Explore Jammu And Kashmir's Bhaderwah, The Perfect Picnic Spot

With nearby Jaie Valley emerging as the favoured destination for picnickers, here's a guide to the picturesque town of Bhaderwah
Bhaderwah is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered
Bhaderwah is a hidden gem waiting to be discoveredofficial_bhaderwah/Instagram

The high-altitude Jaie Valley meadows, nestled near the picturesque Bhaderwah in the Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir, have become the favoured destination for picnickers this season, according to various reports. From May to September, a staggering four lakh tourists, including 1.20 lakh students, made their way to this enchanting valley at an impressive altitude of 7,850 feet and just 30 kilometres from Bhaderwah.

Dense coniferous deodar forests cocoon this mesmerising valley, and it boasts a nearly nine-kilometre-long meadow that is cut by a meandering stream merging with a tributary of the Chenab River at Kahara. The town of Bhaderwah nearby is also home to beautiful meadows and a plethora of picnic spots and attractions for travellers to explore. It's a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

The Mundane Beauty of Bhaderwah

The journey from Jammu to Bhaderwah, spanning 200 kilometres, unfolds through some of India's most breathtaking landscapes. Winding through forested slopes and quaint tuck shops, the road offers an ever-changing view of lush greenery while the tranquil Neeru River sparkles in the distance. After a slow five-hour and forty-minute drive, the bowl-shaped valley of Bhaderwah emerges before your eyes.

Lush greenery surrounds the entire town
Lush greenery surrounds the entire townofficial_bhaderwah/Instagram

Nestled at a lofty altitude of 5,295 feet on the foothills of the middle Himalayas, Bhaderwah has earned the apt moniker of "Chhota Kashmir," or mini Kashmir. The deep deodar forests exude a profound silence, while the meadows are adorned with vibrant fuchsia rhododendrons. The valley's history is steeped in local legends, but the snow-capped mountains will capture your heart in mere moments. Glistening perpetually under the winter sun, these peaks beckon travellers from around the world.

Located discreetly in Jammu and Kashmir's Doda district, Bhaderwah owes its abundant beauty to the hundreds of unnamed rivers clinging precariously to the mountainsides, alpine valleys dotted with centuries-old temples, and snow-capped peaks untouched by worldly distractions.

Spiritual Attractions

Gupt Ganga temple in Bhaderwah
Gupt Ganga temple in Bhaderwahofficial_bhaderwah/Instagram

With its scenic beauty and stunning meadows, Bhaderwah also boasts a small number of temple trails that you can take.

Gupt Ganga Temple: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this shrine is believed to be the resting place of the Pandavas from the Mahabharata during their exile. One of the rocks found here is engraved with Bhim's footprint, a sacred relic that draws both religious tourists and curious travellers. Situated on the banks of the Neeru River, this entirely stone-built temple gets its peculiar name from a local legend, where river Ganga fell on the Shiva lingam and then mysteriously disappeared.

Vasuki Nag Temple: A masterpiece of architecture, this temple houses twin idols of Raja Jamute Vahan and Naagraj Vasuki, both carved from a single stone. These ancient statues, tilted at an 87-degree angle, date back to the 11th century. Located just three kilometres from Bhaderwah's city centre, this temple attracts pilgrims throughout the year.

Bhaderwah has an array of meadows and valleys that are  preferred picnic spots
Bhaderwah has an array of meadows and valleys that are preferred picnic spots official_bhaderwah/Instagram

Picnickers' Delight

With the rolling green slopes and the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, Bhaderwah has an array of meadows and valleys that are as much preferred as picnic spots as the meadows of Jaie Valley.

Seoj Meadow: A serene canvas, the Seoj grasslands are surrounded by towering mountains, with the sacred peak of Kailash Kund to the south and a meandering rivulet to the west. Locally known as Seoj Dhar, this meadow serves as a camping ground for Kailash Yatra pilgrims. Adventure enthusiasts can partake in thrilling paragliding trips that traverse the stunning landscapes of Bhaderwah.

Chinta Valley: Sitting at an elevation of 6,500 feet, this sylvan valley is adorned with coniferous trees. Visitors can go horseback riding from Baggan to Thuba and then visit the ancient Shiva temple nearby. The Subarnag peak trek commences from the Bhadarwah-Chinta road, offering ample skiing opportunities.

Sartingal Road: At the southern tip of Bhaderwah lies the heavenly hamlet of Sartingal. Surrounded by deodar forests and the Kailash and Ashapati hills, this landscape is embellished with hidden streams and charming chai stalls.

Rogan josh
Rogan joshDeposit photos

On Your Plate

Bhaderwah's cuisine features beloved favourites such as the aromatic rogan josh and arguably the world's best rajma chawal. As you savour soothing kahwah, be sure to try yakhni (a heavenly lamb curry cooked with yoghurt), mawal flowers and mint, matschgand (a fiery meatball curry), and modur pulav (rice spiced with saffron, cinnamon, and milk). Explore street eateries and restaurants to sample traditional dishes like goshtaba, aab gosht, muji gaad, and dum olav in and around Bhaderwah.

Best time to visit

October signals the beginning of winter in Bhaderwah and the neighbouring areas, and this breathtaking season extends through February. The climate is ideal for sightseeing excursions and adventurous sports during these months. As December approaches, temperatures can plummet to as low as 4 degrees Celsius, so it's essential to pack ample warm clothing if you plan to travel during this period.

Bhaderwah Fort
Bhaderwah Fortofficial_bhaderwah/Instagram

Getting there

Jammu, which is some 200 kilometres from Bhaderwah, is the best starting point.

By Air: Jammu Airport is well-connected to the cities of Srinagar, Delhi, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

By Train: The major railheads from Jammu that you can take are Jammu Express, Shalimar Express, Sealdah Express, Jhelum Express, Jammu Mail, and Malwa Express, among a few others.

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