Himalayan Heritage Foundation

Center for policy research on Himalayan Region

Prospects of Heritage Tourism in Jammu Region of J&K

Cultural heritage should take the significant position in the tourist supply of the Jammu region. Marketing activities should be directed towards this objective.

Written by: Dr. Mahesh Kaul || Posted in category: Heritage Tourism || Dated: 2011-06-11

Mubarak Mandi


Jammu region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India represents the rich source of heritage that has remained untapped in terms of heritage tourism. The region has been the seat of the ruling dynasty of the state which came into being in 1846 as the amalgamation of the three regions viz; Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The lack of comprehensive policy and vision on the part of the planners and political discrimination meted out to the region by the ruling elite of Kashmir based political dispensations from time to time has relegated Jammu region to the background in terms of the heritage tourism development. In spite of the rich cultural legacy that matured into heritage assets ,the only solace lies in the pilgrimage tourism. It is a great paradox that more than 70 lakh tourists visit Mata Vaishnov Devi Shrine annually  but the planners have failed to extend their length of stay in Jammu as they have given no thought to broaden the tourism circuit of the region.

Prospects for the development of heritage tourism in the Jammu region of the Jammu and Kashmir state are immense as it is immensely blessed with bounty of not only the diversity in its topography but it has a culture that manifests itself in the rich heritage in terms of forts ,palaces, folk lore’s etc. The need is to create a heritage tourism product that enables the Jammu’s heritage, which is the direct derivative of the Sanskrit civilization of the Indian nation to be the foremost element of the economic upliftment of the region.

Evolution of Jammu and its heritage

Capital of the “Jammu Raj”, Jammu stands on the outer most range overlooking the Punjab, and a terminus of the Northern Railways was once considered most oriental and picturesque towns. River Tawi flows the narrow gorges below the town. The cliffs which guard the rivers at the heights are the store house of flora and fauna. When one looks over south and West from the lofty terraces of Jammu, Punjab Mountains rise from the east to north in the form of ridges having intervening valleys which rise gradually and beyond these lie Ladakh, Kashmir and Gilgit, the other constituents of the Jammu and Kashmir state. Jammu region acquired the name of Jammu during the middle ages and played important role in the politics and history of the north-western India.(Drew,1875,p.29) The original sources that give the detailed and accurate account of the evolution of the Jammu region are the Vanshavalis of the ruling families of the chiefs of the various dynasties. Dewan Kripa Ram’s Gulabnama and Rajdarshni of Ganesh Das Wadhera are the rich sources of the evolution of the Jammu region and its Sanskrit culture.(Charak,1983)

Archaeological excavations and records carried from time to time reveal that Jammu region is as old as the civilization of India itself .The sensational discovery of the proto-historic site at the village Manda in Akhnoor on the right bank of Chenab has proved the existence of the Harrapan red ware ,grey ware and black slipped ware .Pottery remains of the Kushan period both incised and plain includes terracotta figurines ,bone arrow heads ,iron daggers and copper antimony rods. These materials having cultural significance have been discovered at various sites in Jammu and Akhnoor as well as at the places like Tikri, Guru Baba Ka Tiba,Jhiri, Jafarchak,etc. These archaeological findings highlight the cultural development and evolution of Jammu from the Harrapan Age, about 2500 B.C. to the early Christian era.

The great importance has been laid down by the historians and archaeologists on the Akhnoor-Ambaran terracotta. The Buddha heads of various sizes and male and female heads with ornamental dresses and curly hair are of great interest and attraction. Akhnoor terracotta is of unique style free from the Graeco-Buddhist influence but there are certain indications that these may have the influence of the Gandhara School of art. Buddhist sites here are of great significance as here the remains of the Buddhist monasteries dating back to the Gupta period can be easily traced from the copper coins of about 500 A.D.

Akhnoor has also revealed how deep the foundations of the Sanskrit civilization of India in Jammu are. It can be judged from the shell inscriptions on stones found in the compound of the Kameshwara temple. In fact these are the pilgrim records engraved on the stones in the conch shell script dating back to 6th to 7th century. The use of these Southern characters by the South Indian pilgrims, the ardent devotees of the Lord Shiva establishes Jammu as the important pilgrimage centre for the adherents of the Shaivism. This has helped the rulers and people of Jammu to develop the culture which is based on pan Indian feeling. Ancient evidence that establishes the antiquity of the Jammu’s religion and cultural heritage is the trishula or the trident inscription found on the Shiva trishul at Shudh Mahadev. The writing consists of three lines. It is written in Sanskrit language and the characters belong to the north-western variety of the Indian alphabet of the 3rd and the 4th centuries A.D. These deciphered lines establish the contact of the Jammu region with other states of India.

The records of Jammu’s evolution as the centre of power and hence the cultural hub are not only confined to the vanshvalis and other documents available in the region only but can be traced from the rich sources of authentic literatures like Nilamata Purana and Rajatarangini-the authoritative and professional histories of the Kashmir.(Charak,1983,p.71-72)

The descendents of the rulers of the Jammu region trace their origin from the house of the Lord Rama, the heroic God of the Hindu pantheon .it is presumed to have descended through the famous conquerors Ikshvaku, Mandhata, Harish Chandra,Dalip,Bhagirath and Rama till Sudershan, the twelfth in descent from Rama,the hero of the Ramayana. Among the two sons of Sudarshan, Agnivaran and Agnigir,Agnigir migrated to the Shiwalik hills and reached the banks of the Ravi river in the present Kathua district of Jammu region.

These historical evidences and excavations establish beyond doubt the heritage value of the Jammu in civilisational terms and in no manner can be sidelined as it reveals the foundations not only of the Jammu’s cultural heritage but the civilisational boundaries of the Indian nation are well authenticated beyond any doubt.

Over the centuries his descendents developed the various clans of the nearly 22 hill principalities that ruled over the Jammu region from time to time. These ruling dynasties fortified the boundaries of the Jammu kingdom from time to time and it resulted in the building of forts and palaces, besides other buildings’ that serve as living monuments depicting the heritage of this region. The main attraction has been the construction of temples devoted to the various deities of the Hindu pantheon abounding every nook and corner of the region which has given the Jammu city the title of the city of temples

The main principalities that formed the part of the Jammu and the erstwhile “Jammu Raj” include the following:

• Poonch

• Rajouri

• Bhimber(Khari Kharyali)

• Akhnoor

• Reasi

• Gulab Garh(Deng Batol)

• Bhartul

• Banihal

• Kishtwar(Kashthawat)

• Chenani(Himta)

• Ramnagar/Bandralta

• Bhillawar or Basohli group

• Jasrota

• Mankot

• Samba

• Bhau

• Krimchi Bhuti

• Babbapur

These are the major principalities that form the part of the Jammu principalities not in terms of the territory but in terms of cultural contribution as well. The major art form that has gained national and international recognition is the Basohli paintings. (Kaul, 1993)

The reflection of the royal patronage of the rulers of these principalities is evident from the architectural style and paintings on the walls of the various palaces and royal buildings and the temples within the city as well as the periphery of the Jammu region.

The evidence of the royal cultural imprints is still clearly evident from the names of the places located well in the heart of the present Jammu city. The place where the Rajas of Jammu received the rajtilak or mark of investiture was popularly known as Rajtilak road.This place is now known as Purani Mandi. Purani Mandi is the spot where the palace of Jambulochan existed .The buildings in the Purani Mandi area are said to be erected by Mal Dev during the last quarter of the 14th century. Another historic urban city area of significance is Mubarak Mandi, it is a collection of palaces depicting the various phases of the Dogra rulers.The existing palaces in the Mubarak Mandi owe their foundation to Dhruv Dev and Ranjit Dev. The latter additions in the Mubarak Mandi are attributed to Gulab Singh. The ancient references regarding the town of Jammu are found in the Malfuzat-i-Taimuri which describes the invasion of Taimur in the Siwaliks in 1399 A.D. Tarikh-i-Kashmir-i-Azami refers to the Raja of Jammu during the period of 1417 A.D. (Charak, 1983, p.158-164)

Forts of Sambha, Akhnoor, Bahu, Jasrota, Hiranagar, Bhimgarh etc are just a few examples that stand as the majestic emblems of the Jammu’s pristine glory and military traditions which has few equals in the annals of history. The cuisine is another aspect of the cultural heritage that grows hand in hand with the development of the society and makes the food habits unique and reflective of the climatic conditions in terms of appetite. Jammu has its own cuisine

Keywords: Jammu,Dogras,Sanskrit Culture,Akhnoor Fort,Mubarak Mandi,Heritage Tourism,Marketing Strategies,Conservation,Preservation,Rajdarshini,Rajtarangini,Nilmata Purana