A brief synopsis of Jammu is mentioned here as it would be bewitching to discover many historic monuments including Amar Mahal Palace Museum, the popular Raghunath and Ranbireshwar temples , Dargah of Peer Budhan Ali Shah, Peer Kho Cave temple, Bahu Fort and Bagh-e-Bahu in the winter capital.. Pretty Patnitop en route to Srinagar, is the highest point in the highway and offers camping sites and paragliding. The Raghunath Temple, a large complex has a rich collection of ancient manuscripts. Other important temples are Ranbireshwar, Peer Khoh and Panjbakhtar. The Amar Mahal Palace is a fine castle-like building, overlooking the Tawi River and part of the palace is a Museum with royal memorabilia, Pahari paintings and works of some famous artists like M F Hussain, Ram Kumar and J Swaminathan. The Mubarak Mandir Palace in the old bazaar is now a decrepit complex, but worth a look from the outside! A fort-cum-temple, Bahu Fort, is perhaps the oldest edifice and hosts the temple of Bawey Wali Mata. The Akhnoor Fort stands on a riverside cliff and the excavations within have yielded remains from the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation. Riasi, another town close to Jammu, has the Bhimgarh Fort and a hill top temple of Mahakali!
It would be wonderful to undertake a journey to the holy cave of Mata Vaishno Devi, located in the folds of three mountains called Trikuta Hills, which attracts devotees from all over India and abroad, as the belief in the Goddess ascertains that She fulfills all the longings of human life……dharma, artha, kama and moksha. The uphill footpath is well paved and winds through hills of great natural beauty, which may be covered on a horseback, `kandis’ or a trek! The path goes through a narrow cave and at the end of the cave or corridor is the raised marble platform on which the Goddess reveals herself in a natural rock formation. There are no statues, pictures or idols inside!
After a hectic trip from Vaishno Devi, it would be advisable to take a short break at Patni Top en route to Srinagar.Situated on top of a hill, this hill station offers an excellent vantage point to enjoy the superb vistas of the Chenab Gorge and the beauty of its pine trees. The Skating Garden, Chinar Garden and Picnic Spot complete with swings and slides to woo the tourists who may also spend some time on their own with a book and sandwich, to hear the wind sighing through the trees and then returning back to their romantic enigma! Idyllic to spend a day or two here in an absolutely tranquil environment.
Ladakh, or “Little Tibet”, comprising of Leh and Kargil, also encompasses spectacular scenery. Though there are alpine steppes here, it is enchanting even in its barrenness. The world’s highest cold desert is in Leh, which is about 3,500-m above sea level, with many coloured rocks, but a visit to Ladakh would need acclimatisation to the climate as there is less oxygen here. Buddhism lies at the heart of this region and there are several quaint monasteries with many Tibetan monks dotting the area. Trekking and mountain-climbing in its Karakoram ranges are popular with tourists, though there is river-rafting also in the Zanskar River, but trained rafters should take professional guidance. Jeep safaris are popular. Lake Tsomoriri and Pangong Lake are sought after for their beauty, and so is the Nubra or Ldumra Valley, the valley of flowers at 10,000 ft above the sea.
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!