9 May 2014

Jammu – The City of Temples

Any mention of Jammu brings to mind the famed Vaishno Devi temple, which I visited several decades ago and much recently again. As a kid, I remember being fascinated by the fact that Katra, which is where the Vaishno Devi temple is, was so close to Pakistan, so close that we could see the lights shining from the other side. And then that trek to the temple situated in a cave. Most tourists who land in Jammu don’t explore the city and instead quickly travel to Katra. Others travel to the valley, which is known for its scenic beauty, a veritable paradise. In that sense, Jammu is seen only as a transit point.

Vaishno Devi temple (Photo Courtesy: http://www.pinterest.com)
However, Jammu offers many temples with a rich history surrounding them. So before you take that bus or cab to Katra, make it a point to spend a day in Jammu. There are many flights to Jammu from anywhere in the country, so connectivity is hardly an issue. While in Jammu, here are some temples you could visit:

Your first stop in the City of Temples should be the Raghunath Temple, located in the heart of the city. It is dedicated to Lord Rama. The construction of the temple was started by Maharaja Gulab Singh, and was completed by his son Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 1860. There are many small temples within the complex.

Raghunath Temple (Photo Courtesy: http://globalvisiontours.com)
Close to the city centre, on Circular Road is the Peer Kho, which is a cave shrine with a naturally formed Shiva lingam. There are many local legends around this temple, one of which says that the cave leads to other such shrine in the country through an underground route.

Peer Kho Cave Temple (Photo Courtesy: http://www.veethi.com)
Other Shiva temples

On Shalimar Road is the Ranbireshwar Temple which was built by Maharaja Ranbir Singh. The temple was built in 1883 and is a Shiva temple. Also don’t miss the Panchbakhtar temple, which is a Mahadev (Shiva) temple, one of the oldest in Jammu. Legend has it that Adi Shankaracharya visited the site. This temple attracts throngs of devotees. Another Shiva temple you should visit is the Shiv Khori temple, which is a cave with a four foot-high Shiva linga, formed naturally. This shrine is considered among the most religiously important temples in Jammu. There is also a five-faced Ganesha idol in the temple.

Ranbireshwar Temple (Photo Courtesy: http://www.buzzntravel.com)
Shiv Khori Temple (Photo Courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org)
Obeisance to the goddess

One more temple you should make it a point to visit is the Bahu Fort, which houses the Bawe Wali Mata. The temple is located on the banks of River Tawi. The fort which doubles up as the temple is said to be over a couple of thousand years old. The goddess Bawe Wali Mata is a form of Goddess Kali.

Bahu Fort (Photo Courtesy: http://www.journeymart.com)
Once you are done with visiting the temples in the city, don’t miss out on shopping. Buy some walnuts, almonds and other dried fruits, apart from the handicrafts of the state. Do you need more reasons to visit this lovely city? Just book yourself on one of those Jammu flights and enjoy your stay there.