In the seventeenth century the Mughal Emperor Jahangir set his eyes on the valley of Kashmir. While living in a houseboat on Dal Lake he said "Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast." If there is ever a heaven on earth, it is here, it is here it is here.The beauty of Kashmir is unparalleled and the valley boasts of many places to visit for sight-seeing and is a traveler’s delight. There are many places to visit in the three regions; Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
This is a blog series of the various places that one must see in this heavenly state. In Part 1 of this series, we will focus on the Srinagar region of Kashmir Valley, the many beautiful places you must visit in the summer capital of the state.
1. Dal Lake The urban lake, which is the second largest in the state, is integral to tourism and recreation in Kashmir and is named the "Jewel in the crown of Kashmir" or "Srinagar's Jewel". The lake is also an important source for commercial operations in fishing and water plant harvesting.
2. Nigeen lake Leading from the Dal is the smaller Nigeen Lake, which is usually thought of as a separate lake, is also divided from Dal Lake only by a ramp. The ramps are mostly suitable for walkers and bicycles only so they make a very pleasant way of seeing the lake without having to worry about traffic or Shikara.
3. Mansbal Lake is stated to be the deepest lake (at 13 m or 43 ft depth) in India. The lake is a good place for bird watching as it is one of the largest natural stamping grounds of Aquatic birds in Kashmir and has the sobriquet of "supreme gem of all Kashmir Lakes”. The rootstocks of lotus plant which grows extensively in the lake are harvested and marketed, and also eaten by the local people.
4. Shalimar Bagh is a Mughal garden linked through a channel to the northeast of Dal Lake, on its right bank located near Srinagar. Its other names are Shalimar Garden, Shalimar Bagh, Farah Baksh and Faiz Baksh. The Bagh was built by Mughal Emperor Jahangir for his wife Nur Jahan, in 1619. The Bagh is considered the high point of Mughal horticulture.
5. Nishat Bagh is a terraced Mughal garden built on the eastern side of the Dal Lake, close to Srinagar. It is the second largest Mughal garden in the Kashmir Valley. The largest in size is the Shalimar Bagh. ‘Nishat Bagh’ literally means the "Garden of Joy," the "Garden of Gladness" and the "Garden of Delight."
6. Tulip Garden (Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip garden) is the largest Tulip garden of Asia spread over an area of about 12 hectares. It is situated on the foothills of Zabarwan Range with an overview of picturesque world famous Dal Lake. The tulip blooms in the early spring form an eye attraction for all those who love nature and its many colors.
7. Floating Market The floating market, bazaar takes place every day from 4am to 6am on the famous Dal Lake. It is a wholesale vegetable, fruits and flower market where the selling and buying takes place from one boat to another. It is where the farmers bring their products and vegetable sellers buy them to be sold in the market.
8. Chashme Shahi (the royal spring), also called Chashma Shahi, is one of the Mughal gardens built around a spring by Ali Mardan, a governor of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, in 1632. The garden is located in the Zabarwan Range, near Raj Bhawan (Governor‘s house) overlooking the Dal Lake.
9. Pari Mahal or The Fairies' Abode is a seven terraced garden, located at the top of Zabarwan mountain range over-looking city of Srinagar and south-west of Dal Lake. The architecture depicts an example of Islamic architecture and patronage of art during the reign of the then Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It is five-minute drive from Cheshmashahi, Srinagar.
10. Hari Parbat (Koh-e-Maran) is a hill overlooking Srinagar. It is the site of a Durrani fort, built in 1808. It has the famous Shakti Temple on the western Slope and Muslim shrines of Khwaja Makhdoom Sahib and Akhund Mullah Shah on the southern slope. On the southern side of the outer wall there is a Gurudwara, which commemorates the visit of Guru Hargobind.
11. Badamwari is located in downtown Srinagar. It is one of the prettiest sights to see in spring where the Almond trees are in full bloom. Situated on foothills of Koh-e-Maran, the 300 kanals garden is dotted with trees, flowers and cascades providing a soothing experience to the visitors. This is for all the nature lovers, a place which can’t be missed in the blooming spring of Kashmir.
12. Hazratbal Shrine Hazratbal Mosque is the most important Muslim Religious place, situated on the western shore of Dal Lake. Its pristine white marble elegance is reflected in the waters of the lake. The history of the shrine goes back to the early seventeenth century when the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's Subedar, Sadiq Khan, laid out a garden here & constructed a palatial building, Ishrat Mahal or Pleasure House in 1623. However, the Emperor, during his visit in 1634, ordered the building to be converted into a prayer House with some additions & alterations.
13. Kheer Bhawani is a temple dedicated to the Goddess Kheer Bhawani (originally just Bhawani) constructed over a sacred spring .The worship of Kheer Bhawani is universal among the Hindus of Kashmir. The temple is situated at a distance of 14 miles east of Srinagar near the village of Tula Mula. The term kheer refers to rice pudding that is offered in the spring to propitiate the Goddess, which became part of the name of the temple. As is the custom with Hindu deities, she has many names: Maharagya Devi, Ragnya Devi, Rajni, Ragnya Bhagwati, and so on.
14. Shankaracharya Temple also known as the Jyesteshwara temple or Pas-Pahar by Buddhists is situated in the Zabarwan Mountain in Srinagar, Kashmir. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is on the summit of the same name at a height of 1,000 feet (300 m) above the plain and overlooks the city of Srinagar.
15. Dachigam National Park is located 22 kilometer from Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. It covers an area of 141 square kilometers. The name of the park literally stands for "ten villages" which could be in memory of the ten villages that were relocated for its formation. The park has been a protected area since 1910, first under the care of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir and later under the observation of the concerned government authorities. It was initially created to ensure clean drinking water supply for the city of Srinagar. It was finally upgraded and declared a National Park in the year 1981.
16. Jamia Masjid of Srinagar is situated at Nowhatta, in the middle of the old city. An important mosque was built by Sultan Sikandar in 1400 AD, under the order by Mir Mohammad Hamadani, son of Shah Hamdan RA. Later, the son of Sultan Sikandar, Zain-ul-Abidin got the mosque extended. The attractions of the Jamia Masjid of Srinagar include beautiful Indo-Saracen architecture, a magnificent courtyard and 370 wooden pillars. Another feature of the mosque is the peace and tranquility inside it, standing out against the hustle of the old bazaars around it.