The Top 15 Things to Do in Jammu, India

Jammu India

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Jammu, the winter capital of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, is the gateway to the revered Vaishno Devi cave temple and the pristine but conflicted Kashmir Valley. Located on the cliffs of the Shivalik range, by the banks of river Tawi, this region is named after the 14th-century ruler Raja Jambu Lochan, who is widely credited with establishing the city. Although the city has been in existence since Vedic times, its majestic structures date back to the 2nd century, giving it the nickname "The City of Temples."

Jammu was the seat of the Dogra dynasty, the creators of the Jammu and Kashmir state, until its ruler Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to the Union of India following the country’s partition in 1947. If you're planning a visit, here are the top things to do.

01 of 15

Visit the Bahu Fort

A road leading to Bahu fort
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Address
Bahu Fort, Gorkha Nagar, Jammu, 180006

Located in the precincts overlooking the old Jammu city, the Bahu Fort is dedicated to Goddess Kali, the presiding deity of the city of Jammu. While the often renovated Bahu Fort, built by the ruler Bahu Lochan, isn’t open to the public due to security reasons, a visit to view this temple is a great way to learn more about its history. Made of white-marble, the temple, built in the 8th or 9th century, is small and compact. It is an extremely popular destination, so expect crowds.

02 of 15

Take a Stroll in the Bagh-e-Bahu Garden

Bagh-e-Bahu Garden

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Address
Bagh-e-bahu, Bahu Fort, near hanuman mandir, Gorkha Nagar, Jammu, 180006

On the fringes of the Bahu Fort lies Bagh-e-Bahu, a terrace style garden. Here, you'll find charming man-made cascades, a children’s park, an underground aquarium, and floral gardens on various levels. Well located viewpoints have been built for visitors to enjoy the many sunsets and cityscapes of Jammu.

03 of 15

Taste Jammu Cuisine in Gandhi Nagar

Indian food

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Address
Gandhi Nagar, Jammu 180004

When in Jammu, make sure to try the region's local cuisine and sample street food at the bamboo carts in Gandhi Nagar. Freshly prepared and priced affordably, these outlets are a hit with the evening crowd and locals of all ages.

The Jammu and Kashmir region is especially known for a special type of red kidney bean called the Jammu Rajma. Its deep red color and taste sets it apart from other Indian Rajma varieties. The dish is best savored with hot steamed basmati rice.

04 of 15

Step Back in Time at the Mubarak Mandi

Mubarak Mandi palace
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Address
Panjtirthi, PVQF+PRJ, Panjtirthi, Jammu, 180001

The Mubarak Mandi was the royal residence of the Dogra kings until 1925, when Maharaja Hari Singh moved to the Hari Niwas palace. Though its foundational stone was laid by Raja Dhru Dev in 1710, many buildings and courtyards have been added to the complex in recent years, replacing substantial portions that were destroyed due to fires and earthquakes.

Today, the expansive Mubarak Mandi, with its exquisite Rajasthani, Mughal and Baroque architectural elements, remains a "work in progress" heritage complex spanning two centuries. The Pink Hall inside Mubarak Mandi has been converted into a museum and holds several rare Pahari miniature paintings and artifacts, including the bow and arrow of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

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05 of 15

Admire the Architecture of Amar Mahal Palace

Amar Mahal

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Address
Palace Road, Karan Nagar, PVXC+3WM, Jammu Tawi, Karan Nagar, Jammu, 180001
Phone +91 191 254 6783

The 19th-century Amar Mahal Palace is perched high on Manda hill, overlooking the Tawi river valley. An erstwhile home of Jammu rulers, its architecture resembles that of a French chateau.

Recently, Amar Mahal has been converted into a museum. Inside, visitors can enjoy a royal art collection, rare books and Dogra-Pahari paintings. Some fascinating exhibits in its collection include a golden sofa weighing 265 lbs and Victorian-style elevators.

06 of 15

See a Temple Built by a King

Address
JWV6+GF2, Bari Brahmana, Jammu, 181133

Raghunath Mandir is a Hindu temple complex built in the heart of Jammu city by Maharaja Gulab Singh in the year 1835 . The main deity of the temple is Lord Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu and one of the holy trinity of the Hindu religion.

There are seven shrines inside this temple complex dedicated to various gods and goddesses that make up the Hindu pantheon; all seven towers have gold-plated spires. The library inside the complex has a rich collection of over 6,000 manuscripts in Sanskrit and other ancient Indian languages.

07 of 15

Sample Jammu’s Local Cheese

Kalhari Cheese from Jammu

Zeeshanqazi786 / CC0 / Wikimedia Commons

Address
Moti Bazar Road, Jammu 180001

The indigenous local cheese called Kalahri is a speciality of Jammu and Kashmir, so if you're visiting, make sure to give it a try. Kalahri’s texture is much similar to that of a mozzarella cheese, yet it tastes different. It’s often stuffed inside a pair of buns, toasted on a pan and served hot, with lip-smacking chutney and tomato sauce as accompaniments. Pandit Kalahri Hut on Moti Bazaar Road is one of the most authentic places to sample this local cheese.

08 of 15

Browse Through Raghunath Bazaar

Address
Raghunath Bazar, Jammu 180001

Visitors can shop for carpets, Pashmina shawls, local delicacies like chocolate burfi and other souvenirs in the various shops of Raghunath Bazaar. The shops stretch all the way to Hari Market, surrounding the Raghunath mandir, and are frequented by locals who come to purchase handmade goods, spices, and sweets. A key item to buy here is saffron, a beloved spice in the Jammu region.

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09 of 15

Soak in Nature’s Beauty at Ramsar Sites

Mansar Lake in Jammu, India

Drharleen / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Address
Surinsar Lake, 180017

The twin lakes of Mansar and Surinsar are located in the lower reaches of the Shivalik range, and are around 43 miles from Jammu city. These lakes hold great historical significance from the Mahabharata era, and are designated Ramsar sites, wetlands of international importance. The Convention on Wetlands, known as the Ramsar Convention, is an inter-governmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESCO. At these serene lakes, visitors can visit temples, go boating, take a stroll, or picnic in the gardens.

10 of 15

Bird Watch at the Indo-Pak border

Barheaded geese in the ghanara wetlands

Vinay Kumar / CC BY-ND 2.0 / Flickr

Address
GMVV+36F, Unnamed Road, Bhadyal Qazian, 181111

The Gharana Wetland Conservation Reserve is a bird sanctuary located along the India-Pakistan border. The 200 acres of marshy land are home to approximately 25,000 birds of different species, mostly migratory and endangered. These wetlands are treated as conservation reserves under the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Protection Act of 1978.

Gharana has international recognition as one of the world's IBAs (Important Bird Areas), declared by BirdLife International (UK) and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). In close vicinity is the Suchetgarh border post, from where Sialkot, Pakistan is a mere 7 miles away.

11 of 15

Enjoy Adventure Sports at Patnitop

Sansar lake in Patinop

Imviiku vivek sharma / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Patnitop is a hill station located about 70 miles away from Jammu. Surrounded by thick wooded pine forests, it offers majestic views of the lower Himalayas, as well as excellent picnic spots, trekking routes and a front row seat to the spell-binding landscape of the Chenab basin. In winter, the abundant snowfall found here makes it an ideal spot to ski.

12 of 15

Take in the Tulips in Sanasar

Tulips
Debmalya Ghosh / Getty Images
Address
Sanasar 182143

Sanasar is the nickname of two adjoining villages, Sana and Sar, which lie west of Patnitop in the Ramban district. Dotted with beautiful hamlets, lakes and homestays, Sanasar is home to the largest tulip garden in the Jammu region, second only to the larger tulip garden of Srinagar in the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It's a great place to stroll while taking in the flowers' inviting fragrances and eye-popping colors.

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13 of 15

Visit a Bygone Era at Akhnoor

Akhnoor Fort

vinodksharma001 / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Address
181201

The Pandava brothers from the Hindu epic "Mahabharata" were said to have stayed in a cave near this historic fort during their last year in exile. The majestic Akhnoor Fort, built on the banks of the Chenab River, is certainly worth a visit. Construction here began during the reign of Mian Tej Singh in 1762 and was completed by his successor Raja Alum Singh in 1802. Excavations around the fort have led to the discovery of relics belonging to the 5,000-year-old Harappan and pre-Harappan civilizations.

14 of 15

Picnic at Basohli

Atal Setu in Basohli

Indianhowitzer / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Address
Basohli 184201

Situated among verdant mountains is the historical town of Basohli. It was once a prosperous kingdom home to Sanskrit scholars, Pashmina silk weavers, and Ayurveda practitioners. Today, it carries a rich legacy of miniature paintings and the performing arts.

The town offers splendid views of the Shivalik and snow-clad Pir Panjal ranges, as well as the hill station of Dalhousie, and is worth spending time in while you're here. Don't miss Purthu beach, also nicknamed Mini-Goa, and make sure to walk along north India’s first cable-stayed bridge of Atal Setu, go boating in the cyan waters of the Ranjit Sagar Lake, visit century-old temples of Chamunda Devi and Chanchlo devi and take a stroll around the ruins of the Basohli Fort.

15 of 15

Trek Across the Trikuta Hills

A view of the hill on the way to Srinagar highway in Jammu and Kashmir.
Shyamal Majmundar / Getty Images

Located in the lower Himalayas among the snow-clad Trikuta Hills is the home of Vaishno Devi, a revered Hindu goddess, and the most visited cave temple in India. The town of Katra serves as the base for the 7 mile trek that devotees embark to reach this legendary cave temple. A trip to Jammu is considered incomplete without a darshan, or paying respect to Vaishno Devi.

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The Top 15 Things to Do in Jammu, India