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Places to visit in Srinagar

Discussion in 'Jammu & Kashmir' started by MadaanS, Mar 12, 2017.

  1. MadaanS

    MadaanS New Member

    This year I would like to take my family to Srinagar, it's a different place and a chance to get away from the heat.
    I would be taking along with me my wife, sister and two kids aged 8 and ten years. I am interested in knowing about the places to visit in Srinagar as this time round I am planning on creating an itinerary to make sure the holiday goes smoothly.
    We have not decided on the number of days we should go Srinagar for and it would more depend on the places to visit there.
     


  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, welcome to the forum!

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    (Images from Basharat, Vinayaraj, McKay Savage and Juan)

    Overview

    If there is paradise on Earth, Kashmir certainly fits that title. From its snow-capped mountain views, to delicate natural attractions and even the warmth of its people, Kashmir is a traveller's dose of offbeat yet heavenly destination. Srinagar is the designated capital of the state, which is also its most developed city. Yet there's this sense of laid-back vibe to it, which lets the traveller take a moment to just breathe in and absorb the beauty of the surroundings. With the Jhelum River flowing in many regions of the city, even draining unto the famed Dal Lake, the scenic beauty just lures you in, holding you captive for many more years to come. As such, that is the beauty of Srinagar, never unfaltering and would linger upon you forever. This guide would highlight the best attractions that the city has to offer.

    Best Places to Visit in Srinagar

    Historical
    • Hari Parbat Fort - Located at the heart of Srinagar is the underrated attraction, the Hari Parbat Fort. It might surprise you that there are actual heritage sites in the city, but there are and the fortress is one of them. Initially, it was Akbar the Great who built the fort during the early 16th century. However, the ruler, who intended for the location to be his capital, wasn't able to finish the fort. It was Shuja Shah Durrani, a ruler from Afghanistan, that completed the walls of the fort during 18th century, hence its other name is the Durrani Fort. The fort is located upon a hillock so the approach to it is by foot, which requires a climb of about 200 steps to reach the peak. En route, the slopes of the hillock have various religious sties that one can visit. On the western slope is the Shakti Temple, dedicated to Goddess Shakti, a form of Durga, which is revered sacred by many Kashmiri Pandits. On the southern slope of the hillock are shrines dedicated to Sheik Hamza Makhdoom (Sufi Saint) and Saccha Badshah (Sikh Guru). So in one place, you have temples dedicated to various religions, Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism, which is unique in itself. Onto the fort itself, the walls stretches for around five kilometres long and are mostly in intact conditions. There are two gateways, named the Kathi Darwaza and Sangin Darwaza. Of the two, the former is more elaborate, with intricately carved windows on its sides. The structures around the fort are open for visitors but the main fort itself may be restricted for access.
    • Parihaspora Pattan - Parihaspora Pattan is located about 22 kilometres away from Srinagar. While the ancient city's name can be translated to the City of Joy, it is now referred to by the locals as the City of Stones, referring to the ruins of the old Buddhist kingdom that once reigned here. It was Lalitaditya, a ruler from the Karkota dynasty, that established this ancient city, around the 7th century. Originally, the city was comprised of various areas like a court, assembly hall and of course, temples. Being a devout Vishnu devotee, there was a dedicated temple for the deity, the Parihaskesava Temple, wherein pure gold was used to make the deity's image. There was also a shrine dedicated for the Lord Buddha, but this time, the image was made from pure copper. Most of the structures in the city are now in dilapidated and ruined conditions, that it's hard to image the glory that it once had. The reasons for the ruined structures are not clear but many scholars point to the attack of Sultan Sikandar to the city during the 14th century as the main culprit. A devout Muslim, Sultan Sikandar was one of the many rulers who wanted to convert the Kashmiri Hindus or Buddhists into the religion of Islam, hence the destruction of the ancient Buddhist city.
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    Parihaspora Pattan (Image from Ankur)
    • Awantipora - Yet another ancient city is Awantipora, located just on the southeastern side of Srinagar. This city was founded by Avanti Varman, which was also the founder of the Utpala dynasty. Like the former ruler, Avanti Varman was a staunch Vishnu devotee and built the Awanti Swami Temple here for the deity. There is also a separate shrine dedicated to Shiva, known as the Avantikeshvara Swami Temple. There are many carvings of both deities around the temples. Though mostly in ruins, their beauty can still be seen, especially the different manifestations of Vishnu. Look around and you're bound to find more carvings, depicting couples in amorous scenes and even of other important Hindu images like the Ganga River.
    • Pari Mahal - Most guides would designate the Pari Mahal as a garden but it did serve as the abode of Dara Shikoh during the 16th century. Thereafter, the terraced gardens served as an observatory as well for Sufi saints to investigate celestial and astronomical phenomena. Initially, the location of the terraced garden housed an old Buddhist monastery, which were already in ruins. Dara Shikoh was the one who initiated for the construction of a terraced garden, a living quarter and a library here. Interestingly, the palace garden has no ramps for the transportation of water for the irrigation of the garden. Instead, the ruler, being a forward thinker, aimed for the construction of an underwater irrigation system, in the form of tanks, which helped to maintain the beauty of the gardens. As of now, the Pari Mahal offers a great view of the Dal Lake along with the Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden from its uppermost level.
    Religious
    • Hazratbal Shrine - Located on the western bank of the Dal Lake is the Hazratbal Shrine. This shrine is perhaps the most sacred and revered by Muslims as it holds a relic of Muhammad. This relic is known as the Moi-E-Muqqadas, which simply means Hair of Muhammad. The pure white facade of the shrine looks quite striking even from the outside. With the view of the Dal Lake and the snow-capped Himalayas, it somehow intermixes with the surroundings. Before you enter the shrine, there is a lush green garden dotted with various Chinar trees that adds to the serenity of the place. The architectural design of the main shrine is largely Persian and Ottoman, with a huge dome in the centre. This design is unique to the shrine as well, as most mosques in the state have a pagoda-style of roof. As a Muslim religious site, it is necessary to observe their rulers such as being covered from head to toe for women and wearing a cap for the men.
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    Hazratbal Shrine (Image from Madhav)
    • Kheer Bhawani Temple - Located to the northwestern side of Srinagar, about 22 kilometres away, is the Kheer Bhawani Temple. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Bhavani, a form of Durga, and is revered sacred by the Kashmiri Pandits. Even Hindus from faraway regions reach the temple because it has several phenomena that are quite interesting to see. The temple exudes a tranquil vibe and is spread around a large expanse of land. Chinar trees also surround the place which adds colour to it, depending on the type of season. In the temple, there's a small spring, supposed to predict the present or future condition of the state of Kashmir. According to the locals, the water of the spring changes colour depending on the conditions of the state. Like when the state was in a turmoil due to political protests, the colour of the spring's water was in a bright red. But it also changes frequently, into green, yellow, pink, blue and the dreaded black. There's also this spot in the temple, where if you stand and look up, you can spot the map of India, formed by the leaves of the trees and the skies. Aside from these features, if you want a bit of serenity, the temple is the place to be.
    • Jama Masjid - The Jama Masjid is located in Nowhatta at the city centre of Srinagar. At first glance, the mosque doesn't look like the typical masjid that we are used too. There's this unique blend of Hindu, Mughal and Gothic architectural styles visible even from the exterior of the mosque. Built during the 14th century by Sikandar Shah Kashmiri Shahmiri, this is considered as the prime religious attraction of the city. With Buddhist pagoda-like roofing, a large spire resembling that of Catholic churches and arched doorways typical of Hindu structures, it's a sight to behold in the city. The bricked facade and the wooden interiors give it a more rustic appearance too. Other rulers like Sultan Jahangir and Maharana Pratap Singh of the Mughal dynasties also renovated and added their architectural styles in the structure.
    • Shah-E-Hamdan Mosque - This was built during the 14th century by Sultan Sikander Shah. It was built in the memory of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani, also known as Shah-E-Hamdan, who was a preacher from Iran that came to Kashmir to preach the teachings of Islam to the region. He was well loved by many and was believed to convert thousands of Kashmiri Hindus and Buddhists into Muslims. But unlike other preachers, he didn't resorted to any force or violence, which is why he is a radical at that time. The masjid, much like the other mosques in Kashmir, has a pagoda-style roof and mostly wooden interiors. The intricately carved ceilings and walls are gorgeous as well. The ceilings were carved using the style of Khatamband, which is a local way of fitting two woods together to make a geometric pattern. Some parts of the mosque has bright green motifs and floral murals which make the structure stand out even more.
    • Shankaracharya Temple - Last on this section is the Shankaracharya Temple, located at the top of the Shankaracharya Hill. Thus, you need to climb about 250 steps to reach the top where the temple is located. The original founder of the temple is believed to be Sandiman, who established it even before the 1st century. Some scholars though believe that the temple was renovated during 9th century, by Hindu rulers like Gopaditya and even Lalitaditya. Entry to the temple is very restricted and you need to surrender all mobile phones or gadgets prior to accessing the temple. Even then, it is uncommon for the temple to not be flocked to by tourists. The temple is dedicated mainly to Lord Shiva but was so-named after Adi Shankaracharya, after his visit to the temple. From the hillock, you are also entitled to a grand view of the Jhelum River and the city of Srinagar.
    Bodies of Water
    • Dal Lake - Whether it's winter, summer or monsoon, the Dal Lake is a must visit in the city of Srinagar. It stands as the Jewel of Srinagar, a visit to the city just won't be complete without it. With the views of the perfectly snow-capped mountains, the calm waters of the lake and the surrounding greenery, Dal Lake is the star attraction of the city. Experiences like boating in a shikhara or even staying in a houseboat shouldn't be missed as well. Many row boats surround the lake, in some areas, there are floating markets, with products such as fruits, ice cream, vegetables and flowers as well. Even more fascinating are the interior waters of the lake, wherein you can enjoy more tranquility and even observe the lives of the locals who reside near the lake.
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    Dal Lake (Image from Colin)
    • Nigeen Lake - For a less commercialised boating experience, you must visit the Nigeen Lake. It has the same activities like shikhara riding and houseboat staying but has relatively less crowds. It even has the same floating market, albeit smaller. It is, in fact, connected to the former lake by a narrow channel but can also be reached by road from the city centre. The beauty of the lake is that it is relatively cleaner, more serene and provides a different angle of the city. You can enjoy the bluish early morning rides, the yellowish noon ride or even the orange tinged sunset ride, your choice, no crowds would be there to ruin your mood.
    Gardens
    • Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden - A newer attraction opened in just 2007 is the Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden. However, this is a seasonal attraction, meaning the flowers of the garden only blooms a few months in a year. Preferably, you need to visit the garden around April, with the middle of the month being the most viable time. But most tourists visit the garden until May, because you might still be able to spot a few tulips by that time. The remaining months won't have flowers blooming so a visit during these months won't be recommended. At the peak of the blooming of the tulips, you would find various colours ranging from orange, to yellow, to red, to purple and many more. It is truly an amazing spectacle that kids would especially enjoy. The various shapes and sizes of the tulips are sure to leave you wanting more. For the photographers, there are many photo-perfect opportunities that you can find in here.
    • Nishat Garden - A garden so beautiful that even Emperor Shah Jahan wanted it for himself, the Nishat Garden is another can't be missed attraction in the city. It was Asif Khan, father-in-law of Emperor Shah Jahan, who built the 12-terraced garden. Each terrace has well-manicured lawns, flowers and trees that give an impressive natural beauty to the garden. Also not missing are the fountains, of which the 11th terrace has the most, 25 in total. With the nearby Dal Lake and the backdrop of the snow-capped mountains, the Nishat Garden would impress even the most stone-hearted individuals.
    • Shalimar Garden - Srinagar has a number of gardens which include the Shalimar Garden. This is considered as the largest Mughal garden of Srinagar. This garden was built by Emperor Jahangir for his beloved wife, Noor Jahan. Initially though, there stood a small cottage in the garden's location, which was built by former ruler, Praversena II, whom named the area, Shalimar, meaning Abode of Love. Such a befitting name and location for Jahangir's garden of love, the rest, as they say, is history. The Mughals have always been known for their grand gestures of love using architectural structures and the garden is no exception. From the wonderfully laid three terraces, to the central canal and the surrounding greenery, it's the best place for strolling with your loved one in Srinagar.
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    Shalimar Garden (Image from June)
    • Chashme Shahi Garden - This garden was built by Ali Mardan Khan, under the orders of Emperor Shah Jahan, as a gift for his son. Yes, it's the same Shah Jahan who built the iconic monument of love, the Taj Mahal, so you can't expect nothing less. It has the same features, a central water source along with three terraced gardens. However, the garden is best known for its natural water spring, which has the purest and most delicious water. The water even has a slight sweet taste to it that renders one speechless. During winter, the entire garden is covered with snow, which provides for a different landscape.
    • Badamwari Garden - Another must visit garden in Srinagar as it offers quite a different beauty. Lined with Badam trees, also known as almond trees, the garden looks very picturesque in blooming season. It is not located on the banks of the Dal Lake, as is with the other gardens, but rather on the more serene Nigeen Lake. Aside from the almond trees, you would enjoy the scent of fresh saffron and cinnamon barks. There is also an open-air amphitheatre where sometimes you can enjoy performances in.
    • Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden - Last on this section is the Jawaharlal Nehru Botanical Garden, dedicated to India's very first Prime Minister. Comprising of various plants and trees, this garden is a must visit for the botany lovers. All around the garden, you can enjoy the grand view of the surrounding hills. There's a central lake too, wherein you can enjoy boating activities in. Various fountains flank the many sides of the garden which add to its picturesque beauty. Colourful butterflies lend their presence too, which only makes the experience even close to nature.
    Wildlife
    • Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary - Located in the northwestern side of Srinagar is the Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary, about 22 kilometres away from the city centre. This is one of the lesser known attractions of the city but it does boast of the most pristine landscapes. A forest filled with coniferous trees, open grasslands and wide varieties of plants, the jungles here are quite thick. Residing in these jungles are large animals like leopards, Himalayan black bears, jackals and foxes. A hotspot for biodiversity, even bird species are abundant in the wildlife sanctuary. The drive through the sanctuary via battery operated car is very exhilarating and exciting. Aside from a wildlife safari, you can also indulge in trout fishing as sanctuary has a flowing river within it as well.
    Conclusion

    The tagline 'Paradise on Earth' is truly an understatement for Kashmir, including its capital, Srinagar. It is the place where verdant greens, snow-capped mountains, wispy surroundings, colourful flowers and beautiful people can all be found. If you love nature and all things related to it, a trip to Srinagar is therefore not a privilege, it's a necessity. Because this is the only city in India that can offer the natural beauty of what a paradise could be and who are we, mere humans, to decline? So good luck, enjoy your trip to Srinagar and bring home lots of memories you would cherish in your lifetime.

    :)
     

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