of the water inside. These earthenwares full of water of Chashmashahi used to reach Agra almost after a week.
» Jarokha Mughal Garden:
The little known Jarogabal garden is located on the steep North Eastern Bank of loveliest and loneliest Manasbal Lake. The name in all probability is the distorted version of "Daroga Bagh" also known as "Lalla Rookh's Garden".
This garden is believed to be laid by Nur Jahan wife of Jahangir in 1620 A.D. Situated at about a distance of 62 km’s from the city the garden is watered by an ancient and once sacred spring from the adjacent hillside. All its pavilions are Kashmiri in character. Fountains in water channels spray and splash and cascades tumble presenting a romantic view. Resting at the foot of a hill with a row of majestic chinars framing it, the garden of Achabal is a visual delight. They embody all that goes to make a Mughal Garden- stepped terraces, formal elegance , ornamental shrubs, sparkling fountains and falling water.
The present name Verinag is probably the deformed version of Virah-Nag in Sanskrit. It is located about 61 Kilometers south of Srinagar at the foot of Banihal hill range. The gushing spring of Verinag is the source of the river Jehlum in Kashmir. The Mughal Emperor Jehangir was highly impressed by the natural beauty of this irregular spring and its surroundings and built an octagonal tank of sculptured stones around it in 1620 A.D. Seven years later his son Shah Jahan constructed cascades and fountains in straight lines in front of the spring and also hot and cold baths (Hamams) of which only ruins are now left. Its bountiful gushing water, open lawns, mighty chinars, colour and fragrance of flowers against the backdrop of a green forest are the bounties of nature one can be proud of.
» Dachigam National Park:
This relatively unknown national park is most famously known for its resident specie of Kashmiri Stag also known as Hangul (cervus elaphus hanglu) who happens to be distinctly related to the European Red Deer. Dachigam National Park was set up to afford protection to this critically endangered animal. Dachigam National Park is stituated 3 km’s ahead of Shalimar Garden and 18 kms from Srinagar. Other noted animals include: Wolves, Markhor, Musk Deer, Snow Leopard and Brown Bear. The park is also home to a fish breeding farm where the famous brown trout and rainbow trout are farmed.
The Capital - Its Shrines and Monuments
» Old City:
With its almost medieval charm, the old city of Srinagar has sights, smells and sounds to enchant the most jaded traveller. Its labyrinthine roads and bustling bazaars are a photographer's delight. Traditionally dressed men and women on their way to the city's many mosques and shrines, burnt brick buildings with their rich warm colour, these are some of the old city's moods which linger in the corners of a traveller's mind, long after one leaves Kashmir.
The Hazratbal Mosque is located in a village of the same name on the banks of the Dal. Its pristine white marble elegance is reflected in the waters of the lake. Hazratbal's special significance is derived from the fact that it houses a hair of the prophet Muhammad. This is displayed to the public on religious occasions, usually accompanied by fairs. Apart from these occasions, Friday prayers are offered at Hazratbal and attended by throngs of people. Hazratbal is remarkable for being the only domed mosque in Srinagar; the others having distinct pagoda like roofs. The shrine – mosque complex is situated on the western shore of the DalLake opposite Nishat Bagh and commands a grand view of the lake and the mountain beyond.
» Jama Masjid:
The Jama Masjid at Nowhatta, in the heart of the old city, is the other important mosque in Srinagar at which thousands of people congregate for the Friday prayers. Of imposing proportions, the mosque is built around a courtyard and is supported by 370 wooden pillars. The hushed quiet of the mosque counterpoints the bustle of the old bazaars surrounding it. Originally built by Sultan Sikandar in 1400 AD, and enlarged by his son, Zain-ul- Abidin, it is a typical example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. Destroyed thrice by fire and rebuilt each time, the mosque, as it now stands, was repaired during the reign of Maharaja Pratap Singh
» Shanakaracharya Temple:
The sacred temple of Shankaracharya occupies the top of the The sacred temple of Shankaracharya occupies the top of the hills known as Takht-I-Sulaiman in the south-east of Srinagar. The site dates back to 250BC. The philosopher Shankaracharya stayed at this place when he visited Kashmir ten centuries ago to revive Sanatan Dharma
» Shah – E - Hamdan:
Situated on the banks of the river Jhelum, between the third and fourth bridge, it is the first mosque ever built in Srinagar. The original one was built in 1395.Shah Hamadan's full name was Mir Sayed Ali Hamadni, the surname being derived from the city of Hamadan in Persia. Shah-i-Hamdan, who came from Persia in the 13th century, was responsible for the spread of Islam in Kashmir. Khanqah-i-Mualla, on the banks of the Jhelum, was the very spot where Shah-i-Hamdan used to offer prayers. After staying in Kashmir for many years, he left for Central Asia via Ladakh. The Khanqah is a wooden structure whose chief aesthetic feature is its beautifully carved eaves and hanging bells. The interiors are richly carved and painted, and the antique chandeliers give it an air of opulence.
» Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara:
The sixth Sikh guru travelled through Kashmir, stopping to preach occasionally. A gurudwara has been built at the exact site of each of these halts. The most important one among these is Chhatti Padshahi gurudwara, situated near the Kathi Darwaza, in Rainawari, Srinagar, which is held in great reverence by devotees of all faiths
Parihaspora is situated 24 km’s away from Srinagar. During the first period of the Dogra rule it used to be called pargana “Paraspur”. The ruins of Parihaspur Budhist site are presently known as Kane Shahs ( main stone structure), Govrardhan & Budh karewa. This area was developed and inhabited by famous King Lalitaditya (695-731 AD) and later made the capital of Kashmir. Parihapora is presently known as the city of stones. It is observed by the archaeologists that this land carries religious structures and palaces mainly. Within the limits of this ancient city , the prominent structures which the King raised include: Govardhan, Mukta Keshav, Parhas Keshav, Mahavrah, Raj Vihar etc. The King had also constructed a Fort of iron brick in the city ; however, the remains of this Fort are not seen. The devastation of this monumental glorious city has been due to several wars between the kings and the last destruction of the city has been ascribed to Sultan Sikander ( 1379-1413 AD). Some historians say that during Kushan era (79-15 BC) Royal Bodh Vihar was constructed here and 3rd Budh Conference of Kashmir is believed to have been held here (79 BC) as evident from the inscriptions of certain stones discovered
» Harwan Buddhist Ruins:
Harwan Buddhist Ruins date back to 300 AD ,as recorded in the chronicles, and is situated in North-West of Kashmir from eastern side of Shalimar Mughal Garden. The ruins are famous for Kushan period civilization. These ruins were discovered after excavation in the first quarter of 20th Century. The position of the excavated site reveals that the settlement structures in steps. These ruins are not only unique in India but whole of the World where the habitat and living conditions of Kushan period people are seen. Henrich, an European writer, has stated that Nag Arjun the Budhist was born in the era of Kanishk who had stationed at Harwan. The ancient name of Harwan was Shadara-hadwan meaning woods of six saints. On the tiles discovered from the site the remnants of early civilization are evident. Properly shaped and backed tiles depict the images of such people which look similar to the people of Yarkand or Kashgar and some people are seen wearing Turkish caps and trousers. Two springs are seen closeby which would have been used for drinking water purpose.
Burza Hama is situated in the north-west of Kashmir, nearly 24 kms from Shalimar road Srinagar and 16 kms from Naseem Bagh Road Srinagar. It is a land with ancient settlement ruins dating back to Neolithic age. Excavation of this site was conducted by the Archaeological Department, Government of India, in 1961. The ancient utensils and other artefacts discovered, signifying the ancient civilization, have been kept in the National Museum, Calcutta (Kolkatta). Burza Hama ruins are unique and first of its kind in Kashmir and elsewhere in the country and the world. This civilization has been segregated into four phases by the archaeologists signifying mud settlements, earthen utensils, bone utensils & tools, raw bricks. The fourth & last segment meets with ancient history which is earlier to the Harwan Budhist settlement ruins of Srinagar. On stones tiles some carvings depict Hangul (Kashmir Deer) game shooting with Sun, indicating day time game
Sonamarg - The Golden Land
Sonamarg literally meaning “ The Meadow of Gold” lies in the heart of a beautiful valley carved by the river Sindh. At a magical height of 3000 meters, the beautiful mountain resort is surrounded by towering mountains that glow once the sun sets its eyes upon them. Rich forests of silver, intermingled with Sycamore and fringed on their upper borders with silver birch clothe the mountain sides Sonamarg boasts of colorful valleys with grand rocky cliffs and white glaciers. Situated 80 km’s northeast of Srinagar, the road that runs to Sonamarg is the beginning of an enchanted journey into a natural wonderland. The road initiates winds under the shadow of the mountains. The journey to Sonamarg passes through peaceful pastoral land with the picturesque snow clad Harmukh range etched against the deep blue of the Himalayan sky. En route Sonamarg, gypsies with their cattle, ponies, buffaloes, sheep's and goats are seen. Mighty mountains of up to 5300 metres, Thajiwas glaciers being its outstanding feature, surround Sonamarg. Thajiwas, pine shaded, with gushing mountain streams. Silver waterfalls and the Thajiwas glacier form a sparkling contrast to the green meadowland. It provides a challenging climb. Sonamarg is a wonderful destination for an intrepid traveler, who is looking for exciting places known for their adventure sports. Apart from valleys, the Sonamarg region also boasts of high altitude lakes only reached via trekking trails.
Places of interest
» Thajwass Glacier:
One of the most popular short walks from Sonamarg and a major attraction during the summer months is the 4-km route to Thajiwas, a small valley at the foot of the Sonamarg glacier. A path leads up to the Shakhdar hill, overlooking the glacier from the northeast. It is dangerous to climb the steep slope leading up to the glacier. Ponies can be hired for the trip up to Thajiwas glacier. Often in early summer one will meet groups of Gujar passing through Sonamarg on their way to the alpine meadows for the summer.
Nilagrad is a mountain river that meets the roaring Indus at a small Balti hamlet about 6 km’s further from Sonamarg. The waters of this particular river is reddish in color and the The Balti’s who are a distinct race from the upper reaches of the Ladakh region think that the water has curative powers for many diseases.
» Bishensar and Krishensar Lakes:
There is a lake in every corner of the Himalayas and there is many at Sonamarg also. The trail proceeds from Sonamarg to Bisansar Lake via Nichinai Pass. Crossing the river at Nichinai Pass stands the Bisansar Lake at an altitude of 4, 084m, with its its lovely natural beauty. Beside the lake is the Krishnasagar Lake at an altitude of 3,801m, popular for Trout fishing.
» Gangabal Lake:
The famous Gangabal lake can be reached after a 5 day trek in the upper reaches of the Sonamarg area. En-route to Gangabal, you can take a fascinating trip across the Vishensar Lake (3680m) and Gadsar Lake (3900m) through steep climbs followed by a rapid descent, whereafter the magical Gadsar Lake appears, mostly full of broken glacier masses. A trek of 17 km via Satsar Lake, 3600 m, passes through Gangabal valley, where the view of Harmukh Peak is breathtaking. A few kilometers walk will take you to Gangabal Lake 3570 m at the foot of Harmukh. A plain campsite amidst the valley is an unforgettable experience. From Gangabal, a 17 km descend leads to Naranag ruins. 5 km’s further down is Wangat 2050 m, from where a metal road leads back to Sonmarg via Kangan and to Srinagar.
The Goddess Ragnya Devi is symbolised as a sacred spring at Tula Mula village, 27 kms from Srinagar. Within the spring is a small marble temple. The devotees of the goddess fast and gather here on the eighth day of the full moon in the month of May when, according to belief, the goddess changes the colour of the spring's waters. The temple-spring complex is affectionately known as Kheer Bhawani because of the thousands of devotees who offer milk and 'kheer' to the sacred spring, which magically changes colours to warn of disaster.
Situated at a distance of 15 km’s from Sonamarg is a side valley famous for its annual pilgrimage base to Amarnath Caves. The meandering trek of 14 km’s starts from here and is an option for those travelers looking for a short holiday and pilgrimage together.
» Naranag – Temple Complex:
The Valley of Kashmir is known not only for its lush green meadows, snow-capped mountains but also for its historical and religious places. There is a temple complex called Nara Nag which evokes awe and is a devotee's delight. According to the traditions the water of the spring comes from the Gangabal Lake, as the spring is located at the foot of the Bhutsher or Bhuteshwara, a spur of the Haramukha peaks. There are two groups of temples situated at a distance of about 100 yards from each other. The small tank with perennial water of Nara Nag has refreshing, digestive properties. At a further distance there is a temple dedicated to Bhairva. The western group identified with the temple is dedicated to Lord Siva. Lalitaditya Muktapida eighth century King of Kashmir erected a temple of Lord Shiva here. The King Avantivarman paid a visit and donated a pedestal with a silver conduct for bathing at Bhutsher. These temples are built of grayish granite found in abundance in neighborhood and their different architectural entities as evidently prove that they are of a different era. The first group consists of seven temples, the largest temple of the group has two entrances opposite to each other in north-east and south-west direction. The temple is built of huge rectangular stones laid in dry masonry with inter locking system. The interior is square and ceiling is domical built of horizontal kanjur stones and the apex stone crowned by a full blown lotus. The closed doors embellished with trefoil arches and pediment reflect the Greco-Roman influence on the Kashmiri Temple architecture.The second group of temples is enclosed by two chambered huge gateway of similar size and shape as of Avantipur temple. The 100` ft long by 67` broad pillared hall is a remarkable architecture feat of the whole group of temples. The temples were plundered in the days of Jyasimha in Kalhana's time. The temple of Naranag suffered many misfortunes as mentioned in Khalhana's Rajatarangani during the reign of Sangramaraja (11th century). The temple- was plundered by Bhandesvara, a Minister of the King. For the period of the reign of Uchchala (12th century) a conflagration caused much damage to the building and during the reign of Jayasimha Hayavadava(12th century), a rebel minister also attacked these temples. Nara Nag is the base camp of the Gangabal Lake' it takes 8-10 hour on foot or on horse back to reach the lake.
» Kullan Village:
This tiny village is located just 16 kilometers below Sonamarg and is famous for its only Four star hotel and a royal Swiss camp located here. Apart from the calmness of this area, The village offers quite hill tours and village walks and also has a small river running past which becomes an anglers paradise as it boasts of the famous trout fish. This place is an ideal base for those who wish to relax in the cool atmosphere as well as take a holy pilgrimage to the annual Amarnath Yatra.