Jammu is quite hot as compared to the rest of the state, and is therefore rightfully touted as J&K’s winter capital. Before Independence the city was the seat of the powerful Dogra dynasty which explains why this place is replete with beautiful looking palaces and forts. It is primarily a Hindu religion-following region and hence also dubs itself as the ‘city of temples’. Usually a stepping stone to places like Amritsar, Srinagar or Dharamsala – Jammu is a place that is historically quite significant. Even if you have 3-4 hours to kill, there’s much you can see here in that time. Here’s what you can see when in Jammu:
Expanded in the 19th-century under the Dogras, this extensive complex of palace buildings is fascinating for both its scale and its startling state of semi-collapse. The only part that’s accessible today is the former durbar hall containing the Dogra Art Gallery. The repair of Royal Courts is underway, while restoring the gigantic but shattered Gol Ghar section, hidden at the back, is believed to probably take decades.
The large, 19th-century Raghunath Mandir has tapped into the heart of older Jammu, featuring several pavilions containing thousands of what look like grey pebbles set in concrete, though symbolically they represent the myriad deities of the Hindu pantheon.
This large classically designed Sikh complex in the lower city centre area, has a light, airy feel to it, and its gilded domes make it look like the very archetype of an Indian temple to many travellers.
The Dogra maharajas moved from Mubarak Mandi in the 19th-century to this very European looking brick mansion with castle-style mini-turrets and wide clifftop views. It’s been converted into a museum where you will find some interesting exhibits such as: a canopied royal throne made from over 100kg of gold and a maharani’s chambers featuring a Queen Victoria portrait and a bathroom complete with perfume collection. Polo Bar, which shares the manicured lawns, is a great place to unwind afterwards with some cocktail.
Perched on a modest hilltop across River Tawi from the main city, Bahu Fort’s sturdy walls were reinforced in the early 19th century and enclose a series of shrines set around a much revered Kali temple and the lawns of Bahu Bagh, where a small subterranean aquarium is the centre of attraction.