Places to Visit in Jammu City
For those with more time, or their own vehicle, there are many places around Jammu or along the road the road to Srinagar. Prior to the completion of the Jawahar Tunnel the Trip from Jammu to Srinagar took two days with an overnight stop at Batote. Today you make the trip in one day but it’s a long haul (10 to 12 hours) with only a couple of rest stops and one lunch stop along the way. Most unusual for an Indian bus trip! There’s certainly no time for looking around if you’re on the direct bus.
The route between Jammu and Srinagar is 293 km (183 miles) long. From Jammu the road winds gently up and down to Udhampur (61 km) then climbs steeply to Patnitop (107 km). From here it drops just as steeply to Ramban (158 km), the road follows a picturesque but hazardous river route along this stretch. At Ramban it ascends again to Banihal (187 km) and on to the Jawahar Tunnel (204 km). The road descends rapidly into the Kashmir Valley, after the tunnerl, and runs flat the remaining distance to Srinagar. Places of interest along the road but within Kashmir are covered in the Kashmir section.
Akhnoor (32 Km north-west)
A few km from Jhiri, this is a popular picnic spot where the Chenab River reaches the plains. The Rambir Canal branches off from the Chenab at this point. There is an old fort beside the Chenab. Akhnoor is reached by a regular bus service. This used to be the route to Srinagar from Jammu during the Moghul era. The road passes through Nawshera. Rajauri and Poonch, 246 km form Jammu. Jehangir, who died en route to Kashmir, was buried at Chings, 36 km before Rajauri. There is a huge Moghul sarai at Thana Mandi, near Poonch. The waterfall at Noori Chham, a popular resting place for the Moghul queen Noor Jahan, is 16 km from here.
Basohli (125 km south-east, 53 km from Pathankot)
Situated fairly close to Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh, Basohli is the birthplace of the Pahari miniature paintings which are so famous in this region. There are some palace ruins in Basohli and it is a good base for treks. Direct buses run here from Jammu.
Billawar & Sukrala
Billawar is on the road from Udhampur to Dhar, which is near Basohli. The majestic old temple in Billawar is now mostly ruined. There are many interesting ruins of old wells, known as ‘baulis’ in this area. The temple of Sukrala Devi, with its fine old stone sculpture of the eight-armed Goddess Devi, is picturesquely situated on a hilltop, 10 km from Billawar.
Babor (72 km East)
This site is noted for its five ruined temples with carved figures of the Hindu gods.
Paramandal (39 km South-East, off the Pathankot Road)
Another popular picnic spot reached by a regular bus service, Paramandal is the site of an uncompleted rock temple planned, by Maharajah Rambir Singh, as part of a series of pilgrimage centres. The stream that flows form the base of the rock on which the temple is built is held to be particularly sacred. The stone serpent in the central shrine cistern is said to be a unique manifestation of Lord Shiva.
Surinsar Lake (45 km east)
A picturesque lake surrounded by pine trees with a central island.
Further, on the same road, beyond Surinsar this lake is also reached by a regular bus service and accommodation is available there in the Dak Bungalow. The legendary hereof o the Mahabharata, Anjuna, is said to have shot an arrow into the ground at Mansar. The arrow emerged at Surinsar and thus both lakes were created.
Beside the lake there is a small ruined palace with frescoes on the walls. In May of each year is a major folk festival at Mansar and alter the Chhing festival features wrestling bouts. The mysterious ruins of Mahor Garh, nobody knows who built them or why, are reached from Mansar.
Vaishno Devi (60 km North-West)
This important cave is dedicated to the three mother goddesses of Hinduism. Thousands of pilgrims visit the cave, particularly during the four month pilgrimage season. The cave is 30 metres long and reached by a very narrow entrance. The road terminates at Katra, 48 km from Jammu, and visitors have to make the final, steep, 12 km on foot. There is also a new road which leaves you two km closer to the cave and with considerably less climb to be made. Pilgrims walking to the cave greet each other with the cry ‘Jai Mataki’ – ‘Victory to the Mother Goddess’.
Katra is at the foot of the Trikuta Mountains and eight km from Katra is the village of Aghar Jito, site of the annual Kartik purnima or Jhiri festival. This is held in memory of the hero Bawa Bawa Jito whose historic struggle against tyranny is admired today as a symbol of truth and personal courage.
There is a Tourist Bungalow at Katra and a Rest House at Adkunwari, half-way between Katra and the cave. The cave is at 1600 metres. There are regular and deluxe buses from Jammu to Katra.
Kud (99 km North-East, on the Srinagar Road)
Situated at an altitude of 1738 meters this is a popular lunch stop on the Jammu-Srinagar highway. It’s also popular in its own right as a hill resort and has a well-known mountain spring, Swami ki Bauli, 1.5 km from the road. Kud has a Tourist Bungalow and during the summer there is a festival with nightly dancing.
Batote (118 km North-East, on the Srinagar Road)
Only 12 km further on and connected to Patnitop and Kud by a number of footpaths, the hill resort of Batote is at an altitude of 1560 meters. This was the overnight stop between Jammu and Srinagar before the opening of the Jawahar Tunnel. There is a Tourist Bungalows, tourist huts and several private hotels in Batote. As in Kud there is a famous spring close to the village – the Amrit Chasma is only 2.5 km away.
Patnitop (107 km North-East, on the Srinagar road)
Picturesquely situated at 2024 metres there are many pleasant walks around this popular hill station. It is intended that Patnitop will be the nucleus of tourist developments in this area. There are tourist huts, a Rest House and a Youth Hostel in Patnitop.
Sudh Mahadev (120 km North-East, off the Srinagar road at Kud)
The Shiva temple here attracts many pilgrims during the festival which takes place in July-August each year. The Asad Purnima festival features three days of music, singing and dancing. The holy shrine has a black carved figure of Shiva and Parvati and there is also an interesting iron trident.
Man Talai, five km Sudh Mahadev, is of archaeological interest due to the red earthenware and terra-cotta figures discovered here. Gauri Kund also five km distant, is a small cave associated with Parvati. Sculptures from Hindu mythology can be seen at the Pap Nashni Bauli springs. Shiv Garh is the highest mountain in the area.
Sudh Mahadev is only eight km, by a picturesque walking or jeep track, from Patnitop and Kud. It stands on the banks of the holy Dewak River, held by some to be as sacred as the Ganges. There is a small pilgrim’s rest house at Sudh Mahadev which is at an altitude of 1225 metres.
Sanasar (129 km North-East, off the Srinagar road at Patnitop)
At an altitude of 2079 metre’s the valley of Sankar has a beautiful meadow where Gujjar Shepherds bring their sheep during the warm summer months. Accommodation is available in the Tourist Bungalows, in tourist huts and in several private hotels.
Bhadarwah (204 km North-East, off the Srinagar road at Batote)
Every two years a procession of pilgrims starts from this beautiful, high altitude valley and walks to the 4400 metre high Kaplash Lake. The pilgrimage takes place two weeks after the Rakhi Purnima festival and is followed a week later by Mela Patt, a three-day festival in Bhadarwah. There are bus services from Jammu to Bhadarwah, the road leaves the Srinagar highway at Batote and heads east towards Kishtwar. A road then branches sout-east to Bhadarwah. There is rest house in this scenic location.
Kishtwar (216 km North-East, off the Srinagar road at Batote)
Well of the Jammu-Srinagar road, Kistwar is connected to Srinagar by a trekking route which goes through Banderkot, Dhadpeth, Mughal Maidan, Chatur, Sinthan and Daksum, crossing the 3797 metre sinthan pass. You can also trek from Kistwar into Zanskar, as detailed in the Zanskar section.
Kistwar is sited on a plateau above the Chenab River and below the Nagin Sheer glacier. It is noted for the fine saffron grown in the area and for the many waterfalls close by. A fall only three km from the town drops over 700 metres in a series of seven cascades.
The pilgrimage site of Sarthal Devi, with its 18-armed goddess statue, is 19 km from the town. Kishtwar also has the tombs of two important Moslem saints. Just over 100 km beyond Kistwar are the blue sapphire mines of Paddar, situated at an altitude of over 4000 meters.
Jawahar Tunnel (200 km from Jammu, 93 km from Srinagar)
Until the completion of the tunnel, Srinagar and Kashmir were often totally cut off from the rest of India during the winter months. The tunnel has two separate passages, each over 200 metres long. It’s at an altitude of 2500 metres and the condition of the road is terrible! Windscreen wipers are needed in the tunnel since it ‘rains’ inside. The tunnel not only ensured that Kashmir was accessible year round but also took half a day off the trip between Jammu and Srinagar. From Banihal, 17 km before the tunnel, you are already entering the Kashmiri region – many people speak Kashmiri as well as Dogri and many of the houses are of the traditional Kashmiri style. As soon as you pass through the tunnel you are in the vale of Kashmir and its green lushness is strikingly different from the other side of the range.