Tourism in Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of India locked in Himalayan Mountains. Jammu and Kashmir is home to several Valleys such as the Kashmir Valley, Tawi, Chenab Valley, Poonch, Sindh Valley and Lidder Valley. Some major tourist attractions in Jammu and Kashmir are Srinagar, the Mughal Gardens, Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Patnitop, Jammu, and Ladakh. Some areas require a special permit for non-Indians to visit.
- Jammu — Jammu is the winter capital of state and known for its temples, particularly The Vaishno Devi Temple in Katra which is visited by over 1 crore (10 million) pilgrims every year, making Jammu the most visited part of Jammu and Kashmir State.
- Kashmir Valley — is visited for its gardens, lakes, and pristine streams and landscapes. Kashmir Valley consists of many ancient temples and shrines which makes it an important site for Hindus and Buddhists.
- Ladakh — consists rivers like Indus river. The peaks in the Ladakh Range are at a medium altitude close to the Zoji-la (5,000–5,500 m or 16,000–18,050 ft) and increase toward the southeast, culminating in the twin summits of Nun-Kun (7000 m or 23,000 ft).
- Jammu — the winter capital
- Srinagar — the summer capital of the state, set around Dal Lake, with its floating houseboats
- Gulmarg — Skiing and the India’ highest gondola
- Katra— in the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains and home of the holy Mata Vaishno Devi shrine
- Leh — the jumping off point for treks and adventures around Ladakh
- Pahalgam — a calm and serene place offering multiple trekking routes. Starting point of Amarnath Yatra
- Patnitop — a small hill station in Jammu
- Kishtwar locked between Himalayas and known for Saffron.
Before militancy intensified in 1989, tourism formed an important part of the Kashmiri economy and Kashmir was the favorite destination for Bollywood. Kashmir had 19 cinema halls which were closed due to rising Islamic Terrorism. The tourism economy in the Kashmir valley was worst hit. However, the holy shrines of Jammu and the Buddhist monasteries of Ladakh continue to remain popular pilgrimage and tourism destinations. Every year, thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit holy shrines of Vaishno Devi and Amarnath which has had significant impact on the state’s economy.
Tourism in the Kashmir valley has rebounded in recent years and in 2009, the state became one of the top tourist destinations of India. Gulmarg, one of the most popular ski resort destinations in India, is also home to the world’s highest green golf course. The decrease in violence in the state has boosted the states economy specifically tourism.It was reported that 7.36 lakh tourists visited Kashmir in 2010 including 23,000 foreigners. In 2011, the number of tourist arrivals in Kashmir touched the mark of 10 lakh.
As elsewhere in India, English is fairly widely spoken among the educated classes and those involved in the tourist industry.
The last stop on the railway line north is Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra railway station, where you can catch onward buses and hire SUVs/MUVs (Tata Sumo / Toyota Innova/ Mahindra Scorpio). However it is better to get down in Jammu and catch a taxi from there as these are more readily available.
The Jammu–Baramulla line is a railway line being built in India to connect the state of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country. The Project officially coded USBRL (Udhampur Srinagar Baramulla Railway Link) starts from the city of Udhampur, 55 kilometres (34 mi) north of Jammu, and travels for 290 kilometres (180 mi) to the city of Baramulla on the northwestern edge of the Kashmir Valley. The route crosses major earthquake zones, and is subjected to extreme temperatures of cold and heat, as well as inhospitable terrain, making it an extremely challenging engineering project.
- Buses are operated by J&K SRTC to most points around the state. They offer package tour to Gulmarg, Shonmarg, Yusmarg, Wular lake, City tour, etc. There is Tourist information center, where one get the tickets plus info.
- 4 wheel drive jeeps are quicker, a little more expensive and reach more locations. Private hire jeeps are also available.
Gulmarg is well known for its natural environment and it is counted as one of unique tourist destinations in the India. Gulmarg is surrounded by dense forest. This place has a highland golf course. There is a special Gondola ride(ropeway) from Gulmarg.
The town of Katra, which is close to Jammu, contains the Vaishno Devi shrine. Nestling on top of the Trikuta Hills at a height of 1700 m is the sacred cave shrine of Vaishno Devi, the mother goddess. At a distance of 48 km from Jammu, the cave is 30 metres long and just 1.5 metres high. At the end of the cave are shrines dedicated to the three forms of the mother goddess — Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasarasvati, which is manifested as Vaishno Devi. Pilgrims start trekking to the cave temple, which is 13 km from Katra, enter in small groups through a narrow opening and walk through ice waters to reach the shrines.
The way to reach Sonmarg or the Meadow of the gold is from the Sindh Valley. This valley also shows more amazing facet in Kashmir. Sonmarg is located at an altitude of around 2730 meters from the sea level; it has snow-covered mountains as its backdrop against the sky. The ZOZILLA path which is one of the deadliest roads on the earth can be travelled from here.
Raghunath Temple is dedicated to the Hindu Lord Shri Rama. All the inner walls of this temple are covered with gold, on three sides. Galleries of this temples are covered with ‘ Saligrams’. The other surrounding temples are related to other gods from the Ramayana. This temple is located in the centre or we can say in the heart of Jammu.
Mubarak Mandi Palace
Mubarak Palace was built with the touch of three different styles, Rajasthani, Mughal and Gothic. Most famous part of this Palace is the Sheesh Mahal segment. There is a Dogra Art Museum, which is a treasure house of miniature paintings from various hill schools.
In Kashmir Valley
- Vernag Spring and Mughal Garden– A fresh water spring and a Mughal garden next to it, spring is chief source of Jhelum River.
- Amarnath temple – pilgrimage site for Hindu devotees of Shiva.
- Srinagar – Summer Capital of Jammu and Kashmir, a popular hill station
- Dal lake – a lake in Srinagar, with house boats called shikharas.
- Manasbal Lake
- Shalimar Gardens—Mughal Garden
- Nishant Gardens-Mughal Garden
- Chashme Shahi– Mughal Garden
- Pari Mahal– old monument of Pari Mahal, one can have full view of Dal Lake.
- Shankaracharya Temple– Ancient Temple of Lord Shiva
- Hari Parbat– Ancient Temple of Goddess Sharika Bhagwati and an old fort on this hill.
- Kheer Bhawani Temple
- Martand Sun Temple – a Kashmiri Hindu temple dedicated to Surya (the chief solar deity in Hinduism) and built during the 8th century CE. Martand is another Sanskrit name for the Hindu Sun-god. Now in ruins, the temple is located five miles from Anantnag.
- Gulmarg – Popular hill station and skiing destination.
- Pahalgam – Hill station
- Betaab Valley– A lush green valley 06 km from Pahalgam where the movie Betaab was shot.
- Sonmarg – Hill station
- Yusmarg – Hill station
- Aru – scenic valley
- Lolab Valley – Least disturbed camping site and lush green valley
- Eco-tourism places:Gurez, Bangus Valley.
- Vaishno Devi – Hindu shrine.
- Patnitop – Hill station
- Bhaderwah – Hill station
- Eco-tourism places: Mantalai and Shivkhori
- Bhimgarh Fort
- Ramnagar Fort in Udhampur District
- Mansar Lake with its length more than a mile and width half-a-mile, is a very attractive lake in the midst of lusting greeneries surrounded by forest-covered hills. It is considered as a very holy site known from mythological periods sharing the sanctity and legacy of Mansa Sarovar. It is a very popular base of tourists.
- Leh – One of the two districts of Ladakh, with monasteries.
- Nubra Valley – the scenic valley with towns of Deskit and Hundar.
- Lake Moriri – one of the largest and high altitude lakes.
- Pangong Lake – Lake divided between India and China
- Zanskar – scenic trekking areas.
- Suru Valley – Origin of various glaciers, Nun and Kun Peaks
- Drass – World’s Second Coldest Inhabited Place, site of the 1999 Kargil war. Must visit Dras War Memorial
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