low-lying foothills of the Himalayas, the overall
impression of Jammu is one of large stone
mansions, handsome buildings, and the remains of
an old fort that stands sentinel over the Tawi
gorge. While modern plate-fronted shops line the
roads today, there is also, in the older houses, a
feeling of timelessness, a tranquillity acquired
from the passing of an age.
The Amar Mahal Palace
Museum at Jammu
In recent decades, Jammu
has come to be known as a 'city of temples'.
From almost anywhere in the city temple spires can
be sighted, a burnished gold, and spiralling
skywards as they tower over a huddle of flat
Jammu is also the winter
capital of the state, the seat of government when
Srinagar is freezing, snowbound.
Equally, Jammu is an
important centre for trade and commerce, and there
is about the city an air of brisk finality. This
ties, perhaps incongru-ously, with its temple city
nomencla-ture, but then surely, in this Dogra
stronghold, even a French chateau is an oddity.
The actual origins
of the city are shrouded in the mists of
antiquity. It is believed by some that the local
raja, Jambulochan, wanted to build a new capital
for himself, but was not satisfied with any site
shown to him by his ministers. One day, while on a
hunt, he noticed a lion and a goat fortifying
themselves with water from a stream, standing
adjacent to each other. Believing the area to be
sanctified, he ordained the building of his new
capital here, and had it named after himself.
But more recently, the
province was the home of the Dogras, the Hindus
and the Sikhs, sub-divided they ruled from
different, small principalities in the foothill
villages. Thev were first united under Maharaja
Gulab Singh in the early late century. Since then,
Jammu has been a premium sovereign stage, and its
most recent maharaja was Karan Singh; his
erstwhile palace is today a museum.
the temples, Jammu's other highlights are its
erstwhile royal homes. Prime among them is the Amar
Mahal Palace Museum balanced on an eyrie
overlooking the Tawi river. Built for a Jammu
maharaja by a French architect, this palace has
turrets and towers and the sloping roofs
characteristic of a Continental castle. This
non-traditional palace is open to visitors today
in the form of a museum.
Also overlooking the
river are the ruined ramparts of Bahu fort.
Situated on a rock face, with an excellent view
over the city, it is the oldest edifice extant in
the region. It is believed that the fort was
originally constructed by Raja Bahulochan some
3,000 years ago. The existing structure was later
improved and rebuilt by the Dogra rulers.
On a spur opposite the
fort is the memorial to Mahamaya, a Dogra
heroine who lost her life fourteen centuries
earlier fighting foreign invaders. Another
medieval monument is Gumat Gate, one of
several entrances that led to the walled city of
Also worth a visit on
account of its collection of Pahari miniatures and
the arts of the region is the Dogra Art Gallery.
This is the only exhibition that catalogues the
crafts of the Dogras under one single roof and
displays it to full effect.
BY ROAD FROM JAMMU TO
Jammu is the rail
terminal for Kashmir, and from here visitors can
fly to Kashmir, or travel by road. The journey
begins from the low lying foothills and traverses
quickly from pine forests to the boulder-strewn
slopes near Udhampur. Several facilities exist en
route at points of interest where visitors can
either relax and take refreshments, or stopover
for a break.
The first of these is Kud,
a chamming clearing in the fir forests, 106 km
from Jammu. Patnitop follows, 6 km further. Patnitop
commands extensive views over the surrounding
countryside. Though it has a Tourist Bungalow and
a Youth Hostel several new facilities are under
construction that will lend credibility to its
assertion as an independent destination.
Batote is 113 km
from Jammu, a lovely place to break journey and
contemplate the surrounding hills with a cheering
cup of tea. Ramban is often used as a point
of rest on the route, while almost everybody halts
at Banihal for a bird's eye-view of the
The jetty at Mansar Lake