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The name Jammu is derived from its ruler who founded it. Raja Jambulochan founded this city and named it Jambupur which later changed to Jammu . Many historians and locals believe that Jammu was founded by Raja Jambu Lochan in the 14th century BC. During one of his hunting campaigns, he reached the Tawi River where he saw a goat and a lion drinking water at the same place. Having satisfied their thirst, the animals went their own ways. The Raja was amazed, abandoned the idea of hunting and returned to his companions. Recounting what he had seen, he exclaimed that this place, where a lion and a goat could drink water side by side, was a place of peace and tranquility. The Raja commanded that a palace be built at this place and a city was founded around it. This city became known as Jambu-Nagar, which then later changed into Jammu.

Jammu has historically been the capital of Jammu Province and the winter capital of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir princely state (1846-1952). Jambu Lochan was the brother of Raja Bahu Lochan who constructed a fort, Bahu Fort, on the bank of river Tawi. The city name figures in the ancient book Mahabharata. Excavation near Akhnoor, 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Jammu city, provides evidence that Jammu was once part of the Harappan civilization. Remains from the Maurya, Kushan, Kushanshahs and Gupta periods have also been found in Jammu. After 480 CE, the area was dominated by the Hephthalites and ruled from Kapisa and Kabul. They were succeeded by the Kushano-Hephthalite dynasty from 565 to 670 CE, then by the Shahi from 670 CE to the early 11th century, when the Shahi were destroyed by the Ghaznavids. Jammu is also mentioned in accounts of the campaigns of Timur. The area witnessed changes of control following invasions by Mughals and Sikhs, before finally falling under the control of the British. Much of the old railway station was demolished to make way for an art centre.[4] After partition of India, Jammu continued to be the winter capital of the state.

Tourism is the largest industry in Jammu as in the rest of the state. It is also a focal point for the pilgrims going to Vaishno Devi and Kashmir valley as it is second last railway terminal in North India. All the routes leading to Kashmir, Poonch, Doda and Laddakh start from Jammu city. So throughout the year the city remains full of people from all the parts of India. Places of interest include old historic palaces like Mubarak Mandi, Purani Mandi, Rani Park, Amar Mahal, Bahu Fort, Raghunath Temple, Ranbireshwar Temple, Karbala, Peer Meetha, Old city and a number of shopping places, fun parks, etc.

Katra serves as the base camp for pilgrims who visit Vaishno Devi . It has a thriving tourism industry that offers plenty of hotels, guest houses, restaurants, dhabas, fast-food joints that fit all kinds of budgets. Free accommodation is provided by some registered trusts in the form of Sarais for the poor. The number of pilgrims that visit the shrine every year has increased from 1.4 million in 1986 to 8.2 million in 2009. Over the years, a lot has changed, but one should not miss the opportunity to walk through the main bazaar (market) for buying (do not forget/hesitate to negotiate a bit) souvenirs, dryfruits, woolen garments, hosiery, leather jackets, etc.To reach Vaishno Devi temple the pilgrims have to register at the Katra before starting the trek. By registering, the pilgrims get accident insurance while on the trek for 1 lakh INR. It is a trek of 14 km.There is another trek (1.5 km) from Vaishno Devi temple for Baba Bhaironnath. It is said that the pilgrimage is not complete until you visit this temple at last. The scenery throughout the trek is picturesque.Environment-friendly auto rickshaws and helicopter services are available, to make the journey a pleasant one.

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