When a place has been dubbed as the Kashmiri Venice, you will be expecting a lot from it. Srinagar fulfills those expectations and gives you more. The houseboats languidly traversing the waters of the Dal Lake will remind you of Venice. However, you just need to look at the majestic mountains in the distance to remind yourself that you really are in the heavenly land of Kashmir. Apart from the lazy houseboats, Srinagar offers you a true glimpse into the fascinating Kashmiri culture. The gardens of Srinagar are mired in history. The wooden mosques here are examples of the unique Kashmiri style. In the northwest, you will find the old city of Srinagar which is fantastically chaotic and singularly fascinating in its chaos. The placid Dal Lake will enchant you with its colorful splashes of houseboats.
How to Get There
By Air :
Srinagar airport is 14 km from the city. Named Sheikh Ul Alam Airport. This airport is well connected and airlines offer regular flights from Srinagar to Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh.
By Rail :
The nearest railhead for Srinagar is Jammu Tawi: 295 km where trains arrive from Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, New Delhi.
By Road :
Srinagar is connected by a network of well-maintained roads National Highway 1-A, connecting Srinagar with Jammu. The famous Jawahar Tunnel that connects Jammu with the Kashmir Valley across the Pir Panjal range falls en route. Distance from other places; Jammu: 290 km, Pahalgam: 87 km, Sonmarg: 80 km, Katra: 264 km, Gulmarg: 50 km Ladakh: 434 km
The large Hazratbal Mosque is the only domed mosque in the entire city. Its beauty shines from its tranquil white facade. The highly respected mosque is home to one of the holiest relic of the Islamic religion, a beard of the holy prophet Muhammad.
What looks like a monumental castle from a distance is actually the Jama Masjid of Srinagar. It is located within the old city. This magnificent structure was built in the year 1672 and is a fascinating example of the Indo-Saracenic architectural style. The Jama Masjid is not only the oldest mosque in Kashmir; it is also one of the most revered.The gargantuan structure is composed of 370 pillars and the quadrangle mosque surrounds an equally beautiful courtyard. A single trunk of deodar trees were used for crafting each of these sturdy pillars. Although, it does not look like it, the building has survived fire damage three times. Every time, the damage was repaired and the Masjid brought to its former beauty. The constructional elegance of the mosque remains unparalleled even now.
The thick and lush forests on Shankaracharya Hill are topped by a temple located at the very peak. This magnificent structure was built from bulky blocks of grey stones. What is awe-inspiring is the fact that the present structure of the temple was possibly built in the 9th century A.D. It is considered that the original temple was built in 200 B.C. It is a testament to the extraordinary skills of the craftsmen of that era who could manage to create a structure this beautiful. The architectural style may be simple but the skills of the craftsmen are apparent. The temple itself is currently dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Chashme Shahi Garden
Srinagar is dotted with some amazing gardens built under the supervision of the Mughal emperors. The Chashme Shahi Garden is one of them. This beautiful garden was built around a spring. Artistic in its serene appeal, the Chashme Shahi Garden was built with a lot of Persian influences. The unique topography of the area affected the design of the garden and helped improve its beauty. The clear spring forms the focus of the garden and its waters falls down through terraces built into the land. The waters are divided into three sections and each of them is equally stunning in its implementation. A waterfall, an aqueduct and fountains are the three sections.
The jewel of Kashmir, the Dal Lake is the centerpiece of the attractions in Srinagar. The lake stretches before your eyes like a mirror reflecting the glorious heavens and the grand mountains. The tranquil sheet of clear water is broken by the dreamy houseboats that sail languidly on the lake. The fleet of these shikaras with their delicately carved wooden balconies makes a delightful and colorful spectacle. Some of the houseboats were built during the colonial era and offers a place to stay. You can spend the day lazily gazing as the other boats go about their daily lives. You can visit the garden floating on the lake. The floating flower market is a must visit for the intense beauty of the sight.
The gorgeous Nagin Lake is separated from the main Dal Lake through a causeway. This lake is surrounded by mountains on its side. The holy Sankhacharaya hill, the somber Zurbaran hills and the lush Hari Parbat cradle the Nagin Lake in their midst. Stepping onto Nagin Lake is like steeping into another world. Unlike the Dal Lake, nature has not yet relinquished control over the lake. Tall poplar and willow trees line the lake as if protecting its innocent beauty.
Garden of Char Minar
In the midst of the stunning landscape of Rainawari, lies the quiet garden of Char Minar. The ethereal beauty of the garden pays homage to one of the most glorious periods of Indian history. The Garden of Char Minar is also a fitting tribute to the eternal love that Jahangir felt for his loving wife, Noor Jahan. Rows after rows of beautiful flowers abound in the garden with the crystalclear waters of fountains serving as the backdrop. Low lying terraces providethe perfect points for surrendering yourself to the heavenly sight before you. In the distance, the gorgeous Cypress and Chinar trees line up in front of the snow covered mountains to enhance the beauty of the Garden of Char Minar.
Built by the Emperor Jahangir for his beloved Noor Jahan, the Shalimar Bagh is the most beautiful garden ever to have been created by the Mughals. Shalimar is not simply a garden. It was a summer retreat of the emperors.The tranquil water canals and the peaceful fountains of Shalimar Bagh enhance the calm beauty of the place. You can get a good view of the Dal Lake on whose banks Shalimar Bagh is located.The Shalimar Bagh is the perfect spot to take a relaxing walk. You can stroll through the soothing water fountains while taking in the mesmerizing view of the vibrant flowers contrasted with Old Mughal architecture.
IGM Tulip Garden
The Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden is the largest of its kind in Asia. The sight of 20 lakh tulips blooming with the waters of the Dal Lake in the distance can enthrall you completely. On the other side of the garden, the Zurbaran Hills rise like a protector watching over the picturesque tulip blooms. The garden is home to more than 70 varieties of these beautiful flowers.
Kashmir Houseboat and Shikara
Shikaras are a type of boats that are peculiar to Kashmir. Often compared to the Venetian gondolas, these quirky boats are a cultural symbol. A trip to the Dal Lake is incomplete without a leisurely ride on a colorful shikara. These boats are painted in bright colors that perfectly capture and showcase the very essence of the Kashmiri valley. The beauty of the shikara is immortalized and encapsulated in the many artistic works through the centuries. Another boat commonly that has become ingrained in the culture and history of Kashmir is the houseboat. Bigger than a shikara, these boats serve as houses. Each houseboat will have delicate carvings on their wooden panels which serve to enhance their beauty. Living in a stunning house that floats on the incredible Dal Lake with mesmerizing views all around is the stuff that romantic dreams are made of.
Kheer Bhawani Temple
The Kheer Bhawani Temple is one of the most important sites for Hindu pilgrims. The holy temple is constructed beautifully from marble. In the middle of this lovely temple, a glorious spring gushes forth, shining like a pearl inside its shell. This mystical and sacred spring can supposedly change its color into various hues such as blue, red and so on.
The Nishant Bagh is more impressive than its more famous cousin, Shalimar Bagh. Considered to be a masterpiece of Mughal horticulture, the garden offers a remarkable view of the dazzling Dal Lake and the statuesque Zurbaran hills. A stroll through the beautiful garden offers exquisite panoramas and it is easy to see why Nishat Bagh is called the garden of joy. The Persian heritage of its construction is amply demonstrated. With wondrous eyes see the soothing water flow from a terrace to the one below and you will feel one with nature.
The Mughal emperors were completely awestruck and entranced once they had laid eyes on the beautiful Srinagar valley. Their love for this wonderful place found resolution in the many fascinating gardens they built here. The Mughal gardens stand as a testimony to the marvelous beauty of nature and Srinagar. In Srinagar, there are quite a few Mughal gardens all of which are pleasing. Each of these gardens showcases not only the Persian influence of architecture but also the nomadic origins of the mighty Mughals. Fountain pools in the midst of immaculate flowerbeds surrounded by sturdy Chinar trees are a common theme. However, you will never be bored with their combined radiance.
Pari Mahal literally means the abode of the fairies which provides an apt description of its splendid beauty. This marvelous palace consists of seven terraces and lies on the top of the Zurbaran hills. An exciting panorama of the Dal Lake opens up before you from the palace grounds. At night, floodlights bathe the area making the palace look truly divine.