KOLKATA, 19 JULY 2023:

To revive the world famous tourism  sector after the two year hiatus due to outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department has identified to promote 75 new offbeat destinations.

Bani – Basholi   tehsils  situated in the Kathua district of union territory of Jammu  are amongst one of these 75 new offbeat destinations. It is the gateway to the tourism of Jammu and Kashmir, the Switzerland of Asia.

The picturesque town of  Basohli is surrounded by the Shivaliks, the old world famous tourist attractions – the fort ,shrine of Mata Chanchlo Devi, Sunan Ghat, the cool spot at the lower altitude, Dhar Mahanpur, Jaurian Mata shrine etc. The remains of Basohli Palace , had  square turrets, open parapets, projecting windows, Chinese roofed balconies have been recognised  as the finest buildings in the east by the French traveler Vigne..

In an exclusive interview to The Travel and Tourism Times, Dr. Desraj Bhagat, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bani – Basholi Development Authority at the sidelines of the Travel and Tourism Fair (TTF) Kolkata 2023 has said that it is truly an unexplored destination situated about  three hours from Jammu and one hour from Pathankot, midway on the  Pathankot – Dalhousie Road.

“ Lord Dalhousie originally had planned to make the summer destination at Challa here, but later set up in Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh during the colonial era.The village Challa is located at Bani tehsil in Kathua district and Lord Dalhousie had intended to develop this destination which has the same height of Dalhousie in HP,”said Dr. Desraj Bhagat.

Ranjit Sagar Lake is the biggest water reservoir in North India and stretches upto 25 kilometres, the mesmerizing beauty of this vast water body can be fully explored from the top of Bani – Basholi.

“Sixty to eighty acres of beach  area beside the Ranjit Sagar Lake and a beach destination Purthu in Basholi is popularly known as Mini Goa. On this Ranjit Sagar Lake the Atal Setu ( Bridge) has been set up. Natural beauties, meadows are extended upto Barthal,” he added.

Dr. Desraj Bhagat further said that the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism department has crafted a new tourism circuit – Bhadarwah, Bani- Basholi upto Dalhousie ( the distance of which is 30 kilometres away from Basholi).

Painting School :

A painting school is running at Basholi , named Vishavathali, which has actually started in the 17 th century by the then Maharaja of Basholi, Mr. Bhoopath Pal Dev.

“ Only last month the Basholi paintings has bagged a GI status. Live paintings are also part of the guided tours here.  Besides, in Basholi, the world famous Kashmiri shawls, Pashmina  are prepared locally and live weaving facilities are also arranged at a weaving village for the tourists,”informs Dr. Desraj Bhagat.

Historical point :

In the year 1702, a historical battle was fought between the Maharaja of Basholi and the Mughals at Nirmahagarh, in which the Mughals have been defeated. It is also a popular tourism hotspot.

Tourists can reach Jammu and Pathankot by air, and from there to Basholi by road. Nearest railway station is in Kathua, regular bus service is available at Kathua bus stand. Nearest airport is in Jammu.

There are a number of good accommodations, both in the government and also in the private sector.

Jammu and Kashmir is world  famous for its gastronomical tour and both top quality  veg and non veg eateries are available throughout the destinations.

Best times to visit in the winter season and rest of the year and should be avoided during the monsoon as landslides takes place and water level in the lakes rises.

“ We will advise the tourists and travel agents to plan a two to three nights stay at Bani – Basholi and even the government is now encouraging the homestay tourism here so that the travellers can enjoy the local culture and cuisines of Jammu and Kashmir here along with the scenic beauty,” concludes Dr. Desraj Bhagat.

The traditional language of Kathua is Dogri. The Pahari languages are prevalent in the mountainous area of the east.

Bani :

Bani is a small glaciated valley located at a height of 4200 ft in the lap of lofty mountains. Town Bani is flourished along the river ‘SEWA’. Bani experiences temperate and pollar type of climate. Severe winter and moist summer are the main climatice phenomenon of this valley.

It is also famous as MINI KASHMIR of Kathua district. It is also base camp of treckers for bhaderwah, chamba etc. Bani is marked by waterfalls, thick forest patches , gushing streams and medows. Banjal, Chandal, Bhoond are another famous tourist spots.

The toursts visit Sukrala Mata Temple, Sarthal ( It is a beautiful meadow situated at a height of 7000 feet which remains covered with snow for six months),Airwan Temple,Mata Bala SundriTemple Nagri, Chanchalo Mata Temple, Atal Setu, Dhaggar, Jourain Wali Mata, Bani, Chattergala etc.



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