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Srinagar:The Paradise on Earth

Famously known as ‘Heaven on Earth’, Srinagar is located in the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir, on the banks of river Jhelum. As picturesque as the most stunning painting to ever be painted, Srinagar is known for the stationary houseboats and colourful Shikararas on Dal Lake.

The gondola-type rowboats, Shikaras are used by the tourists to see attractions like the Floating Vegetable Market, and the Mir Bahris – a lively community of people who live on the lake itself. Known as the summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir, Srinagar is home to some of the most exquisite Mughal-age gardens in India, with the top draws being Nishat bagh,shalimar bagh and chashm-e-shahi garden. Kashmiri cuisine is famous all over the globe, so when in Srinagar, trying out the local dishes, which are rich in unique fragrant spices, is a must.

Heavy snowfall affects the connectivity of Srinagar during the winter months of December to February. Communal tensions also lead to frequent curfews in parts of the city. Make sure to check the situation before visiting.

Dal Lake

Dal Lake

Dal Lake is everything you could ask for in a hillside lake, and more. Considered the jewel of Srinagar, the beauty of this pristine lake, spread over 26 square kilometres, only grows around every corner. Be it the beautiful wooden houseboats drifting casually through the waters, the colourful Shikharas that cruise by with awestruck passengers, the floating markets at the crack of dawn, or the manicured lush gardens from the Mughal era along the shore, Dal lake is practically a representation of the Srinagar itself.

Srinagar has always been a pleasant place to visit in summer, therefore, making it one of the favourite places the Mughals and the Britishers liked to go during summer. One of its main attractions was the Dal Lake which was not left unnoticed. The Dal lake consists of four main char chinars in the middle of the lake which is a means of its recognition.

The Mughals saw the potential in the Dal lake and surrounded it with beautiful gardens and pavilions and also built the Shalimar and Nilshad Gardens exactly at a place where the beautiful outstretched lake can be seen in all its glory. The Britishers brought forward the concept of boathouses in the Dal Lake, which further promoted tourism to the lake. A tourist hub, one should not miss the pristine beauty of Dal Lake.

Mughal Gardens

Mughal Gardens

Mughal Gardens which have truly changed the face of the Mughal Empire is one of the most popular and the most visited tourist attractions of Srinagar. During their rule, the Mughals began to build several types of gardens in Persian architecture, and the combination of these gardens is referred to as the Mughal Gardens. The natural beauty of the place filled with lush green grass and the scented flowers is a stress-buster and pleasing to the eyes. The tourists who come here take long strolls in the garden or sit and admire the beauty of the place.

The Mughal Gardens in Srinagar comprise of Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh, Chashme Shahi, Pari Mahal, Achabal and Verinag Garden. The grandeur of the gardens is dedicated to Emperor Jahangir who always had an undying love for Kashmir. Jahangir was responsible for the selection of the site and planning the requirements of the paradise gardens. It is always a lot of fun in exploring the history behind these gardens. They follow a Persian style of architecture and have been influenced by the Persian gardens. Some typical features of Mughal Gardens which are a treat for its visitors include canals, pools and fountains. 

Nishat Bagh

Nishat Bagh

The Nishat Bagh in near Kashmir’s Dal lake is a 12 terraced garden filled with endearing flowers and beautiful trees. It is the second largest Mughal garden in the Kashmir Valley after shalimar bagh. It has a splendid Mughal central water channel with several fountains, which is surrounded by tall Chinar trees. The Bagh was designed and built in 1633 by Asif Khan, who was the elder brother of Nur Jehan. With the Zabarwan Mountains as its backdrop, Nishat Bagh is a garden of bliss that overlooks the lake beneath the snow-covered Pir Panjal mountain range to the west of the valley. The garden is very photogenic and attracts a lot of young couples and families.

Even though the layout of Nishat Bagh was based on the design of the Persian gardens, the actual landscaping of the garden was done in accordance with the terrain and water patterns unique to Kashmir Valley. The garden is sprawled over a vast area that gently ascends as one moves towards the interior of the garden.

A stream of standstill water divides the garden into two halves, and each level of the garden is marked by a raised embankment which has its collection of kaleidoscopic flowers waiting to be photographed. Lush green grass carpets the garden floor which is embellished with flowers of all conceivable colours and trees such as chinar, Cyprus and almond. You can catch a magnificent view of the dal lake as it looks over the sublime view of the Kashmir Valley. Today the Nishat garden is one of the historic and popular destinations of Srinagar valley.

Shalimar Bagh

Shalimar Bagh

Located in the sublime beauty of kashmir , Shalimar Bagh is a beautifully laid out garden which is the largest of the three Mughal Gardens in the valley. This pristine attraction was built in the year 1619 by the Mughal emperor Jahangir for his beloved wife Nur Jahan and lies overlooking the scintillating waters of the Dal Lake. The term ‘Shalimar’ is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘Abode of Love’ and is known by several other names such as Faiz Baksh, Farah Baksh and “Crown of Srinagar”. Exhibiting the exemplary craftsmanship of Mughals in horticulture, the place is quite popular with tourists from all over the world.

Sprinkled generously with well-trimmed gardens and exquisite architecture, Shalimar Garden is a gentle blend of natural allure and man-made structures. The entire premise is carpeted with lush green grass with endearing blossoms popping every now and then. Not only does the garden have a variety of blossoms, but it also has fruit trees such as almonds and walnuts. Currently, maintained and managed by Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department, the chini khanas or arched niches placed behind waterfalls are a highlight on this place. The light and sound show is organised in the evenings.

Shikara Ride

Shikara Ride

Hazratbal Shrine

Hazratbal Shrine

Considered to be the holiest Muslim shrine in the Kashmir Valley, the Hazratbal Shrine is a Muslim shrine that is located on the banks of the spectacular Dal Lake. Situated in Hazratbal in Srinagar, India, the shrine takes its name from the Kashmiri language, where Hazrat means ‘holy’, and the word bal stands for ‘place’. Hazratbal thus literally means the ‘Majestic Place’ and is particularly famous since it houses a relic known as the Moi-e-Muqqadas, which is believed by many Muslims of Kashmir to be a sacred hair of Prophet Muhammad’s beard. The hair has been preserved safely in the shrine and is brought before the general public only on specific occasions.

The shrine is thus considered to be sacred amongst the Muslims and attracts thousands of tourists to it from all across the country. In fact, the shrine is a symbol of the love and respect that the Muslims have for their Prophet Muhammad.

The Hazratbal Shrine was initially constructed as a pleasure house by Sadiq Khan. Later on, the place became a house of prayers and ultimately came to be used as a shrine. Known by multiple names such as Assar-e-Sharief, Madinat-us-Sani and Dargah Shari, the Hazratbal Shrine is a beautiful structure made of white marble.

Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden

Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden

Lines of tulip cultivation in every possible colour with a backdrop of the majestic Zabarwan Hills, is the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden and a view which one must not miss while in Srinagar.

Char Chinar

Char Chinar

Dal Lake is marked by an island which houses ancient and beautiful Chinar trees. Don’t forget to ask your Shikara to be steered in this direction to catch a view of this island.

Shankaracharya Temple

Shankaracharya Temple

The Shankaracharya Temple is a beautiful and mesmerising temple that is situated on the Gopadari Hills on the south-east of Srinagar at the height of 1,100 feet above the sea level. Built in the dedication of Lord Shiva, the temple is also known as the Jyesteshwara Temple or the Pas-Pahar by Buddhists and overlooks the entire magnificent city of Srinagar. The temple is visited by thousands of devotees every year, especially for worship and during the Amarnath Yatra. A visit to the Shankaracharya Temple is a must for anyone who wants to experience pure divinity and ecstasy and spend some time in blissful solitude.

The ancient temple is named after the great philosopher Shankaracharya who had visited the valley about ten centuries ago. Shankaracharya used to worship the Shiva Lingam, which is still found in the Sanctum Sanctorum of the temple. Information boards that are erected in and around the temple tell the visitor that Adi Shankaracharya attained spiritual knowledge at this particular place. It was after this enlightenment that he went out and formed the four Hindu schools of Advaita, or the philosophy of non-dualism.

The hill on which the temple is situated was initially known as Jetha Laraka, and then later on renamed as Gopadari Hill. The structure of the Shankaracharya temple is constructed on a high octagonal platform that is approachable by a flight of steps. The architecture and style of construction of the entire temple are quite charming. In fact, it is built in the traditional style of architecture that prevailed in those times, and this is precisely why the Shankaracharya Temple is a fascinating place for religious devotees as well as architecture students alike.

Wular Lake

Wular Lake

One of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia, the pristine beauty of Wular Lake is in Bandipora district in the Indian state of jammu and kashmir. The majestic lake has a breathtaking view and attracts a huge number of visitors around the year. Wular Lake’s basin was formed as a result of tectonic activity, due to which the area covered by the lake varies throughout the year, a phenomenon which is unique to this destination. The lake, calm in its appearance, is known for the fierce winds that sometimes blow heavy currents all through its way. However, when the waters are serene and collected, this destination plays host to a number of events such as boating, water sports and water ski.

A favourite picnic spot among locals and tourists alike, Wular Lake is replenished by the water of the mighty Jhelum river and is one of the 26 wetlands of india. This attraction is the perfect place to sit back and revel in the beauty of nature away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The beautiful landscape of the lake is one of the major for garnering huge amount tourists. A walk around the lake is very peaceful and uplifting, and when you’ve had enough of walking you can explore the place by hopping on a boat and peddle your way through the waters.

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