Blue valleys, alpine passes -- Kashmir's beauty is the stuff of fables. The geography of Kashmir is actually divided into three land masses: the foothill plains of Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and the mountains of Ladakh. Its strategic position leads to off-and-on skirmishes with Pakistan and has converted this beautiful place into one of the highest battlegrounds of the world.
The people here are basically a quiet race and among the most beautiful people of India. The dominant religion is Islam and the language most spoken is Urdu. Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, is a hospitable place where the tourism industry is slowly picking up after years of strife. Here, you can boat in cushioned and canopies shikaras across the Dal and Nagin Lakes.
The Shankaracharya Temple, provides excellent views of the valley of Kashmir. Other places of tourist attractions are the Mughal Gardens of Shalimar where flowers, fountains, streams can be seen as well as the beautiful Mosque of Hazrathal. Pahalgam is a pleasant little, single street town full of streams. The site of the start to the shrine of Amarnath begins here. Gulmarg also has great scenic beauty to offer.
The tourist draws of Jammu are mainly the Raghunath Temple and the Vaishno Devi Temple which attracts pilgrims all over the country. Jammu has the typical typical climate of the plains and can be quite hot in summer.
In Ladakh the Leh Palace overlooks the town but is damaged. The Thiksey Monastery is, however, in shape rising in a white tiers up a hillock. The Stok Palace and Museum houses the royal relics of the last ruling family of Ladakh. Best time to visit: September-October or early winter.
Places to visit:
Raghunath Temple - is dedicated to Lord Rama. The inner walls of the temple are covered with gold sheet on three sides. The galleries are covered with lakhs of 'Saligrams'. The surrounding temples are dedicated to other gods and goddesses from the epic, Ramayana. The temple is located in the heart of Jammu. Construction of the temple was started in 1835 by Maharaja Gulab Singh and completed by his son, Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 1860.
Bahu Fort - The original fort was built by Raja Bahulochan but was modified and improved by Dogra rulers. This fort, perhaps the oldest edifice in Jammu, is located 5 km from the city. The fort is built on rocks facing the Tawi river. A temple dedicated to Goddess Kali is also inside the fort. Exquisitely laid-out gardens surround the fort on all sides.
Peer Baba - This is the famous dargah of the Muslim saint, Peer Budhan Ali Shah. On Thursdays apart from Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs also come in large numbers to pay respect at the shrine