Jammu city – famous for temples 

Jammu the winter capital of Jammu & Kashmir is one of the most visited cities of India, which is situated in northern part of our country with hundreds of famous temples, which attract tourists from all parts of the world. Jammu is gateway to many famous tourist destinations including world renowned Mata Vaishno Devi, Srinagar the regular capital of the state, better known as the heaven on earth and base of tourist places like, Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Khilanmarg, Patnitop and Amarnath. Jammu hosts millions of tourists every year who come to visit temples situated in city itself and surrounding areas. Jammu is also the base camp of nearby tourist centers with airport, railhead, taxi services, buses and thousands of hotels to suit every pocket. The famous places in and around Jammu- 

Raghunath temple

-RaghunathRaghunath temple constructed by erstwhile king of the state Gulab singh and his son who finished the construction work in 1860, situated right in center of the city is one of the places where every tourist visits for its sculptural beauty. The main temple with its gold plated walls and main domes is surrounded by many other temples related with Ramayana age and Ram, avatar of Vishnu the creator of universe in particular. Tourists flock the temple and surrounding areas as the main city market also known as Raghunath Bazaar caters to every need of tourists including meals, clothes, residence, gifts and tourist center. Most hotels are situated in close vicinity and bus stand is close by. People buy almonds, walnut, kidney beans (Rajma) and rice the famous produces of the area from this market to carry with them.   

Bahu Fort

Bahu fort situated about five kilometers away from the main city of Jammu is probably the oldest known building, which was constructed by king Bahulochan of the Dogra clan. The temple of Goddess Kali attracts visitors, better known as ‘Babe wale Mata’ considered as Goddess who saves city from all disasters. The fort is situated on a hillock with a magnificent view of city and Tawi River that is another attraction point of tourists who come to worship Devi Kali here. The entire fort is surrounded by beautiful gardens making it all the more attractive for tourists who visit the place round the year. 

Amar Mahal Palace  

One of the most attractive buildings in Jammu Amar Mahal, a construction of red tiles of stones originally official residence of former Dogra king Amar Singh later donated to state for public use.. Now the government of J&K has converted part of the palace into a museum with four rooms open for visitors. This museum has famous throne the kingly chair made of pure gold weighing about 120 kilograms, 25+ thousand books on display and a beautiful temple, which are main attractions of tourists visiting this famous location situated in Shivalik hills.      

Ambaran

Ambaran also known as Pambaran or Pambawarn as locals call this town situated about 25 kilometers away from Jammu in Akhnoor town on the banks of Chenab River considered 2500 years old after the archaeological department found out terracotta figures related to Buddha period besides the place having relations with different cultures. Most visitors to Jammu make it a point to visit this town to see wonderful excavations scattered in this area and still coming out. It could prove to be a very good one-day trip if you are interested in Buddha culture or history.

Patnitop 

Patnitop a famous hill resort situated at more than 2000 meters above the sea level in Shivalik ranges of Himalayas almost 110 Km fro Jammu. Patnitop is located at the banks of Chenab River on the main Jammu-Srinagar national highway. The state government of Jammu and Kashmir is promoting this beautiful area surrounded by hills full of greenery and snow in winters. There are different places to visit in Patnitop-

1- A very famous 600 years old temple of Snake God 

2- Kud - another picnic spot also very famous for a particular sweet sold on a particular shop, situated just before Patnitop on the highway 

3- Temple of Sudh Mahadev is  almost three centuries old, famous for its natural black marble made Shiva Ling, the Trishul of Shiva and mace of Mahabali Bheem, 

4- Pap Nashini Bawli a natural source of water where a three days fair takes place from the full moon nights in Sawan month every year. images

5- The famous hill resort Mantalai is almost 8 kilometers away from Sudh Mahadev temple where tourists visit for its surroundings with lush green scenic beauty. There is another famous Shiva temple in Mantalai where tourists join local people worshipping Lord Shiva and Parvati.   

Paragliding in Sanasar and Nathatop  

As I have mentioned earlier also that Patnitop situated on the main Jammu-Srinagar highway is fast becoming most proffered choice of visitors to Jammu and Kashmir for snow games and honeymooning couples, Sanasar and Nathatop make Patnitop more valuable with trekking and eco-adventure facilities and golfing. Sanasar is only 20 Km away from Patnitop that is very popular for paragliding, rock climbing and camping an ideal place for honeymooners. 

If you are visiting Patnitop looking for adventures trip you should move to Nathatop only 10 Km away from Patinitop where you would find one of the best locations which is popular for snow, skiing and paragliding. This place has no hotel facilities for staying therefore most people willing to stay in Nathatop arrange camping facilities provided by state tourist department, which is promoting this area on priority basis.  

Tourists go to Patnitop and surrounding areas round the year barring months of July, August and September when heavy rains can disrupt your fun also look for heavy landslides those block highway and all activities of the area in rainy season. Transportation otherwise is not a problem in this area as you can get taxis or buses from Jammu for Patnitop and for further tourist centers.

Bhaderwah  

Bhaderwah is located in Doda of Jammu region of J&K named after Bhadrakali, which later pronounced as Bhaderwah due to local pronunciation. Bhaderwah with its location, beauty and snow clad hills could have attract as many tourists as valley of Kashmir but due to disturbance in the area reduced its chances to emerge as important tourist center. However, the situation seems to return to normal and bring visitors back to enjoy available facilities in the area to a certain extent. With facilities of trekking, white water rafting, horse riding and camping, the way the present government of state is trying to promote tourism in the area there is every chance that the situation would soon change. As usual, the area has a big potential for religious tourism as well. 

Mata Vaishno Devi

Vaishno devi

One of the most popular religious places among the topmost visited places anywhere in the world, Mata Vaishno Devi calls her devotees who come to get her glimpses in millions from every nook and corner of the world. The Bhawan the building or main temple where three Pindis of Ma Vaishno are located displaying her three different faces. The first one as Maha Kali the Goddess of power, destruction and ready to fight with darkness, the second one that of Maha Lakshmi, the supreme power of money and energy and the third one of Maha Swarsati, the super power of knowledge and creation. However, I would prefer to give you description of travel to Vaishno Devi temple as per the views of a tourist. 

Vaishno Devi temple situated at in Shivalik range of Himalayas at 1700 meter from sea level, almost at the distance of 50 Km from Jammu. The base camp is Katra where devotee can stay before commencing their journey, which is apx.13+2.5=15.5 Km from one side that one can cover on foot or ponies available here. One can hire a pony for one-sided trip or for ‘to and fro’ journey but most people walk on feet. The duration of journey depends on physical condition of devotees who can cover this distance in 3-4 hours or a full day depending also on stoppage time or rest time one spends during his trip. Please keep in mind that Bhawan is at a height of 5000+ft height from sea level but there are places like Sanjichhat, which stand at more than 6000ft from see level. 

The journey has many famous places on the way to main temple better known as ‘Bhawan’ or ‘Mata ka Bhawan’ Once the devotee starts his Yatra chanting ‘Jai Mata ki’ along with hundreds others every moment from Katra he forgets every thing but keeps looking forward to reach to the holy caves to have the most awaited glimpses of Ma. The first point of journey begins from a holy dip in Ban Ganga that washes away the entire sins one may have on his way to meet Ma Vaishno Devi. Now they have made a barrier to check papers a little further of Ban Ganga before continuing journey. From here onward, a devotee has a choice in between a journey by plain road that goes up every meter to reach to the height of above 5000 ft starting at 2500 at Katra or climb the height through stairs.

The second stop/stage comes at Charan Paduka another journey covering almost one and a half Km in distance and 600 ft in height. The place is famous as point where Devi stopped to look back whether Bhairo the demon was still following her. Charan Paduka is mark of her feet at the place she stayed while trying to get away from Bhairo the demon.

Third and most important of stoppages is at Ardh Kumari located at almost midway in between Katra and Bhawan. Ma Vaishno stayed hidden here while worshipping Lord Shiva for nine months. Most visitors stop here for longer period and the late starters stay here overnight to continue next morning. Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has arrangements for devotees to stay comfortably providing them blankets etc and there is no shortage of eatables throughout the rout for ‘Jai Mata ki’ chanting devotees. Devotees pass through a uterus shaped narrow cave without any problem while chanting Jai Mata ki at even higher volume. They call it a rebirth when pass through the cave although no devotee has stuck in this cave however fat or big despite cave being too narrow.

Fourth stoppage Himkoti covering two and a half Km and only 300 ft in height as this part of the journey is smoother and most scenic compared to other stages. People find this particular stage of journey, as there is not much to climb but the fact is that there is no religious value as well because this part is recently developed. The fifth and the most strenuous is Sanjichhat as it takes a devotee almost 1100 ft higher from Himkoti within a short distance of only 1Km. People traveling by chopper services get down here at this point as Sanjichhat has sufficient place available to land a helicopter here.Pawanhans

The journey takes a downward trend from here and devotees cover almost last 2 Km in half an hour as they go down almost 1000 ft walking at brisk pace. Here they issue Darshan tickets checking your papers so that you can prepare yourself according to time available to you. You can have your bath, purchase Prasad and have some rest before entering into the queues formed to take you to place where Ma is waiting for you.

The systems have changed a lot from what these used to a couple of decades back when there was not as much crowd and devotees were allowed to enter the cave where Bhairo was killed and his body is still lying in shape of a stone. Devotees would enter the cave passing through the ice-chilled water flowing through the cave to inch toward the place where three famous Pindis are established. The devotees still reach to the same cave but through a newly built broader cave where they are well frisked before entering through metal detectors also cameras, coconuts Prasad, leather materials etc not allowed inside. Sanjichhat Helicopter landing space->

Once the Darshan is over and devotees come out of the holy cave they prefer to feed small girls as per their choice but minimum seven to please Mata Vaishno Devi. These small girls, considered as mother are also presented with money and other gifts. 

Now the final step- Once the ritual is over at Bhawan the final and most difficult journey begins with another one and half climb to Bhairo Ghati which is situated at over 6600ft. That means a sharp climb of another 1400 ft within this short journey to complete pilgrimage, which is not complete unless you worship Bhairo and take his blessings. Yes, the devotee must take the blessings to complete his journey because Ma Vaishno Devi granted the demon a boon after he asked for forgiveness that no pilgrimage would be complete unless a devotee did not attend the temple of Bhairo baba

Finally- I would like to suggest any one visiting North India should make sure to visit Jammu and surrounding areas to know our country’s true colors. You would not be disappointed by your decision to visit this wonderfully beautiful area blessed by almighty himself. 

All photos from- wikipedia 


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