Favorite thing: I know this is not the best spot for posting this tip, I'm sorry. But Jammu Tavi would be the first stop for most people who decide to visit the venerated Amarnath cave.
I just wanted to say that before you go you should have an idea of how tight the situation can get. It is a 16 hour ride by road to Pahalgam, at best, and 20 hours to Baltal. But the real issue is the enormous crowd along the 14km walk from Baltal or 32km from Pahalgam. The walk becomes a crawl as you move along porters and mules the entire day. The photo may express it well. In 2011 more than 630,000 people visited caves during the 40-45 days it was open. There are comparatively less people around the latter days but by then the monsoon weather has also picked up and it is really not advisable to travel Indian mountains in the rain.
Of course you could take a helicopter instead of walking or you could consider all the people "part of the charm." Either way I just wanted to let this be out, because I wish someone had told me like-it-is too.
- Religious Travel
A bit a lot of police and army
Favorite thing: Police or army are quite a normal sight in airports, but there are usually not a lot in local (non-international) airports, but Jammu is in a special military region, and, if checks are not that drastic, you feel the military presence and the atmosphere is a bit “heavy”. Lots of militaries at the airport, but also a lot in town, with road blocks, militaries at the entrance of temples, in the streets, near the hotels. . . It is not war, but their presence reveals a potential “danger” at all times.
There are a number of temples and other public places where you cannot get in with a camera; the militaries ask to leave it with them, they give it back after the visit; since my childhood I have some problems with uniforms and I did not trust them, so I preferred not to visit in these cases, and be sure I keep my camera. And do not try to hide your camera as they anyway will make body searches before you enter some places.
- Arts and Culture
The Himalaya mountains
Favorite thing: 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!
- Arts and Culture
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