Friday, August 5, 2011

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Tourist Attraction in Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu And Kashmir known as Paradise on Earth the natural beauty is blest by the Gods... where the misty morning sprawls over the snow clad peaks... where the sunlight gives a gentle touch to the woods and waters, valleys and hillside... If there is heaven on earth, it is here in the divine lands of Jammu & Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir, over the years, has been regarded as one of the major tourist hot spots in northern India. Owing to the cool and pleasant climate and its scenic landscapes Jammu and Kashmir showcases itself as a valley right out of heaven. Jammu and Kashmir invites you to explore its snowy peaks, the exotic valleys and icy rivers. The state remains cool throughout the year, making it a perfect summer retreat.

Geographically, one can find Jammu and Kashmir split into three major divisions including Jammu, Ladakh and the Kashmir valley. Exploring every nook and corner the state offers can be very challenging. Tourists can climb mountains, row across rivers and (best of all) get to view the huge, majestic Himalayan peaks.

Jammu and Kashmir offers its tourists heart warming hospitality and a lot to look out for. With mouth watering cuisines, luxury boat houses and divine valleys to visit, there can never be a dull moment in Jammu and Kashmir. No wonder, that Jammu and Kashmir is one of the top picturesque states in India.

Jammu is the northern most province of the state, famous for its historic temples and ashrams. Jammu is renowned to be a city which provides a calming atmosphere and has a vast variation in culture to Kashmir and Ladakh. The Line of Control separating India from neighbour Pakistan can be found here. Jammu houses one of the most frequented shrines in India - the Vaishno Devi shrine, which is enclosed under a cave.

Lakes and Forts:
Jammu, being on the foothills of the Himalayas has a number of lakes, which attracts tourists throughout the year. The Mansarovar Lake acts as a perfect camping location, with serene flora and fauna surrounding the lake. The Lake also has an interesting piece of history which brings in tourists all year round.

The Bahu fort, which was built around 300 years back, houses a temple dedicated to goddess Kali. The fort is considered holy, as it is believed to have been the hideout of the goddess when she was fighting a demon and is frequented by tourists and pilgrims alike. 

Kashmir forms the larger part of Jammu and Kashmir and mainly consists of numerous valleys. The capital of Jammu and Kashmir- Srinagar is located in Kashmir. Kashmir is famous for its juicy apples and the rare saffron fibres.
Places of interest:

Dal Lake, which is considered unanimously as India’s most beautiful lake is in Kashmir. The lake which remains frozen for most part of the year attracts tourists during summer, when the ice melts away and makes way for boat houses and numerous water activities.

History of Kashmir India:History of Kashmir India has immense interest for a world traveler planning for India travel. Kashmir is undoubtedly a paradise to those who have the spirit to discover the eternal beauty of the place. The backdrop of the Himalayas, the high-end valleys, and not to forget the deep Dal Lake, Kashmir has the physical history surpassing its land history. Kashmir was a place where Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism prospered giving the present day tourists, monasteries and temples as attraction.

Early history states that Kashmir was a lake, Jammu was founded by Raja Jamboolochan during 14th century B.C. The Muslim invasions to the state of Jammu and Kashmir are traced back to 1339 when Shams-ud-Din Shah Mir ascended the throne to be the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir. There was a significant era of Hindu rule in Kashmir as well. The Hindu rule ended with Queen Kota Raniwas in 1339.

In the 14th century, Islam became a dominant region and until the Independence of India, Kashmir valley had a Muslim stronghold with around 77 per cent of population. However, Kashmir came under the Mughal empire in 1540 with Mirz Haider taking the reign of the rule.

After the five-century rule of Mughals in Kashmir, the Sikhs under Maharaja Ranjit Singh annexed Kahmir valley in 1820. The British further sold it to Dogras after the Amritsar Treaty. Another landmark year was1925 in the history of Kashmir India after Hari Singh succeeded Maharaja Partab Singh. It was under his rule that the Indo-Pakistan divide was enforced with Independent India on August 15, 1947.

Indo-Pakistan partition and Kashmir
The conclusion of British Rule came with the proposal of division of Indian Territory into union of India and Pakistan. The princely states would join either India or Pakistan, Kashmir stood out as the region of dispute. With a population of 77 per cent Muslims, Hari Singh was under pressure to accede with Pakistan. There was also a “standstill” agreement with the Pakistan administration to allow trade and communication between the two. Further, there was a conflict over tax issue that resulted in unrest between the people of Poonch and Raja Hari Singh. With the rebels, getting support from the North-West Frontier Province Hari Sigh sought the help from Indian Government. It was during this period, that Hari Singh decided to sign the instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947. The Government of Pakistan in view of the “standstill” treaty opposed it.

History of Kashmir India post 1947
The conflict between India and Pakistan had the intervention of the United Nations. The year 1948, saw a ceasefire. Three more wars took place in 1965, 1971, and 1999. Presently, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir is incorporated with the Indian Territory while Pakistani administration controls the northern region. Tourism in Kashmir gained grounds middle of the 19th century with Srinagar and Jammu acting as the major gateway to India.

Divisions of Jammu and Kashmir:Jammu and Kashmir consists of three divisions: Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh, and is further divided into 22 districts: The Siachen Glacier, although under Indian military control, does not lie under the administration of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Kishtwar, Ramban, Reasi, Samba, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Kulgam and Shopian are newly formed districts.

Dal Lake:The most important tourist attraction in Srinagar, the Dal Lake has, within its periphery, four enormous water bodies, Lokut Dal, Bod Dal, Gagribal and Nagin. The lake is not a flat, continuous mass of water, but an intricate labyrinth of waterways, that constitute a spectacular sight and an amazing locale to explore.

Wular Lake:The largest freshwater lake in India, Wular Lake lies about 32 kms to the northwest of Srinagar city. The lake is surrounded by high mountains on the north and north-east of the valley, which augment the  scenic charm of the region.

Hazratbal Shrine:A sacred Muslim pilgrimage destination lying on the banks of the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar, Hazratbal Shrine reflects the devotion and respect of Muslims for Prophet Mohammad and his relics stored here.

Shankaracharya Temple:Located on top of a hill known as ‘Takht-e-Suleiman’, this ancient temple stands at an altitude of about 1100 feet above the surface level of main Srinagar city. The sacred temple can be visited only through a trek to the top of the hills.

Khanqah-e-Molla:Also called Shah-e-Hamdan, this shrine is believed to contain "the secret of Allah”. One of the oldest Muslim shrines located on the banks of the river Jhelum in Srinagar city, the Khanqah-e-Molla exhibits exemplary specimen of wood architecture.

Jama Masjid:A revered mosque located at Nowhatta, Jama Masjid is one of the main tourist attractions in Srinagar for Muslims.Also worth visit in Srinagar are the Khir Bhawani Temple, Chatti Padshahi, Chashma Shahi and Pari Mahal, Nishat Garden and Shalimar Garden.

Place to visit in Jammu:Jammu is known for its landscape, ancient temples, Hindu shrines, Amar Mahal Palace (a castle type) now a Museum, 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 favoured destinations for adventure tourism in South Asia. Jammu's historic monuments feature a unique blend of Islamic and Hindu architecture styles.

Purmandal: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.

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.

Mansar lake: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 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 300 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 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 Temple 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.

Shivkhori:The 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 complex and a new age  commercial hub by the name of Bahu-Plaza in Trikuta Nagar area is a major hang out spot for youngsters and young professionals. Most of the corporate sector & all the Mobile Phone companies like Airtel, BSNL, Vodafone, Aircel,Reliance 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 Cuisine:Jammu is known for its Chocolate Barfi, Sund panjeeri,Patisa and its exotic local food - Rajma (with rice) is one of the specialty dishes of Jammu. Another specialty of Jammu is Kalaadi which is processed cheese.

Dogri food specialties include Ambal, Khatta Meat, Kulthein di Dal, Dal Patt, Maa da Madra, Rajma, and Auriya. Pickles typical of Jammu are made of Kasrod, Girgle, Mango with Saunf, Zimikand, Tyaoo, Seyoo, and Potatoes. Auriya is a dish made with Potatoes. During weddings it is typical to make Kayoor, and Sund.Jammu folks love their chaats specially Gol Gappas, Kachaalo, Gurgule, Rajma Kulche etc.

Fairs In Jammu:If one visits the Jammu region during Shivratri, one will find a celebration on almost everywhere. Mansar food and crafts Mela is a three-day celebration of the local crafts and cuisine, where people from adjoining states also take part.

Festivals Of Jammu:Lohri festival heralds the onset of spring. The whole of Jammu region wears a festive look on this day. Every year, on the first day of "Vaishakh", the people of Jammu like the rest of northern India- celebrate Baisakhi.

Kishtwar:Kishtwar is sited on a plateau above the Chenab River and below the Nagin Sheer glacier. It is noted for the fine saffron grown in the area and for the many waterfalls close by.

Kishtwar High Altitude National Park:Kishtwar High Altitude National Park in Jammu is interesting for the marked variations in topography and vegetation that occur here. Spread over an area of 400-sq-kms, the park contains 15 mammal species.

Mubarak Mandi Palace:The oldest building in this Palace complex date to 1824. The architecture is blend of Rajasthani, Mughal and even Baroque European influences. The most stunning segment is the Sheesh Mahal. The Pink Hall now houses of Dogra Art Museum which has miniature paintings of the various Hill schools.

Raghunath Temple in Jammu:Situated in the heart of the city and surrounded by a group of other temples, this temple, dedicated to Lord Rama is outstanding and unique in Northern India.

Vaishnodevi Temple- Vaishnodevi Yathra

Katra or Katra Vaishno Devi, as it is popularly known, is a small town in Jammu and Kashmir, India, situated in the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains, where the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is located. It is part of the Reasi District and is located 42 km from the city of Jammu. Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, one of the leading technical university of India is also located here.

Katra serves as the base camp for pilgrims who visit Vaishno Devi. It has a thriving tourism industry that offers plenty of hotels, guest houses, restaurants, dhabas, fast-food joints that fit all kinds of budgets. Free accommodation is provided by some registered trusts in the form of Sarais for the poor. The number of pilgrims that visit the shrine every year has increased from 1.4 million in 1986 to 8.2 million in 2009. Over the years, a lot has changed, but one should not miss the opportunity to walk through the main bazaar (market) for buying (do not forget/hesitate to negotiate a bit) souvenirs, dryfruits, woolen garments, hosiery, leather jackets, etc.

To reach Vaishno Devi temple the pilgrims have to register at the Katra before starting the trek. By registering, the pilgrims get accidental insurance while on the trek for 1 lakh INR. It is a trek of 13.5 km.There is another trek (1.5 km) from Vaishno Devi temple for Baba Bhaironnath. It is said that the pilgrimage is not complete until you visit this temple at last. The scenery throughout the trek is pictursque.Environment-friendly auto rickshaws and helicopter services also have started now-a-days to make the journey a pleasant one.

Kargil:Kargil is a district of Ladakh, Kashmir, India. Kargil lies near the Line of Control facing Pakistan-administered Kashmir's Baltistan to the west, and Kashmir valley to the south. Zanskar is part of Kargil district along with Suru, Wakha and Dras valleys. Kargil was at the center of a conflict between India and Pakistan in 1999.

Zanskar:Zanskar is a subdistrict or tehsil of the Kargil district, which lies in the eastern half of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The administrative centre is Padum. Zanskar, together with the neighbouring region of Ladakh, was briefly a part of the kingdom of Guge in Western Tibet.

The Zanskar Range is a mountain range in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that separates Zanskar from Ladakh. Geologically, the Zanskar Range is part of the Tethys Himalaya, an approximately 100-km-wide synclinorium formed by strongly folded and imbricated, weakly metamorphosed sedimentary series. The average height of the Zanskar Range is about 6,000 m (19,700 ft). Its eastern part is known as Rupshu.

Nubra Valley:Nubra Valley is about 150 km north of Leh, the capital town of Ladakh, India. Local scholars say that its original name was Ldumra (the valley of flowers). The Shyok River meets the Nubra or Siachan River to form a large valley that separates the Ladakh and the Karakoram Ranges. The average altitude of the valley is about 10,000 ft. above the sea level. The common way to access this valley is to travel over the Khardung La from Leh. Non-locals require an Inner Line Permit (obtainable in Leh town) to enter Nubra.

Lakes and Gardens in Jammu and Kasmir:

Dal Lake:Dal Lake is a lake in Srinagar, the summer capital of the northernmost Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The urban lake, which is the second largest in the state, is integral to tourism and recreation in Kashmir and is nicknamed the "Jewel in the crown of Kashmir" or "Srinagar's Jewel". The lake is also an important source for commercial operations in fishing and water plant harvesting.

The shore line of the lake, about 15.5 kilometres (9.6 mi), is encompassed by a boulevard lined with Mughal era gardens, parks, houseboats and hotels. Scenic views of the lake can be witnessed from the shore line Mughal gardens, such as Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh built during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir) and from houseboats cruising along the lake in the colourful shikaras. During the winter season, the temperature sometimes reaches −11 °C (12.2 °F), freezing the lake.

The lake covers an area of 18 square kilometres (6.9 sq mi) and is part of a natural wetland which covers 21.1 square kilometres (8.1 sq mi), including its floating gardens. The floating gardens, known as "Rad" in Kashmiri, blossom with lotus flowers during July and August. The wetland is divided by causeways into four basins; Gagribal, Lokut Dal, Bod Dal and Nagin (although Nagin is also considered as an independent lake). Lokut-dal and Bod-dal each have an island in the centre, known as Rup Lank (or Char Chinari) and Sona Lank respectively.

At present, the Dal Lake and its Mughal gardens, Shalimar Bagh and the Nishat Bagh on its periphery are undergoing intensive restoration measures to fully address the serious eutrophication problems experienced by the lake. Massive investments of around US $275 million (Rs 1100 crores) is being made by the Government of India to restore the lake to its original splendour.

Nagin Lake:Nagin Lake of Kashmir is an offshoot leading from the Dal Lake. The Nagin Lake is located to the east of the city, at the foothill of the mountain Zabarwan. On the edges of the Nageen Lake are a number of willow and poplar trees. The reflection of these tees in the water of the lake lends it a beautiful view. Surrounded by Shankaracharya hill (Takht-e-Suleiman) on the south and Hari Parbat on the west, the Nagin Lake of Kashmir presents a charming sight. Shikaras, ferrying people to and from the lake, are a fascinating feature of the lake. Bathing boats as well as water-skis and motor launches are also available for hire at the lake.

Wullar Lake:Wular Lake (also spelt Wullar) is a large fresh water lake in Bandipore district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The lake basin was formed as a result of tectonic activity and is fed by the Jhelum River. The lake's size varies from 12 to 100 square miles (30 to 260 square kilometers), depending on the season.

Surinsar Lake:Surinsar is a beautiful lake situated about 42 km from Jammu, on the Jammu-Srinagar road, in Jammu and Kashmir.Bordered by hills and covered with dense forest, the lake is a favorite picturesque spot in the state. During summer, the lake is covered with lotus flowers.Legend says that Arjuna, the legendary hero of the Mahabharat, shot an arrow into the ground at Mansar. The arrow came out at Surinsar and thus both lakes - Surinsar Lake and Mansar Lake were created.

Mansar Lake:Located just off the Jammu-Srinagar highway, some forty-two kilometers from Jammu, the Surinsar Lake is considered as a ‘twin lake’ of the more famous and popular lake of Mansar. Some believe that the lake of Mansar is connected by underground waterways to the lake of Surinsar. Legend has it that Kunti, the mother of the five Pandava brothers in the epic, Mahabharata was beset with thirst while in the area and there was no water to be had. Arjuna, considered to be the bravest of the brothers, shot an arrow into the ground at Mansar and the arrow emerged in Surinsar; water gushed out of the earth and Kunti was able to assuage her thirst – and this was responsible for the creation of both these lakes. Another legend goes that Vabruvahan, a son of Arjuna had to go to the netherworld to bring back the ‘Mani’ that belonged to the serpent-king to heal Arjuna who had been wounded in a battle. The serpent king would not allow this. Vabruvahan shot one set of arrows to enter the earth and another set to escape from it. The channel of one became Mansar and the other became Surinsar.

Pangong Lake:Pangong Tso (or Pangong Lake; Tso: Ladakhi for lake) is an endorheic lake in the Himalayassituated at a height of about 4,350 m (14,270 ft). It is 134 km (83 mi) long and extends from India to Tibet. 60% of the length of the lake lies in Tibet, which is today under China's rule. The lake is 5 km (3.1 mi) wide at its broadest point. During winter the lake freezes completely, despite being saline water.

The lake is in the process of being identified under the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance. This will be the first trans-boundary wetland in South Asia under the convention.

TSo Moriri Lake:Also Known as ‘Mountain Lake’, Tso Moriri is located in the Rupshu valley situated in Changthang sub division of leh district, The Lake is about 28 km in length from north to south and is about 4-6 km in breadth and about 100 feet average in depth. Maximum depth of  Tso Moriri Lake is 248 feet. It’s surrounded by barren hills with backdrop of snow-covered mountains. A Short range of snow covered mountains, which rise about 21000 feet, extends some distance to the north-west and terminates somewhat to north of the southern end of Tso moriri.

Gangasagar Lake:The Ganga Sagar Lake is an artificial lake, constructed during the empire of Chhatrapati Shivaji, a Maratha King. According to myths, this small lake was designed at the time of Shivaji’s coronation with the holy water of river Ganges. Situated at Pachad, in Raigad district, the lake boasts of being in Shivaji's unconquerable capital.

The Raigad fort was the place where Shivaji was crowned and where spent the rest of his life. Shivaji's samadhi and the remnants of his palace can be seen besides the fort today as well. The Ganga Sagar Lake flows in front of the fort. Covered with the snow clad peaks, the region is also famous for the Jijamata Palace. The splendid natural beauty of the lake and the Raigad Fort enable the place to be a traveller's paradise.

Tsokar Lake:Tsokar Lake is a well known salt lake in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, located near Rupso in Leh district. Spotting a white water lake surrounded by several hot water springs at an altitude of about 5000 metres is simply a wonder of the nature. Tsokar, the salt water lake, covers an area of about 10 sq km. 

Nishat Garden:Nishat Bagh, is a Mughal garden built on the eastern side of the Dal Lake, close to the Srinagar city in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India. It is the second largest Mughal garden in the Kashmir Valley. The largest in size is the Shalimar Bagh, which is also located on the bank of the Dal Lake. ‘Nishat Bagh’is a Hindustani word, which means "Garden of Joy," "Garden of Gladness" and "Garden of Delight".

Shalimar Garden:Shalimar Bagh, is a Mughal garden linked through a channel to the northeast of Dal Lake, on its right bank located at 34°08′56″N 74°52′23″E / 34.149°N 74.873°E / 34.149; 74.873 near Srinagar city in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Its other names are Shalamar Garden, Shalamar Bagh, Farah Baksh and Faiz Baksh, and the other famous shore line garden in the vicinity is Nishat Bagh. The Bagh was built by Mughal Emperor Jahangir for his wife Nur Jahan, in 1619. The Bagh is considered the high point of Mughal horticulture. It is now public park.

Chashma Shahi:Among the Mughal gardens of Kashmir Chashma Shahi fascinated Shahjahan, the fourth Mughal emperor, the most owing to the fact that it haunted him with the sweet memories of his beloved queen, Mumtaj Mahal who always accompanied him during his visit to these gardens. Once she fell ill and could not be cured despite several efforts of the royal Vaidyas and Haqueems and the chief of the medical staff of the court suggested that she must be allowed to visit some health resort especially during summer months and for that matter there was none the better than the valley of Kashmir that too Shahjahan preferred to stay at Pari Mahal along with his queen leaving behind all the busy schedule of political maneuvering. She enjoyed the fresh air and fresh vegetables and drank sweet water of Chashma Shahi resulting into miraculous recoupment in her health.

Pari Mahal:A historical place and monument to visit is Pari Mahal or Quntilon, meaning “House of Fairies”, situated above the Chashmashahi gardens nearby Srinagar. The Mahal is surrounded by a lovely large garden overlooking the Dal Lake and has lots of flowers and fruits and a spring in the middle. The Mahal is of brilliant architecture and styles and was once a Buddhist monastery before being an astrology school promoted by Dara Shikoh, the eldest of Emperor Shah Jahan’s sons.

Harwan Garden: Harwan is huge Garden lined with flower beds and massive Chinar Trees with a beautiful canal flowing right through the middle. The canal is fed from a beautiful lake which lies behind the garden. there is not much clutter of fountains and other fancy things but vast big green carpeted green lawns which form an ideal spot for picnics. This spot is very popular with the locals for picnics and excursions.

Bhaga Bhu Garden:Situated 5 kms away from the Jammu city center, Bahu Fort stands on a rock face on the left bank of the river Tavi. Perhaps the oldest fort and edifice in the city, it was constructed originally by Raja Bahulochan over 3,000 years ago.

Inside, there is a temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali. An extensive terraced garden, known as Bagh-e-Bahu, has been developed around the fort.

Mountaineering in Jammu and Kashmir: There are several mountain ranges in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Among them are Pir Panjal, Himalayas, Zanskar, Ladakh and Karakoram. Climbing in these Himalayas can be very invigorating. An expedition can take a month, Srinagar to Srinagar. Rich in flora and fauna, the summits of most peaks are a spine-tingling experience with views of the neighboring countries of Pakistan and Tibet.

One can climb the peaks of Kolahoi(5,425 m) and Harmukh (5,148 m), quickly making an alpine ascent. Similarly peaks in the Kishtwar region are not too high but offer technically complicated climbing with many challenging faces and ridges. The popular peaks are Sickle Moon 6,575 m ,Riger 6,001m, Brammah-I 6,416m,Crooked Finger 5,630m, Arjuna 6,230m, Katori 6,138m and Flat Top 6,100m.

In the Zanskar region peaks are located at the head of the Shafat glacier and include the famous peaks of Nun 7,135m and Kun 7,077m. Around these areWhite Needle 6,500m, Pinacle 6,930m and Z-1 6,400m. The 'Z' series also cluster around the Drang Drung glacier which is visible from the Pensita. In the Ladakh region are Stok Kangri 6,153m, Parcha Kangri 6,065m and Kanglcha 6,400m.

Winter Sports in Jammu and Kashmir:The first fall of snow blankets the highlands and transforms the winter wonderland into the country's premier arena for action-packed skiing. Gulmarg has world-class ski slopes varying between 8,700 and 10,500 feet, the highest in India. The Gulmarg ski and chair lifts provide basic utilitarian facilities with a simple link-up for beginners. The high altitude skiers have to make their own way up to invigorating  heights. Gulmarg's ski-shop has professional equipment imported from Australia and France, which can also be hired for temporary use. Facilities for skiing at Pahalgam are being developed and work on an institute of mountaineering and winter sports is already underway. Heli-skiing is also being introduced.

Fishing in Jammu and Kashmir: Kashmir has rightly been called an angler's paradise, with a network of rivers and streams as well as high altitude lakes all abounding in trout, both brown and rainbow. Trout fishing in Kashmir is far cheaper than it is in any other part of the world. And most importantly, the Department of Fisheries, which controls angling in the valley, works hard to ensure that there is no depletion of stock by indiscriminate fishing, which means that you can revel in angling in ideal conditions.

Kashmir's fabled natural beauty needs no introduction. Crisscrossing the state are the well-known Sind and Lidder rivers and their tributaries, with a silvery network of smaller rivers and streams.

Trekking in Jammu and Kashmir: Trekking is the best way to explore the scenic beauty of Jammu & Kashmir. Explore the stunning views of snow-covered mountains during the short trekking, long trekking that passes through the ups and downs of huge mountains. Trekking from Lamayuru in the Indus Valley to Darcha via Zanskar range comes under long trek that lasts till three weeks.

Even in the chilling atmosphere at the heights of mountains, you will come across human life through the huts of Gujars. Another trek route that runs through Hemis, Markha and Padum extends till 13 days. This route is named as 'Chaddar' and is believed to be the most exciting trek around the globe. Kishtwar, Bhadarwar, and Sonmarg are other favorite trekking destinations for tourists.

Water Sports in Jammu and Kashmir: Kashmir's two natural advantages are its mountains, and lakes & rivers. These waterways enhance the beauty of the land and are among the chief sources that attract tourists to its verdant valleys. But more than just a means of pleasure, the waterways are an activity-oriented way of discovering new leisure sports.

To those of you who are by nature passive, command a shikara on the Dal  Lake and Nagin Lakes in Srinagar for just a crossing, or for a whole day; a variation on this can be the hiring of a motorboat, if you prefer travelling faster over water. Or better still, when the summer days are balmy, go water skiing.

Kashmir and Ladakh: Ladakh offers many options for undertaking adventure activities amidst landscapes of spectacular, rugged beauty. These mainly include river rafting, mountaineering and trekking. Indus River (Ladakh) and SuruRiver (Kargil). These rivers range from grade 3 to 5 and afford much thrill. Annual rafting championship is being conducted at Sonamarg.

River Lidder, near Pahalgam in Jammu and Kashmir, is the ideal place for rafting. Due to the fact, that the slopes in this river is not very steep, it is ideal for amateurs. Here the river diverts into two stretches, which is idealistic for river rafting. River Indus flowing between Spituk and Saspol, are the ideal destinations for the inexperienced, while beyond Saspol, the river gets spurting and this area requires technically sound rafters. Upshi-Khaltsi, is an important run in the Indus.

The real ecstasy lies in rafting in river Zanskar, in Ladakh, which is considered to be a very ferocious river. Initially this river will appear very calm, and the pre conceived belief seems to be a little exaggeration, but with the course of time, encompassing the giant gorges, will reveal its true vehemence. This river course is strictly suitable for only the experienced and professional rafters. The Padum-Nimmu run is the most thrilling run on the Zanskar. The another famous run is the Phey – Nimmu route, which is crosses astonishing mountains.

Golfing in Jammu and Kashmir:In this wonderland of Jammu and Kashmir, golfing is the sporty rejuvenation. Not only nature, but also even humans have done their bit to make J&K a real treat for their guests. You will find few of the most exhilarating golf courses in J&K that offers the highest world standard golf facilities with huge lawns and holes. Gulmarg and Srinagar are the top spots where you can go for a refreshing round of golf in the mesmerizing locations surrounded by Pine and Chinnar trees. Gulmarg has a lot of highest things along with its name, and of them is the Gulmarg golf club. It is the highest green golf course in the world. And the main thing about these courses is that they are never crowded and you can complete the rounds at your pace. The best time for taking up golf extends from April to November, which is quite long when compared to timings in other parts of the country. The climate in Kashmir is also very favorable, as you don't tire as quickly as in other golf courses around the country.

The Royal Springs Golf Club:Built in between year 1900 and 2000, the golf course is considered the best golf course in entire India by many professional golfers.

Gulmarg Golf Club:The course is situated at an altitude of 2650 m above sea level that makes it the highest green golf club in the world. If that's not enough to bring you to Gulmarg golf club, it is also one of the most scenic and oldest golf clubs in entire region set up by Britishers in the year 1904.

Paragliding in Jammu and Kashmir:Paragliding is a popular adventure sport that attracts tourists to Kashmir. Kashmir Hub offers you a detailed guide of parasailing, hot air ballooning and paragliding activities in Kashmir. Jammu and Sanasar are two centers where these activities are carried on, on an organized scale. Training camps for parasailing and paragliding are organized at Sanasar. These packages usually comprise of lunch, ground training and actual paragliding.

Batote that is located at a distance of 125 kilometers from Jammu is also a center for paragliding. Hot air ballooning in the Suru valley and the Zanskar area is a challenging activity.

The equipment for paragliding is easily available at the tourist office in Jammu. This equipment is also available at the local agencies in Jammu and Sanasar. The best months to go paragliding in Sanasar are May-June and September-October.

Food and Cuisine:Picturesque greens, hill-stations, lakes and traditional art forms are undoubtedly the greatest attractions in Jammu and Kashmir. But the mouth-watering delicacies and exotic recipies also play a vital role in keeping the tourist bounded here. The Jammu and Kashmir cuisine is influenced by various communities that have settled in the state. You will observe a unique aroma and awesome flavor in the vast variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.

History: The delicious food of J&K is believed to have evolved when the Timurs invaded Kashmir in the 15th century A.D. and thousands of expert cooks from Samarkand immigrated to cater to the Indian Kings. Those master cooks were called 'Wazas' and they worked under the guidance of 'Vasta Waza', the master chef. They offered the kings a grand feast, which is traditionally known as 'Wazwan' and is still in practice. The special grand feast is characterized by 36 different kinds of meals, out of which fifteen to thirty dishes are the varieties of meat. Today, Wazwan is not only a ritual but also a ceremony. During a trip to J&K, you can enjoy this luxurious food style. Kashmiri weddings are popular for the delicacies mastered by those chefs.

Different Styles of Preparing Food:A variety of spices along with condiments and curd are used in good quantity in Kashmiri food. Curd is considered the major ingredient in most dishes - whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian. Local people prefer mustard oil for cooking purpose. They are also liberal with the use of the expensive saffron or kesar, which Kashmir is a big producer of. You can also savour rice of a superior grade.

All the three styles not only differ in the style, but also in the ingredients, recipies and courses. A few differences exist because of the locally produced crops. On one hand the Kashmiri Pandits do not prefer much onion and garlic in their food, while contrary to this, the Muslims do. The Muslims avoid the use of asafoetida (hing) and curds, whereas the Kasmiri Pandits use them often.. However, the Hindu Brahmins or Kashmiri Pandits also cook non-vegetarian food for themselves, but they prefer mutton or lamb meat instead of chicken or beef.

Kabargah, Kofta (veg/non-veg), Dum Alu, mushrooms, bhaseeda (lotus stem/roots) and Methi Chaman are some of the delicacies of the region known for their sheer flavor and richness. Kashmir, also known as the land of fruits, serves a variety of fruit chats and sweets prepared from fruits. 'Firni' is one of the most popular desserts of the state.

There are, of course, plenty of restaurants serving north-Indian or south-Indian dishes as well. A few places are known for special Marwari and Maharashtran food.

Handicrafts in Jammu and Kashmir:Kashmiri handicrafts exhibit extraordinary intricacy and skill. The workers in Jammu-Kashmir have expertise in making carpets, baskets, wall hangings, and other handicraft items. You can also find a variety of wooden work, silverware and shawls with unmatched embroidery.

This flourishing handicrafts industry of Jammu & Kashmir not only offers you wonderful items, but also employs several tribal as well as general folks of the valley.

Carpet:Kashmiri carpets have been appreciated since a long time for their intricate work. Their uniqueness lies in their manufacturing. These carpets are purely handmade, and are knotted, not tufted. You can choose different carpets from a variety of silk, woolen or silk. These are designed in colourful themes which can not be found anywhere in the world. The main art of carpet manufacturing is associated with the knotting part. These knots determine the durability and value of the carpet, in addition to the design and pattern. The more knots per square inch, the greater is the value and durability of carpet.

Namdas:It is a lighter version of original carpets, stitched by using cotton and woolen textures. The price of these colourful floor coverings vary with the percentage of wool. A namda containing 80% wool will definitely be more expensive than one with 20% wool. The major difference in carpets and namdas lies in the price. While carpets are quite expensive, Namdas are available at affordable prices. Namdas are generally made by chain stitch embroidery, in woolen and cotton thread.

Shawls:Kashmir's Pashmina shawls are world famous. Its fabric is extracted from the smooth fleecy wool of Kel goat. The local women who work as handloom artisans, extract this wool and knit with colourful threads.

A less expensive shawl is the Jamavar shawl. It is made from the dyed threads, in various themes, designs and figures.


Willows (trees with narrow leaves and catkins) aesthetically unique items such as shopping baskets, lampshades, tables and chairs etc etc. These trees are found in the low lying waterlogged lands or near the lakes.

Papier Mache:Kashmir is popular for its three different grades of Papier Mache work. It is manufactured from wet and crushed paper, by moulding it to the desired shape. It is dried and painted for a final touch-up. They are distinct in artistry and colours. The most expensive one has gold work and you can also find those with bronze dust or gold poster paint. Varnish, which is applied to the finished product, imparts a high gloss and smoothness to the papier mache.

While exploring the lifestyle and specialties of Jammu and Kashmir,  you can also find several other handicraft items made of Walnut Wood (handmade wooden products), Copper and Silverware (samovars, bowls, plates and trays) and Embroidery (locally called Kasida; considered the finest in the world).

Jammu and Kashmir Tourism / Tourist Information Offices of Jammu and Kashmir:

Tourist Reception Centre,
Jammu and Kashmir Department of Tourism,
Vir Marg,
Tel: 548172.

Tourist Office,
Jammu and Kashmir Department of Tourism,
Railway Station
Tel: 530078

Tourist Office,
Jammu and Kashmir Department of Tourism,
National Airport
Tel: 531917.

Jammu and Kashmir Tourist Development Corporation,
Tourist Reception Centre,
Vir Marg, Tel: 579554, 546412.

The Director Tourism (Kashmir),
Tourist Reception centre,
Tel: 452690/91, Tel/Fax: 479547.

New Delhi:

201 - 203, Kanishka Shopping Plaza,
19 Ashoka Road
Tel: 3345373, Fax: 3367881.


25 North Wing,
World Trade Centre,
Cuffe Parade, Colaba
Tel: 2189040, Fax: 2186172.


12, Chowringhee,
Tel: 2285791, Fax: 2281950.


II - Floor, 36 / 36 - A,
North Usamn Road,
Tel / Fax : 8235958.


Airlines House, Lal Darwaza
Tel / Fax : 5503551.


5 th Floor, Left Wing,
Chandra Vihar Complex
M.J. Road,
Tel / Fax: 4734806.

Culture of Jammu and Kashmir:Ladakh is famous for its unique Indo-Tibetan culture. Chanting in Sanskrit and Tibetan language forms an integral part of Ladakh's Buddhist lifestyle. Annual masked dance festivals, weaving and archery are an important part of traditional life in Ladakh. Ladakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods being thukpa, noodle soup; and tsampa, known in Ladakhi as Ngampe, roasted barley flour. Typical garb includes gonchas of velvet, elaborately embroidered waistcoats and boots, and gonads or hats. People, adorned with gold and silver ornaments and turquoise headgears throng the streets during various Ladakhi festivals.

The Dumhal is a famous dance in the Kashmir valley, performed by men of the Wattal region. The women perform the Rouff, another traditional folk dance. Kashmir has been noted for its fine arts for centuries, including poetry and handicrafts. Shikaras, traditional small wooden boats, and houseboats are a common feature in various lakes and rivers across the Valley.

The Constitution of India does not allow people from regions other than Jammu and Kashmir to purchase land in the state. As a consequence, houseboats became popular among those who were unable to purchase land in the Valley and has now become an integral part of the Kashmiri lifestyle.

Kawa, traditional green tea with spices and almond, is consumed all through the day in the chilled winter climate of Kashmir. Most of the buildings in the Valley and Ladakh are made from softwood and is influenced by Indian, Tibetan, and Islamic architecture.

Jammu's Dogra culture and tradition is much similar to that of neighbouring Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Traditional Punjabi festivals such as Lohri and Vaisakhi are celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm throughout the region, along with Accession Day, an annual holiday which commemorates the accession of Jammu & Kashmir to the Dominion of India. After Dogras, Gujjars form the second-largest ethnic group in Jammu. Known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle, Gujjars are also found in large numbers in the Kashmir valley. Similar to Gujjars, Gaddis are primarily herdsmen who hail from the Chamba region in Himachal Pradesh. Gaddis are generally associated with emotive music played on the flute. The Bakkarwalas found both in Jammu and the Vale of Kashmir are wholly nomadic pastoral people who move along the Himalayan slopes in search for pastures for their huge flocks of goats and sheep.

Education of Jammu and Kashmir:In 1970, the state government of Jammu and Kashmir established its own education board and university. Education in the state is divided into primary, middle, high secondary, college and university level. Jammu and Kashmir follows 10+2 pattern for education of children. This is handled by Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education (abbreviated as JKBOSE). Various private and public schools are recognized by the board to impart education to students. Board examinations are conducted for students in class VIII, X and XII. In addition there are various Kendriya Vidyalayas (run by the Government of India) and Indian Army schools that also impart secondary school education. These schools follow the Central Board of Secondary Education pattern.

Notable higher education or research institutes in Jammu and Kashmir include Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences Soura Srinagar, National Institute of Technology Srinagar, Government College of Engineering and Technology, Jammu and the Government Medical College of Jammu. University-level education is provided by University of Jammu, University of Kashmir, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Jammu, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Islamic University of Science & Technology, Baba Ghulam Shah Badhshah University, Institution of Technicians and Engineers (Kashmir), and Government Degree College Kathua.

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