Jammu and Kashmir is a state in Northern India, located mostly in the Himalayan mountains and shares a border with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south. Jammu and Kashmir has an international border with China in the north and east, and the Line of Control separates it from the Pakistani-controlled territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan in the west and northwest respectively.
Jammu and Kashmir is home to several valleys such as the Kashmir Valley, Tawi Valley, Chenab Valley, Poonch Valley, Sind Valley and Lidder Valley. Before the insurgency intensified in 1989, tourism formed an important part of the Kashmiri economy. The tourism economy in the Kashmir valley was worst hit. However, the holy shrines of Jammu and the Buddhist monasteries of Ladakh continue to remain popular pilgrimage and tourism destinations. Every year, thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit holy shrines of Vaishno Devi and Amarnath, which has had significant impact on the state’s economy.
It was estimated in 2007 that the Vaishno Devi yatra contributed 4.75 billion(US$78 million) to the local economy annually a few years ago. The contribution would be much more now as the numbers of visitors have increased considerably. Foreign tourists have been slower to return. The British government still advises against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir with the exception of the cities of Jammu and Srinagar, travel between these two cities on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, and the region of Ladakh.
Besides Kashmir, Jammu region too has a lot of tourism potential. There are various place in Jammu which are worth seeing. Bhau Fort in Jammu city is the major attraction centre for the tourists visiting the city. Bage-e-Bahu is the another tourist destination. Aquarium established by the fisheries department is being visited by many these days. Jammu is being majorly visited by the tourist from across the India as a pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi. Mata Vaishno Devi is located on the trikuta hills which is around 40 to 45 km away from Jammu City. Approximately 10 million Pilgrims visit this holy place every year.
Tourism in the Kashmir valley has rebounded in recent years, and in 2009, the state became one of the top tourist destinations of India. Gulmarg, one of the most popular ski resort destinations in India, is also home to the world’s highest green gold course. However, the decrease in violence in the state has boosted the state’s economy and tourism. It was reported that more than a million tourists visited Kashmir in 2011.