Jammu Travel Guide
Festivals of Jammu
Festivals of Jammu
Lohri (13 January)
This festival heralds the onset of spring and is also known as Makar Sankranti. The whole region wears a festive look on this day.
Thousands take a dip in the holy river, called Havan Yagnas, and candles light up nearly every house and temple in Jammu. In the rural areas, it is customary for young boys to go around asking for gifts from newly-weds and parents of new-borns.
A special dance called the Chajja is held on the occasion of Lohri. It makes a striking picture to see boys along with their 'Chajjas' elaborately decorated with coloured paper and flowers dance on the street in a procession. The whole atmosphere of Jammu comes alive with pulsating drumbeats.
 Baisakhi (April 13 or 14)
The name Baisakhi is taken from the first month of the Vikram calendar. Every year, on the first day of Vaisakh, the people of Jammu, celebrate Baisakhi. Also known as the "harvest festival" it is considered auspicious especially for marriages. Devotees who take a ritual dip every year, throng the rivers, canals and ponds. Many people go to the Nagbani temple to witness the grand New Year celebration.
The occasion is marked by numerous fairs and people come in thousands to celebrate the beginning of the New Year and watch the famous Bhangra dance of Punjab. For the Sikhs of Jammu, Baisakhi is the day their tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, formed the Khalsa sect in 1699. The Gurdwaras are full of people who come to listen to kirtans, offer prayers and feast on the ‘prasad’ from the common kitchen ('langar').
 Bahu Mela (March-April and September-October)
A major festival is held at the Kali Temple in Bahu Fort twice a year.
 Chaitre Chaudash (March-April)
Chaitre Chaudash is celebrated at Uttar Behni and Purmandal, about 25 km and 28 from Jammu respectively. Uttar Behni gets its name from the fact that the Devak river (locally also known as Gupt Ganga) flows here in the northerly direction.
 Purmandal Mela (February-March)
Purmandal is 39 km from Jammu city. On Shivratri the town wears a festive look for three days as people celebrate the marriage of Lord Shiva to Goddess Parvati. The people of Jammu also come out in their colourful best to celebrate Shivratri at Peer Khoh Cave Temple, the Ranbireshwar Temple and the Panjbhaktar Temple. In fact, if one visits Jammu during Shivratri, one finds a celebration going on almost everywhere.
 Jhiri Mela (October-November)
An annual fair is held in the name of Baba Jitu, a simple and honest farmer who preferred to kill himself rather than submit to the unjust demands of the local landlord to part with his crop. He killed himself in the village of Jhiri, 14 km from Jammu. A legend has grown around the Baba and his followers congregate at Jhiri on the appointed day from every corner of North India; they revere him for his compassion, courage and honesty.
 Navratri Festival (Sept-Oct)
Though the yatra to the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is a round-the-year event, a pilgrimage undertaken during the Navratras is considered the most auspicious. In order to showcase and highlight the regional culture, heritage and traditions of the area during this period, the State Tourism Department has instituted the Navratri Festival as an annual event to be held during September/October for the nine auspicious days of the Navratras. A large number of tourists pay their obeisance to the deity during this period. This festival showcases the religious traditions as well as the popular culture of the region among the millions of pilgrims who visit the Vaishnodeviji Shrine during this period.
 Urs (all year round)
The Urs (or ziarats) is a typical Kashmiri festival. The Urs are held annually at the shrines of Muslim saints on their death anniversaries. There is a saying " It snows when the Urs of Meesha Sahib is held, it is windy when the Urs of Batamol Sahib takes place, it rains on the occasion of the Urs of Bahauddin". The Urs festivals are popular despite the rigours of weather.
Places To Visit
places to visit
Jammu is famous for its landscape, ancient temples, Hindu shrines, castles, gardens and forts. Hindu holy shrines of Amarnath and Vaishno Devi attracts tens of thousands of Hindu devotees every year. Jammu's beautiful natural landscape has made it one of the most famous destinations for adventure tourism  in South Asia. Jammu's historic monuments feature a unique blend of Islamic and Hindu architecture styles.
Purmandal, also known as Chhota Kashi, is located 35 km from Jammu city. An ancient holy place, it has several temples of Shiva and other deities. On Shivratri, the town wears a festive look and for three days as people celebrate the marriage of Lord Shiva to Goddess Parvati.
 Vaishno Devi shrine
The Vaishno Devi shrine attracts millions of Hindu devotees every year
The town of Katra, which is close to Jammu, is home to the famous Vaishno Devi shrine. Nestling on top of the Trikuta Hills at a height of 1700 m is the sacred cave shrine of Vaishno Devi, the mother goddess. At a distance of 48 km from Jammu, the cave is 30 m long and just 1.5 m high. At the end of the cave are shrines dedicated to the three forms of the mother goddess— Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasarasvati. Pilgrims start trekking to the cave temple, which is 13 km from Katra, enter in small groups through a narrow opening and walk through ice-cold waters to reach the shrines. According to legend, the mother goddess hid in the cave while escaping a demon whom she ultimately killed.
 Nandini Wildlife Sanctuary
Nandini Wildlife Sanctuary, called and best known for wonderful species of pheasants, has been established in an area of thick forests teeming with wild life. It is renowned natural habitat for a significant population of pheasants. Among the other avifauna are Indian mynah, Blue Rock Pigeon, Indian Peafowl, Red Junglefowl, Cheer Pheasant and chakor.
Spread over an area of 34 km2, the sanctuary is rich in fauna and provides refuge to a wide variety of mammals. The main species are leopard, wild boar, rhesus monkey, bharal and grey langur.
Situated 62 km from Jammu, Mansar Lake is a beautiful lake fringed by forest-covered hills, over a mile in length by half-a-mile in width. 34°14′54.35″N 74°40′3.43″E / 34.2484306°N 74.6676194°E / 34.2484306; 74.6676194 Besides being a popular excursion destination in Jammu, it is also a holy site, sharing the legend and sanctity of Lake Mansarovar.
On the eastern bank of Mansar Lake there is a shrine dedicated to Sheshnag, a mythological snake with six heads. The shrine comprises a big boulder on which are placed a number of iron chains perhaps representing the small serpents waiting on the tutelary deity of the Sheshnag. Newlyweds consider it auspicious to perform three circumambulations (Parikarma) around the lake to seek the blessings of Sheshnag.
Two ancient temples of Umapati Mahadev and Narsimha and a temple of Durga are situated in the vicinity of the Mansar Lake, which are visited by devotees in large numbers. People take a holy dip in the water of the lake on festive occasions. Certain communities of Hindus perform the Mundan ceremony (first hair cut) of their male children here.
Mansar Lake also has boating facilities provided by the Tourism Department. which is not fully maintained by the tourism department and no one likes to visit this place.
With all religions belief and heritage behind the Mansar Lake is also picking up its fame among the tourists with all its flora and fauna. The lake has cemented path all around with required illumination, with projected view decks to observe seasonal birds, tortoise and fishes of different species. There is a wild life sanctuary housing jungle life including Spotted Deer and Neelgai and water birds such as Cranes and Ducks. One can also witness the traditional and typical distinct life style of Gujjar and Backarwals wearing ethnic costumes, living in open Kullhas in the hills around Mansar Lake.
The Mansar Lake road joins to another important road that directly links Pathankot to Udhampur. Udhampur is a town of strategic importance, on National Highway No. 1A. The shortcut road from Mansar or Samba to Udhampur by-pass the Jammu town. Surinsar Lake, a smaller lake that is linked to Mansar, is 24 km from Jammu via the by-pass road.
 Bahu Fort
Bahu Fort, which also serves as a religious temple, is situated about 5 km from Jammu city on a rock face on the left bank of the river Tawi. This is perhaps the oldest fort and edifice in Jammu city. Constructed originally by Raja Bahulochan over 3,000 years ago, the fort was improved and rebuilt by Dogra rulers. Inside the fort, there is a temple dedicated to the Goddess Kali, popularly known as Bave Wali Mata, the presiding deity of Jammu. Every Tuesday and Sunday pilgrims throng this temple and partake in "Tawi flowing worship". Today the fort is surrounded with a beautiful terraced garden which is a favourite picnic spot of the city folk.
Bagh-E-Bahu located on the banks of Tawi river, is a famous Mughal-age garden. It gives a nice view of the old city and Tawi river. Bagh itself is very beautiful. There is a small cafeteria on one side of the garden.
On the by-pass road behind Bahu Fort, the city forest surrounds the ancient Mahamaya Temple overlooking the river Tawi. A small garden surrounded by acres of woods provides a commanding view of the city.
Opposite the Bahu Fort, overlooking the River Tawi is a temple dedicated to Mahamaya of Dogra decent, who lost her life fourteen centuries ago fighting foreign invaders. The present temple of Bawey Wali Mata was built shortly after the coronation of Maharaja Gulab Singh, in 1822. It is also known as the temple of Mahakali and the goddess is considered second only to Mata Vaishno Devi in terms of mystical power.
 Raghunath Temple
Amongst the temples in Jammu, the Raghunath Mandir takes pride of place being situated right in the heart of the city. This temple is situated at the city center and was built in 1857. Work on the temple was started by Maharaja Gulab Singh, founder of the Kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir, in 1835 AD and was completed by his son Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 1860 AD. The inner walls of the main temple are covered with gold sheet on three sides. There are many galleries with lakhs of saligrams. The surrounding Temples are dedicated to various Gods and Goddesses connected with the epic Ramayana. This temple consists of seven shrines, each with a tower of its own. It is the largest temple complex in northern India. Though 130 years old, the complex is remarkable for sacred scriptures, one of the richest collections of ancient texts and manuscripts in its library. Its arches, surface and niches are undoubtedly influenced by Mughal architecture while the interiors of the temple are plated with gold. The main sanctuary is dedicated to Lord Vishnu's eighth incarnation and Dogras' patron deity, the Rama. It also houses a Sanskrit Library containing rare Sanskrit manuscripts.
 Peer Kho Cave
Alongside the same Tawi river are the Peer Kho Cave temple, the Panchbakhtar temple and the Ranbireshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva with their own legends and specific days of worship. Peer Kho cave is located on the bank of river Tawi and it is widely believed that Ramayan character Jamvant (the bear god) meditated in this cave. The Ranbireshwar Temple has twelve Shiva lingams of crystal measuring 12" to 18" and galleries with thousands of saligrams fixed on stone slabs. Located on the Shalimar Road near the New Secretariat, and built by Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 1883 AD. It has one central lingam measuring seven and a half feet height (2.3 m) and twelve Shiva lingams of crystal measuring from 15 cm to 38 cm and galleries with thousands of Shiva lingams fixed on stone slabs.
The famous cave shrine of Shivkhori, situated in District Reasi of Jammu and Kashmir state, depicts the natural formation of shivlingum. It is one of the most venerated cave shrines of Lord Shiva in the region. The Holy cave is more than 150 mts long & houses 4 feet high Svayambhu Lingum, which constantly baths in a milky lime fluid dripping from the ceiling. The cave is full of natural impression and images of various Hindu Deities and full of divine feelings. That is why Shivkhori is known as "Home of Gods". The route from Jammu to Shiv Khori is full of beautiful and picturesque mountains, waterfalls and lakes.
 City Centers And Attractions
One of the major attractions of Jammu, it is a revolving restaurant named Falak located on the top of the hotel KC Residency. Ragunath Bazar is the main tourist and shopping center of the city. The locality of Gandhi Nagar, hosts the market areas of Gole Market, Apsara Road. On any pleasant evening you can take a stroll in Green Belt Park alongside the magnificent bungalows that adorn Green Belt Road. Rajinder Park, which is located on Canal Road, is a new development. This park is situated between two canals and features a large fountain which is lit up at night. A Children's Area is located next to the park.
The city has finally got its own shopping mall called "City Square". The mall has all the latest brands and accessories all under one roof,and an excellent food court. Also a beautiful shopping complex by the name of Bahu-Plaza in Trikuta Nagar area is a major hang out spot for youngsters and young professionals and also a new age commercial hub. Most of the corporate sector & all the Mobile Phone companies like Airtel, BSNL, Vodafone, and Tata Indicom are based in Bahu Plaza complex. After opening up of the K.C. Cineplex, the first multiplex in the city, the city has also got another multiplex in the form of the old Indira theater being converted to K.C. Central.
Jammu is famous for its Chocolate Barfi, Sund panjeeri and its exotic local food - Rajma (with rice) is one of the specialty dishes of Jammu.
Many historians and locals believe that Jammu was founded by Raja Jambu Lochan in the 14th century BC. During one of his hunting campaigns, he reached the Tawi River where he saw a goat and a lion drinking water at the same place. Having satisfied their thirst, the animals went their own ways. The Raja was amazed, abandoned the idea of hunting and returned to his companions. Recounting what he had seen, he exclaimed that this place, where a lion and a lamb could drink water side by side, was a place of peace and tranquility. The Raja commanded that a palace be built at this place and a city was founded around it. This city became known as Jambu-Nagar, which then later changed into Jammu. Jambu Lochan was the brother of Raja Bahu Lochan who constructed a fort on the bank of river Tawi. Bahu Fort is one of the famous historical places of Jammu.
The city name figures in the ancient book Mahabharata. Excavation near Akhnoor, 20 miles (32 km) from Jammu city, provides evidence that Jammu was once part of the Harappan civilization.
Remains from the Maurya, Kushan, Kushanshahs and Gupta periods have also been found in Jammu. After 480 AD the area was dominated by the Hephthalites and ruled from Kapisa and Kabul. They were succeeded by the Kushano-Hephthalite dynasty from 565 to 670 AD, then by the Shahi from 670 to the early 1000s, when the Shahi were destroyed by the Ghaznavids.
Jammu is also mentioned in accounts of the campaigns of Timur. The area witnessed changes of control following invasions by Mughals and Sikhs, before finally falling under the control of the British. Upon the Partition of India, it became part of India following the Kashmir war.
Once a seat of the Dogra Rajput dynasty, Jammu came under the control of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji in the 19 century and became a part of the Sikh Empire. Maharaja Ranjit Singh soon appointed Gulab Singh Ji the ruler of Jammu. After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Punjab, The Sikh Empire was defeated by the British after Maharaja Duleep Singh was taken by the British to England under the orders of The Company. Not having the resources to occupy the hills immediately after annexing parts of Punjab, the British recognized Maharaja Gulab Singh, the strongest ruler north of the Sutlej River, as ruler of Jammu and Kashmir. But for this he had to pay a sum of Rs. 75 Lakhs in cash—this payment being legal as the Maharaja was a former vassal of the Sikh Empire and was partly responsible for its treaty obligations. Maharaja Gulab Singh is thus credited as the founder of Jammu and Kashmir.
During the partition of India the ruler was Maharaja Hari Singh and he along with all the other princes was given the choice according to the instruments of partition of India in 1947, to freely accede to either India or Pakistan, or to remain independent. the princes were however advised to accede to the contiguous dominion, taking into consideration the geographical and ethnic issues.