The Himalaya mountains
If you fly from Delhi to Jammu, make sure you get a seat on the right side of the plane; the last hour, if the weather allows, is just a wonderful travel over the Himalaya; I had no map on hand, I could not identify the high peaks and valleys, except when we were close to landing. . . . But the mountains are just so beautiful, with the glimmering snow, the high peaks in the sky, and the mountains extend so far, like endless to the North.
And make pictures as soon as you see them, as the cabin attendants, half an hour before landing, ask politely, but firmly, not to take more pictures, as we are approaching Jammu, in a special military region; I do not really understand what strategic information can be obtained with a small camera from inside an airliner, but. . . . there are places where people get nervous when it goes about pictures, spying, militaries. . whatever. . . ! But at least you can keep the windows open!
Jammu: not touristy, but interesting. . . .really!
"Strange atmosphere . . . . ."
« There is nothing to see in Jammu »; I quote here a very famous travel guide . . . . . (French version, 2004, page 254), you know this Planet . . . . .
Well, I must admit Jammu is not a “touristy place”, and may not be a “must see” destination, but if you happen to pass by on your way to higher Kashmir, or are “trapped” at a conference, it is interesting to visit, walk in the busy streets, look at this “City of Temples” and catch a bit the atmosphere of this city, not far from Pakistan, where at every street corner, you feel the presence of militaries, you feel that a little spark can get the area blown up. . . . .
Well, we are in Kashmir, (State of Jammu and Kashmir, officially), the state disputed by India and Pakistan since their independence from British colonialism, and if India and Pakistan signed treaties, on the Indian side (and probably, on the Pakistan side too), they are ready for a possible confrontation. But people keep smiling so beautifully. . . . enchantment is also meeting people.
"An interesting example of proselytism. . . ."
India is a multi-confessional country, and, if in Jammu an Kashmir, the majority of the population is Muslim, in Jammu city, the majority is Hindu; people belong to communities, and here, many belong to their religious group (the Umma, for Muslim), their village community, before belonging to a civil entity (citizenship, for example), and the authorities try to develop a “National belonging feeling” among the population; that is why for example, in this “City of Temples” you will see many very recently built Hindu temples, for the people who come to live in the area; India gives incentives for people who settle in Jammu and Kashmir, in order the Muslim majority is not too majority. That sort of practise has been done by political leaders in many places, since ages, and I do not write a value judgment. From what I red (guides, reports, and of course, “Kashmira” from Salman Rushdie**) and caught here, people feel Kashmiri before they feel Indian.
Police and army show also their presence in Jammu and Kashmir because of risks of terrorist strikes or because of inter religious fights which happen from time to time. So not a really touristy atmosphere here, and I did not see a lot of tourists (except a few fellows who were at the conference I attended).
"Trapped at a conference"
I had to attend a conference in Jammu. . . . . euh, speeches are not exactly my cup of tea, but it is sometimes part of my job, so, I did not, like Jonas, take the risk to spend some time in the belly of some whale, I obeyed my boss, and the “Gondwanan” preach. . . . had to be given.
I arrived in Jammu one day before the conference and, leaving my luggage at the hotel, I immediately took a dive in Jammu, tried to get lost and to feel what was going around.
My return flight was on an afternoon, so I had again a few hours for me, and visited again the old city.
Those who already made me the favour to read some of the stuffs I “throw” here in VT, know that many of my travels are job related, so like for other trips, I add some time to my trips to visit the places where my job takes me, and of course, I will not bother more with my professional activity.
** I believe that real literature learns us thousands times more about places and people than most of the pretentious sites promoting industrial tourism, which clutter up the Web. (I do not tell about this site, which among many other things, shares travel experiences, and to which I modestly (?) contribute).
My photographs are not works of art, my writings are not literature.
Be kind, I posted them here, and I would appreciate you inform me if you intend to display them elsewhere! Merci!