Jammu is not much of a tourist destination. Travelers who haven’t read up much about the place will be disappointed. It’s undeniable to link Jammu to Kashmir. Kashmir, by all standards, is an awesome place, but Jammu is not. After assessing the situation, it occurred to me that Jammu is the poor cousin of Srinagar with nothing but envy for the things it does not have. Tourists fleeing from the heat wave in the plains will find it most disappointing. The heat prevails in Jammu. The heat here was as bad as Delhi’s. The only difference is Delhi’s AC metros make daily commute bearable even in the hottest season. Here in I had to walk all the way.
Jammu is more of a stopover place for Srinagar. People living here have no qualms talking ill about the city. A travel agent was surprised when I said I’ll stop there for two days. He raised his sweaty eyebrows and said, “What do you want here? Don’t waste money here. Why not leave for Srinagar today?” In almost two days of stay, I didn’t see many tourists, except for a bunch of noisy pilgrims near the Raghunath Mandir or Har-ki-paori Mandir.
Jammu city, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir, is on a hill near the Tawi River. The topography of city can be best seen from a hill, on the other side of the river. The city is built on an ascending hill, easy enough for autos to ply but hard for walking. One of the most unique parts of the city is the small gully shops on a gentle slope. I covered a lot of distance of foot and I would have enjoyed a lot more with bearable weather. Jain Bazaar and Moti Bazaar sell mostly cheaper clothes and accessories. Shops around Raghunath Mandir are inundated with dry fruits and pashmina shawls.
How to reach there:
During peak season in June and July, train tickets are booked in advance. It’s hard to get a ticket even by tatkal. After running out of options, I decided to travel by bus from Delhi. Though the distance (around 500km) was alarming at first, it is not that bad. One can get a decent AC bus for about Rs.1000. We started at 6pm and reached there around 6am. Sleeping:I’ve stopped following Lonely Planet, especially when it comes to booking hotels. Hotels that have found themselves in the Lonely Planet travel guide start thinking too much of themselves. Appearing on the most-used guide book meant a great boom for their business, followed by unreasonable price hike.
Buses and taxis stops at Jewel Chowk, where most budget hotels are located. One can get decent AC rooms for Rs.1000. Autowalas near the Chowk will take you to hotels they do business with. Tell them the hotels you want to go to. If you are undecided, better look for hotels near the Chowk instead of them driving you around the city.
Hotel Green View and Hotel Vibgyor have decent AC rooms for Rs.1000.
People who are not up for experimental eating can find nice air-conditioned seats at McDonald’s. This new establishment near Residency Road can be spotted easily and is quite popular with the locals. There are many street dhabas, especially selling tikkas and non vegetarian food at Residency Road. Jewel’s Fast Food is one good place that serves decent burgers and Indian foods as well.