Srinagar

Srinagar is considered as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kashmir besides being the capital town and the summer capital of the state of Jammu & Kashmir. It nestles within the heart of Kashmir valley, sandwiched between the River Jhelum, and perched at an altitude of 1,730 meters above sea level. Blessed with a pleasant weather, Srinagar is a city of scenic settings apart from housing ancient temples and historical Mughal Gardens.

We can state that Srinagar embodies a sense of romantic fervour and pristine beauty often referred to as the ‘Venice of India’. The name literally translates to a Sanskrit caption, which means the ‘City of Abundance and Wealth’, founded by King Pravarasen II around 150 AD.

Ideally situated on the riverbanks of Jhelum, Srinagar does capture stunning sights of the Majestic Himalayan Mountains intercepted by water bodies like the famed Dal Lake, Nagin Lake, and Anchar Lake. The scenic Dal Lake features vivid yet vibrant and elegant houseboats set against the backdrop of the snow-clad Himalayan Ranges that adds to the charm of the city thus, transforming it into one of the most desired holiday destinations in India.

The Historical past of Srinagar is enveloped with intriguing discoveries revealed from excavations that were conducted by a group of Archaeologists. A number of valued evidences of an ancient settlement were discovered dating to about 5,000 years ago inclusive of a collection of artifacts that are now displayed in the Srinagar Museum. These include animal skeletons, arrowheads, pots, implements, tools and much more dating back to the Neolithic period, a must-visit for all travelers.

Srinagar enjoys a pleasant weather throughout the year with glimpses of snow-surmounted mountains in the winters, a blossom of colorful display and greenery during the summers, and hues of deep oranges and browns during the autumn season, making it apt as an all-year-round tourist Destination in India.

Tourists can enjoy the breathtaking sights of Srinagar as their boat meanders through the contours of the Dal Lake, offering an almost surreal experience to all visitors. Another major attraction is the numerous luxurious Srinagar houseboats, available on rent for stay, on the pristine lake thus, accentuating your holiday experience to the highest degree.

One of the most well maintained natural splendors of Srinagar are the sprawling Mughal Gardens that include the famous ancient Shalimar Bagh & Nishat Bagh. One can enjoy a visit to these Gardens in Kashmir, offer obeisance before the many ancient temples of Kashmir, enjoy splendid Lakeside views, mesmerizing sunrises and sunsets, a relaxing Shikara ride, luxurious accommodation in houseboats, floating Lake Markets, lush greenery, the unforgettable authentic Kashmiri cuisines, and an endless receipt of warm hospitality from the locals, are just a few of the many reasons why you must flock to this Paradise-personified haven of North India.

Travelers can indulge in a hoard of adrenaline-pumping water sports like white water rafting, and Kayaking and outdoor activities like skiing, trekking, paragliding, camping and much more apart from an enjoyable shopping spree of famous and authentic Pashmina shawls, and unique Kashmiri art and handicrafts to look forward to.

One of the many activities to enjoy is an Excursion from Srinagar to Pandrethan, situated nearly 8 km from Srinagar. Pandrethan is the original City of Srinagar founded by Emperor Ashoka during the 3rd Century BC. This evidence makes a mention in the records of Rajatarangini of Kalhana. It was until 630 AD that Pandrethan remained the capital of Kashmir, after which, a new city was established by King Pravarasen II, named as Parvarapura, situated near Kohi-i-Maran of Hari Parbat Hill. This new city was later named as Srinagri and remained a part of the present city of Srinagar, perched at an altitude of 1590 meters in Kashmir.

The medieval charm of Srinagar is just apt for most jaded travelers looking for a blend of mystical ambience and serenity amidst the lap of nature. Ancient alleyways fringed with traditional bustling bazaars are a sheer delight for avid and amateur photographers alike. A formidable Srinagar Mughal Fort, which was erected by Atta Mohammed Khan, an Afghan governor, during the late 18th Century, can be seen silently perched atop Kohi-i-Maran dominating the skyline of Srinagar, since its establishment in 630 AD.

The low wall of this Mughal Fort that encloses the upper level of the Hari Parbat Hill was later added by Emperor Akbar. Spanning southward across the landscape from the base of the Hari Parbat Hill, is the old city, which is still highly revered as the nerve center of Srinagar. This Old City of Srinagar is often referred to as ‘Shahr-e-Khas’ or the ‘Prime City of Kashmir’ according to Persian chronicles and since then has always been associated as the most important commercial town of Kashmir.

To the western side of Dal Lake, Naseem Bagh or ‘The Garden of Breezes’ can be accessed about 8 kms from Srinagar. This Mughal Garden was established by Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1586 AD and served as an excellent example exhibiting the natural beauty of Kashmir. Naseem Bagh is embedded with numerous Chinar Trees and is often visited by many locals during the summers to enjoy the cool breeze flowing from the lake and to spend a relaxed evening time in utmost serenity. Entry is allowed only on special permit by J&K Tourist Reception Centre [TRC] as this garden is primarily used by the Engineering College of Srinagar.

The primary transportation means in Srinagar are Boats set along the banks of River Jhelum with and the city itself in interconnected by many bridges that form an integral part of an arterial waterway spanning across Jhelum River. These bridges include the Abdullah Bridge, Ali Kadal, Amira Kadal, Budshah Kadal, Fateh Kadal, Habba Kadal, Nawa Kadal, Safa Kadal, Zaina Kadal, and Zero Bridge. Apart from this, ancient brick buildings fringe the Jhelum riverbanks that exude a distinctive appeal to the look of Srinagar.  

Srinagar is indeed a unique city gifted with breathtaking landscapes, pleasant environment, pristine lakes, ancient Mughal gardens, cascading springs, sprawling lush golf courses, all set amidst rolling hilly slopes with a backdrop of snow peaks intercepted by cycling tracks, and trekking trails. To further enhance your Holiday experience in Srinagar are activities like angling, and horse riding.

Lake Houseboats form an integral part of the Kashmir Hospitality Industry, which is often touted as one of the most sought after means of accommodation in Kashmir. Besides its unique aspects, Srinagar is endowed with exquisite Kashmiri arts and crafts, and a wealth of heritage properties to delight tourists apart from the famous Hazratbal mosque, Neolithic Burj Hama ruins, and Harwan Buddhist ruins that add to the delight of historians and history enthusiasts.

Srinagar is well equipped with public buses that frequently ply around the region and taxis available on hire for Sightseeing in Kashmir. Spiritual centers in Srinagar include the Shankaracharya Temple set atop the Takht-e-Suleiman Hill, which can be accessed via a metalled road after climbing 5 kms uphill from Nehru Park. Other prominent spiritual sites in Srinagar are the Shrines of Makhdoom Sahib, Shah-i-Hamdan, Dastgeer Sahib, and Naqshband Sahib.

The Jama Masjid, Hazratbal Mosque, Imam Baba Zadibal, Hassanabad, Gurdwara Chatti Padshahi, Sharika Temple,  Raghunath Temple, All Saints Church, and Holy Family Church are a few of the other Spiritual places in Srinagar. Prominent cemeteries in Srinagar include the Budshah Tomb, Royal Mausoleum & Graveyard, Mazar-e-Salatain, Sheikh Bagh [Christian Cemetery], Aram Gah, Badam-i-Bagh [Zoroastrian cemetery], and Malakhah Graveyard.

Srinagar is also blessed with a range of world class hotels, and budget Hotels, equipped with conference centres, fitness centers, luxury accommodation as well as budget accommodation facilities, amenities, and services of International standards apart from an in-house multi-cuisine restaurant & bar feature. J&K Tourism Department Corporation better known as JKTDC operate several self-contained alpine cottages and guest bungalows in Srinagar, Gulmarg, and Pahalgam for tourists.

While Travelling to Srinagar, do ensure to be well informed of the attire that should match the seasons. During summers, which fall between June and August, the temperature of Srinagar is a pleasant 20 to 30 degree C, hence cotton is recommended. During the evenings and in hilly resort areas like Gulmarg, Pahalgam, and Sonamarg, the temperatures are considerably lower, hence, light woolens are recommended.

Srinagar does witness cooler temperatures that can plummet to 7 degree C, between March and May [Spring Season], and between October and November [Autumn Season] and hence, woolens are necessary. During the winter season [December-February], Srinagar and its surrounding areas do experience very low and below freezing point temperatures that plummet to minus 10 degree C and hence, heavy woolens are highly recommended.

Excursions from Kashmir