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Tourist Places To Visit In Srinagar
Srinagar is situated in the Kashmir Valley and lies on the banks of the Jhelum river, a tributary of the mighty Indus. The city is famous for its gardens, lakes, houseboats and shikaras. It is also known for traditional Kashmiri handicrafts, particularly the hand woven woolen shawls and carpets. Saffron, apples and dry fruits are also commonly traded here. Here are some fun experiences you can hope to have in and around the valley with the best tourist places to visit in Srinagar.
Take a Shikhara Ride on the Dal Lake
The Dal lake and the Shikharas are the two most famous symbols of Srinagar, and tourists come from far and wide to spend a few hours on the lake. Those who have time for a longer stay can rent houseboats. They say that watching a sunset or sunrise over the Dal lake is a truly uplifting and awe inspiring experience.
Gorgeous Lake Views from Pari Mahal
Pari Mahal in Srinagar was at one time a Buddhist monastery with a beautifully laid out garden. It was later converted into a school of astrology. The beauty of the Pari Mahal in Srinagar is enhanced by glowing lights which light up the night.
Stroll Down History at Mughal Gardens
The Mughal Gardens in Srinagar reflect the sense of beauty and the lavish styles of the Mughal era in India. There are 3 gardens in all.
Nishat Bagh is situated on the banks of the Dal Lake. The 12-terraced garden has beautiful flowering trees and regal Chinars. The garden has water canals flowing down the middle. The beautifully landscaped terraces of Nishat Bagh nearly reach the waters of the Dal Lake down below.
The second garden, Shalimar Bagh, is also marked by the presence of terraces that are separated by water channels. There are four terraces in this garden. There is a pavilion on the 4th terrace, which used to serve as a banquet hall. The pavilion gets its support from black marble pillars that have beautiful engravings on them. The fountains and the trees in this garden converge towards the horizon.
The third and littlest garden - Chashmashahi (meaning "Royal Spring") received its name from its water source, a spring located on its uppermost terrace. The design of the garden, similar to other Kashmiri gardens, is a version of a traditional Persian garden that has been modified to fit the steep site. Here too, you will find gardens of beautiful flowering trees and elegant Cypresses and Chinars.
Visit an Apple Orchard/Saffron Farm
80% of apples supplied in the markets of India, Bangladesh and Nepal are produced in Kashmir. A majority of Kashmir's annual income is dependent on apple produce and therefore, it is not uncommon to see large tracts of land devoted to carefully maintained apple orchards. There are many varieties grown in Kashmir, but the most popular and expensive is Kashmir Golden Apple.
Apples aside, the finest quality of Saffron is also grown in Kashmir. Saffron, which is by far the most expensive spice in the world, is grown in almost every house hold in Pampore area, as even a little Saffron grown can generate a lot of income! Kashmir saffron also known as "Kashmiri Kesar" is considered the best in the world for its distinctive long silky threads with a dark red color, fragrant aroma, and powerful coloring and flavoring capabilities.
Visit the Hazratbal Dargah
This alabaster white Hazratbal Dargah (mosque) is really serene and beautiful. It is one of the most important mosques in Srinagar and is highly revered. Like other mosques, women are only allowed in the outer area of the mosque. The market outside the mosque is a good place to find local food, particularly meat based food.
Visit the Dachigam National Reserve
Dachigam is one of the India's most beautiful wildlife reserves. This park is home to a unique Himalayan range of flora and fauna. The Kashmir stag- the most endangered species of red deer in the world - is found here. The main predator in the park is the leopard. Smaller animals found are the Jackal, Hill Fox, Yellow throated Marten and the Wild Boar. The Himalyan griffon, Lammergeier, Leopard Cat, Long tailed blue Magpie, Jungle cat and Himalyan Weasel also inhabit this region.
Bird Watch at Hokersar
This wetland attracts thousands of migratory birds during winters from Siberia and Central Asia. If you're a bird enthusiast, you will love this place, as it is an important natural refuge for rare breeds that use it as a breeding ground. Birds that are most prominent here are the Goose, the Brahminy Duck, the Tufted Duck, the Gadwall, the Garganey, the Greylag Goose, the Mallard, the Common Merganser, the Northern Pintail, the Common Pochard, the Ferruginous Pochard, the Ruddy Shelduck, the Northern Shoveler, the Common Teal, and the Eurasian Wigeon.
Shop for Famous Kashmiri Handicrafts
Browse the market for the most exquisite traditional Kashmiri Pashmina shawls, handwoven carpets, wooden and papier mache artifacts, and authentic Kashmiri baskets. The world famous Shahtoosh fabric made from the neck-fur of the rare Himalayan Ibex, is now illegal, but you'll find other varieties in the finest quality of wool. If haggling isn't quite your thing, head over to the Kashmir Government Arts Emporium and have a look at their selection of fixed-price goodies.
Visit Asia's Biggest Tulip Garden
This is Asia's biggest Tulip Garden. It attracts crowds mostly in April when the tulips are in full bloom. It's long, straight rows of blooming tulips look like a typical Dutch Tulip farm, except this also has a gorgeous mountainous backdrop!
Spend a Night on a Houseboat at Nagin Lake
The not so touristy step sister of the Dal lake, Nagin lake offers a great view, serene waters, sweet bird songs and good opportunities for angling. Apart from the houseboats and shikharas, trade boats also ply along, selling fruit and vegetables, papier mache figurines, decorative boxes, wool products and even jewellery. This lake is more charming than the Dal lake because it is less crowded.
Shankracharya is one of Srinagar’s oldest most revered temples, perched on the peak of Hari Parbat. It was, as name suggests, founded by Adi Shankracharya when he visited Kashmir centuries ago, and dedicate to Lord Shiva. It was a hub of the Pundits of the valley. The serene shrine is reached by a mild hike and looks down upon the beautiful valley and lakes of Kashmir. Amarnath Yatra pilgrims always make a pitstop here before proceeding to the next destination.
Nishant Bagh is a terraced garden, with twelve beautiful parks inside it, fringed by lush green trees, flowers and shrubs. Fountains are placed strategically as centre pieces and Dal Lake sits majestically by the side. It is second most huge garden built by Mughals in the area and looks up to the line of Zabarwan hills. Photography, picnics, long walks and quiet evenings are coveted here.
Hari Parbat is a hill in Srinagar that has strong historic and religious essence. Home to a string of shrines — from Sharika Devi Temple to Makhdoom Sahib dargah to Raghunath Temple. There is also a gurudwara on this mountain. And Shankracharya is the star temple on Hari Parbat. You must also visit the Hari Parbat Fort, built in the Durrani Empire in 19th Century. Philosophers, poets, wanderers, photographers — they all find their way to Hari Parbat for various reasons.
Chashme Shahi is another Mughal garden of Srinagar, built by Shah Jahan for his son Dara Sikoh in 1632. Rupa Bhavani, the female Kashmiri saint gave this garden the fame it deserved. Hence the name of her clan found its way to the name of this garden. A three-terraced garden made in Persian style, Chashme Shahi is best visited through summer and autumn months.
Are Valley near Srinagar is a gorgeous gateway to Sonamarg, home to rolling meadows that shine like emerald in summer sun and are covered in a blanket of snow through winter. Adventure, camping, horse-riding, fishing and a lot many activities can be undertaken here. The Sonamarg trek commences from here. Summer months that peak between July and September are the best here.
Zero Bridge on Jhelum is a classic bridge that runs from Sonwar to Rajbagh. It was built by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad in the 50s and was only used by pedestrians. Vehicles were banned to protect the wooden frame of this bridge. Erstwhile called Zorr Bridge, it was designed by an architecture who was deaf. Walk across this bridge and enjoy the many street food vendors, locals and beauty that abounds on it.
Jamia Masjid sits in the centre of Srinagar, in the Nowhatta area. It is 700 years old and has a majestic architecture that consists of tall deodar pillars, carpeted halls, stained glass windows and a quiet that you may not find elsewhere. A total of 33,333 people can pray in this mosque at a time, which makes it pretty huge and unique in itself. There are gardens in the courtyard and fountains flowing, domes and chhatris built at the top in true Indo-saracenic style. Devotees and non-believers, tourists and locals, all alike are welcome to explore here.
Wular Lake is one of India’s many freshwater lakes, formed due to natural tectonic shifts under the earth’s surface. Boating, picnicking and water skiing are highly coveted activities here. Locals come here to stroll on weekends and evenings, birdwatchers throng the banks for species like Barn Swallow, Himalayan Woodpecker, Himalayan Monal, Koklass Pheasant, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Chukar Partridge and Alpine Swift.
Popularly called Rup Lank, the Char chinar is an island in Dal Lake that is known for the four chinars on four sides of its landscape. Nowadays only three are left, and even they aren’t as flourishing as before, but still this island is a highly coveted tourist attraction. People row to Char Chinar in shikaras, spend an afternoon enjoying snacks and tea, then row back to the mainland. It is open from 6 in the morning to evening, from April to October.
Floating Vegetable Market
The off-beat travellers, the wanderers, the backpackers — those who want to see the real Kashmir, this market is a great way to experience it. The locals of Dal wake up at 4 every morning, collect their homegrown bounty of fruits, vegetables and roots, and set out to the floating vegetable market to sell fresh produce. Srinagar citizens hop into shikaras from the mainland and row up here to buy the freshest produce — seasonal watermelons, lotus shoots, cucumbers etc being some of the exotic stuff. Photographers love this place.