Hey Folks! I am Jammu, the J to the state of J&K, the part mostly forgotten or generally overlooked but believe me, Jammu and Kashmir would never be the same without me. *sigh* I agree that the Valley has always retained the upper hand in tourism and rightly so, it’s literally the “Paradise on Earth”, but I too have my share of beauty, culture and heritage that tends to dwarf and remains unnoticed by tourists and the local people alike. I am called the ” Gateway to Heaven” which I am sure hardly anyone is aware of! *tch tch*
Also, Kashmir and I are not the same. We are two different places two different entities, two different topographies and two different worlds entirely. We are one state, administered by the same Government which has shifting bases every six months known by the grand term ‘Darbar Move’.
Whether it’s the multi-hued flags that adorn the temples and shrines of the city, the neighboring snow capped Pir Panjal mountain range offering a glimpse into the adventure that awaits you, the tantalizing aromas of my spectacular cuisine, I am called the ‘City of Temples’ and have experiences to offer to everyone. I am the land of grand ancient temples and beautiful palaces, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir, with the Shivalik hills cutting across from the east to the west and rivers Tawi, Ravi and Chenab flowing through yours truly. I am accessible throughout the year, a cultural hub of intermixing traditions, the indigenous culture being the Dogra culture. Founded by Raja Jambu Lochan in 14th century, when he constructed Bahu fort on the banks of river Tawi, I have a vibrant history. Recent excavations found 32 km away from the main city, in Akhnoor suggest that I was once once a part of Harappan Civilization as well. Remains from Maurya and Gupta dynasties have been found, followed by the invasions by Mughals and Sikhs. The Dogra rule brought back the glory to my name and after the partition of India, I got the title of the Winter Capital of the state.
I am not merely the route to Vaishno Devi, I am myself a good host. The places to visit when you come around are Bahu Fort, Mubarak Mandi Palace, Mansar Lake, Raghunath Temple, Dogra Art Museum, Shivkhori, Amar Mahal Museum, Dargah Garib Shah, Akhnoor Fort, Manda Zoo, Ranbireshwar Temple, Surinsar Lake, to name a few. I am the proud host offering different elements and food cultures that constitute Jammu and Kashmir’s cuisine with the regulars being Dogra dishes which include Aloo Dum, Rajma, Kashmiri Pulao as well as the very popular Wazawan; not the forget the amazing street food, with some delicacies like kaladi kulcha, kachalu, poode, gulgule and anardana chutney.
Socio-Culturally, I boast of being home to several ethnic communities which follow traditional life-styles with distinctive cultures of their own with Dogras being the dominant group, a martial community by tradition, their folklore centres on eulogies for war heroes, both legendary and historical. My architectural heritage, comprising elaborate castles and hilltop fortifications that are visible everywhere, bespeak the community’ s long-drawn preoccupation with battles and ruling of distant lands. My history is not completely bereft of traditions of art and culture and while the troops fought battles in distant areas, the royalty and the nobility nurtured art and culture. The Pahari miniature paintings that have justly become famous throughout India, are the finest examples of their artistic achievements.
I am welcoming everyone with open arms and it’s time people other than history enthusiasts start look beyond the travel itinerary their travel guide has charted for them and let their senses loose in the “City of temples” to provide you utmost peace and spirituality. See you around soon fellas! I’ll do everything to make your stay comfortable.
P.S: It doesn’t snow in Jammu, that is yours truly nor is Malala a product of the city under consideration.