& KASHMIR TOUR GUIDE...........
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.
Mubarak Mandi Palace - The architecture of this palace has
a unique blend of Rajasthani, Mughal and even Gothic styles. The palace complex
dates back to 1824 AD. The Sheesh Mahal segment in the palace is most famous.
The pink hall has now been converted into the Dogra Art Museum. This museum
is a treasure house of miniature paintings from various hill schools.
Katra - Katra acts as a base camp for pilgrims and tourists
going to the Vaishnodevi shrine. Katra is 50 kms from Jammu. It can be approached
by a road that passes through a stretch of beautiful valley.
Patnitop - This beautiful place is 112 kms from Jammu. It is
located on the Jammu-Srinagar highway and is thus easily accessible. Patnitop
was in fact a picnic spot for residents of Jammu. Later on it was taken up by
JKTDC and developed as a tourist destination. Patnitop is usually covered with
snow during winter and provides a good opportunity for winter sports.
Dal Lake - is at the east of Srinagar city. Much of it is a
maze of intricate waterways. Dal Lake comprises of a series of lakes, including
Nagin Lake, 8 km from the city center. Most of the modern houseboats are anchored
here. The famous Mughal gardens are located on the far east side of Dal lake.
is about 95 km east of Srinagar. At a junction of the East and West Lidder rivers,
it is a popular trekking base. Thousands of Hindu pilgrims approach the Amarnath
cave from this area.
Hemis Gompa - situated 45 km south of Leh is the most accessible
and hence most visited gaompas of Leh. It has an excellent library, well preserved
frescoes showing some Kashmiri influence and good Buddha statues.
Namgyal Tsemo Gompa - built in 1430, contains a fine three-storey-high
Buddha and ancient manuscripts and frescoes. From here, the views of Leh are
superb. A steep lane from here leads to the Leh Palace.
Shanti Stupa - looks impressive, especially at night when it
is well lit-up. With financial assistance from the Japanese government, it was
built by a Japanese and opened by the Dalai Lama in 1985. From the top, there
are great views. The stupa is located at the end of the road which goes through
Changspa, about 3 km from fort Road.