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The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir is the living proof of paradise on earth. With its Mughal gardens, local handicrafts, lip-smacking food, gondola rides, and houseboats, the state is world-famous for its implausible beauty. Not only this, but people from far and wide also travel to visit its spiritual destinations. Whether you wish to seek blessings at the Vaishno Devi Mandir or the sacred Hazratbal Shrine, this is the place for you. Read on to find out more about destinations in Jammu and Kashmir that will complete your spiritual journey in the state. By Upasana Singh

1. Amarnath Temple

 

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A trip to the Amarnath Temple situated at an altitude of 12,756 ft in Srinagar is unlike any other. As per religious beliefs, this is the place where Shiva went to explain the secret of life and eternity to his divine consort, Parvati so as not to risk being eavesdropped. It is considered to be a Shiva Linga by Hindus and the lingam (aniconic representation of the Hindu deity Shiva) is said to grow and shrink according to the phases of the moon.

The shrine is one of the holiest in Hinduism and is covered with snow most of the year. As it is open only for a short period during summers, we suggest that you prepare for the journey well in advance. Upon reaching Jammu via road, train, or air, you can hire a cab till either Pahalgam or Baltal. It takes about one to two days to reach Amarnath from Baltal, however, this trek is quite steep. Most devotees opt for the Pahalgam route that is much wider and takes three to four days (36-48 km) one way. Helicopters and ponies are also available to hire for aged, sick, or people with illnesses who wish to undertake the yatra.

The Details 

Upon completing the journey, you can relax and unwind at one of the best resorts in Pahalgam— WelcomHotel Pine n Peak, a member of ITC’s hotel group. With breathtaking views of mountains and the river Lidder, this resort is the perfect place for you to stay after your long and tedious trek to the Amarnath temple.

2. Jamia Masjid

 

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Heavily influenced by the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, the Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta, Srinagar is the biggest mosque in the entire Kashmir valley. Sikandar Shah Miri, the sixth sultan of the Shah Miri dynasty of Kashmir commissioned the construction of the mosque in 1394 CE. It was completed in 1402 CE with four turrets that offer views of the entire city of Srinagar. Another highlight is the 378 columns that are made of deodar wood. If you have embarked on a spiritual journey through Jammu and Kashmir, it will be hard for you to miss this sacred mosque.

The Details 

You can join other devotees on a Friday to offer prayers. However, to soak in the peace and sanctity of this place, the best time to visit is during the first prayer of the day. And to live the authentic Kashmiri experience, we recommend you to stay at the Butt’s Clermont Houseboats that is about 6 km away from Jamia Masjid.

3. Diskit Monastery

 

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This is the oldest and largest Buddhist monastery in the Nubra Valley, famously known as the ‘Orchard of Ladakh’. Noted for its 106 ft tall statue of Maitreya Buddha against the backdrop of rugged mountains, travellers seeking to connect with their inner being, must visit this site. Along with its numerous shrines, one can find Mongolian and Tibetan religious texts in the storehouse of the monastery.

The Details 

The best way to reach Diskit that is 116 km from Leh is by hiring a taxi or travelling in your private vehicle. The festival of the scapegoat, called ‘Dosmoche’ is popularly celebrated in February. During this time, the mask dance or Cham dance is performed by Lamas of the monastery to demonstrate the superiority of good over evil forces. However, if you are not willing to endure the harsh winter season, the months of May to September are a perfect time to visit the monastery. Desert Himalaya Resort is our top pick for an overnight stay in Diskit.

4. Gurudwara Pathar Sahib

 

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Gurudwara Pathar Sahib was built in 1517 to commemorate the visit of Guru Nanak Dev— the founder Guru of the Sikh faith, to the Ladakh region. It is believed that Guru Nanak Ji was once meditating here when a demon threw a big rock at him to obstruct his prayers. The rock, however, turned into soft wax that failed to harm the Guru. As the demon saw this, he asked for penance for which Guru Nanak Ji forgave him. In the gurudwara, the rock with the imprint of the body of Guru Nanak Dev and the footprint of the demon has been displayed.

The Details

Although the region is majorly known for Buddhism, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib is frequently visited by worshippers of all faiths. Buses and taxis are available from Leh that cover the 25 km distance to the gurudwara, located next to the main road near Magnetic Hill India. With minus degree temperatures in the winter months, the ideal time to visit the site is between June to October. And your best bet is to stay in properties such as Le Mentok Wellness Resort or The Silk Route Ladakh that are located in Leh as there are not a lot of guesthouses or hotels near the gurudwara.

Related: Cater To Your Spiritual Self & Trod Along The Char Dham Circuit Post Lockdown