Suraj Saraf/ compiled by Amiay Saraf
It is said that one Day Raja Jamboo Lochan, whose capital was at Bahu, while on a hunting spree observed a lion and a goat drinking from the same pond. He decided to have a city there named after him Jamboo. That happened over three thousand years ago. During the course of the time city came to be known as Jammu. It has numerous attractions for the visitors. It is located on a Siwalik hillock with river. Tawi flowing at the foot-hill, all with the back-drop of the imposing peaks of the Trikutta Mountain. Many peregrinators in the past have spoken highly of the beautiful location of the city commanding an excellent view. The sun-rise and the sun-set on the Tawi valley offer views of outré charms. Jammu is also known as the “City of Temples” on account of the scores of shrines with soaring golden shikharas. Also several tombs of the Muslim faqirs with their while columnar and domes offer no less an attractive sight. Beside, there are several mosques and Gurudwaras. Of the temples the best known is the Raghunath pantheon in the middle of the city whose cloud-capped turrets are seen from long distance around. Raghunath Temples have some unique features and constitute the biggest groups in northern India. Many of the other temples, too, attract attention by their massiveness and magnificent landscapes. Profusion of fascinating marble sculptures of varied colours, most of them being of heroic sizes, verily constitutes mythology in marble. There are gigantic lingams longer than man-height and massive girths with whose energy sanctorum feelingly pulsate. Attention must also be drawn to the exotic wall painting in some of these shrines.
Pir Kho is an interesting cave shrine with mythical associations and history going back prior to eight century. The Shivadawala is another ancient shrine. It is said that it was here that Jamboo Lochan had found the lion and goat drinking water from the same pond. Ranbireshwar temple has the sky-high tallest shikhara. Of the well-known tombs are over a dozen including those of Pir Roshan Shah Wali popularly known as “Pir Nau Gaza”, Pir Buddan Shah, Pir Mitha, pir Jiwan Shah, Panj Pir, Baba Lal Shah and Baba Alaf Din.
Regular annual or other periodical fairs are held in these temples and tombs: of the latter it is interesting to know that Hindus no less than their Muslim brethren go there and attend the festivals with the deepest spiritual fervor. To remind the medieval character of the city, there are gigantic old mansions and cobbles stone escarpment. Of the old ramparts built in some bygone age to defend the city and the several massive gates built into these defenses, now remain only the Gumat gate and a portion of the defense walls flanking it on both sides with another huge stone gate nearby on a nullah. One must not forget to see the old secretariat, the former palace of the Dogra rulers. This cyclopean complex of mansions has several style of architecture incorporated in its over-all structure from time to time and lavish embellishment. Very attraction in these old palace are the luxuriant and intricate painting of flower, creepers, birds etc. and interesting geometrical motifs done on the ceiling and walls. The Dogra Art Museum in Mubarak mandi houses numerous charming items of old Dogra art including hundreds of exotic and exquisite Pahari miniatures. The Raghunath Sanskrit library in the Raghunath Temple precincts is a vast store-house containing thousand of rare ancient manuscript. There is also regional research laboratory, one of the three or four general-purpose national research laboratories set up by the Government of India in the country. It is worthwhile to pay a visit to Jammu city on the occasion of the festivals of Lohri and Baisakhi when the youngsters get into a wild spirit of frenzied folk dancing and pass the whole day jigging and gallop-ding in the streets. Facing the city on the opposite bank of river Tawi, is the huge Bahu fort perched on a high ledge. Its history goes back far into the oblivion. It has an old Kali Maa Temple held in high esteem by people. Every Tuesday and Saturday thousands of people go there for worshipping. Some annual fairs also see jostling crowed of devotees there. Opposite Bahu Fort on another hill top is the consecrated spot dedicated to maha Maya, the Dogra Rani of Jhansi, who doubt-less fought the invaders and sacrificed herself about 1400 years back. Statue of Shri Hans Raj is another great landmark in the history of Jammu. It was set up in recent year in a park just at the entranced to the old city and reminds of a pioneering spirit that brought political and social awakening in Jammu and Kashmir State and had telling impact without the State bounds too. An important Sikh monument in the city is the Samadhi of Chand Kour. The tallest landmark of Jammu City is Amar Mahal Palace. Over a hundred year old marvel of architecture designed by a French architect for Raja Amar Singh, grand father of Dr. Karan Singh. Built on a hillock and overlooking the Tawi river, Amar Mahal commands an excellent view of the city and its surroundings. It now houses the collection of Pahari paintings, a family portrait gallery and rich library owned by Dr. Karan Singh. To Higlight important heritage of the city, J&K tourism and cultural ministry has launched heritage projects with Rahunath bazaar heritage project, Mubarak Mandi heritage project, Bahu Fort Heritage Project and Pir Kho heritage project involving expenditure of hundred of crores of rupees.
( The compiler Amiay Saraf is a freelancer from Jammu. Views are exclusively his own) [email protected]