The capital of Jammu and Kashmir and
the largest city in the state, Srinagar (1,730m) is famous for its
canals, houseboats and Mughal gardens. The city itself is quite
unlike most other large Indian cities for here you are much more
in Central Asia than on the sub continent. It's a city full of
intriguing alleyways and curious buildings. A place where it's
very easy to spend a few hours simply wandering - particularly
along the old city streets near the Jhelum river.
An Ancient Learning Centre Arts & Culture : The city has
long been a centre of the arts and learning - it has had a
university or for hundreds of years and is a centre of Sanskrit
study. 'Sri' means beauty or wealth of knowledge and 'Nagar' means
city. The city was originally founded by the great Buddhist
emperor Ashoka - his old city is marked by the present village of
Pandrethan. The present city was founded by Pravarasena II (79-139
AD) who named it "Praparapura" and built it practically contiguous
with the old capital, which was called "Srinagari".
Houseboats : If one is longing for the delights of a houseboat
holiday, then check out lakes of Srinagar to try one. Srinagar is
a unique city because
of its lakes - the Dal Lake, Nagin Lake and Anchar. The River
Jhelum also flows through a part of the city.
Most houseboats on the Nagin and the Jhelum are situated on the
banks of the lake, and can be accessed directly from land without
the help of a Shikara. While all those on the Dal require a
Shikara to get to and from them. Most houseboats on the Dal are
situated in long straggling rows; some face the boulevard,
Srinagar's exciting address, while others are situated singly or
in groups of two and three.
City Of Lakes : Srinagar's lakes are the reason why the city
receives so many tourists. Not just expanse of water, the lakes
are filled with houseboats, villages, narrow water canals, lotus
and vegetable gardens and houses and shops.
Life on the lakes, as witnessed from the confines of a Shikara, is
unique. It is possible to book a Shikara for the whole day and
sightsee Nishat Garden, Nasim Bagh, Hazratbal Mosque, Pathar
Masjid and Shah Hamdan's Shrine, having a picnic lunch in the
boat. While Nagin is quieter, the Dal is full of local colour,
with tourists being rowed in Shikara to shops selling every
conceivable handicraft - all within the lake.
Of The Lake : A Shikara ride is one of the most soothing,
relaxing aspects of a holiday in Kashmir. It can be an hour-long
ride to see the sights of the Dal; a shopping by Shikara
expedition to visit handicraft shops within the periphery of the
lake; or a whole day trip to visit important city landmarks.
Because the Dal is so central to the landscape of Srinagar, many
places of tourist interest have, over the ages, been built in its
The Mughal Gardens : The art
of designing formal gardens which the Mughal (also spelt as Moghul)
emperors expended such time and energy upon, reached its zenith in
Kashmir. The Mughal gardens in Agra or Lahore may be very fine but
only in Kashmir is the formal beauty of the gardens matched by the
natural beauty of the surrounding countryside. The gardens follow
a standard pattern with a central channel carrying water through
the descending terraces in a delightful series of cascades, falls
Another distinctive feature of Srinagar is the Mughal Gardens with
their terraced lawns, cascading fountains and bright flowerbeds,
overlooking the panorama of the Dal Lake.
a nearby spur of the mountain is the ancient monument Pari Mahal,
planned out by Dara Shikon as a sufi school, surrounded by Outside
Srinagar, Pampore (18 km), located on the National Highway, is
famous for the saffron that grows here from September to October.
The hill of Hari Parbat is considered sacred to the Hindus, Muslim
and Sikhs alike. For the Hindus it is sacred due to the presence
of the Temple of Sharika Mata, a form of goddess Durga or Shakti.
On its southern side is the historic shrine of Makhdoom Sahib, a
sufi saint of Kashmir revered by people of all faiths.
Further down the Hill is the historic
Gurudwara Chhatti Padshahi near the Kathi Darwaza (gate) of the
Fort. It is associated with the visit of the sixth Sikh Guru
to Kashmir. There is also Mughal Fort on this Hill called Hari
Parbat. The Afghan Governor, Ata Mohammad Khan, developed it to
its full size in the 18th century.
The Shankaracharya Temple, another prominent landmark of Srinagar,
is built on a high octagonal plinth, on the hill known as
Takht-i-Sulaiman .The site dates back to 250 BC and is associated
with the Hindu Philospher Shankarachayya who visited Kashmir ten