India // Jammu and Kashmir //

Around Jammu

Although most foreigners head straight towards the Kashmir Valley, there are a couple of places you might consider stopping near the road to Srinagar, which is predictably punctuated by army signs spouting militaristic slogans – “the power behind the punch” is a common one. Around 40km north of Jammu a road branches off to the small town of Katra, which is the base for the 12km hike to Vaishno Devi temple. One of the region’s most important pilgrimage centres, the cave shrine is entered via an ankle-deep stream, whose chilly waters you must brave in order to get darshan of the image of the goddess, a triple incarnation of the female shakti.

A further 70km along, just as the pines start to take over from the deciduous forest, the main road passes by Patnitop, an alpine-style resort, popular with lowland Indians for its views, fresh air and relative accessibility.