Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir is a bustling city along the Jhelum river in the beautiful Kashmir Valley. Winters come with moderate snowfall which covers the roofs of the quaint houses in a serene blanket of white. Pleasant summer months are also an ideal time for a visit. Srinagar is known for its gardens, lakes, patches of marshy land and places of worship. Many Mughal style gardens are located around the Dal lake. Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh, Nehru garden and Chashmashi garden are a few notable ones. Well-tended lawns lined by blooming flower beds make a good picnic spot.
The Hazaratbal Mosque recognized by its exquisite white dome houses the Moi-e-Muqqadas believed to be the hair of prophet Muhammad. The 14th century Jamia Masjid has a capacity for 90000 people. Dedicated to Shiva is the Shankaracharya Mandir which also offers picturesque views of the Dal Lake.
Distinct elongated wooden boats known as the Shikaras are typical in Kashmir. Take a ride on a Shikara to visit Dal lake’s famous floating vegetable market. Himalayan ranges surrounding the city make it an ideal place for paragliding and trekking. Houseboats on the Dal Lake and Nagin lake are frequented by colourful Shikaras selling various things. One can also shop at Lal Chowk Ghantaghar and Sunday Market. Srinagar is well known for its rugs, soft Pashmina shawls and dry fruits. The streets often have vendors selling juicy barbecued meat pieces, popularly known as seekh-tuji. A steaming cup of kahwah which is spiced green tea perfectly complements the valley’s cool foggy weather.
Hazratbal Mosque: The beautiful domed mosque is made up of white marble and stands on the left bank of the Dal lake. It is architecturally outstanding and the atmosphere inside is blissful.
Shankaracharaya Temple: This amazing structure stands on a hill peak and is believed to be the oldest shrine in Kashmir. The view it provides is simply breathtaking. It houses persian structures dating back to Shahjahan’s time.
Pari Mahal: This palace built in classic Islamic style of architecture can be a delight for the history buffs. It stands right next to the Chashme Shahi Garden. It’s a piece of history sitting amidst nature and must be visited by the tourists who are interested in both.
Jama Masjid: It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Srinagar. This 600 year old mosque exudes serenity and beauty alike.
Makhdoom Sahib shrine: It attracts innumerable pilgrims every year who wants to pay tribute to Saint Hamza Makhdoom. One can visit this place to get soaked in spirituality.
Every inch of Srinagar is drenched in scenic beauty, The place is literally a paradise on earth. The beautiful Dal Lake situated amidst valleys presents a sight to behold. It has been a centre for various film shootings, and is a much visited site in Srinagar. One can go on shikara rides and stay in the beautiful houseboats, Nigeen lake is another popular location especially among the honeymooners. Wular lake, one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia has its own beauty and splendour. Photography enthusiasts can have a wonderful time clicking spellbinding pictures while aboard the shikaras and boats. Betaab valley named after the film “Betaab” that was shot here, is a popular picnic spot. The lush greenery adds to its beauty. Chatpal is a hidden beauty and is famous for its apple orchards and walnut trees. Some of the famous gardens in Srinagar that must be visited by the tourists are Mughal Garden comprising of Shalimar Bagh which was built by Emperor Jahangir for his beloved wife Nur Jahan, Nishat Bagh and Chashme Shahi. They are known for the tulip flowers, deodar trees, chinar trees, mesmerising fountains and lavish lawns. Other gardens include, the beautiful Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden, Nehru Garden and Badamwari Garden. Yusmarg, with its green pastures is one of the most surreal places in Srinagar and must be visited by the nature lovers. To explore the wildlife in Kashmir Valley one must head to Dachigam National Park
While visiting Srinagar one must try Kashmiri Wazwan. Some of the famous Kashmiri non-vegetarian dishes are; mutton rogan josh, gushtaba, rista, yakhni, chicken pulao, aab gosht, kashmiri style mutton ribs etc. vegetarians can try dum aalu, kashmiri saag, paneer chaman etc. Firni is the most popular dessert. And as for the beverage, one can replace desi chai with kashmiri kahwa.
While enjoying the Shikara ride on the Dal lake you can ask your shikara to be steered towards a beautiful island called Char Chinar which is covered with Chinar trees. It’s a perfect photography destination. Horse riding is one of the most common activities in Srinagar, and it is easy to hire a horse at Betaab Valley. Trekking is another activity that one can enjoy. During the months of November and March one can enjoy skiing on the frozen valley. One can get a panoramic view of the valley while paragliding.
Srinagar is not only for travellers, photographers and nature lovers but also it’s a haven for shopaholics. To buy Kashmiri clothing and handicraft items one must visit Zaina Kadal Road, Hand-knotted kashmiri rugs and carpets must adorn your living room floor, and to buy them visit Badshah Chowk. Buying beautiful kashmiri Pashminas should definitely be on your list and it can be bought from the same market. Lal Chowk is a favourite market among locals. The various shops are well stocked with Kashmiri clothes, Pashminas and handicraft items like Papier mache decorative boxes and vases, Copperware and Walnut wood items and beautiful crockery. Floating vegetable market has its own charm. Residency Road is famous for Dogra Jewellery, Kashmiri handicrafts, spices, dry fruits and tea. If you want to buy quality products at affordable prices do visit Fair Deal Shopping Complex. Polo view is another market that has almost everything that one would want to buy from Srinagar.