September 16, 2011

Akhnoor - The historical town of Jammu and Kashmir

Akhnoor is a historical town which has mythological connections too. It is located at a distance of around 20 kms from Jammu city in Jammu and Kashmir state of India. This picturesque town of Akhnoor is located on the banks of the river Chenab. Akhnoor has a lot of tourist attractions.

Akhnoor is very small town. The river Chenab floats all along the town. Due to the floating of Himalayan glacier in summer, the river is full of water all over the year including the summer season. The first tourist attraction of Akhnoor is a Gurudwara. The white marble Gurudwara on the banks of the river Chenab looks very attractive.

The second attraction of the town is the temple dedicated to Lord Parasuram, the incarnation of Vishnu. Unlike the other popular incarnations of Lord Vishnu such as Krishna and Ram, it is very rare to find a temple for Parasuram. Apart from Parasuram shrine, the temple has two other shrines - one for Vaishno Devi and another for Shiva-Parvati-Ganesh.

This town is believed to be the Virat town of Mahabharat epic. This was the town where Pandavas had to hide themselves from Kauravs for one year. There is a cave temple on the banks of the river. The cave temple is named as Pandav Gufa. The entrance of the cave has the figures of Hanuman and Bhairav. The cave has the idol of Shiv Linga, which is believed to have been installed by the Pandavas. The cave also has the bas relief images of all five Pandavas, their wife Draupati and Krishna with Arjun. The footprint of Lord Krishna is also found inside the temple. The idols of Dharmaraja and Chitragupta are found near the Krishna foot print. The small cave temple also has the other shrines for Kali, Radha-Krishna and Shiva-Parvati-Ganesh.

Near the Pandav Gufa temple, the Akhnoor fort is located. It was built in the 18th century CE by the king Raja Teg Singh. The excavations inside the fort revealed the Harappan and pre-Harappan civilizations which are 5000 years old.

Durga temple, which was built in the recent times, is also an important site in Akhnoor. The main shrine in the temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga. There is a big idol of the river Ganga seated on a Makara. The temple has other idols and shrines such as Navagraha, Ganesh, Dharmaraja and Chitragupta, Kali, Ganesh, Ram-Lakshman-Sita-Hanuman, Radha-Krishna, Shiva and Shiv Linga, etc.

Kameshwar temple located slightly away from the river on the main road is believed to be an ancient temple dated back to the Pandavas. However, the structure of the temple is not very old. The main shrine of the temple has three Shiv Lingas in irregular shapes along with the idols of three Ganeshji. The prakara (corridor surrounding the shrine) has the shrines of Hanuman, Ram-Lakshman-Sita-Hanuman, Nataraj, Kali along with Shiva under her feet, Indra, Shiv-Parvati-Ganesh and Panchmukh Hanuman. The entrance of the temple has two big Shiv Lingas and two idols of Nandi. Near the entrance, the idols of Chitragupta, Shaneeswara and Dharmaraja are also found.

Near Akhnoor, on the way back to Jammu, there is a small site called Ambaran. It has the remains of a Buddhist monastery that existed between 1st century CE and 7th century CE.

Akhnoor has mythological as well as historical importance. Moreover, it is also a beautiful tourist attraction located very near to Jammu city. If you get a chance to visit Jammu, ensure that you go to Akhnoor too.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:
Site Name: Akhnoor
Site Type: Temple, Fort, Gurudwara, Cave shrine, River
Location:  20 kms from Jammu city, Jammu and Kashmir state, India
Highlights: 7th century reamins of Buddhist monastery and the cave shrines of Pandavas
Nearest Railway Station: Jammu - well connected from the cities/towns all over India
Nearest Airport: Jammu
How to reach: Reachable by taxi from Jammu
Hotel: A lot of hotels are available in Jammu; 
Restaurants: Good restaurants are available in Jammu

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