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Srinagar

Srinagar is the capital of the state which is better known as ‘Heaven on Earth’, Kashmir. Known for its pristine valleys, floating markets on the shimmering Dal Lake, Mughal styled Gardens, holy temples and an array of adventure options, Srinager is one-of-a-kind hill station in India.

Enjoy golfing, trekking, skiing and other winter sports on the snowy Himalayan peaks or just laze on the houseboats on Dal Lake, Srinagar is a nonpareil holiday destination. The Shalimar and Nishat gardens are a must visit for nature lovers. The temple of Shankaracharya, built by Asoka in the 3rd century is apt for the religiously inclined.

Srinagar has its own airport connected to major cities of India. However, the flight is bound by many restrictions owing to the unrest in the state. Srinagar does not have a railway station and the nearest one is at Jammu Tawi (305 kms). Well linked roads connect Srinagar to important cities like Delhi and Chandigarh.

When To Go

Srinagar has only two climates, pleasant summers and chilly, freezing winters. Rainfalls are very scanty here.

Summer (April to Sept) temperatures range from a maximum of 33°C to to well below 10°C. Winters (Oct - Mar) see a drop in temperatures going well below 0°C to a maximum of 15°C accompanied with heavy snowfall. Best season to visit is Best season is from April to October.

Shopping

Other than its captivating natural beauty, the city of Srinagar is a shopaholics delight. Some of the must buys while in this city are the native Pashmina Shawls & stoles, Kashmiri carpets, wooden products made of walnut wood & Papier Machie products which are unique to this region. One of the must buys here is also the delicately fragrant spice - Saffron, locally grown here. Be ready to spend Rs 200/gram, but be rest assured that its flavor will more than make up for its cost.

History

The history of Srinagar dates back to the 3rd century B.C, when it was part of the Mauryan Empire. King Asoka is known to have introduced Buddhism to this part of the country and thus, Srinagar became an important seat in Buddhism. The city came under the ruling of the Kushans in the 1st century and further fell into the hands of the Huns in the 6th century.

Before the city came under the rule of the Mughals in the 14th century, Buddhists and Hindu kings ruled there. Akbar tried to gain control of the city after tricking the then ruler King Yusuf Shah Chuk and was successful in establishing the Mughal Empire in Srinagar along with various parts of the Kashmir valley.

After the downfall of Aurangzeb in 1707, the city went under the control of the Pashtun tribes and the Durrani Empire, who ruled here for many decades. In the year 1814 Raja Ranjit Singh conquered the city marking the onset of the Sikh rule in Kashmir.

In 1846, the British signed a peace treaty with the Sikhs and established Gulab Singh as the independent ruler of Srinagar. It remained so till independence after which the government of India took Srinagar under its administration.

However, Kashmir valley has remained a subject of conflict between India and Pakistan. Various tribes like Pashtun, gained power and tried to capture the city. However, Indian Army was able to restore the city to its ground. A covenant was signed between Hari Singh (then ruler of Srinagar) and Government of India declaring Srinagar to be a part of Indian Republic.

Travel within city

There are several ways to travel around the scenic city of Srinagar. Since it has been a tourist destination for many years the local travel options in the city are numerous. Tourists can opt for the usual buses, cabs & government taxis, auto rickshaws and also hire cycles. The most scenic way to get around the city of Srinagar is to use its various inter connected waterways by boats.

Boat


Shikara boats which operate around the picturesque lakes are cheap and have access to most of the important places of interest in Srinagar.

Taxi


There are frequent taxi and bus services from the airport and railway station. Government taxis ply from the airport which is 15 km from the city and charge around Rs 400 to reach the city. However taxis may charge a special night fare which might be considerably higher than the usual fare.

Bus/Auto Rickshaw


Buses are frequent and much cheaper. There are auto rickshaws that are available from the railway station, however they may run on meter and travelers are advised to negotiate the rates before hiring one.

Rented Cycle


Cycles are another option to travel around the city and tourists who wish to take in the scenic settings around the city can opt for cycles.
Attractions

Dal Lake

    mustsee
lake in srinigar
Popularly known as 'Srinagar's jewel' the Dal Lake, spread over a straggling 26 sq.km, is the most popular tourist attraction in Srinagar (10 km). The best way to enjoy the lake in its full beauty is to take a relaxed ride aboard the traditional Shikara.

The lake is also a hub for many water sports including water surfing, swimming, Shikara rides, kayaking, houseboat stays, angling and canoeing. Some other attractions that can be visited include Nehru Park, Char Chinar, Nishat Bagh and Shalimar Bagh.

Houseboats

    mustsee
No trip to Srinagar is complete without staying on one of the several luxurious houseboats. Anchored along one of the largest lakes in India, the Dal Lake, these houseboats are complete with vibrantly furnished bedrooms, a drawing room, kitchen & bathroom. Facilitated with all the amenities for a luxury holiday, your houseboat stay is sure to make you feel pampered.
Charges: Rs 4,500 for a deluxe category per night to Rs 5,500 for a super deluxe category including breakfast & dinner.  

Mughal Gardens

    mustsee
Built in the Mughal period, the Mughal Gardens is a major attraction for tourists coming to Srinagar. A fine example of Mughal style architecture, the garden is a combination of the Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Gardens & Chashm-e-shahi. All of these gardens are located on different sides of the picturesque Dal Lake & hence provide great views of the lake. The most prominent feature of the gardens its long stretches of cascading fountains makes this a must see for every traveler.

Taxis, local buses or auto rickshaws can be taken from different points within the city to reach the gardens, which approximately take 20 mins. Rashtrapati Bhawan, Gandhi’s Monument and Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Museum are nearby attractions to visit.

Nishat Bagh

    mustsee
The garden of joy as it literally means; the Nishat Bagh located on the eastern side of the Dal Lake, is a marvelous garden designed by Asaf Khan, Nur Jahan's brother. Laid out in 1633, the gardens beauty is enhanced by well-manicured gardens, long avenues of chinar & cypress trees, rare flowering plants, 12 terraces & several bubbling fountains makes for an impressive garden.

It can be reached through the Dal Lake using water taxi of Kashmir, the Shikara. Shalimar Bagh and Char Chinar are nearby attractions that can be visited.
Timings: 9.30 am to 5.30 pm on all days except Fridays  Charges: Rs 10 for adults and Rs 5 for children  

Shalimar Bagh

    mustsee
Constructed by the great Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1619 for his beloved wife Nurjahan, the sprawling garden with four terraces, imposing fountains, well laid out manicured gardens, tall trees & fresh mountain air is one of the must visit places while in Srinagar.

The illuminated garden in the evenings & its 150 fountains are the main highlights of this beautiful garden. Located 15 km from the city the easiest way to reach the gardens is by taking a Shikara ride from Dal Lake. Nishat Bagh and Dal Lake are some adjoining attractions to Shalimar Bagh.
Timings: 9.30 am to 5.30 pm (April to Oct), 10 am to 5.30 (Nov to March) on all days except Fridays  Charges: Rs 10 - Adult, Rs 5 - Child  

Shankaracharya Temple

    mustsee
Known to be built by Jaluka, the son of Emperor Ashoka around 200 BC, this ancient shrine is perched on the Shankaracharya Hill. This sacred site, situated at a height of about 1100 feet on the south-east of the city, offers splendid views of the valley and the snow clad mountains of the Pir Panjal range.

Local folks tell a story that saint Shankaracharya spent some of his time at this site during his visit to Kashmir to revitalize Sanatan Dharma. Accessible by taxi or bus, the inner sanctum of the temple adorns modern ceiling & several Persian inscriptions. Rozabal shrine is a nearby attraction to visit.
Timings: 7.30 am to 5 pm  

Shikara Ride

    mustsee
The quintessential reasons why people come to Srinagar are the houseboats & the Shikara ride. Taking the ride across the scenic Dal Lake at the backdrop of the majestic slow clad Himalaya's is indeed an experience in itself both enjoyable and unforgettable. Shikara rides can be taken in one of the circuits from Nehru Park past Hazratbal, Nagin, Rainawari and back.
Charges: Rs 300 for 1 hour ride and Rs 200 for 30 mins ride  

Avantipur Ruins

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Located enroute Pahalgam, around 25 km from Srinagar is the temple ruins of Avantipur. The site is an archeological and historical delight for history buffs. The site comprises of two temples dating back to 9th century, standing just a kilometer apart. King Awantivarman, who ruled Kashmir during 9th century, built both the temples – Shiva Temple and Avantiswami Temple.

The Shiva Temple is renovated and in daily use, while Avantiswami Temple, which was dedicated to Lord Vishnu is now a ruin. Both the temples reflect Greek style of architecture. The British excavated the temples in 18th century taking away some of the idols to England while quite a few are on display at Sri Pratap Singh Museum in Srinagar.

Chashme Shahi Garden

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Founded in 1632, the smallest of the Mughal Gardens, the Chashme Shahi Garden is also known as the 'Royal Spring'. Located near the Nehru memorial park, easily reachable by road, the garden is established in three sections with an aqueduct with fountains and waterfalls located along the middle. The garden provides splendid views of verdant greens, majestic mountain ranges and views of the Dal Lake. Pari Mahal and Char Chinar are few nearby attractions that are worth visiting.
Timings: 10.00 a.m to 3.30 p.m (Timings are subject to vary)  Charges: Rs 10  

Dastgir Sahib Shrine

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A relatively calm & peaceful mosque, the Dastgir Sahib dargah situated in old part of Srinagar city. The intricately carved panels & the Aytal Kursi which hang at the door are the highlights of this mosque. Stories of a number of families, their hopes and sufferings been washed away by praying here are popular. This is an attractive shrine, for both the believers and mere tourists. The shrine is reachable by taxis. Both men and women are welcomed here and pictures can be taken with the permission of the attendants.
Timings: 4 am to 10 pm  

Hazratbal Mosque

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Also known as Dargah Sharif, Assar-e-Sharif and Madinat-Us-Sani, the Hazratbal Mosque on the western banks of the majestic Dal Lake is known for its Kashmiri & Mughal styles of architecture. The distinctiveness of the Hazratbal Mosque is that it enshrines the 'Moi-e-Muqaddas' (the sacred hair) of the prophet Mohammed, which is shown to public only on special occasions.

The shrine is accessible by taxis, auto rickshaws or buses within 15 to 20 mins. Splendid views of the Nishat Bagh can be enjoyed from here.

Jamia Masjid

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An ancient mosque, which was destroyed and restored several times over the centuries, Jamia Masjid is a fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. Situated at Nowhatta, in the middle of the old city, the mosque’s main attraction is the prayer hall, which contains 370 wooden pillars; each one made with a single piece of deodar trunk.

This spacious mosque can accommodate 30,000 people at one time during prayers. Tourists can hire taxi to visit the mosque and Rozabal shrine is a nearby attraction that can also be visited.

Khanqah of Shah Hamdan

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Khanqah-e-Moulla, also called the shrine of Shah-e-Hamdan and Shah-i-Hamdan Mosque, was the first ever mosque constructed in Kashmir. Built on the sandy banks of the Jhelum river in Srinagar, Sultan Sikander built this around 1400 AD in honor of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, the Muslim saint who popularized Islam in Kashmir.

Devotees throng to this shrine on the sixth day of Dul-Haj (the last month of the Islamic Lunar calendar), on the death anniversary of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani. Tourists can only peak through door as only Muslims are allowed to enter. The shrine is reachable by buses or taxis (20 mins). Some nearby attractions that can also be visited includes Pathar Masjid and Jama Masjid.

Nagin Lake

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Getting its name from the trees surrounding it, Nagin Lake with its deep blue waters is serene and is located on the eastern side of Srinagar city. Also known as the "Jewel in the Ring”, it is separated from the Dal Lake by a thin causeway.

Being less crowded, the lake is ideal for swimming. Water Skiing & sailing on fiberglass boats can also be enjoyed here. Best time to visit here is from May to September. Hazratbal Mosque is a close by attraction to visit.

Pari Mahal (Quntilon)

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Pari Mahal (House of Fairies) also known as Quntilon, is a historic monument placed above the beautiful Chashma Shahi Gardens near Srinagar. A well-laid spacious garden surrounds this structure, which was once a Buddhist monastery and later served as a school of astrology promoted by the eldest son of Shah Jahan, Dara Shikoh.

Rickshaws can be taken to reach Pari Mahal. The garden, in the lawn of Pari Mahal with a small spring in the middle, with blooming flowers and fruits overlooks the picturesque Dal Lake. Char Chinar is also a good place to visit.
Charges: Entry Free  

Saffron Fields

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Saffron fields, located in Pampore, around 12 km from Srinagar draw a huge number of visitors during late October to early November. From earlier times, saffron from these fields has graced feasts of Emperors and commoner alike. It is believed that Mughals used to celebrate Diwali at Saffron fields.

Watching these magnificent saffron fields in moonlight has been a local tradition. Travel Srinagar during Saffron festival, which is held every year in October and witness the intricate harvesting of saffron in the vibrant fields offering captivating view during the moonlit nights.

Sri Pratap Singh Museum

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Established in 1898 by the erstwhile Kashmir Kings, the Pratap Singh Museum is home to ancient terracotta heads dating back to the 3rd century, found at the Buddhist site at Ushkur & molded terracotta plaques of the 4th & 5th century from Harwan. Accessible by taxis, auto rickshaws and buses, it is praise worthy museum to visit. Tourists need to present their passport before entering this museum.
Contact: 0194 2312859  Timings: 10 am to 5 pm (Closed on Wednesday)  Charges: Rs 10 - Indians, Rs 50 - Foreigners Tourists need to present their passport before entering this museum.  

Wular Lake

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The largest fresh-water lake in India, the Wullar Lake serves as a natural reservoir by drawing the excess water from the River Jhelum. Situated between the towns of Bandipore and Sopore, this unexplored and untouched lake is home to several species of birds. Reachable by buses or taxis, one can also visit the nearby Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary for a bird watching tour.

Burzahom

  
Archaeologically a very important place in Srinagar, Burzahom is to the northwest of the beautiful Shalimar Gardens (5km). Lying on the cradle of an ancient lake that is dried up now, Burzahom stands for 'place of birth' in local language and has the legacy of the first Neolithic site to be exposed in Jammu and Kashmir. This excavation site brought out many valuable ancient artifacts supposed to be more than 5000 years old like arrowheads, animal skeletons, tools and pots from the Neolithic age.

Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara

  
Located close to the Kathi Darwaza, the main entrance of the Harbat Parbat Fort at Rainawari in Srinagar; the Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara was built by the 6th guru of the Sikhs. It is believed that a Gurudwara has been built at every stop he made on his tour to Kashmir; to spread the word of Sikhism & the Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara is considered the most important among them.

The Sikh community considers this place very sacred & visit here regularly for prayers. The site is peaceful and can be reached by taxis or on foot from the city. Hari Parbat Fort is a nearby attraction that can be visited.

Garden of Char Minar

  
Located at Rainawari in Srinagar, the Char Minar garden was built by the Mughal Emperor Jehangir in 1616 to display his love to his beautiful wife Nur Jahan. With amazing views of the surrounding lakes, flowers & low lying terraces, the garden can be reached through Shikara ride from Dal Lake which costs around Rs 500 for four people.

Gurez Valley

  
Gurez Valley in Kishenganga region of Himalayas is one of the most beautiful places in Jammu and Kashmir. Located very close to Srinagar valley and is considered as a high-tension area, because of the Line of Control between India and Pakistan crosses the valley.

The valley was opened for public only in the year 2007, serves as home to an exotic variety of flora and fauna, including the snow leopard and elusive Himalayan Black Bear. Dawar is the main village in the region and is covered in snow for more than half a year. This remote natural beauty is located at an altitude of 8000 feet above sea level and can be visited during the month of June to August. In order to reach the valley, tourists can hire private vehicles from Srinagar.

Hari Parbat Fort

  
Perched on the Harbat Parbat Hill overlooking Srinagar lies the ancient Mughal Fort called the Harbat Parbat Fort, which is reachable by taxi or on foot. Said to be built in the 18th century by an Afghan Governer, Atta Mohammad Khan, the fort is surrounded by tall walls.

Constructed in 1590 by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar, it is now maintained by the Archaeological department. State Archaeological Department issues the required permission to visit the fort. Other attractions nearby are Lalmandi Square and Sharika Devi Temple.

Harwan Garden

  
Situated in Harwan Village (19 km) from Srinagar is an impressive Harwan Garden, a perfect place for picnics and nature walks. Accessible by taxis within half an hour, the place is a gateway to Dachi Gam Wildlife sanctuary and a beginning point of a Mahadev Mountain trek. Some close by attractions that can be visited includes Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh.

Imambara Hassanabad

  
Famed to be the 2nd largest shrine, the Imambara Hasanabad is the mourning & worshiping place for the 1 million shia population in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The Imambara is surrounded by Hazrat Bal Shrine on one side and the temple of Mata Sharka Devi and Gurdawara Chatti Padshahi on the other.

Jyeshtheshvara Temple

  
An inspirational religious place, one that no visitor can miss during the visit in Srinagar, Jyeshtheshvara Temple has many myths associated with it. One of them relates the temple to the Pandavas in the 5th century, another gives the credit to King Gopaditya built during 6th century and a third claim is that it was Ashoka’s ‘son’ Jaluka who first built this temple.

Later King Lalitaditya renovated the existing shrine in the 8th century and much remodeling has been done on it further. This is an ancient place to understand the style of architecture and erstwhile culture and heritage.

Kathi Darwaza

  
The Hari Parbat or the Mughal Fort, located on the banks of the world renowned Dal Lake, has two gates known as Kathi Darwaza and Sangin Darwaza. The Kathi Darwaza, assumed to be the main entrance of the Hari Parbat Fort, is a very simple structure with a domed chamber in the center and two recesses in the sides. The spot can be reached through taxis or on foot.

Kathi Darwaza has Persian commemorative inscriptions on its walls and ceilings. These inscriptions throw light on the Persian beliefs and culture. Makhdoom Sahib Shrine is a nearby attraction to visit.

Khanqah of Khwaja Moinuddin Naqsbandi

  
Khanqah of Khwaja Moinuddin Naqsbandi, also known as Naqshband Shrine, located at the heart of the city is a major Muslim religious attraction. This mosque is famed for the fact that the sacred hair (Moi-e-Muqaddas) of the Prophet Mohammed was kept initially here in this holy place, before moving it to the Hazratbal Mosque.

Built during the time of Shah Jahan, the shrine can be approached through local transports. Nagin Lake & Shrine of Madin Sahib are few adjoining attractions that can also be visited.

Makhdoom Sahib Shrine

  
Situated on the southern side of Hari Parbat Hill in Srinagar, this double storied mosque is a rare example of Mughal architectural style. This shrine, in the name of the Sufi saint Makhdoom Sahib or Hazrat Sultan is accessible by car/ taxi within 15 mins. Some adjoining attractions that one can visit include Hari Parbat Fort and Kathi Darwaza.

Masjid of Akhund Mullah

  
Built by Dara Shikoh, son of Shah Jahan, this shrine is located below the Makhdoom Sahib Shrine and is considered as the mosque within a mosque, since the main sanctuary is a separate and detached building, placed within a courtyard surrounding the mosque. The shrine is approachable by taxis or on foot. Besides, Hari Parbat Fort is an adjoining attraction that can be visited too.

Naseem Bagh

  
Located on the western side of Dal Lake, Naseem bagh (The Garden of Breezes, 8 km from Srinagar) was constructed in 1586 AD by the Great Mughal Emperor Akbar. This garden serves as a brilliant example of natural beauty.

Dotted with hundreds of chinar trees, the cool breeze coming from the lake makes it an ideal place to spend a relaxed evening. Only a short distance beyond Hazratbal mosque, the garden is reachable by taxi or local transports.

Today, it is used by the engineering college and unlike the other Mughal gardens it is not kept up for the public. Permission is required from Tourist Reception Centre to camp in this garden.

Pathar Masjid

  
Pathar Masjid, the biggest surviving Mughal structure in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, is located across the Jhelum River and faces the Shah Hamdan mosque. The mosque, built by Noor Jahan in 1623 AD, was supervised by the renowned architect and a well-known Mughal historian Malik Hyder Chaudhary. Reachable through taxis or on foot, one can also visit the nearby attractions such as Shah-e-Hamdan, Jama Masjid and Rozabal shrine.

Rainawari

  
Rainawari is a holy place where the most important gurudwara in Srinagar (7 km, 15 mins by taxis) is situated. The Gurudwara built by the sixth guru of Sikhism who traveled through Kashmir. The guru halted in this place and a gurudwara, known as Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara was constructed. This place is filled with beauty with its picturesque surroundings, calm, cool & quiet surroundings.

Rozabal Shrine

  
Rozabal Shrine, located in Khanyar Srinagar, has the distinction of being a shrine for both Muslims as well as Christians. While Muslims believe that Rozabal shrine is the tomb of a Muslim saint known as Yuza Asaf, many researchers say that it encloses the holy body of Jesus Christ.

Also known as Ziarati Hazrati Youza Asouph in the Khanyar area, this spot become popular with recent claims in a book saying that Jesus lived in India until the age of 100 and was buried here in Rozabal shrine. Dastgir Sahib Shrine is a nearby attraction to visit.

Sangin Darwaza

  
Apart from the Kathi Darwaza, Hari Prabat Fort (6 km from Srinagar) has a second entrance called Sangin Darwaza. This stands as structural evidence of the Mughal invasion in the valley, mainly built by brick or stone masonry.

The two Darwazas, Sangin Darwaza and Kathi Darwaza, and the shrine of Akhun Mulla Shah are worth a visit. The architecture of the Sangin Darwaza is worth admiring. One can easily reach there by taxis or on foot. Shrine of Madin Sahid and Hari Parbat Fort are some adjoining attractions.

Tomb of Madin Sahib

  
Tomb of Madin Sahib, constructed in memory of the saint Madin Sahib is situated north of the Madin Sahib mosque at Zadibal. The exterior of the walls embellished with glossy tiles, is an attractive style of 15th century Kashmir architecture. Approachable by taxis, buses or auto rickshaws, the tomb attracts devotees of Madin Sahib and tourists. Few adjoining attractions that can be visited include Sangeen Darwaza and Hari Parbat Fort.
Timings: 9.30 am to 5.30 pm  
Distances
Srinagar 1 km
Gulmarg 50 km 1h
Sonamarg 80 km 1h, 30m
Pahalgam 86 km 1h, 30m
Ladakh 257 km 11h
Vaishno Devi 265 km 6h, 20m
Jammu 290 km 6h, 40m
Leh Ladakh 411 km 7h, 50m
Leh 440 km 20h
Chandigarh 592 km 11h, 20m
 

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