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Home >> Places to Visit Around Himachal >> Srinagar


The capital of Jammu and Kashmir and the largest city in the state, Srinagar (1,730m) is famous for its canals, houseboats and Mughal gardens. The city itself is quite unlike most other large Indian cities for here you are much more in Central Asia than on the sub continent. It's a city full of intriguing alleyways and curious buildings. A place where it's very easy to spend a few hours simply wandering - particularly along the old city streets near the Jhelum river.

Srinagar View

Praparapura is recorded in Chinese annals by Hiuan Tsang who visited the city in about 630 AD and described it as extending about 4-km from north to south and about 2-km from east to west along the right bank of the Jhelum. King Ananta was the first to transfer his royal residence to the left bank of the river.

City Of Lakes : Srinagar's lakes are the reason why the city receives so many tourists. Not just expanse of water, the lakes are filled with houseboats, villages, narrow water canals, lotus and vegetable gardens and houses and shops.

Life on the lakes, as witnessed from the confines of a Shikara, is unique. It is possible to book a Shikara for the whole day and sightsee Nishat Garden, Nasim Bagh, Hazratbal Mosque, Pathar Masjid and Shah Hamdan's Shrine, having a picnic lunch in the boat.

While Nagin is quieter, the Dal is full of local color, with tourists being rowed in Shikara to shops selling every conceivable handicraft - all within the lake.

Prime Attractions of Srinagar :

The chirrup of birds, the gentle swish of the breeze, the sapphire colored sky, and all at 2408m above sea level - this is Aru. Far far away from the routine urban life, Aru is a meadow bordered on one side by a ravine of the Lidder River. A little stream also flows past in the green-gold grass.

Dal Lake Srinagar

Dal Lake
Dal Lake is, initially, one of the most confusing parts of Srinagar for it's not really one lake at all, but three. Further more much of it is hardly what one would expect a lake to be like - it's a maze of intricate waterways and channels, floating islands of vegetation, houseboats that look so firmly moored they could almost be islands and hotels on islands which look like they could simply float away.

Gulmarg Biosphere Reserves
The reserve area is located at a distance of 48-km from Srinagar, to its southwest. It is famous for retaining several rare and endangered species such as the musk deer, and a rich and varied avifauna.

Hari Parbat Fort
The 18th century fort tops the Sharika Hill, which is clearly visible, rising to the west of Dal Lake. The fort was constructed by Atta Mohammed Khan from 1776 but the surrounding wall is much older, it was built between 1592 and 1598 during the rule of Akbar.

Khir Bhawani Temple
Situated at Tullamula in the Srinagar district, it is an important Hindu Shrine. The temple is associated with the Hindu Goddess, Ragnya Devi. An Annual festival is held here on Jeshth Ashtami (May-June) when Hindus visit the place in large numbers to offer prayers to seek the blessings of the deity.

Kokernag Springs
The great Mughal historian, Abul Fazi, has chronicled for posterity the benefits of the sweet water spring of Kokernag. This beneficent gift of nature is still regarded as having extraordinary healing powers

Mughal Gardens
Set some distance back from the lake, but reached by a small canal, the Shalimar were built by Emperor Jehangir for his wife Nur Jahan, 'light of the world' in 1616. The Nishat Bagh is another lovely garden with its 12 terraces representing the 12 signs of the zodiac, which descend gradually and seem to almost merge into the lake. Smallest of the Srinagar Mughal gardens, measuring just 108 meters by 38 metres, the Chasma Shahi, or 'Royal Spring', are well up the hillside, above the Nehru Memorial Park.

Mughal Garden Srinagar

Nagin Lake
Known as the 'Jewel In The Ring', Nagin is generally held to be the most beautiful of the Dal lakes. Its name comes from the many trees, which encircle the small, deep blue lake. Nagin is only separated from the Larer Dal lakes by a narrow causeway and it also has a number of houseboats moored around its perimeter.

Pandrethan 5-km to the southeast of Srinagar, is now within the Municipal limits of Srinagar itself. The modern name is derived from the ancient appellation Puranadhishthana, which literally means the 'old capital'. Thus, Pandrethan represents the site of the ancient capital, Srinagari, believed to have been founded by the great Maurya emperor Ashoka (Circa 276-36 BC).

Shankaracharya Hill Srinagar

Shankaracharya Hill
Rising up behind the boulevard, beside Dal Lake, the hill was once known as Takht-i-Sulaiman, the throne of Solomon. The philosopher Shankaracharya stayed at this place when he visited Kashmir ten centuries ago to revive "Sanatan Dharma".

Verinag Springs
One of the largest springs in India, Verinag, which lies in the Kothar district, is 78-km south-east of Srinagar via Anantnag, and is easily accessible through a bypass from the Jammu-Srinagar highway.

In the opposite direction from the Shalimar gardens about 5-km to the northwest, are the even older excavations of Burzahom. The archaeological dig here has provided evidence of people living in the vale up to 5,000 years ago. The oldest excavations have revealed implements, pots, animal skeletons, arrowheads and tools from the Neolithic age. Much of the material taken from this site is now in the museum in Srinagar.

Jami Masjid
one of the most important mosque is an impressive wooden structure, notable for the more than 300 soaring pillars supporting the roof; each made of a single deodar tree trunk. The main gate is to the south and the outer cloisters surround a spacious, green and peaceful inner courtyard.

The shrine of Shah-e-Hamdan or Khanqah-e Moulla is one of the oldest Muslim shrines in Kashmir situated on the banks of river Jehlum in the old city. The shrine was originally constructed by Sultan Sikander (1389-1413 AD) in the memory of Muslim preacher Mir Syed Ali Hamdani who had visited Kashmir and stayed there for meditation and preaching.

Overa-Aru Biosphere Reserves
The area is located at a distance of 76-kms from Srinagar to its southeast. It is famous for retaining several rare and endangered species

Pari Mahal
The old Sufi college of Pari Mahal, the 'palace of the fairies', is only a short distance above the Chasma Shahi gardens. One can easily walk from the gardens up to the Pari Mahal then follow a footpath directly down the hill to the road that runs by the Oberoi Palace Hotel. The Pari Mahal consists of a series of arched terraces. Recently it has been turned into a very pleasant and well-kept garden with fine views over Dal Lake.

Pari Mahal Srinagar

It's attractively sited on a spur of the Zabarwan Mountains. The gardens are beautifully kept even today and a Son Et Lumiere show is put on here every evening during the May to October tourist season.

Pather Masjid
Almost directly opposite the Shah Hamdan mosque, on the other bank of the Jhelum, the Pather Masjid is a fine stone mosque built by Nur Jahan in 1623. It is not, however, in everyday use today and is consequently rather run down. Reach it by crossing Zaina Kadal, the fourth bridge.

5-km beyond the Shalimar gardens, this place is said to have been the site of a monastery in which the fourth international council of Buddhism was held in the year 300 AD. At this time Kashmir was part of the Kushan Empire under the rule of the Buddhist emperor Kanishka. The monastery is said to have contained a Stupa, some chapels and other buildings. Excavations in the area recently have brought to light some illustrated tiles on the hillside south of the village of Harwan. One can see examples of the tiles, with their central Asian influence in the peoples dress and ornaments, in the museum in Srinagar. Nearby is the Harwan Lake, at the foot of the 4,267metre Mahadev peak, a popular climb for hikers during the summer. The lake is actually the reservoir, which provides the water supply for Srinagar and it is supplied by the run off from Marsar Lake. There is also a garden and trout hatchery at the site.

Kashmiri shawls are noted for the extreme fineness of the cream colored goats wool known as Pashmina and for the intricate embroidery work.

Shri Pratap Singh Museum
The Shri Pratap Singh museum is in Lal Mandi, just south of the river between zero bridge and Amira Kadal. It has an interesting collection of exhibits relevant to Kashmir including illustrated tiles excavated near Harwan. The museum is open from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm except on Wednesdays when it is closed and admission is free.

The Bund
From above Zero Bridge to below Badshah Bridge one can walk along the banks of the Jhelum River on the popular footpath known as the bund. It's a pleasant relaxing place to stroll along and many Doonga houseboats can be seen beside it. The GPO, the government handicrafts emporium and a string of handicraft shops are all close beside the Bund.

Tomb Of Zain-ul-Abidin
One of the east banks of the Jhelum River, between the Zaina Kadal and the Ali Kadal, is the slightly decrepit tomb of King Zain-ul-Abidin, the highly regarded son of Sultan Sikander, who built the Jami Masjid.

Excursions from Srinagar :
Gulmarg (56Km.)
The valley of Gulmarg, a large meadow about 3-sq-kms in area, stands at 2,730m, 56-km south west of Srinagar. The name means 'Meadow Of Flowers' and in the spring it's just that, a rolling meadow dotted with countless colorful Bluebells, Daisies, Forget Me Not's and Buttercups.

Pahalgam (86Km.)
At an altitude of 2,130m and about 95-km from Srinagar, Pahalgam is probably the most popular hill resort in the Kashmir valley. Since it is rather lower than Gulmarg the night time temperatures do not drop so low and it has the further advantage of the beautiful Lidder River running right through the town.

Sonamarg (87Km.)
At a height of 2,740m, Sonamarg is the last major point in the Kashmir valley before the Zoji La pass into Ladakh. At the pass the green, lush Kashmiri landscape abruptly switches to the barren, dry landscape of Ladakh. Sonamarg is thus not only a good base for treks but also a jumping off point for trips into Ladakh.

Amarnath (143Km.)
The Yatra (pilgrimage) on foot to Amarnath Cave, considered one of the holiest naturally occurring shrines of the Hindu faith, has continued annually for little more than a hundred years. Extending up 130 feet, the Amarnath Cave is high and shallow.

Dachigam National Park (22Km.)
Located very close to Srinagar (22-km), Dachigam National Park with its splendid forests and magnificent scenery is easily accessible. Of all the many sanctuaries in the state, the one at Dachigam is the best known.

Aharbal Falls
The falls are about 13-km from Shupian, from where there is a motor able road and a trekker's route leading through dense pine forest. The falls are said to be the best in Kashmir. The road leads over a high bridge at Kongwatan from where a magnificent view of the awesome gorge created by the Vishav River can be seen less than 2-km further on are the foot of the falls, where the river drops more than 15 meters over a distance of 3-km. The road continues on here a further 3-km to the top of the falls where from a rock outcrop one can look down around 60 meters to the river rushing below. The road continues a further 6-km to the village of Sedau, where the trek to Konsarnag begins. The first stage is a climb of about four hours to Kongwatan, an upland meadow. From here it is a further 10 to 15 hours walking to Konsarnag.

This is a charming meadow just a short distance from the river. Among the pines near the river bank there is a small sulphur spring and also a forest rest hut. The lace is inhabited by nomadic Gujar shepherds, said to be descendants of the biblical Abraham and Isaac, or Gujar Rajputs, who come each summer from the plains with their flocks of cattle and buffalo to spend July and August in the high meadows. They wear black clothes adorned only with a small cap, embroidered and set with 'Kari' shells. The caps of the women project over the neck to protect from sunburn. The women are very agile and seem to do all the work as well as taking care of the children.

Pandrethan Temple
A small, beautifully proportioned Shiva temple built around 900 AD, the Pandrethan temple is in the military cantonment area on the Jammu road out of Srinagar.

Sindh Valley
North of Srinagar the Sindh valley is an area of mountains, lakes, rivers and glaciers. The Sindh River flows down from the Amarnath and Haramukh glaciers into the Anchar Lake. The Leh road from Srinagar follows this river to beyond Sonamarg. The Zoji La pass marks the boundary from the Sindh valley into Ladakh.

Yushmarg (47Km.)
Standing in the Pir Panjal hills, out beyond the airport, at an altitude of 2,700 metres, the meadow of Yusmarg is reputed to have the best spring flowers in Kashmir. The beautiful valley is at the foot of the Sangisafaid valley on the northern slopes of the Pir Panjal range. Near to Yusmarg is the picturesque Nila Nag Lake where there is a forest rest house. Yusmarg has tourist huts and is a good base for treks into the surrounding hills. To reach the Nila Nag one can walk 19-km from Magam, across roads on the way to Gulmarg. The path then follows down from Nila Nag to Yusmarg and from there the road runs to Yus, where a track leads off towards Sangam and Sunset Peak, up the valley of the Khanchi Kol. Sunset peak is the highest mountain in the Pir Panjal range at 4,746 meters. Other popular treks over here include those to Sangisafaid and Dodha Patri. If one can take some time out, then take tour of Yushmarg in daytime. Buses on conducted tours run to Yushmarg thrice a week. 47-km southwest of Srinagar amidst pines and firs lies the vale - Yushmarg (2,700m) at the slope of the Pir Panjal ranges. Its is a beautiful pasture as well as a nice picnic spot.

How To Get There - Srinagar

By Air
Various airlines fly to Srinagar from New Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Jammu and there are flights operating from Srinagar to Leh and back. Flights are more frequent during the summer Tourist Season; at that time there will probably be several flights a day between Delhi and Srinagar. Some services are direct, while others operate via Chandigarh, Amritsar or Jammu. Flight time duration from Delhi on the direct flights is about an hour and ten minutes.

By Road
Srinagar is connected by an all weather road to Jammu, which in turn is connected to many parts of North India. One can catch buses from Delhi but people making the trip by road should take up the route via Chandigarh, Amritsar or from the Himachal Pradesh hill stations.
Buses leave Jammu early in the morning for the 10 to 12 hour trip to Srinagar in the Kashmir valley. Although there are many buses, still one should book a seat as soon as one arrives in Jammu. The same applies from Srinagar as the day before departure all seats may be sold out. Buses also go from here to Leh and Kargil.

The buses all arrive and depart in Srinagar from the Tourist Reception Centre bus compound. From here's it's about a 10 to 15 minute walk to Dal Lake and the houseboat Ghats. If one wants to go straight to the houseboat area or to one of the up market hotels by the lake ask for the boulevard. Bus bookings are made at the tourist reception centre

Best Time :
In Summer - June To Early November
In Winter - December To February.

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