Jammu and Kashmir
- Jammu — most will only stop here to change from train to bus en route to Kashmir. Jammu is the winter capital of the state; it is famous for its temples
- Kashmir Valley — some say it is Heaven on Earth, friendly people, beautiful gardens, vast lakes and pristine streams and stunning landscapes, it is 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.
- Jammu — the Winter Capital.
- Srinagar — the summer capital of the state, set around famous Dal Lake, with its floating houseboats.
- Gulmarg — decent skiing and the World's highest gondola. 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.
- Katra — in the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains and home of the holy Mata Vaishno Devi shrine.
- Leh — the jumping off point for treks and adventures around Ladakh.
- Kargil - A predominantly Muslim town. Blossoming apricot orchards in summertime. War memorial in Drass is a must see. Kargil was the battle field for a major war in 1999 between India and Pakistan. The place is however safe now. Bamiyan styled Buddha statues in the periphery of Kargil town are major tourist attractions.
- Pahalgam — a calm and serene place offering multiple trekking routes. Starting point of Amarnath Yatra.
- Patnitop — a small hill station in Jammu.
- Dal Lake
- Sonamarg at 2730m, or the "Meadow of Gold", is reached from the sindh valley and has snow capped mountains for its backdrop against the sky. The sindh valley also shows more amazing facets of Kashmir.
British India's princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is now divided between the Republic of 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. As a rule of thumb, the western area remains unsafe, while the eastern area (Ladakh) is fine - see "Stay safe" below. Today, Jammu and Kashmir is one of two Muslim-majority administrative divisions in India, the other being the Lakshadweep Islands. It has an area of 101,473km² (39,179 sq mi).
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.
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.
The last stop on the railway line north is Udhampur, where you can catch onward buses and hire SUVs/MUVs (Tata Sumo / Toyota Innova/ Mahindra Scorpio). 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.
Buses are operated by J&K SRTC to most points around the state. They offer package tour to Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Yusmarg, Ular lake, City tour, etc. There is Tourist information center, where one get the tickets plus info.
4WD jeeps are quicker, a little more expensive and reach more locations. Private hire jeeps are also available.
- Alchi Monastery, old monastery with precious wall paintings and stucco images
- Amarnath - One of the holy trinity, Shiva is a living god. Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Parvati the secret of creation in a cave in Amarnath. Unknown to them, a pair of doves eavesdropped on this conversation and having learnt the secret, are reborn again and again, and have made the cave their eternal abode. Yajur veda refers lord Shiva as an ascetic warrior Whose robe is of Deer Skin and carries Damru and Trishul. As referred by the verse "Satyam - Shivam - Sundaram, one life must have three facets Satyam - Truth, Shivam - Good and Sundram - Beautiful.
- 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 5km 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 the goddess Kali in the fort.
- Dal Lake: in the heart of Srinagar, this beautiful lake is fed by natural springs.
- Gulmarg:, the meadow of flowers, is a small hill station at a distance of 52km from Srinagar. While trekking, horse riding and picnics can be fun in summer, in winter it has some of the best powder snow and slopes for skiers. Besides all this, the world's highest cable car is also in Gulmarg.
- Mata Vaishno Devi. A pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimages of our times. Popular the world over as Moonh Maangi Muradein Poori Karne Wali Mata, which means, the Mother who fulfills whatever Her children wish for, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji resides in a Holy Cave located in the folds of the three peaked mountain named Trikuta (pronounced as Trikoot). The Holy Cave attracts millions of devotees every year. In fact, the number of Yatris visiting the Holy Shrine annually now exceeds one crore. This is due to the unflinching faith of the devotees who throng the Shrine from all parts of India and abroad. The Holy Cave of the Mother is situated at an altitude of 5200 ft. The Yatris have to undertake a trek of nearly 12 km from the base camp at Katra. At the culmination of their pilgrimage, the yatries are blessed with the Darshans of the Mother Goddess inside the Sanctum Sanctorum- the Holy Cave. These Darshans are in the shape of three natural rock formations called the Pindies. There are no statues or idols inside the Cave.
- Mubarak Mandi Palace: Mubarak Palace was built with the touch of three different styles, Rajasthani, Mughal and Gothic. Most famous part of this Palace is the Sheesh Mahal segment. There is a Dogra Art Museum, which is a treasure house of miniature paintings from various hill schools.
- Mughal Gardens: These beautiful gardens line the periphery of the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar. Decorated with colourful flowers, fountains and mighty Chinars, strolling in these gardens gives one that royal feeling.
- Peer Baba: This is of the holy places for Muslim saints. Here, people from all the religions comes in large number to pray, on Thursday.
- 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 temple 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.
- Sri Amarnath Ji:Holy Amarnath Cave ( Temple) is situated 144km east to Srinagar - Jammu & Kashmir state. Lord Amarnath is in the form of an ice Silva-lingam. On the full moon day the lingam is approx 6 ft high. In Rigveda it is said "Ekam Sat" means "There is one Being, whom sages calls by many names. The Supreme Power (Parmeshwar) has three deities who carry on the world called - The Trinity . Lord Brahma - creator of World, Lord Vishnu - Perpetuator of life and Lord Shiva (Mahesh) - the purifier and perpetuator of good and destroyer of evil. Lord Shiva is known as Rudra in Rig Veda as in its following verse. " We Worship Tryambaka (Rudra), Who spread Fragrance and Increases Nourishment, May He release me, like the cucumber from its stem , From Mortal Life , But not From Immorality . "
- Tikse Monastery, one of the most impressive monasteries in the Indian part of the Himalayas
Zanskar is located at a very high altitude in Jammu and Kashmir. It is one of the best trekking destinations around the world. In Winter, Zanskar river freezes up, and get converted into an amazing adventures trek called Chadar-The Frozen River Trek. The traditional name for the Zanskar Trek is Chadar Trek as the river becomes a snow sheet during winters due to heavy snowfall. It boasts of some of the lowest temperatures making it a challenging trek for the adventurers. The most isolated and inaccessible for nearly eight months in a year due to heavy snowfall resulting in closure of all the access passes; Zanskar has the distinction of being the least interfered with microcosms of Ladakh, and thus one of the last few surviving cultural satellites of Tibet. This geographical isolation together with the esoteric nature of Buddhism practiced here has enabled its ten thousand inhabitants to preserve and perpetuate their cultural identity.
Shikaras are the limousines of the Dal lake. Lay comfortably in soft cushions and while the shikara cruises around the lake while vendors come along in their boats selling handicrafts. Also look for a jetski ride in summers.
- Kashmiri wazwan famous cuisine here(Rista,Goshtaba,Kabab,Yakhani,Rogan Josh,), don't miss this cuisine.
- Harisa and tuj at Khayam Chowk.
- Mughal darbar and Jan bakery are most famous confectioneries in Srinagar at Lalchowk.
- Kashmir valley famous for Kashmiri Kahwa,beverage made from saffron.
- Kashmir famous for dry fruits and apples.
- 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.
Two local specialities are kehwa, which is a special beverage prepared with saffron and dry fruits, and nun chai, which is a pink, salty tea.
The situation in the province is far from stable. Outbursts of politically motivated violence are possible, especially around Srinagar. Demonstrations and rallies can rapidly turn violent. It is vital for travelers to maintain good situational awareness.
In addition, clashes across the Line of Control between India and Pakistan are also not uncommon, and hostilities between India and China are unlikely but did occur in the past, so check on current conditions before you go.
Ladakh is removed from the tension and can be considered safe.