Akhnoor Fort

In a quaint little eponymous town, 28 km away from Jammu, lies the majestic Akhnoor Fort. Situated on the bank of River Chenab, atop a cliff, the fort presents a picturesque sight. The fort's construction commenced in 1762, under the supervision of Raja Tej Singh, who could only complete two storeys. His successor, Raja Alam Singh, took the further command to build the entire fort. The entire fort was built in forty years. It is needless to say that a structure that took four decades to create is an architectural wonder.

The fort has two-storeyed watch towers at corners and an impressive courtyard. The high walls facing the courtyard feature beautiful mural paintings. While touring the fort, you will encounter well-designed arches at regular intervals, accompanied by angular formations protruding outwards, called bastions. The fort also flaunts battlements and merlons.

However, it's not the architecture that is the highlight of the fort. The most striking feature is that it perches upon an ancient site - called 'Manda.' The excavation here is still in progress, sectioned into three periods: the first period represents Harappan culture as it's replete with red and grey earthenware such as jars, goblets, and beakers belonging to that era; the second period depicts historic pottery, while the third period marks the Kushana objects and walls of rubble diaper masonry. Thus, this 19th-century fort stands on a gold mine of archaeological remains of Harappa, one of the world's first civilisations and lures the tourists with a rich heritage.

Amar Mahal

Located at an incredible location with Shivalik hills in the north and the Tawi river on its right, Amar Palace was the last official residence of the Dogra Kings. Once a residing place for the eponymous Dogra king, Raja Amar Singh, the palace was built in 1862 in a French-chateau style of architecture. However, the implementation of the magnificent design didn't finish until the 1890s.

Made with red bricks and red sandstone, the spectacular building has long channels covered by sloping ridged roofs on three sides and supported by columns having an intricate wooden framework. Both the floors of the palace have French windows. On the first floor, these windows connect to a balcony and on the top floor, a bay window. The castle is surrounded by lush green patches and emerald meadows, further beautifying the place.

The last resident of Amar Mahal Palace was Maharani Tara Devi, daughter-in-law of the late Raja Amar Singh. She lived here till her death in 1967. After her demise, Dr Karan Singh and his wife Yasho Rajya Lakshmi converted four palace rooms into art galleries and a museum. The Pahari paintings here depict tales of Mahabharata, showcase the royal family tree, portraits representing hierarchy, and artworks of renowned painters like M F Hussain Laxman Pai are placed in the art gallery.

Amar Mahal Palace is a historic bonanza. The museum organises guided tours, book readings, lectures, heritage walks to give detailed insights into the history of Jammu and adjoining areas. The stunning feature of this museum is the whooping 120 kg pure gold throne.

Bahu Fort

Barely 5-km away from the city centre in Srinagar is a 3000-year-old Bahu fort, standing tall and sturdy on a hillock on the left bank of river Tawi. Considered the oldest fort in Jammu, Bahu Fort was built by Raja Bahucholan.

However, the current structure standing is the improved and extended versions of the Dogra rulers.The existing fort represents the grandeur of the Dogra Kings and royal family. Standing at a towering height of 325, Bahu Fort with fancy arches and detailed floral design cravings flaunting Mughal architecture symbolises power and prowess.

Inside the fort is Bahu Temple, famously known as ‘Bave Wali Mata Mandir,’ dedicated to Hindu Goddess Kali. The fort also houses a cable car system that takes you to and fro the temple, a large lake for boating and a 15-feet deep pond.

The state government built a terraced garden encompassing the fort in the 1980s. An enchanting place, the garden boasts of the largest underground aquarium in the country. All these attractions make Bahu Fort a must-visit tourist destination. However, the star of the whole setup is the fortress.

The fortress has a mighty entrance that an elephant can easily pass through. Bahu fort had been well equipped with watchtowers to keep an eye out for threats, a secret passageway for a quick escape, an underground prison chamber to hold captured spies and arsenals to protect against the enemy. Thus, the Bahu fort is much like a time machine, a stroll that visualises before us what we have read about the Dogra monarch era.

Hari Parbat

In the heart of the old city- 5 km from the city centre- lies a glorious hill, known as Hari Parbat, visible from most parts of Srinagar. Known famously as 'Koh-e-Maran' and 'Predemna Peet,' the hillock commands a panoramic view of the entire old city. The imposing hillock is separated from the great Zabarwan mountain range by a straggly spread of Dal Lake.

An epitome of diverse history and religious traditions, it shelters the heritage and holy sites of utmost importance, namely 'Parvati temple,' 'Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara,' 'Makhdoom Sahib Shrine' and 'Akhund Mullah Shah Shrine.' Atop this hill stands the only and most prominent identity marker of Srinagar, the Hari Parbat fort.

Mughal Emperor Akbar, in 1590, first fortified the site. He constructed an outer wall for the fort and intended to build a new capital, 'Nager Nagor,' within the wall, but the project didn't see through its fulfilment. Many people claim that with a stretch of 5 km, the wall of Hari Parbat is the longest, most ancient wall in the subcontinent. The wall interiors are known as 'Kallai Ander.' Kallai means walls, and Ander means inside in the local language, hence the name. Close by this area exists the charming Badamwari garden, another prime tourist attraction.

The present citadel was built under the guidance of Atta Mohammed Khan, Afghan governor of the Durrani Empire, in 1808 and is therefore also called Durrani Fort. The fort is an architectural brilliance with splendid gates, intricately carved windows, high walls, and a massive courtyard with a pool in it.

The fort flaunts fascinating old barrel guns. In olden times shots would be fired from these barrel guns to indicate time intervals every day. The practice vanished as time progressed. All in all, Hari Parbat Fort is a slice of the past that leaves you awestruck by its gloriousness.

Harwan Monastery

In the sleepy village of Harwan, 28 km from Srinagar, lies a desolate site housing the remains of over 2000-year-old Buddhist Monastery. Located in the foothills of the Zabarwan Mountains, the monastery has an unparalleled significance in the history of Buddhism in South Asia.

Historians claim that the 4th world Buddhist council was held here between the 1st and 2nd century CE. Kushan Emperor Kanishka I, an ardent advocate of Buddhism, called the conference attended by 500 renowned monks, spokespeople, and representatives of Buddhism from worldwide. In this council, two sects of Buddhism emerged, i.e., Hinayana and Mahayana, for the first time. Acharya Nagarjuna, the greatest Buddhist scholar, and Asho Ghosh, a famous Buddhist preacher, were the chief attendees of this conference that revolutionised Buddhist thought.

After a comprehensive debate and discussion lasting six months, the conference revealed formulated texts and the Buddhist lore (dharma shastra). These statements of original Buddhism were called ‘Tri Patrika,’ which were engraved on copper plates by the monks and then buried at a secret location to protect their authenticity. Experts, including Hiuen Tsang, the most famous Chinese pilgrim scholar, have claimed that Harwan Monastery is the treasure trove of the buried significant assets of Buddhism.

Behind the upper terrace lay what appear to be more structures yet to be excavated. To eyes, the monastery seems sprawled over the whole hillside. The ruins of Harwan Monastery are the only remains of their kind in India, and they supply a life-like representation of features of the mysterious Kushan dynasty.

Martand Sun Temple

Martand Sun Temple in the district Anantnag lies approximately 71 km from Srinagar. Perched on top of a plateau and surrounded by spectacular views, the temple is dedicated to the Sun God, known as ‘Martand’ in Sanskrit, another name for the solar deity in Hinduism.

The temple was constructed in the medieval era from the 7th to 8th century AD by Lalitaditya Muktapida of the Karkota Dynasty. The temple design and construction style is rare in the history of the world because it was built by fusing the world's greatest architectural forms. Blending Gandharan, Gupta, Chinese, Roman, Syrian-Byzantine designs, Kashmiri Hindu builders created the majestic architectural marvel out of strong square limestone bricks.

The temple complex, stretched over an area of 32,000 square feet, offers a splendid panoramic view of the valley of Kashmir. On the western side of the complex is the grand entrance, adorned by elaborate and intricate carvings of Hindu Deities. The ruined colonnaded courtyard of the temple leads to the main shrine of Lord Surya, located in the centre of the complex. The falling structures on the site now show weathered Sanskrit inscriptions, eroded sculptures and carvings depicting the traditional dance postures, musical events and some more deities. Though in ruins today, the temple is no less than a live laboratory for the students of history, archaeology, architecture and religion.

Mubarak Mandi Palace

Constructed over 150 years, Mubarak Mandi Palace is considered a masterpiece of Dogra reign. It happened to be their official residence till 1925 when Maharaja Hari Singh moved his seat to Hari Niwas Palace. It is located 5 km from the Jammu airport and 1.5 km from the Jammu bus stand and has been declared a heritage site by the government.

A flawless amalgamation of Baroque, Rajasthani, European and Mughal styles, the architecture of Mubarak Mandi Palace is spellbinding.Raja Dhruv Dev, an 18th-century king of Jammu, laid the foundation of the Mubarak Mandi complex. Jammu's subsequent rulers, particularly the Dogras, added more official buildings, luxurious palaces, elegant halls, spectacular galleries, and well-decorated courtyards to the Mubarak Mandi complex.

The noteworthy palaces of Mubarak Mandi are ‘Darbar Hall,’ ‘Gol Ghar,’ ‘Toshakhana Palace,’ ‘Pink Palace,’ ‘Rani Charak Palace,’ ‘Hawa Mahal,’ ‘Nawa Mahal’ and Sheesh Mahal. Sheesh Mahal, adorned with fascinating glasswork, is the most eye-catching complex section. Pink Hall (having pink plastered walls) is preferable for conducting official ceremonies among the spacious halls and galleries.

Though converted into a museum called the Government Dogra Art Museum by the state administration, it features a collection of artefacts, coins, jewellery, oil paintings, manuscripts and portraits detailing the imperial history of the region. Apart from the above, the museum's highlight is a gold plated bow and arrow of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Thus, Mubarak Mandi Palace is a seat of many heritage sites and offers a glimpse of the royal past of Jammu.

Pari Mahal

Sitting atop Zabarwan mountains overlooking the serene Dal Lake, Pari Mahal (abode of fairies) lies 13-km from the city centre in Srinagar. A seven terraced garden watered by a small spring, Pari Mahal was built by Mughal prince Dara Shikoh, Emperor Shah Jahan's eldest son, in 1640. Dara Shikoh used it as his residence during his visits to the valley in 1640, 1645 and 1654. At the time, it served as his library, dwelling place, and spiritual centre during this time.

With undulating hills in the background and glittering water in the distance, this place appears as a spot straight out of a fairy tale. According to the locals, Pari Mahal was not called so for its celestial-like location, but for its mythical sightings, legends of princesses who were kept there against their will by evil magicians. These legends would perhaps be the furthest thing from your mind when you visit the place as its history and heritage will bowl you. Due to the virtue of its height and unique location, the Pari Mahal was also used as a royal observatory to teach astrology and astronomy.

Believed to have been a Buddhist monastery originally, the entire structure today pays homage to the art and architecture of Mughals. The signature elements of Islamic architecture, like terraced gardens and lovely arches, set it apart from the other ancient monuments of Kashmir. As you stroll around, you will be awed by its architectural brilliance, angelic beauty and above all, rich heritage. The ruins of Pari Mahal exhibit the exquisite taste of Mughal Emperors and echo the grand history of their dynasty.


Parihaspora, an unmapped capital of ancient Kashmir, lies in Baramulla district, 26 km away from Srinagar. Parihaspora, meaning ‘city of laughter,’ is a historical village founded in the 8th century by the then king of Kashmir, Lalityaditya Muktapid of the Karkota Dynasty.

Barely 3 km away from Srinagar-Baramulla Highway, on a series of steep plateaus, lie the ruins of this city of bygone years. It is famous as ‘Kani-Shahar,’ which means ‘City of stones’ in local parlance. The name fits the place as the heaps and heaps of stone structures, some finally carved symmetrical others partially damaged, are scattered here over a vast expanse of land. They are the remains of the palace, temples and a Buddhist monastery built by Lalitaditya and depict the glorious past of this once marvellous capital city of a great king.