Srinagar, the summer capital of State of Jammu-Kashmir, lies in the Kashmir alley and is located on the banks of the River Jhelum. It is world-famous for its ethereal natural beauty, sparkling lakes, gorgeous gardens, houseboats, and traditional Kashmiri handicrafts, textiles, and furnishings. The place is also one of the largest producer and supplier of apples, dry fruits, and saffron in the country.
Therefore, here’s our list of top 10 tourist hotspots that you must see during your stay in Srinagar:
1. Dal Lake
Nicknamed as ‘Srinagar’s Jewel’, this magnificent lake is integral to tourism, fishery, and aquatic plant harvesting activities in the state. A major attraction of this lake is its floating gardens named ‘Rad’ which blossom with lotuses during July-August period. There are many well-equipped houseboats at lakeside where you can spend a day or more. The most common mode of transportation across this vast lake is wood-made ‘shikara’. Interestingly, many sellers also employ the shikaras to sell their vegetables, fruits, or flowers to the houseboat owners or tourists, staying here. More often than not, during the winter season the entire lake freeze and resembles a gigantic ice-skating rink!
2. Nagin Lake
Also known as, ‘Nigeen Lake’, this small lake is located close to the more famous Dal Lake. You’ll also find ‘shikaras’ and houseboats moving here. This place also offers several great sites for angling, if you are looking for some fishing action. Since, it is less crowded than Dal lake but equally photogenic, you might end up finding it more charming!
3. The Mughal Gardens
They are actually collection of three vast Mughal-era gardens present in Srinagar and reflect the grandeur of the Mughal period.
Also called as the ‘Garden of Spring’ is lies on the banks of the Dal Lake. A variety of flowering trees and majestic-looking Chinars inhabit its 12 terraces. These lush-green landscaped terraces almost touch the cold waters of the Dal Lake. Additionally, there are several water canals running down the middle of the garden area and these are never devoid of water, ever.
This 4-terraced beautiful garden also houses deciduous trees and fountains apart from its trademark water canals. There is pillared pavilion erected on the fourth terrace. Its pillars are made of black marble stone which are further decorated with exquisite designs etched on them.
It literally means the ‘Royal Spring’ in reference to the picturesque spring located on its topmost terrace. Initially built as a traditional Persian garden, this little garden was later modified to make it more accessible. This garden is also dotted with pretty flowering trees and regal Chinars.
4. Jawaharlal Nehru (Memorial) Botanical Garden
This beautiful botanical garden was built in 1969 and has the famous Chasme Sahi garden as its neighbor. This heavily wooded-region boasts of an impressive collection of many oak varieties. It is also home to over 1.5 lakh ornamental plants and you can also have a look at many rare Kashmiri tropical plants growing here.
5. Pari Mahal
It is actually a 7- terraced garden situated atop the Zabarwan mountain range. In the 17th century, Prince Dara Shikoh, the son of Mughal king Shah Jahan, built this picture-perfect garden on the ruins of a derelict Buddhist monastery in the honor of his teacher, Mulla Shah. This place was used as an observatory for astrology and astronomy studies.
6. Hazratbal Dargah
It is one of the most significant and highly revered mosques in India. This white domed Islamic shrine actually houses a hair of the prophet Muhammad. However, all women are prohibited from entering the main structure and have to keep their heads covered as a mark of respect. There are several shops outside the mosque’s premises where you can enjoy tasty non-vegetarian fare.
7. The Shankaracharya Temple
Lord Shiva is the chief deity of this temple which lies atop the Gopadari Hill in southern-eastern side of Srinagar. This age-old temple is one of the most significant Hindu shrines in the city.
8. SPS Museum
This museum was set up by and named after Shri Pratap Singh, the ruling Maharaja of erstwhile Jammu-Kashmir state, in 1898 AD. The museum houses over 70-thousand artifacts including coins, manuscripts, paintings, weapons, and sculptures. You will also find on-display many musical instruments, furniture goods, utensils, textiles, and rugs belonging to that period. This lesser-known museum lies outside the old city of Srinagar, on the banks of the river Jhelum.
9. Kashmir Government Arts Emporium
If you’re looking to buy fixed-price Kashmiri handicrafts and textiles, then you should definitely go to this place. It has an amazing collection of world-famous Pashmina shawls, Kashmiri baskets, handmade carpets, wooden statues, papier mache objects, and other exquisite items.
10. Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary
This well-known wildlife reserve is an abode to the Kashmir stag, an endangered red deer species in the world. It also contains several species of carnivores such as leopard, hill fox, and Indian jackal. The whole region is covered with wide range of Himalayan flora and trees. However, this sanctuary is situated on the outskirts of Srinagar’s heartland.
There are other tourist attractions here which are also worth a visit. You can visit the Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden, Kheer Bhawani temple, Jama Masjid, Wular Lake, Hamadan, and Hari Parbat hillock.
Welcome to Srinagar. Welcome to Paradise on earth!