. Srinagar is the summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is situated in the Kashmir Valley and lies on the banks of the Jhelum River, a tributary of the Indus. The city is famous for its gardens, lakes and houseboats. It is also known for traditional Kashmiri handicrafts and dry fruits.
Etymologically Srinagar is composed of two Sanskrit words, ?r? (venerable) and nagar which means ???city???. One theory of the origin of the name is that a Pandava King Ashoka (not to be confused with the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka) built the city of Srinagari (Srinagar). Another theory is that Mauryan Emperor Ashoka founded the original city of Srinagar, then situated on the site of the present village of Pandrethan, 5 km to the north of the existing capital.
The city is located on both the sides of the Jhelum River which is called Vyath in Kashmir. The river passes through the city and meanders through the valley, moving onward and deepening in the Dal Lake. The city is famous for its nine old bridges, connecting the two parts of the city.Srinagar is one of several places that has been called the ???Venice of the East??? or the ???Kashmiri Venice???. It is known for its lakes, gardens, palaces, scenic beauty and lot more other things.
. Pari Mahal, meaning 'house of fairies' in Srinagar is a majestic historic monument that is located above the alluring Chashma Shahi Gardens. A short drive further, along a spur of the Zaberwan Hill, lie the six massive terraces of Pari Mahal also known as Quntilon, with wonderful views. This age old monument displays the architectural brilliance of the medieval times. A vast and beautiful garden surrounds this structure. Commissioned by Mughal prince Dara Shikoh, this beautiful garden was originally intended as a retreat for Sufi scholars. It is nearby from the Chashma Shahi Gardens and is a beautiful place that is a must visit on your trip to Srinagar.
. Burzahom is a major historical site of Kashmir carrying great archaeological importance and is located on the north-west side of the famous Shalimar Gardens. It was discovered that the area was occupied by a Neolithic settlement between 3000 and 1500 BC. The ancient houses found here were semi-subterranean pit houses, partially excavated into the ground. After 2000 BC, houses here were made of mud-bricks and above ground level.
The word Burzahom in the local language stands for 'place of birch'. The place was named so because burnt birch trees were discovered here in huge numbers during the excavation of this site. This proved that birch trees grew here in abundance during the Neolithic Age.This site is situated at around 10 km north-east of the city of Srinagar.
It was excavated for about six seasons from 1961 to 1968, which yielded 10 human skeletons. These human skeletons were of several cultural stages including Neolithic, Neolithic-Megalithic and some other early historic cultures. The main archaeological materials collected from this site are animal skeletons, tools, pots, tools, arrowheads and implements of Neolithic age.
. The imposing 18th-century Hari Parbat Fort is visible from virtually anywhere in Srinagar. It crowns a prominent hill that Hindus believe was originally the island from which Vishnu and Sharika (Durga) defeated Jalodbhava, Kashmir's mythical lake demon. On the hill's mid-slopes, Muslims pay homage at the large Makhdoom Sahib Shrine , reached by beggar-lined steps that pass the ruined 1649 stone mosque of Akhund Mullah Shah. The steps start a few hundred metres beyond the scant remains of Srinagar's Old City walls (built by Akbar in the 1590s) and the large Chetipacha Gurdwara .
. The Hari Parbat 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.Kathi Darwaza has some Persian commemorative inscriptions in the walls and ceilings. These inscriptions point light to the Persian beliefs and culture. The beautiful external decorations include arched and rectangular panels and two good-looking medallions, on the spandrels of the simple arch.
. Apart from the Kathi Darwaza, Hari Prabat Fort has a second entrance names Sangin Darwaza. This entrance does not have any inscriptions where Kathi Darwaza has Persian inscriptions at the entrance. These are structural evidence of 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 enough to have a visit. Most of the tourists visit here to have a close look at the architectural style during Mughal period.
Sri Pratap Singh Museum
. Sri Pratap Singh Museum holds historical importance, as it was the erstwhile summer place of the kings of the princely state of Kashmir. The museum was established in 1898, which houses some of the rare terracotta heads of 3rd century that were collected from the Buddhist site in Ushkur. It also has various moulded terracotta plaques dating back to 4th and 5th century from Harwan.
This place is famous for its ancient brass model of Lokeshvara and a green stone structure of Lord Vishnu sitting on Garuda. A 5th century copper image of Buddha which has been carved in Gandhara architectural style. Some of the important items on display in the museum are paintings, ancient coins, Ladakhi handicrafts, shawls and arms.
. Shiva is known to have made his adobe in the Himalayas. Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Goddess Parvati the secret of creation in the Shri Amarnathji cave. Unknown to them, a pair of pigeons eavesdropped on this conversation and having learned the secret, are liberated from rebirth, and have made the cave their eternal abode. Whatever the legends and the history of Shri Amarnathji's discovery, it is today a very important centre of pilgrimage and though the route is as difficult to negotiate as it is exciting, every year, thousands of devotees come to pay homage before Lord Shiva in one of his famous Himalayan abodes.
The trek to Shri Amarnathji, has the devout flock to this incredible shrine, where the image of Lord Shiva, in the form of a Lingam, is formed naturally of ice - stalagmite, and which waxes and wanes with the moon. By its side are, fascinatingly, two more ice - lingams, that of Goddess Parvati and of their son, Shri Ganesha.
Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder valley, Shri Amarnathji stands at 3,888 m and is 45 km from Pahalgam and 141 km from Srinagar. Though the original pilgrimage subscribes that the yatra be undertaken from Srinagar, the more common practice is to begin the journey from Pahalgam, and cover the distance to Shri Amarnathji and back in four or five days. Pahalgam is 96 km from Srinagar. The yatra is also now undertaken, on a shorter route, from Baltal (Sonamarg), which is 102 kms from Srinagar.The Shrine is managed by Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), that was constituted by an Act of the State Legislature in 2000 with His Excellency the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir as its ex-officio Chairman. The Amarnathji Shrine Board is responsible for smooth and trouble free pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine.
Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary
. The sanctuary is recognized for housing the rare Kashmir stag Hangul and black & brown bears. It is encircled by beautiful mountains and greenery. The sanctuary is spread out across an area of approx 141 sq km. In 1951, the sanctuary was acknowledged as a National Park. A wide variety of flora and fauna is present in the sanctuary. The sanctuary also provides a habitat for various avifauna species too. Special permit is necessary to enter the park.
. Dal Lake in Srinagar has a picture-perfect spot that travellers to Srinagar cannot miss. Surrounded by majestic mountains on one side, the lake is a center of attraction for the travelers arriving to this place called, paradise on earth, It is nicknamed as the 'Jewel in the crown of Kashmir' or 'Srinagar's Jewel'. The lake is also an important source for commercial operations in fishing and water plant harvesting
Most tourism-oriented activites on the lake happen near the Dal Gate. You can take a shikara ride on colourful high-backed seats, buy flowers from floating shops, get yourself clicked in kitschy Kashmiri dresses, visit Nehru Park Island and Char Chinar Island, see the floating vegetable market at dawn, visit Hazratbal, and traverse the smaller and quieter Nagin Lake and the old Pandit quarter of Rainawari.
The houseboats anchored on the Dal are often huge and spacious. Over the years, houseboats grew in number with many flaunting new designs, comforts and outlook. If you can accommodate yourself in one of these you will feel yourself closer to the heritage and culture of Kashmir.During the winter season, the temperature at the destination reaches about -110 Celsius, which freezes the Dal Lake.
. Nagin Lake, with its name derived out of the name of the trees surrounding the lake, is popular as the 'Jewel in the Ring' and is considered as one of the impressive lakes in Srinagar. This is a small lake looking pretty in deep blue. This lake is separated from the Dal lake by a thin causeway and is an exciting tourist spot with number of houseboats dwindling in the calm water. Nagin is a perfect place to go for swimming as it is less crowded and deeper. Water Skiing is another water sports one can venture out in this lake, skiing facilities and fiberglass sailing boats are available for hire.
. Considered the largest fresh water lake in Asia, Wular Lake is a major tourist attraction in Kashmir. It is located around 33 Kilometers form Srinagar city. This Lake is a natural wetland fed by river Jhelum and acts as a natural flood control mechanism too. Surrounded by lofty snow capped mountains and coniferous trees it provides the perfect setting for a boat ride, stroll or trek which ever you prefer.There is also an old 15th century ruin on a man made lake at the center which was created by King Zain-ul-abidin
Fish lover and Bird watchers are in for a delight. This area, along with the surrounding wetlands acts as a winter breeding and resting ground for migratory birds. Wular is house to a large no of resident birds and accounts for 60% of the state's fish production.
. Built in the era of the Mughal rulers of India, the Mughal Gardens is one of the splendid places in this city. Moving around in the garden, you will experience the magic of the Mughal style of architecture & design which is based on Koranic concepts of paradise such as the Charbaug. Due its magnificent charm, the garden lures the attention of a number of travelers from different corners of the world and makes a visit to Srinagar.
One will find that the garden is a combination of three prominent gardens namely the Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Gardens and Chashm-e-shahi.These gardens are tourists' paradise and are beautifully decorated with bright flowerbeds, terraced lawns and well maintained cascading fountains The best time to enjoy the beauty of this garden and surroundings is during the spring season.
. Shalimar Bagh is one of the beautiful gardens in Srinagar, which is regarded as the monument of love. The Garden was built by Mughal Emperor Jahangir for his wife Nur Jahan, in 1619. The garden is considered the high point of Mughal horticulture. This garden houses four terraces, fountains and a canal. The highest terrace at this site is known as 'Abode of Love', which was used by the emperor and royal ladies. This bagh is also called as Garden of Char Minar, Faiz Baksh and Farah Baksh.
It has been constructed as per the layout of the famous Chahar Bagh in Persia. This bagh covers an area of approximately 31 acres and is surrounded by chinar trees. It is also linked with the water of Dal Lake through a canal, measuring 1.6 km in length. Shalimar Bagh is situated at a distance of 15 km from Srinagar and around 25 km from the nearest airport in Badgam District.
. Another landscaping and architectural marvel, Nishat Bagh was built by Asif Khan, brother of Emperor Jahangir's wife Nur Jahan in 1633. This splendid garden is also located on the banks of Dal Lake, with Zabarwan mountains as its backdrop. The word Nishat means garden of joy. Like Shalimar Bagh, Nishat is also lined with terraces and streams. Avenues of Chinar and Cypress trees dot the landscape of the garden. There are a total of twelve terraced lawns in the garden. The garden spreads across 6.20 hectares (15.3 acres) and is located at a distance of 11 km from the Tourist Reception Centre.
Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden
. Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden is located at the foothills of Zabarwan Mountains near Dal Lake. The garden is famous for its annual Tulip Festival that last for seven days.This garden is around 8 km from Srinagar. It is one of the spacious gardens in Srinagar and is known to have more than 70 varieties of coloured tulip flowers.The garden covers approximately 90 acres of land and houses 1.3 million tulip bulbs that overlook the Dal Lake. It is situated in vicinity of Shalimar Garden, Nishat Garden, Chashm-e-Shahi Gardens and other Mughal Gardens.
. Cheshm-e-shahi is one of the three Mughal Gardens in Srinagar. It is the smallest among all the Mughal Gardens in Srinagar, which is also called as Royal Spring. It was Shah Jahan's governor Ali Mardan Khan who built the small but perfect Chashma Shahi Gardens on the slopes of the Zaberwan Hill in 1632.The garden consists of a pavilion and three terraces. It is famous for the natural spring that flows from it. Its location, being at an elevated plane above the city, provides a panoramic view of the city. The state's governor house is located nearby. The famous Pari Mahal, Tulip garden and the City Botanical Garden is also located near Cheshmashahi. The garden is at a distance of 9 kms from the Tourist Reception Centre.
. One of the beautiful Mughal Gardens, Nasim bagh is constructed in 1586 AD by Great Mughal Emperor Akbar. This garden serves as a brilliant example of natural beauty merged with the man made marvelous designs. This is the oldest Mughal garden and has camping facilities in the enchanting lawns of the Gardens. Visitors can spent their holidays here under the nature's gifts and in seclusion, away from the day to day stress and strains. It is most sought tourist spot and the garden provides a marvelous panoramic view of the Dal Lake.
. Rainawari is the holy place where the most important gurudwara in Srinagar is situated. The gurudwara at this place was constructed by the sixth guru of Sikh, Guru Hargobind Sahib ji, who named it as Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara. Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara is located nearby Kathi Darwaza of Hari Parbat Fort.
Rainawari has historical and religious importance. This place has all the beauty of any other place in Srinagar, ranging from picturesque surroundings, cool and nice weather and calm, quiet environment. Visitors can mix up with locals and have a close look at their lifestyle and culture.
. Jama Masjid is among the oldest mosques in Srinagar and displays a monument of Islamic architecture. It was built in 1674 with four spires tower, 370 pillars, prayer halls, etc. Each pillar is made from a single piece of deodar trunk. The temple was destroyed and restored many times.It is also known as Jamia Masjid. Another feature of the mosque is the peace and tranquility inside it, standing out against the hustle of the old bazaars around it.There are two wide paths in the compound that portrays the ancient Mughal architectural style. It is commonly known as the Friday Mosque, which was built in 1398 and the present structure was restored in 1674. Thousands of Indian Muslims assemble at the mosque every Friday to offer their prayers.
. The Hazratbal Shrine is a Muslim shrine in Srinagar. It contains a relic believed by many Muslims of Kashmir to be a hair of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The name of the shrine comes from the Arabic word Hazrat, meaning holy or majestic, and the Kashmiri word bal, (bal is a corrupted form of Sanskrit Vala which means an enclosure) meaning place.
The shrine is situated on the left bank of the Dal Lake, Srinagar and is considered to be Kashmir's holiest Muslim shrine. The Moi-e-Muqqadas (the sacred hair) of Mohammed is believed to be preserved here. The shrine is known by many names including Hazratbal, Assar-e-Sharief, Madinat-us-Sani, or simply Dargah Sharif.
. Shankaracharya temple, is located on the Shankaracharya hill, also known as Takht-e-Suleiman, at an altitude of 1100 ft. above surface level of the main city. As written the books of Kalhana, it was built by Raja Gopal Data in 371 B.C. This is a Lord Shiva temple, and apparently the oldest shrine in Kashmir. After the construction of stairs to the temple by the Dogra ruler, Maharaja Gulab Singh, the accessibility has become quite feasible. The temple, besides being a prominent religious place for Hindus, is also of great archaeological importance. The temple offers a magnificent panoramic view of the Srinagar city.
Kheer Bhawani Temple
. Associated with the Hindu goddess Ragnya Devi, the Khir Bhawani Temple in the Srinagar district is an significant Hindu shrine. An annual festival is held here on Jehst Ashtami (May-June) when Hindus visit the place in large numbers to offer prayers and seek the blessings of the deity.
The temple is a highly revered place for the ancient followers of the Hindu Vedic Religion in Kashmir, the Kashmiri Pandits. There is a holy water spring in the temple, which is considered to indicate the fate of the state. They say that when the colour of the water spring changes to dark shades, it indicated an inauspicious time for Kashmir.
. 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.