Kashmir has been called the Heaven of Earth, which is not just because of the fact that it is a part of the beautiful Himalayan mountain range, and the it is breath taking in it’s beauty. But also because of the wide range of holy places, serene lakes, markets, gardens, and much more.
One of the most popular towns in Kashmir is Srinagar, which is also the summer capital of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, which is the reason for it being one of the star attractions of tourists planning to visit Kashmir.
So, here are 30 of the places to visit and things to do in Srinagar
LAKES IN SRINAGAR
One of the prime attractions of Srinagar is the Dal Lake. Boulevard road in Srinagar, gives the best possible view of the Dal Lake. With a magnificent 18 sq. km, the Dal Lake is surrounded by the famous Mughal era gardens and parks, and is full of the famous houseboats, and floating markets.
The name given to the Dal Lake is the “Jewel in the crown of Kashmir”, which I would say is justified, and every tourist who visits the state of Kashmir, has come across the Dal Lake. It also happens to be the second largest lake in the state of J&K, first being the Wullar Lake.
In the far east of Srinagar, at the foothills of the Zabarwan Mountains, Nagin Lake. This lake flows, as it branches out of the Dal Lake. Covered by majestic willow, and many more kinds of trees, the lake offers a picturesque view of its surroundings.
There are many houseboats in this lake too, however these are more secluded and less crowded than the ones on the Dal Lake.
Wular Lake is located 50 km from the main Srinagar city. It is a lovely picnic spot and is known as largest freshwater lake in all of India. It spreads over a 200 sq km but this surface area is subjected to changes during the year.
Otherwise calm in its appearance, the lake is noted for the fierce winds that sometimes blow heavy currents. The deepest part of the lake is known as Mota Khon, the ‘Gulf of corpses’. It is said according to local folklore that the bodies of the people who were drowned in the lake are supposed to be washed to this place.
Swimming is not a very good idea here but the beauty of the lake sure attracts many to the spot for picnics and a wonderful time.
HOLY PLACES IN SRINAGAR
One of the most popular shrines of Srinagar, Dastgir Sahib in Khanyar, was burnt down in 2012. The shrine features extraordinary communal harmony and syncretism. Since Srinagar’s wooden buildings were used to meeting this fate, the shrine will no doubt rise beautifully from its ashes once again.
Pathar Masjid is a beautiful Mughal Era mosque made of stone, and built by Empress Noor Jahan in 1623. While the town of Srinagar is filled with wooden structures, the mosque stands as a memorial of the Mughal era.
The Pathar Masjid is located on the left bank of River Jhelum in Nowhatta area. The mosque’s surroundings are serene, giving a feeling of peace. Locals are usually here for a picnic, or sun bathing when the weather is nice.
After being reduced to ashes in 1620, it was rebuilt by Jahangir and Shah Jahan, the Jama Masjid is currently one of the most popular mosques in Srinagar. The most eye-catching feature of the masjid are the 378 pillars of devdar wood that hold up the wooden ceiling, beautiful in their uncarved simplicity. The courtyard is a pleasant space constituted by a central fountain, lawns, chinar trees and a backdrop of the Hari Parbat Hill.
Shankaracharya temple, is located on the Shankaracharya hill, also known as Takht-e-Suleiman, at an altitude of 1100 ft. above surface level of the main city. This Shiva temple is said to be the oldest shrine in Kashmir.
The temple, besides being a prominent religious place for Hindus, is also of great archaeological importance. The temple offers a magnificent panoramic view of the Srinagar city.
A beautiful white structure on the far bank of the Dal Lake, Hazratbal Shrine has an artefact that is believed to be Prophet Mohammed’s hair. It can be reached by a shikara on the Dal Lake or by road through the city.
Hazratbal Shrine is important because it holds a sacred artefact, a hair, of Prophet Muhammad, referred to as the Moi-e-Muqqadas. The story goes that the hair was brought to Bijapur by a descendant of the Prophet; his descendants, fallen on hard times, sold it to a Kashmiri businessman, Nurud- Din Eshai. Aurangzeb then seized it and sent it to the Ajmer Dargah but later restored it to the owner. The Moi-e- Muqqadas reached Kashmir in 1700 where Eshai’s daughter, Inayat Begum, built this shrine to house it.
9Kheer Bhawani Temple
The Kheer Bhawani Temple, Srinagar, is associated with the Hindu goddess Ragnya Devi, and it is a significant Hindu shrine. Jesht Ashtami is help here annually, when Hindus visit the place in large numbers to offer their prayers.
The temple is a highly revered place for the ancient followers of the Hindu Vedic Religion in Kashmir, the Kashmiri Pandits. There is a holy water spring in the temple, which is considered to indicate the fate of the state. They say that when the colour of the water spring changes to dark shades, it indicated an inauspicious time for Kashmir.
10Ziarati Hazrati Youza Asouph
The shrine of Yuza Asaf (Youza Asouph) in the Khanayar area of Srinagar is one of the most discussed and amazing shrines of the world. The shrine has graves of two holy men, Yuza Asaf and Mir Sayyid Naseeruddin (a local Muslim saint). It is popularly known as Roza Bal shrine. This shrine is unique as it is claimed by both Christians and Muslims. According to many accounts, Jesus settled in India after his resurrection and he was buried at the shrine of Roza Bal. Many claim that Yuza Asaf was not merely a holy man, but he was Jesus Christ. This has given the shrine prominence and a number of travelers, especially foreign tourists, visit this place each year.
11Makhdoom Sahib Shrine
The Makhdoom Sahib Shrine is a beautiful shrine located atop the Hari Parbat hill in Srinagar which is dedicated to the Muslim saint who helped spread Islam in the region. A must visit on your itinerary for its soulful ambiance and picturesque views, the shrine remains flocked with devotees all around the year.
The shrine of Shah-e-Hamdan or Khanqah-e-Moula is one of the oldest Muslim shrines in Srinagar. It is situated on the bank of the river Jhelum in the old city. Built in the year 1395 by Sultan Sikander in memory of the great Sufi saint Mir Syed Ali Hamdan, it is said to have contained the “secret of Allah”. The shrine however was reconstructed by Sultan Hassan Shah in 1493 after being ravaged by fire in 1480. Again in 1731 it was Abul Barkat who reconstructed to restore it from its damages.
13Masjid Of Akhund Mullah
Masjid of Akhund Mullah is a small mosque that lies below the shrine of Makhdoom Sahib in Srinagar. Many regard it as a mosque inside another mosque as the sanctum is present in a sprawling courtyard that surrounds the main building. Dara Shikoh – the eldest son and heir of Shah Jahan – constructed this shrine in remembrance of his teacher Akhun Mulla Shah.
It is built using grey limestone, which has a glossy texture that looks beautiful. A stone lotus with inscription adorns the podium of this Islamic shrine. The inscription dates back to 1649, which was the era of the Mughal Sultanate in the valley. The special prayer chamber is one of the highlights of this mosque.
Pandrethan is about 4 miles from Srinagar. It was originally an old capital of Kashmir, founded by Emperor Ashoka. The word is a corrupt form of `Purana`, meaning `old` and `adhishthan` meaning `capital`. There is now a military cantonment in the place. The chief attraction for tourists, is however a handsome stone temple, located not far from the road in a very low spring. The roof of the Pandrethan temple has been chiselled out from a single piece of stone, inventively carved.
The Pandrethan temple was built by Meru, minister to King Partha who ruled Kashmir from 921-931. The temple was dedicated to Lord Vishnu and was named Meru Vardhana Swami. The design and evidences illustrate that the temple must have been a popular seat of pilgrimage in ancient times. Pandrethan finds proud mention in the Amar Nath Mahatmva, but now has lost its sacred associations.
GARDENS AND PARKS IN SRINAGAR
Shalimar Bagh is a four-terraced garden with chinars and watercourses and an exquisite hill as its immediate backdrop. A prominent feature of the garden is the arched recesses behind the fountains. These recesses used to be lit with lamps, which gave the fountains a majestic look.
The garden is located at a distance of 15 km from the Tourist Reception Centre and covers an area of around 12.40 hectares (30.6 acres). An October visit among the flaming autumn chinars is perhaps even more desirable than the flowers in spring.
Nishat Bagh another garden, and is carved out of a hillside. It is made of 12 terraced levels, rich with magnificent old chinars and rows of flowers. It has a beautiful Mughal central water channel with several fountains. Seen from the top, the garden cascades down and reaches out to the Dal Lake.
Nishat Garden was commissioned by Nur Jehan’s brother Asif Khan in 1633. According to legend, Shah Jahan, Jahangir’s son, was so impressed by the garden that he expressed his appreciation thrice to Asif Khan in the hope of getting it as a gift but it was in vain. This led to a minor falling out between the two; for a while Shah Jahan actually turned off the water supply for Nishat, which came through his Shalimar.
Chashm-e-shahi, which means “royal spring” is another one of the three Mughal Gardens in Srinagar. It was Shah Jahan’s governor Ali Mardan Khan who built the small but perfect Chashm-e-Shahi Gardens on the slopes of the Zaberwan Hill in 1632.
The garden has a pavilion, and three terraces. It is famous for the natural spring that flows from it. The location provides a panoramic view of the city, because it is an elevated plane. The garden is at a distance of 9 kms from the Tourist Reception Centre.
Nehru Garden is another beautiful garden in Srinagar. On the Boulevard Street, the Nehru Park is one of the busiest places in the city. The view of the Dal Lake is magnificent from the park.
The Nehru Park is located on the foot of the Zabarwan mountain range. So to have some beautiful time amidst the beauty of nature, Nehru garden is the place you can go to.
19Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden
Easily one of the most popular tourist attractions of Srinagar is the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden. The Tulips in the garden only bloom for about 30 days in a year, usually between March and April, depending on the weather.
After just a 9km long soothing ride along the Dal Lake, driving south, the breath taking carving of 7 terraces of parallel rows of all the colors of Tulips begin. The Tulips here are also multi colored and hybrid.
To be thorough, visit the Harwan Gardens, which are not Mughal at all but a modern imitation. At the top lies the reservoir that feeds the authentic gardens which gets from Dachigam Nallah. A short walk to the left as you exit the gardens leads to the ruins of the 4th-5th century CE Buddhist site of Harwan Vihara. The great Nagarjuna was here and Kushana king Kanishka may have visited too. These gardens boast of lush green lawns perfect for strolling. Perfect for picnic, this place is quite inviting with its beautiful chinar tress and flowerbeds.
21Dachigam National Park
Situated amongst Himalayan Mountains, 22 km from Srinagar and spread over an area of 141 sq km is the Dachigam National Park. It home the endangered Hangul or Kashmiri stag, the area was previously a game preserve of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir.
Since 1910 the Park became a protected area, it has the catchment area for Harwan reservoir that supplies clean drinking water to the city. “Ten villages” is the literal meaning of Dachigam. In order to create the game preserve and the catchment area about 10 villages had to be repositioned. In particular the park possesses over 500 species of herbs, 20 shrubs and 50 different trees. The park varies in altitude and because of this it is distinguish into upper and lower regions and so has the vegetation.
This National Park is home to Leopards, Himalayan black bear, musk deer, Himalayan Grey Langue and many more. There is variety of birds too like Pygmy owlet, Himalayan Monal, koklas pheasant, Oriole, etc. The Park, because of it extreme height can be seen covered in snow during the winter season and during the summer is filled with flowers, especially blue poppy and grasslands. This significant reserve has so much to hold and to give at the same time.
MUSEUMS AND MONUMENTS IN SRINAGAR
Pari Mahal means ‘house of fairies’. Located in Srinagar, it is a majestic monument that is situated just above the Chashma Shahi Gardens. A short drive further, along the Zaberwan Hill, one would find the 6 massive terraces of Pari Mahal, all with amazing views. This ancient monument displays the amazing architecture of the medieval times. The monument is surrounded by a massive and beautiful garden.
This beautiful garden was commissioned by Mughal prince Dara Shikoh, and was originally intended as a retreat for Sufi scholars. It is a 5-minute drive from the Chashma Shahi Gardens and is a beautiful place that is a must visit on your trip to Srinagar.
The Parihaspora is located 24 kilometers away from Srinagar in the Karewa land on the Srinagar-Baramulla road. During the Dogra rule in their first period it was called ‘Paraspur’. Today it is also known as ‘Kane Shaher’, which means the city of stones.
The ruins of the Parihaspora Buddhist site is spread over three parts of the Karewa land that includes Kane Shaher which is the main stone structure, the Govardhan and the Budh Karewa. It is a major archaeological site in the city and attracts tourists from all over the world.
24Sri Pratap Singh Museum
Accessed by a footbridge across the Jhelum River, Sri Pratap Singh Museum was once the summer palace of the kings of Kashmir. It was converted into a museum in the year 1898. This richly endowed historical museum features Mughal paper products, traditional Kashmiri costumes and weaponry. Also, it preserves a huge collection of objects from the Jammu and Kashmir toshkhana (treasure trove). One of the famous things in the museum is the copper image of Buddha carved in the Gandhara architectural style.
Kathi Darwaza leads to the main entrance of the Hari Parbat Fort. The central domed chamber with two bays on each side make up the main part of this structure. You can see Persian inscriptions on the ceilings and walls of the gate that talk a lot about Persian customs and culture that were once followed by the Mughals. The Sangin Darwaza is another important and beautiful gate at this fort.
GENERAL HANGOUTS IN SRINAGAR
The view of the Dal Lake with the Shankar Acharya hill in its background is a memorable sight that you can enjoy from the Challi Point. It is also the starting point for the Shikara rides. Tourists can book a Shikara for the Dal Lake from here. Even if you want to spend some leisurely moments, this place will not disappoint you.
There are stalls scattered all over in the area selling seekh kababs and corn that you can enjoy, while you spend a relaxing evening at the Challi Point.
Yet another palimpsest holding layers of history, the Hari Parbat today seems to be all about a fort that the Afghan Shuja Shah Durrani had built in 1808, and is now used by the Indian Army. However, the area is sacred to both Hindus and Muslims and has several shrines of both faiths within. The most notable of these are the Ziarat (tomb) of Makhdum Sahib and the Masjid of Akhund Mullah built by Prince Dara Shikoh for his teacher. Located north-west of Shankaracharya Hill, the fort dominates the city.
Recently known spot, Doodhpathri has been an unbelievable spot which extends endlessly with the green meadows and the exotic flowers. About 50 km from Srinagar, this bowl shaped valley will surely bring a smile on your face and make your heart full. It is believed that shepherds from far places used to come to this land to graze their cattle because the cattle grazed in Doodhpatri produced high quality and quantity milk.
The name itself means “The Valley of Milk”. It is connected to another great valley, Gurez in its North. The unending carpet of grassland is a great spot for family picnics and functions.
This is another hill-station at an elevation of 12000 ft above the sea level. Sinthal top is gaining its popularity for the view it offers of the lowlands and for its peaceful, scenic nature. The top lies on the midway of the recently opened Anantnag-Kokernag-Sinthal-Kishtwar road.
Sinthan top is very elevated, most of the time the area is covered with a thick blanket of snow, so the recommended time to visit would be April- September. Sinthan Top offers the adventure lovers and the hikers a perfect spot to explore and feel the nature up close.
Yousmarg is beautiful places In Budgam district, about 47 km from Srinagar lays a hill station of Yousmarg or yusmarg. The pleasure of the place starts right from the time you are starting your journey up the hills. The view on the way seems like a photo shopped posters, the long stretching grassland and the hills covered with dense forests.
Also to heighten the beauty is the mountains with snow. Though it is less crowded, this place offers you to come across the nature more closely. It is a great spot for picnics and long hikes, you will fall in love with this place on you step on it.
These are only 30 of the places to visit in Srinagar. Now don’t be mistaken, there are many more, so, if any suggestions, or additions, drop a comment below.