Srinagar is a vibrant capital city and a pivotal economic centre of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Located on both sides of the river Jhelam Srinagar has enchanted and enticed kings and colonizers, elites and commoners alike from time immemorial. Barring a few winter months from December to February – when the city gets some snowfall – its weather is usually warm temperate with average temperature 24 degree Celsius in July. The snow-capped mountains, the greenish blue water of Dal, the canopied shikaras painted in bright colours, the well-decorated gardens, sweet-smelling apple orchards, beautiful woodcrafts, heavily embroidered shawls, dress materials and carpets, the aroma of saffron and nutmeg in Kashmiri Biryani, the rich taste of roghan josh, the mouthwatering smell of spicy Kashmiri dam aloo and the soft texture of Kashmiri nan are like a regal dream that anybody would love to cherish all the life.
HOW TO REACH
Jammu is a major rail terminal. Jammu to Srinagar is a 300 km journey on National Highway 1 with mostly good roads. Government as well as private bus services are available.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Srinagar is best during summer, autumn and spring. That is, April–June and October–November are the seasons to enjoy Srinagar.
Rent Rs 1000 – Rs 2000
Lalarukh (Rs 1800 – Rs 2000) (Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation)
Kashmir Residency (Rs 1000 – Rs 3000) (Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation)
Hotel Hayat (Rs 1200 – Rs 2000)
Swiss Hotel (Rs 1500 – Rs 3200)
Hotel Butterfly (Rs 1000 – Rs 1200)
Hotel Victoria Palace (Rs 1200 – Rs 1800)
Hotel Kabir (Rs 1400 – Rs 1800)
Hotel Season Palace (Rs 1500 – Rs 1800)
Hotel Al-Humza (Rs 1000 – Rs 1500)
Rent Rs 2000 – Rs 3000
Hotel Kongposh Rs 2500 (Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation)
Hotel Sahah Abbas (Rs 2000 – Rs 2500)
Dalview (Rs 2000 – Rs 2500)
Rent Rs 3000 and above
Hotel Heemal (Rs 3500)
Imperial (Rs 4500)
Hotel Basera (Rs 6000)
The rent of houseboats at Srinagar is as follows:
Double Bed Deluxe Rs 4800
‘A’ Class Rs 3400
‘B’ Class Rs 2000
‘C’ Class Rs 1350
‘D’ Class Rs 900
The tariff includes breakfast and dinner for two people.
Dal Lake and the Islands: Charchinar, Kabutar Khana, Nehru Park
Dal Lake is at the heart of Srinagar. Coving an area of 26 sq km the lake is an epitome of natural beauty. Its serenity is best enjoyed riding a shikara. Besides the vast expanse of clear water, lotuses, canals, lock gates, witnessing the activities centering the lake is an amazing experience. A major segment of local people live and survive on the lake. From dawn to dusk the lake is bustling with shikaras turned into shopping arcades, selling fruits and vegetables, items of daily use, garments and clothes and the like. Some are miniature forms of Kashmir emporium offering Kashimri handicrafts and other specialties. Buyers also come to shop riding shikaras. Shikaras are the mainstay of the life of these people. Riding them the tailor goes to customers, doctors go to patients – a truly a unique riverine lifestyle.
Because the Dal is so central to the landscape of Srinagar, many places of tourist interest have, over the ages, been built in its vicinity. Tourists can visit Charchinar, an island in the lake, and places like Kabutar khana, Nehru Park, Carpet and Shawl factory, in the periphery of the lake, riding a shikara. An extension of Dal is known as Nagin Lake.
The most important mosque in the state of Jammu and Kashmir Hazratbal Mosque lying on the western bank of Dal Lake at the opposite side of Nishat Bag. This marble shrine has religious as well as historical significance. It houses Moi-e-Muqaddas (the sacred hair) of the prophet Muhammad, which is displayed to the public only on fairs and occasions. This revered mosque also offers a spectacular view of the lake and the mountain afar.
The Shankaracharya Temple
Standing at the top of the hill the Sankaryacharya Temple is a medium sized shrine of Lord Shiva. A flight of stairs rises up to the temple at the hilltop. As legends have it, His Holiness Sankaracharya had meditated for some time in this place.
The Mughal Gardens
The Mughals loved Kashmir, especially Srinagar. To add to the splendor of the landscape they engaged the finest of the designers and the most efficient of workers and built the grand Mughal Gardens.
Chashmashahi, a small garden in the lap of the mountain, was built during the rein of Emperor Shah Jahan. It’s a general belief among local people that the water from the spring in the garden is very good for health. Pari Mahal, a place near Chashmashahi, is an ancient monument surrounded by a garden. The house was once a Buddhist monastery and was later turned into a school of astrological studies by Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Emperor Shah Jahan. Pari Mahal overlooks a pleasant view of Dal.
Nishat Bag is the biggest of all the Mughal Gardens in Srinagar. At the foot of the mountain, the garden is built in seven descending steps. A mountainous spring has been channeled into a delightful series of cascades carrying water through the descending terraces. Beds of blooming flowers, old Chinar trees and apple orchards make the garden an abode of peace.
Shalimar Bag is another marvel of Mughal architecture. Built for Empress Noorjahan, the loving wife Emperor Jahangir, one can feel, even today, the romance splashed all over the garden. The beauty and grandeur of the retiring room above the cascades though has worn out with the passage of time can still be sensed from its structure and intricate woodwork.
Built by Empress Noorjahan this mosque is the biggest surviving Mughal construction in Jammu and Kashmir. Situated across the river Jhelam, its architectural features will marvel history and archeology enthusiasts.
Shah Hamdan Mosque
One of the oldest mosques in Srinagar, Shah Hamdan Mosque, stands right beside the Jhelum. Built in 1335, this wooden mosque has unique papier mache work on its walls and ceilings. Surprisingly, this all-wooden mosque was built without using nails or screws.
Built during the regime of Sultan Sikandar in the year 1395, Jama Mosque is a distinctive example of Islamic architecture. Later Sultan Jain-ul-Abidin, son of Sultan Sikandar, augmented its beauty. Over the centuries this mosque has faced repeated destructions and restorations.
Spread over 28 hectare of land the Tulip Garden seems to be the new attraction of Srinagar. The bright flower beds are truly breathtaking.
Other Nearby Destinations
• Achhabal (70 km)
• Ducksum (85 Km)
• Yusmarg (47 km)
• Charar-e-Sharif (30 Km)
• Ular Lake (60 Km)
• Manasbal Lake (32 km)
• Dachigam National Park (21 km)
• Kheer Bhawani Temple
For sightseeing contact
Jammu-Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation
Tourist Reception Centre
Tel: (0194) 247658, 24551076 (sightseeing)
TRAVEL TIPS Carry valid documents for identification.
The Mughal Gardens are generally closed on every Friday.
Planning ahead ensures enjoyable touring.
Buying dry fruits like walnut and saffron from authentic places and emporiums may not give you good bargain but will guarantee good quality.
Paper walnuts are better than ordinary walnuts. It is better to buy walnut from reputed shops.
MEDICAL CARE: SMHS Govt Hospital
Tel: (0194) 2450247
Sher-e Kashmir Institute of medical Sciences
Tel: (0194) 2401014, 2493104
LOCAL TRANSPORTATION: Taxi Stand, Tourist Reception Centre
Tel: (0194) 2452527
Taxi Stand, Lal Chowk
Tel: (0194) 2474849
Kashmiri delicacies are a delight for the taste buds. To enjoy the authentic Kashmiri cuisines try out Ahdoos, Kashmir Durbar on Shervani Road; Mughal Durbar and Ethnic Foods on Residency Road.
Lal Chowk is the most sought-after market place in Srinagar. Besides, the Kashmir Government’s Arts Emporium is a place worth visiting. Handicrafts, shawls, namda, willow buckets, Kashmiri silk saris, honey, wooden wall hangings are lined up in rows in these stores.