Jammu & Kashmir

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Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of India. It is situated mostly in the Himalayan mountains. Jammu and Kashmir shares a border with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south and internationally with the People’s Republic of China to the north and east and the Pakistani administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, to the west and northwest respectively. Formerly a part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, this territory is disputed among China, India and Pakistan. Jammu and Kashmir is referred to in Pakistan as Indian-occupied Kashmir.

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Jammu and Kashmir consists of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir valley and Ladakh. Srinagar is the summer capital, and Jammu, its winter capital. While the Kashmir valley, often known as Paradise on Earth, is famous for its beautiful mountainous landscape, Jammu’s numerous shrines attracts tens of thousands of Hindu and Muslim pilgrims every year. Ladakh, also known as “Little Tibet”, is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture.

Regions

* Jammu – most will only stop here to change from train to bus en route to Kashmir. Jammu is the winter capital of state. It is famous for its temples

* Kashmir Valley – Some say it’s Heaven on Earth; friendly people, beautiful gardens, vast lakes and pristine streams and stunning landscapes: it’s all that but please see “Stay safe” below.

* Ladakh – Truly amazing landscapes high up in the Himalayas, popular for trekking and with those on a search for the most serene place in the world.

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Cities

* Srinagar – The summer capital of the state, set around famous Dal Lake, with its floating houseboats.

* Jammu – The winter capital.*Gulmarg – decent skiing and the World’s highest gondola.

* Leh – The jumping off point for treks and adventures around Ladakh.

* Pahalgam – A calm and serene place offering multiple trekking routes. Starting point of Amarnath Yatra

* Patnitop – A small hill station in Jammu

* Udhampur

British India’s princely state of Jammu and Kashmir is now divided between India and Pakistan. India claims the entire area of the former state, whereas Pakistan regards the same area as “territory in dispute” awaiting a plebiscite. While some Kashmiris hope for an independent and unified Kashmir, the majority seem to simply want peace. It is a mountainous region of great beauty and diversity offering much in the way of outdoor activities and sights for the tourist. The unrest had pretty much completely shut down what was once a thriving tourist industry in Kashmir, and it’s now only starting to make a slow comeback.

The inhabitants of J&K belong to three religions, with Kashmir being mainly Muslim, Jammu being mainly Hindu and the Ladakhis divided almost equally between Buddhists and Muslims.

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Talk

The state’s official language is Urdu. However, the main languages spoken are Kashmiri in the Kashmir Valley, Ladakhi in Ladakh and Dogri in Jammu. Most people speak at least a little Hindi and you may even hear Punjabi.

As elsewhere in India, English is fairly widely spoken among the educated classes and those involved in the tourist industry.

Get in

By plane

Flights operate to Srinagar and Leh.

By train

The last stop on the railway line north is Udhampur, where you can catch onward buses and hire sumos. However it is better to get down in Jammu and catch a taxi from there as these are more readily available.

The Kashmir Railway is a railway line being built in India to connect the state of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country. The Project officially coded USBRL (Udhampur Srinagar Baramulla Railway Link) starts from the city of Udhampur, 55 kilometres (34 mi) north of Jammu, and travels for 290 kilometres (180 mi) to the city of Baramulla on the northwestern edge of the Kashmir Valley. The route crosses major earthquake zones, and is subjected to extreme temperatures of cold and heat, as well as inhospitable terrain, making it an extremely challenging engineering project.

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By bus

There are two ways to get in by land – via Jammu and up to Srinagar or via Manali in Himachal Pradesh and up to Leh.

Get around

* Buses are operated by J&K SRTC to most points around the state.

* 4wd jeeps are quicker, a little more expensive and reach more locations. Private hire jeeps are also available.

See

Gulmarg: Gulmarg is well known for its amazing natural beauty and it is counted as one of the unique tourist destinations in the world. Gulmarg is surrounded by dense forest. This place is famous for its golf hikes and beautiful highland golf course.

Sonamarg: The way to reach Sonamarg or the Meadow of the gold is from the sindh valley. This valley also shows more amazing facet in kashmir. Sonamarg is located at an altitude of around 2730 meters from the sea level; it has Snow Mountains as its backdrop against the sky.

Raghunath Temple: Raghunath Temple is dedicated to the Hindu Lord Shri Rama. All the inner walls of this temple are covered with gold, on three sides. Galleries of this temples are covered with ‘ Saligrams’. The other surrounding temples are related to other gods from the Ramayana. This temple is located in the centre or we can say in the heart of Jammu.

Bahu Fort: Bahu fort was modified and improved by Dogra Rulers of jammu but first built it was built by the Raja Bahulochan. This fort is located at a distance of around 5 km from the main city and perhaps is the oldest edifice in the Jammu. This fort is facing the Tawi River. There is a temple of goddess kali in the fort.

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Eat

* Pawan Fruit Ice cream near bakshi nagar in Jammu.

* Kaladi (Special milk product like paneer) Kulcha in moti bazaar.

* Phahalwan di hatti famous Sweet shop in Gandhi Nagar.

* Eat kachalu at girdhari shop near pacca danga.

* Good Non-Veg at Pape de hatti and pape the great- residency road,Paras raam de hatti at panjthirthi.

Stay safe

While the situation in the Jammu and Kashmir regions of the state has steadily improved over the last 10 years, much of the Kashmir area, especially the countryside, still remains unsafe for travel. Kashmiri separatists still occasionally carry out attacks, but generally against the Indian Army and Indian interests, and aren’t usually targeting foreigners. A British government travel advisory indicates there have been a number of fatal incidents in Srinigar in 2006, some including overseas travelers. Foreigners are not being specifically targeted; those that were killed were in mixed crowds. However, maintain awareness at all times, avoid trekking, and regularly check travel advisories.

More than the unrest, the security measures in place (roadblocks, random ID checks) will take away from visitors’ enjoyment in a place that was once known for its calm and beauty. The cities and major roads are probably safer than the countryside, considering the massive army presence – at least one soldier is stationed every 10 meters or so, and the roads are clogged with army convoys.

You will encounter Kashmiris all over India in the tourist areas, usually shop owners, who will encourage you to go to Kashmir and insist that it is completely safe. They aren’t the best source of information, and have an obvious interest in reviving the tourist industry in their homeland.

Ladakh is far removed from the tension and can be considered totally safe.

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District(s)         22

Established       1947-10-26

Capital             • Jammu (winter)

• Srinagar (summer)

Largest city       Srinagar

Governor          Narinder Nath Vohra

Chief Minister   Omar Abdullah

Legislature (seats)         Bicameral (89 + 36)

Population

• Density          10,143,700[1] (18th)

• 100 /km2 (259 /sq mi)[2]

Language(s)      Urdu, Kashmiri, Dogri

Time zone         IST (UTC+5:30)

Area     222,236 km2 (85,806 sq mi)

ISO 3166-2     IN-JK

Website            jammukashmir.nic.in