|The Naag (Cobra) Temple||Positioned close to Mantalai at Krimchi|
|Mantalai||Located in the Chenani Tehsil of Udhampur District in the state of Jammu & Kashmir|
|Sudh Mahadev Temple||Placed at the distance of about 8 kilometers from the downtown Mantalai|
|Shiva Garh||Stationed about 11 kilometers away from Patnitop|
|Shivkhori||At Ransoo Village of Reasi District|
|Akhnoor||Stationed at the footings of the Himalayas and settled on the banks of the River Chenab is located about 132 kilometers away from Patnitop and just 30 kilometers away from Jammu|
|Mansar Lake||Nested at the distance of about 80 kilometers from Patnitop and nearly 36 kilometers from Udhampur|
|Katra||Located at the distance of about 42 kilometers from Jammu and nested at the footings of the ‘Trikuta Mountains’|
|Vaishno Devi||Stationed about 12 kilometers from the Katra town|
|Baba Dhansar||Located about 36 kilometers away from Katra near the village Karua in Reasi District|
|Batote||Situated at the distance of about 14 kilometers from Patnitop|
|Nathatop||Located just 14 kilometers away from Patnitop|
|Madhatop||Situated on the Sanasar Road from Patnitop, 5 kilometers|
|Krimchi Temples||Located about 43 kilometers from Patnitop|
|Bahu Fort and Temple||Located in the Jammu city on the left banks of the river Tawi|
|Buddha Amarnath Temple||Positioned on the left banks of the Pulsata Stream in Rajpura Mandi in the north east region of the Poonch Town|
|Sanasar||Located 20 kilometers to the west of Patnitop|
|Kud||Located at the distance of about 32 kilometers from Udhampur and suspended at the elevation of 1855 meters in the lower Himalayan Ranges|
The Naag (Cobra) Temple
The Naag Temple of Patnitop positioned close to Mantalai at Krimchi is a Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shesh Naag; the celestial serpent king. Considered to be approximately 600 years old, the Naag Temple happens to be one of the oldest vicinities of Patnitop. Nestled atop a modest mount, this archaic temple is not a conventional solid temple composition but it is made of wood for the most part. Embraced by verdurous Himalayan forests and surrounded by lofty Himalayan peaks veiled in the snowy cover, the Naag Temple of Patnitop apart from its immense historical and religious significance also masters in its striking scenic splendor. The temple receives a large deluge of the devotees of Lord Shiva and Lord Naag particularly on the auspicious occasion of Naag Panchami. This festival is celebrated in the honor of cobras on the fifth day following the Amavasya (no moon day) in the holy month of Shraavan. The presiding deity of the Naag Temple of Patnitop, i.e. Lord Naag is presented with various offerings including milk and chickpeas on the day of Naag Panchami. It is to be noted that women folk are not permitted an entry into the Naag Temple of Patnitop.
Mantalai, located in the Chenani Tehsil of Udhampur District in the state of Jammu & Kashmir is a dandy little hamlet that is associated with the legendary nuptial of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati. Nuzzled in the midst of the luxuriant deodar forests and alighted at the elevation of about 2000 meters above the sea level, the Mantalai Village beckons thousands of devotees and tourists due to its enormous religious importance and its astounding picturesque grandeur. The village receives its name after the sacred Mantalai Lake that is believed to be the site of Goddess Parvati’s birth. A small temple is parked on the banks of the Mantalai Lake which is dedicated to Lord Shiva worshipped here by the title ‘Aparneswar’. The term ‘Aparneswar’ means ‘Lord of Aparna’ i.e. Parvati. As per the prevalent myth, Goddess Parvati performed severe austerity here in order to win Lord Shiva as her husband. As she didn’t eat even the leaves of the trees, she came to be known by the appellation ‘Aparna’. The Aparneswar Temple enshrines an idol of Parvati in the form of a kanya or maiden and a Shiva Lingam as its presiding deities. Moreover, other idols of Shiva and Parvati together and the set of idols portraying Shiva, Parvati and Ganapati are also found here. A Nandi can be seen seated facing towards the shrine and a divine boulder is also preserved in the temple which is believed to be associated with the heavenly betrothal of Shiva and Parvati. Another noteworthy attraction of Mantalai is its 2800 years old Sudh Mahadev Temple.
Sudh Mahadev Temple
The Sudh Mahadev Temple of Patnitop placed at the distance of about 8 kilometers from the downtown Mantalai is one of the most prominent pilgrim destinations of this region of Jammu and Kashmir State. Dedicated to Lord Shiva and anticipated to be about 2800 years old, the Sudh Mahadev Temple enshrines the icon of Lord Shiva made out of glossy black marble and Goddess Parvati mounted upon Nandi. Apart from that, a broken trident and a mace which is assumed to be belonging to Bheema are also installed in this temple. As per the prevailing legend, when Lord Shiva was meditating, one of his demon devotees named Sudheet approached Goddess Parvati to pay homage. However, his demonic countenance frightened her which made her cry out for help. Stunned Lord Shiva shot His trident and hit Sudheet. Later when He realized His mistake, Lord Shiva offered to revive Sudheet. But Sudheet declined the proposal saying that death given by Lord Shiva is superior to any boon in the world.
Henceforward Lord Shiva declared that His name would be associated with Sudheet’s name at that place. Thus Lord Shiva came to be known amongst his devotees as ‘Lord Sudh Mahadev’. The broken trident deposited here in three pieces supports the aforesaid anecdote. Suspended at the elevation of 1225 meter above the sea level, the Sudh Mahadev Temple beckons thousands of devotees, particularly on the occasion of the full moon night in the month of Shraavan when a 3 days long festival is celebrated in the honor of Lord Shiva. A divine spring named Pap Nashni Bowli is sited adjacent the temple and devotees hold a belief that a holy bath in the waters of Pap Nashni would wash all your sins off. Pilgrims bathe in this water tank and then approach the temple for the propitious darshana of ‘Shiva Parvati’. An additional attraction of the Sudh Mahadev Temple is a sacred fire (Dhooni) which is said to be burning since the time when Baba Roop Nath used to reside here. Baba Roop Nath had attained Samadhi at the Sudh Mahadev Temple.
The Shiva Garh, which literally means ‘the fort or the hill of Shiva’ is a marvelous trekking destination around Patnitop. Perched at the altitude of roughly 3500 meters above the sea level and stationed about 11 kilometers away from Patnitop, Shiva Garh, overloaded with the infinite bequest of beauty conferred upon it by the cosmos is certainly a utopian terminus for picnicking, trekking, mountaineering and other venturous and recreational activities. The blossoming Pine forest around Shiva Garh unfurls many short and long trekking trails to the nearby mountains. Tourists of Patnitop can undertake the exhilarating one-day walk to Shiva Garh. As you saunter through the lush meadows on the unpaved paths and make your way through the chains of towering Himalayan trees, the melodious chirping of birds, the rustling of twigs and the tinkling of bells tied around the neck of cattle would create an absolutely harmonious symphony in your honor. Brilliant vistas of the pine covered woods and the awe inspiring panoramas of the far off snow clad peaks would utterly mesmerize its beholders. Shiva Garh is also an idyllic destination for the picnic lovers and those who want to spend some quiet time in the intimacy with Mother Nature. The adventure seekers can buy or rent trekking equipments from the shops at Patnitop, Kud or even Jammu and March forward in their expedition of exploring the woods around Patnitop.
The term ‘Shivkhori’ literally means the ‘cave (khori) of Lord Shiva’. The Shivkhori Cave to be found at Ransoo Village of Reasi District is a cavern shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. As the legend goes, when the demon Bhasmasura having received a boon of turning anyone into ashes just by putting his hand on his or her head was chasing Lord Shiva, Lord Shiva hid himself inside the Shivkhori Cave to save his life. Shortly after, Lord Vishnu in the form of Mohini killed Bhasmasura and rescued Lord Shiva. Shivkhori is a natural cave that measures 20 meters in its length, 1 meter in width and 2 to 3 meters in its height. This voluminous cavern enjoys the capacity of accommodating hundreds of devotees at a time. The inner sanctum of the cave is pretty small where a self originated Lingam of Lord Shiva is enshrined. The devotees believe that this Shiva Lingam is endless.
The passage that leads to the inner chamber is low and small and one has to stoop and crawl at times to reach the sanctum. At one point the passageway divides itself into two paths, one of which is believed to be leading to the Amarnath Cave. However, it is closed now as some sadhus had ventured in there and never returned. The 4 meters tall Shiva lingam of the Shivkhori Cave is surrounded by several natural objects resembling the images of Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesha and the Nandigan of Lord Shiva. The roof of the cave is marked with snake like formations from where water constantly oozes onto the Shiva Lingam. Several pigeons similar to the Amarnath cave are also spotted here. The Shivkhori Cave Temple of Ransoo attracts about millions of devotees every year.
Akhnoor, a municipal community of Jammu District stationed at the footings of the Himalayas and settled on the banks of the River Chenab is located about 132 kilometers away from Patnitop and just 30 kilometers away from Jammu. Formerly known by the name ‘Virat Nagar’, this township was rechristened as ‘Akhnoor’ following the mystifying episode of a Mughal Begum restoring her eye sight here by the application of some Ayurvedic Medicines along with the holy waters of the Chenab River. Akhnoor is also noted for its connection with the Pandavas who stayed here during their exile. Several caves discovered around Akhnoor are believed to be the residence of the Pandavas. And to top that, Akhnoor is also the historic town that is associated with the legendary love story of Sohni-Mahiwal. Besides, tourists can also pay a visit to the ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization laying along the Chenab Riverbank. The Parashurama Temple of Akhnoor is exceedingly famed for its Parashurama Jayanti Celebration organized here with incomparable pomp and grandeur every year.
The Mansar Lake of Jammu nested at the distance of about 80 kilometers from Patnitop and nearly 36 kilometers from Udhampur is a beautiful water reservoir often exalted in the lines of the Manasarovar Lake of Tibet. Measuring about a mile in its length and half a mile in its width, this spectacular lagoon fringed by imperial hills wrapped in the bottle green cloak of the Pine and Deodar forests is tremendously praised for its dazzling pictorial prospects and its grandiose religious solemnity. A small temple dedicated to Lord Sheshnag; a mythological serpent with six hoods is sited on the eastern banks of the Mansar Lake. Additionally, two primordial temples dedicated to Umapati Mahadev & Narsimha and Goddess Durga are also positioned in the proximity with the Mansar Lake. This lake is accredited with the miraculous sin cleansing qualities by the devotees of Lord Shiva and pilgrims take a holy dip into the waters of the Mansar Lake especially on the festive occasions.
It is believed that if the newly wedded couples perform Parikrama around the Mansar Lake, Lord Sheshnag will bless them with the happy and fulfilling married life ahead. Aside from its religious and mythological importance, the Mansar Lake is also distinguished for its incredibly charismatic outlooks. Noted for its exceptionally charming flora and rare fauna, the Mansar Lake is an ideal locale for boating and picnicking. The cemented promenade that girdles the lake looks outstandingly appealing when marvelously illuminated with colorful electric lights at night. Tourists and locals are wholly fond of taking a leisurely stroll around the lake and enjoying the impressive surrounding vistas. Projected view decks are installed around the lake at regular intervals from where we can perceive the enchanting views of the ethereal birds, fish and tortoise. A wildlife sanctuary is also sited close to the Mansar Lake where the jungle life of Himalayan region including spotted deer, neelgai and other animals, water birds such as ducks and cranes, and so on can be spotted.
Katra , located at the distance of about 42 kilometers from Jammu and nested at the footings of the ‘Trikuta Mountains’ at the elevation of 754 meters above the sea level, is a modest township of Udhampur District in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir that has earned an international repute as a highly aggrandized Hindu pilgrim destination due to its world famous temple dedicated to Goddess Vaishno Devi. The Vaishno Devi Temple of Katra that enshrines the ostentatiously ornamented stone silhouettes of Goddess ‘Vaishnavi’ (also revered as Mata Rani) happens to be the second most visited place of worship in India and over 8 million devotees perform a pilgrimage of the Vaishno Devi Temple every year. Katra, a prime stopover for the devotees and the tourists on the way to the Vaishno Devi Temple also acts as a gateway to the empyreal abode of the Goddess Shakti. Katra is the threshold where the pilgrims register themselves and get insurance before initiating the 12 kilometer long and treacherous expedition to the Vaishno Devi Shrine.
The Vaishno Devi Temple one of the holiest Hindu Shrines of India where Shakti; the female manifestation of power is worshipped in the form of a deity has acquired global standing for its legendary shrine dedicated to Goddess Vaishnavi. Highly venerated by the devotees of Shakti from all over the world and greatly thronged by the pilgrims all round the year, the Vaishno Devi Temple of Katra, cuddled atop the Trikuta Mountain in a hilly cave happens to be India’s second most visited Hindu pilgrim destination after Tirupati. Approximately 8 millions devotees perform the pilgrimage of the Vaishno Devi Temple every year. Also exalted by the title ‘Mata Rani’, the Goddess Vaishno Devi is believed to be the collective incarnation of the three supreme Goddesses Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati. The Vaishno Devi Temple stationed about 12 kilometers from the Katra town and suspended at the altitude of 5300 feet can be reached on foot from Katra. Pilgrims can also hire ponies, pitthus, palkis, electric vans or helicopters for an easier odyssey. The Vaishno Devi Temple is administered by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board. The Temple is open to the public all through the year, even at nights, however due to the heavy rush devotees have to wait for hours for the auspicious darshana of the Mother Goddess. It is believed that Vaishno Devi is a wish fulfilling deity and those who take her darshana never go back empty handed. At the Vaishno Devi Cave, the presiding deity is enshrined in the form of three natural stones in the shape of three Pindies representing the Goddesses Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati. The devotees hold a belief that this cave of Goddess Vaishnavi (Garbh Joon) is sanctified by the presence of 330 million Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
The Baba Dhansar Temple located about 36 kilometers away from Katra near the village Karua in Reasi District is an ancient shrine dedicated to the mythological son of Sheshnag Baba Dhansar. The legend suggests that when Lord Shiva went to the holy cave of Amarnath in order to narrate the story of his immortality to Goddess Parvati, for retaining the secrecy He left His serpent Sheshnag at Anantnag. There, Sheshnag resided in the human form as Vasudev and fathered several children, Dhansar being one of them. Dhansar was a pious and saintly person who was highly venerated by the people. At that time a demon dwelt near the Karua Jheel and troubled the residences of Karua Village. People went to Baba Dhansar and requested him to save them from this calamity. Baba Dhansar appealed to Lord Shiva to come and rescue the villagers from the torments of the demon. Hearing his plea, Lord Shiva arrived at the village Karua and killed the demon. Presently, a temple dedicated to Baba Dhansar and a cave of Lord Shiva are placed close to the Karua Jheel. The waters of the Karua Jheel are believed to be extremely sacred, however, bathing here is not allowed. Devotees can take a holy dip into the waters of the Karua Jheel downstream. It is believed that if you bathe in the waters of the Karua Jheel and pray with total devotion, all your wishes are rewarded by the blessings of Lord Shiva. An annual fair is celebrated at the Baba Dhansar Temple on the occasion of Mahashivratri when the vicinity is thronged by thousands of devotees arriving from all over the country.
Batote, situated at the distance of about 14 kilometers from Patnitop is a small Notified Area Committee Town of Doda District in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. Nestled amidst the Shiwalik Ranges of the Himalayas, Batote is a dainty little Hill Resort perched at the altitude of 1560 meters above the sea level. Easily accessible from Patnitop, Sanasar and other destinations of the region Batote is strategically placed on the National Highway 1A that connects Udhampur to Srinagar. Not only that, the National Highway 1B leading towards Doda also inaugurates here. Batote; the paradise for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts offers excellent opportunities of trekking through the thick coniferous forests. Trekking trails from Batote to Patnitop and Sanasar are some of the most sought after routes popular amongst the mountaineers.
The most ideal season for trekking in the forests of Batote is summer as the summer treks even yield the probability of spotting wide range of rare Himalayan birds. Endowed with immeasurable natural splendor Batote is indeed a tourist paradise that offers the most spectacular contours of the Chenab Gorge, the Patnitop Mountain Range and the remote snow crowned Himalayan Peaks reflecting the bright rays of the sun. The entire surrounding landscape swarming with conifer, pine, deodar and oak trees looks truly commanding from the highlands of Batote. Batote is also the Promised Land for the vacationers, peace seekers, philosophers and the lovers of solitude who can spend some quiet and quiescent time in the fondling lap of nature here. What adds to the tourism appeal of Batote is its famous high quality crop of Rajma (kidney beans).
Nathatop located just 14 kilometers away from Patnitop is one of the most popular tourist attractions that offers the eye-catching panoramas of the undulating snow coated hills around Patnitop and the imposing vistas of the far flung Himalayas. Infused with indescribable glory and grandeur of nature, Nathatop can be reached by taxi or even on foot from Patnitop. Presently Nathatop is more popular amongst the tourists and adventure seekers as a paragliding and hi flying site. Hi flying from Nathatop is beyond doubt a memorable experience. As you take off from Nathatop, you will feel as if you are on the top of the world and walking on the clouds. You will perceive the aerial tableau of Patnitop and surrounding regions, Sivalik Range and Brahma Massif while doing the ‘hi flying’ and this is when you will apprehend the real meaning of the phrase ‘the bird’s eye view’. The flight from Nathatop lasts for about 15 minutes and you land at Kud. Though exceedingly thrilling and enjoyable, hi flying does require some prior training, good practice and a lot of courage. During winter, several hi flying and paragliding courses are conducted at Nathatop.
As you trod on the Sanasar Road from Patnitop, 5 kilometers of excursion will reach you to Madhatop; the dreamland incarnated. Madhatop terrain, alighted at the elevation of about 2024 meters, remains enveloped with thick blankets of snow during the winter season when tourists throng this plateau particularly to indulge in the enticing snow sport of skiing. Apart from skiing what beckons the tourists to Madhatop is its 3 fresh water springs popular all over the place for their therapeutic properties.
Krimchi located about 43 kilometers from Patnitop and just 8 kilometers to the north-west of Udhampur is a historical site of one of the oldest temple complexes of Jammu and Kashmir. Estimated to be dating back to 9th century AD, this temple complex is believed to be constructed during the reign of the kings of Kushan Dynasty. Locally referred to as the ‘Pandava Temples’, this group of temples standing in a row facing east depict the clear influences of the distinct Greek (Hellenic) order of architecture. One of these three temples is in ruins today. The main temple of this temple complex which measures about 50 feet in its height is festooned with certain abstract designs and resembles the Baij Nath and Linga Raja Temples of Bhubaneswar in Orissa in its shape and outline. The porch of these temples draws the semblance with the ancient style of stone temples built in Kashmir in olden days. Some beam like stone configurations and massive pillars are employed in the construction of the Krimchi Temples. The walls of these temples are ornamented with the intricate carvings and exquisite engravings which augment the grace of these erstwhile shrines. The temples at Krimchi are noted for enshrining various Hindu Gods and Goddesses namely Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesha, Lord Vishnu and the Trimurti. Profuse in its historical, cultural, architectural, archaeological and religious frontage, the Krimchi Temple Complex is one of the most sought after pilgrimage as well as tourist destinations of Jammu and Kashmir around Patnitop.
Bahu Fort and Temple
The Bahu Fort located in the Jammu city on the left banks of the river Tawi is an ancient fortress established by Raja Bahulochan approximately 3000 years ago. Later refurbished in 19th century AD under the dominion of the Dogra Emperors, this fort is celebrated far and wide particularly for its Hindu shrine locally known as the ‘Bave Wali Mata Temple’. Worshipped as the presiding deity of Jammu, the Bave Wali Mata is the manifestation of the fierce form of power i.e. Goddess Kali. The Bahu Fort perched at the elevation of 325 meters is fortified with thick ramparts made of sandstone. The main entrance of the citadel is large enough to allow the elephants inside as the royal stables are also located within the premises of the fort itself. A huge water tank is placed to the left near the entrance while the ammunition store is sited to the right. An underground chamber spotted here was used as a prison in olden days and this chamber has a secret door which was used to escape in case of emergency and sudden enemy assaults. The first floor of the fort is extravagantly festooned with arches and floral motifs which probably served as the residence of the royal family. Several antechambers are situated to the right of the Goddess Kali Temple which functioned as the assembly halls and the offices of the Quiledars. The Bave Wali Mata Temple, estimated to be dating back to 8th century AD is famed all over the place for its ‘Bahu Mela’ celebrated twice a year during the Navaratras. A large number of devotees and pilgrims alight at the Kali Mata Temple to pay homage at the feet of the deity at the time of the festival. The woodland that encloses the stronghold is now developed into a well landscaped park known as ‘Bhave Ki Bahu’ that is modeled after the renowned Mughal Gardens of New Delhi. From the ‘Bhave Ki Bahu’ gardens of the Bahu Fort, commanding panoramas of the entire Jammu City can be perceived.
Buddha Amarnath Temple
The Buddha Amarnath Temple positioned on the left banks of the Pulsata Stream in Rajpura Mandi in the north east region of the Poonch Town is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Cuddled in the foothills of a lofty Himalayan Knoll, this Shiva Temple enshrining a Shiva Lingam built out of white stone known as chakmak is considered to be older than the Amarnath Temple of Jammu and Kashmir. The water rivulet that flows in the proximity with the Buddha Amarnath Temple is believed to be the venue where the grandfather of the demon king Ravana i.e. Sage Pulsata performed penance. By reason of this tale, the stream is bestowed upon the title the ‘Pulsata Stream’. Thousands of devotees pay a visit to the Buddha Amarnath Temple particularly on the occasion of Raksha Bhandhan. It is to be noted that as the Buddha Amarnath Temple is sited quite close to the Pakistan border, tension builds up quite frequently here.
Sanasar is a combined epithet given to the two tiny hamlets of Jammu ‘Sana’ and ‘Sar’. Located 20 kilometers to the west of Patnitop, Sanasar, nestled at the elevation of 2050 meters above the sea level is a well known and greatly sought after center for adventure sports in the Jammu region. The vicinity is especially reckoned for the spectacular vistas of the mountain ranges including the Brammah Massif it proffers.
Kud, located at the distance of about 32 kilometers from Udhampur and suspended at the elevation of 1855 meters in the lower Himalayan Ranges, is a tiny township popular amongst the travelers for its sweet shops selling fresh and hot ‘Patisa’.