Rajouri is a gorgeous city in Jammu and Kashmir, mostly known for its serene location amidst the lofty Himalayas, verdant valleys, rolling hills and meandering brooks. The beauty of the snow-capped mountains coupled with the rich density of flora and fauna has accorded it the status of ‘Mini Kashmir’ in recent times.

There’s a lot to see and do here; start with the various forts which are in ruins or exist as a reminiscent of the past. They remind one of the strong Mughal influence as seen in the architecture. The most interesting one is Dhanidhar Fort; it was constructed by Mian Hathu, the erstwhile ruler of Rajouri. The high altitude of the fort helped the kings to watch outsiders and prepare for invasions effectively. It was also used as a grain dumping site by the local farmers much later on.

To experience natural beauty that looks straight out of a painting, visit Kotranka Budhal, a village where tiny streams flow through barren rocks and under old bridges. Home to an immense variety of flora and fauna, it is a perfect place for picnic and outings.

One of the most famous Islamic shrines in Jammu, the 19th-century Shahdra Sharif Shrine stands atop a beautiful hillock and has interesting folklore attached to it. The locals recite the folklore all day long in its premises; so you can head there if you’re interested in learning about their culture.

Lastly, a visit to Rajouri is incomplete without exploring Lal Bauli, a spring water lake. Home to beautiful species of fish and clear freshwater, the lake has its pristine ecology intact. It’s highly recommended that you camp near the lake or go on a hike to nearby hillocks.

There are no direct flights to Rajouri from any city in India. The nearest airport from here is in Jammu, which is 149km away.