Jammu, the second largest city in Jammu & Kashmir and the summer capital of the state, sits on a hill next to the Tawi River. Jammu with many temples and shrines dotting its landscape is the base camp for pilgrims going up to the cave shrine of Vaishno Devi.
Lying in the south-western edge of Jammu and Kashmir, Jammu city is the gateway to the Kashmir Valley. Based at the foothills of the Trikuta range of mountains, Jammu is actually divided into two regions - the old township is perched on top of a hill and the modern half is situated on the banks of the River Tawi.
How to Reach Jammu?
By Air : Jammu and Kashmir boasts three domestic airports. Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Ariport is located in Leh, Satwari Airport in Jammu and Sheikh Ul Alam Airport in Srinagar (14 kms) respectively. All the airports are well connected to Delhi and Mumbai directly. Travellers will have to hire taxis to get to their destination. The leading Airlines like the Jet Airways, Indian Airlines and many more offer daily flights to all the airports in Jammu and Kashmir.
By Rail : While Srinagar and Leh do not have train connections, the closest railhead is Jammu Tawi, 305 km from Srinagar. Jammu Tawi is connected by rail to Calcutta, Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Pune other important destinations in India. One can catch a taxi from the railway station and get to their spot.
By Road : Jammu is connected via National Highway 1A, to all parts of India. The roads are well maintained all weather roads to cities like Amritsar (243 km), Chandigarh (436 km), Delhi (586 km) and Katra (48 km). J & K State Road Transport Corporation, other state roadways buses and private deluxe, air conditioned buses link places in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh to Jammu.
Best Time to Visit Jammu
The best time to travel to Jammu is between the months of September and April. The winter capital of Jammu & Kashmir observes a very pleasant and suitable climate during these months. If you want to see Jammu at its best then you have to visit it at this time to see the mind-blowing landscapes covered with flowers in all colors and snow covered mountains. It feels like paradise.
Jammu has a subtropical climate; with very hot summers and cold winters. The temperatures in summers (May to August) can rise up to a maximum of 45 degrees Celsius. In the month of June and July, Jammu receives a high amount of rainfall. In spite of the hot climate Jammu receives thousands of Hindu devotees in the summer for the Amarnath Yatra which is a Hindu Pilgrimage in honor of Lord Shiva, where devotees are required to trek/or take a helicopter ride to a height of about 14,500 ft to reach the shrine. It is believed that a person achieves ‘Moksha’ (salvation) by visiting this shrine.
In winters (December to March) Jammu observes a minimum temperature of about 4 degree Celsius. Some areas around Jammu receive snowfall. However winters in Jammu can be a little crowded as people from Srinagar (the summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir) come down to Jammu due to the freezing cold and unfavorable weather conditions in the higher regions of Kashmir. This is also the peak season for tourists.
Spring and autumn can be called the shoulder seasons. Spring (March and April) is the most beautiful time to be in Jammu. The view during this time is marvelous and exotic. The landscape and the meadows in the Jammu valley come alive and are covered with wide expanse of greenery; be it; flowers, grass, trees for as far as you can see. The water springs and streams come alive as the snow starts to melt in the mountains. Lohri (Makkar Sankranti) is one of the important festivals celebrated to welcome spring. This festival is celebrated, like any typical Indian festivals with a lot of enthusiasm and vigor, bonfire, singing and dancing. The temperature during this season is very pleasant with an average temperature ranging between 20 to 30 degrees Celsius.
In autumn (September and October) the temperature, after the humid, hot and wet summers begins to drop down and the weather becomes pleasant and suitable for travel once again. The climate is pleasant with an average temperature ranging from 20 to 30 degree Celsius but the meadows and the landscape are now bare and you can observe a completely different beauty than that of the spring season. You can observe a golden tinge in the valley with all the fallen dry leaves and everything looks just as beautiful. If you happen to be there in autumn don’t miss out on one of the most important Hindu festivals; Diwali. This festival of light is celebrated in the most charming and lively way. The streets and houses are lit up with Diyas (small oil lamps) and fire crackers are lit to celebrate. The city looks alarming, especially at night.
Jammu celebrates many other important festivals like Shivratri (to honor the birth of Lord Shiva), celebrations for which go on for 3 days. The temples, gardens, museums and forts of Jammu are worth a visit. If you want to see the handiwork, crafts and handlooms of the local people the market is a must visit. You can observe the intricate details with which the goods are made and you’d be surprised at the talent and creativity that goes it. It’s best to buy something from there as a souvenir or as gifts for people back home.
Things to do in Jammu
Being the famous temple city, the list of things to do in Jammu will naturally revolve around temples. Pay homage at various temples sprinkled around the city or visit the various museums here. Trekking, camping and skiing are some of the other activities that you can enjoy here. Shop for Kashmiri handicrafts or traditional Dogra Jewellery from the various markets here or visit the state emporium. Head to various wildlife sanctuaries or pay homage at Vaishno Devi — the sacred cave shrine near Jammu. Gorge into scrumptious meals at the variety of restaurants and enjoy the beauty of Jammu.
Places Near Jammu
Places around Jammu are rich in bio-diversity, which has been given special protection in several reserved forests and wildlife sanctuaries.
The Ramnagar Wildlife Sanctuary, 6 kms from Jammu, has some eight species of mammals and 15 avian species. They include the nilgai, barking deer, wild boar, rhesus monkey, the Indian mynah, blue rock pigeon, peafowl, red jungle fowl, jungle crow, golden oriole, and white cheeked bulbul.
The Nandani Wildlife Sanctuary, 28 kms from Jammu, has leopards, wild boar, the langur, and birds like the red jungle fowl, chir pheasants, chakor and Indian mynah is another place near Jammu that you can visit.
The Surinsar - Mansar Wildlife Sanctuary in between the two lakes of Surinsar and Mansar are also protected habitat for animal and bird species.
Spread over 400 square kilometres at heights rising up to 4,800 metres is the Kishtwar High Altitude National Park with rare species like the musk deer and Himalayan black and brown bears.
The Jasrota Wildlife Sanctuary 70 kms from Jammu on the banks of the Ujh River is noteworthy for its cheetal (axis deer) population. Spread over an area of 10 square kms, the Sanctuary has extensive bamboo plantations in addition to broad leaf trees.
Vaishno Devi is a sacred cave shrine nestled in the Trikuta Mountain 61 km from Jammu, which is the most revered place near Jammu. The cave is 30 metres long and just one-and-a half mt high. At the end of the cave are shrines dedicated to the three forms of the mother goddess – Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati.
Pilgrims have to 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, which she ultimately killed.
The shrine of Vaishno Devi is approached through Katra, which is situated at a distance of 13 km from the shrine and is the base for the pilgrimage. From Katra, pilgrims climb one km to Banganga, where the goddess is believed to have stopped to drink water; six km further is the cave shrine of Ardhkunwari, where it is believed she meditated for nine months. The best time to visit the shrine is from March till July.
Hotels in Jammu – Choice is Yours
There are numerous hotels in Jammu ranging from 3-star, 4-star and 5-star deluxe to budget hotels.