Jammu & Kashmir


Jammu & Kashmir is India's northernmost state, sharing international borders with Pakistan and Tibet, with Himachal Pradesh to its south. It comprises three very different topographic and cultural regions: Jammu region, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh-Leh. Jammu city is in the south of the state and is the only region that lies in plains and foothills and is the capital of the state for winter. Kashmir Valley to the north of Jammu has higher elevations, encompassed by the Pir Panjal range on the west and parts of the Great Himalayas on the north east. Srinagar town, the heart of the valley is Jammu & Kashmir's summer capital. Ladakh region is a mountain desert terrain and takes up almost 2/3rds of J&K's territory from the centre to the east.

J&K Tours

» Amarnath
» Gulmarg
» Raghunath Mandir
» Ladakh Monasteries
» Vaishno Devi

Amarnath


Amarnath is one of the most acclaimed of Hindu temples, dedicated to Lord Shiva, about 140 km from Srinagar in J&K. Estimated to be around 5000 years old, the Amarnath temple is visited by close to 400,000 Hindu devotees every year. Legend has it that Goddess Parvati asked her husband Shiv the reason behind his immortality. Thus God Shiv told her about the immortal secret of life and eternity or the Amar Katha at Amarnath. However, a solitary egg of a pigeon was hidden under his deerskin mat during this narration and the pair of pigeons born out of that egg became immortal having listened to the secret of immortality. To this day, many pilgrims report seeing the pair of pigeons when they trek the arduous route to the holy spot.



Gulmarg

To reach Gulmarg, you need get to Tangmarg. From Tangmarg, a jeep or 4x4 vehicle is the best mode of transport for the climb upwards. On your way stop at View Point to catch the most breathtaking view of the snow capped mountains all around. Also en route, visit the Ferozpur Nallah, which is a popular picnic spot. This is where the mountain stream, known for excellent trout fishing, meets the River Bahan. Take a cable car ride on the Gondola Lift and soar high above the snow-capped, pine covered slopes.

Raghunath Mandir


Temples dominate the sight-seeing highlights here. Raghunath Mandir in the heart of the city is the largest temple complex in northern India and is devoted to Lord Ram. The shrine of Vaishno Deviji is yet another popular pilgrimage destination situated close by. Visit the Bahu Fort which is home to Bawey Wali Mata Temple. Other temples in the vicinity include Ranbireshwar Temple and Panchbakhtar Temple near River Tawi. Dogra Art Museum famous for miniature paintings and Amar Mahal Palace Museum built in red sandstone should be included in your sight-seeing list. If you are an adventure lover, then Patnitop, 112 Km from the main city of Jammu offers exciting opportunities for trekking and paragliding in summers, and skiing during winters.



Jammu offers the charm of shopping in local markets. The city is famous for Pashmina shawls, and the best place to look for them is either at the state-owned emporiums or at Hari Bazaar. The emporiums generally stock everything from handicrafts to shawls and wooden souvenirs. To shop for apparels head to Raghunath Bazaar. Most of the restaurants here offer a decent level of Kashmiri cuisine besides serving North Indian fare.

Ladakh Monasteries


Matho Monastery is the only monastaery of the Sakyapa sect in Ladakh and holds prime importance in the region. Best known for its annual Oracle Festival held in February and March, Matho is also famous for its divination and fortune-telling. The residing oracles undergo months of fasting and meditation and once they are possessed by the deity, they perform nerve-chilling stunts such as walking on the parapets of the monastery blindfolded, and slashing themselves with razor sharp sabres without losing any blood. There is a museum with a rare collection of 400-years old thangkas and costumes here.



The Hemis Monastery on the west banks of the Indus River belongs to the Drugpa order and is perhaps the largest and the richest monastery in central Ladakh. Built by King Sengge Namgyal, the monastery becomes the centre of attraction during the annual Hemis Festival when a huge three-storey high thangka (the sacred applique-work tapestry twisted with pearls and semi-precious stones depicting Guru Padmasambhava) is displayed to the public, once in every 12 years. The monastery treasures a copper-gilt statue of Lord Buddha along with other gold and silver statues.

Vaishno Devi


Vaishno Devi is a hard four-hour (13-km) climb from Katra. The best time to come is March to July, as the rest of the time of the year it can be very cold. The main pilgrimage time is March-April and September-October. In 1986, 1.6 million people came here, or 15 to 20 thousand people a day. The cave ideally handles just 8 or 10 thousand people a day, as only 12 or 15 people are let into the cave at a time. On the full moon day in Kartika (October/ November) the line to get into the cave can be 4-km long. It is believed that the arm of Goddess Sati fell at this place.





There are a number of tourist places in and around Amritsar. Most of the places are of religious and historical importance. Other than the Golden Temple, you can visit several other Gurdwaras that trace their links with the Gurus. Gurdwara Baba Atal Sahib and the Shahidi martyr's shrine are important religious centers, which tell their own history. The Amritsar tour has a religious hue as it accommodates both temples and Gurudwaras for the Hindu and Sikh disciples.


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