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Srinagar is the summer capital of the erstwhile state and now India-administered Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. Touted as the “Venice of the East”, Srinagar is geographically located in the Kashmir Valley on the banks of the Jhelum river. The city can woo nature lovers and can attract them like a magnet as the city is studded with picturesque lakes, gardens, waterfronts, and houseboats. Let us then take you to a guide-like experience that will guarantee you to start packing your bags and plan your next memorable tour.
Srinagar is one of the crowned locations for tourism, which is guarded in the north by Ladakh (another Union Territory) and Ganderbal, while in the south it has the famous Pulwama district and north-west by Budgam. As it is situated in a valley, it has an elevation of 1,585 meters above sea level.
There are quite a few places that are a paradise for the tourists with the likes of Dal and Wular Lake, Shalimar Bagh, and Baramulla while staying in those exotic houseboats, and taking a Shikara ride is sure to help you feel the fresh air of this summer capital!
Srinagar also has it for all the foodies reading this. Meat lovers can swim their taste buds in the delightful rogan josh, matschgand, and shab daigs of the world, while your lunch is sorted by Modur Pulav (sweetened Kashmiri rice). Your bedtime blues can be easily driven away by the savoury Bakharkhani (naan served with a spicy side dish). Feeling cold? Then Noon chai and Kahwah (localized versions of pink tea and green tea respectively).
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You surely don’t want to be hooked up to your hotel TV and mouth-watering delicacies served at your convenience, right? And definitely, you aren’t that last-minute decision-maker to plan your itinerary. So, why not look at where you can take a deep dive into as you step out of your backyard in Srinagar, and more so, in Kashmir:
Undoubtedly, the first and foremost one shall visit is Dal Lake. Irrespective of whom you ask about the best places to visit in Srinagar, Dal Lake will be, hands down, the unanimous answer. You might wonder why. Well, known to be “The Jewel of Srinagar”, Dal Lake is spread across 26 sq. km which can make your awestruck your mind, spell bounding your thoughts, thanks to the wood-studded houseboats, colourful Shikaras with bright canopies overhead. While the houseboats offer overnight accommodation, both single rooms, and luxury suites, simply seeing it over will ensure it has a lasting impression in your mind’s eye. And if you get to visit in winter, make sure to try out skating on the frozen lakes just in case you are tired to try out in your city’s virtual ones!
If the sense of serene greenery and sleeping into laps of nature is your thing, this place must be one of those childhood checkboxes you don’t want to miss ticking off. We all adore how Shah Jahan dedicated the Taj Mahal to his wife, on similar lines this garden is the gift from Jahangir to his beautiful wife, Noor Jahan back in 1619. In the backdrop of Dal Lake, the surreal architecture of the Mughal horticulturists carpeted with green grass and varieties of colourful flowers and walnuts will surely hold you back for some time.
Kashmir is rich with traditions that play a huge role in spirituality. Considered as the holiest Muslim shrine in Kashmir, Hazratbal Shrine is an architectural marvel of white marble and is the only domed mosque in Srinagar. The silvery-white mosque houses a relic known as Moi-e-Muqqadas which is believed to be a sacred hair of Prophet Muhammad's beard. The hair is brought before the public only on specific occasions. Make sure to attend the pious weekly prayers offered every Friday which will help you pacify your mind.
How often have we not come across theories about Lord Shiva and his residence in the Himalayas? Well, may not be His exact residence, but definitely, this temple located on the Shankaracharya hill dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is considered the God of destruction as well as meditation. If religious scriptures are to be believed, Adi Shankaracharya attained spiritual enlightenment at this place and it was after this enlightenment that he went out and formed the four Hindu schools of Advaita, or the philosophy of non-dualism and if your adrenalin can help you walk up 243 steps, then from the top you can take a breath-taking glance of the valley below. So, this place should surely be of your best places to visit in Srinagar, the next time you plan a trip here.
If you went to Mughal Gardens, how can you afford to miss out on this? A natural spring commissioned by Shah Jahan for his son, Dara Sikh way back in 1632, Chashme Shahi houses a well-manicured triple terrace garden and a two-storied hut positioned atop, showcasing the brilliance and cutting-edge nature of Persian architecture. Make sure to pay a visit here only during the October-June period which is considered the most ideal according to travel specialists.
The world-famous Aru Valley should be on the top of your list once you land up in Srinagar. While the place is studded with activities for all sorts of enthusiasts, Tarsar Marsar Trek is one experience you don’t want to miss. If by chance, trekking is not your thing, it also offers its visitors ample opportunities for camping, fishing, and princely horse riding. Situated in the Anantnag district, the place is open round the clock, and tourists prefer the months of September-November to visit this place.
Visiting Kashmir and restricting yourself to Dal Lake will be a serious injustice to your travel plans. To spice it up, Nigeen lake is your answer. Situated on the eastern side of Srinagar, it is separated from the all-famous Dal lake by a narrow causeway. Popularly named “The Jewel in the Ring”, this lake is just the place where your mind can breathe the calmness and rejuvenate itself like nothing else. Propelling thrill and fun-seekers from age of 8-80, this enticing destination is suitable for various water activities including swimming, sailing, water skiing, and a lot more. On the right, one can find a tea pavilion and a bar for visitors. Sipping a cup of mesmerizing Kashmiri tea would not be a bad idea, isn’t it?
While we have talked at length about nature lovers, how can animal lovers be kept away? Located 22 km north of the main city, this national park is considered India’s most elevated forest reserve at an altitude of 1700m to 4300m above sea level and is spread over a sprawling and jaw-dropping 141 sq. km. The word Dachigam transcends to “ten villages” and with some of the beautiful flora and rarest fauna.
If you have gone out in the markets and have not heard a hue and cry about Kashmiri apples in winter, then definitely you are an alien! Jokes apart, when you are at the source of this natural sucrose which boasts a whopping 80% of national apple supplies, you would be silenced by the sweeping beauty that awaits in these lush green orchards, free-flowing rivers, and loveable locals who protect these.
A place which will just provide me with the summary and cheat sheet of what Kashmir and especially Srinagar looks like, this top is found in the mountain pass in the Pir Panjal mountain ranges, along the National highway of Kokernag-Sinthan Top-Kishtwar Road. The only cons of this place are that is not widely inhabited by locals and it’s mostly local shepherds here who come to rear their sheep and thus it provides the best spot to set up overnight tents. Up for camping folks?
Srinagar, honestly speaking can attract tourists from any point in the globe with its houseboats and shikaras of the Dal Lake as we have spoken at length before. And if you are a foodie, at least just like me, you would not have options but to fall in love, so while you are distributing time across for your Srinagar sightseeing itinerary, make sure your stomach does not beg for attention.
If you are a sports junkie, and golf is your forte, do pay a visit to the Kashmir golf course which is spread across a sprawling 52-acre. It is a full-fledged 18-hole golf course that is set against a picturesque backdrop, sure to make you go gaga over it. Well, just like the best time to visit Srinagar is around the summer where you will meet fewer snowfalls and avalanches, this golf course, according to travel pundits remains mostly open from April to November period.
If skiing, shikara rides, and trekking are all you thought that Srinagar offers, then please hold your breath. Jumping from one mountain to another through the famous Gulmarg Gondola, Asia’s largest and world’s second-highest cable car project would make your travel even more memorable. It is divided into 2 phases, namely:
· Phase I: from the Gulmarg resort to Kongdori Station (2600 m) in the bowl-shaped Kongdori valley which takes 9 minutes to reach.
· Phase II: from Kongdori Station to Kongdori Mountain (3747 m), the shoulder of Apharwat Peak which takes 12 minutes.
While much has been said about where to go and what to do, your pocket matters a lot to us. If you have got that extra penny to spend, thanks to an elongated house arrest owing to virus spread, then we have that in mind. If you just want a revenge trip to beat the blues, no worries, we have got you covered. Let’s see one by one:
Missing your gang? We heard you! With an exotic stay at the California houseboats and roaming around guided trips to Sonmarg, Gulmarg, and Srinagar, this is a trip which you want to capture through your eyes and make it worth the while. Shelling out INR 18,800 per person would guarantee you the refreshing experience you were looking out for!
When was the last time you spent quality time with your loved ones? Long back, isn’t it? With every tip of luxury at your service, and a cost of INR 29,500 per person, you can guarantee an 8D-7N trip to Srinagar and the suburbs, and moving from your place to the airport and vice versa is all that you need to worry about!
Moving alone? Gift yourself that much-needed “me-time” with a cost of INR 21,000 which can seal the deal for a 6D-5N trip to this marvel, which is no less than those inside offers to Europe. If you don’t believe it, I said it right, it’s this much free-floating!
Want to make your first trip post marriage special? Or want to celebrate the anniversary with your spouse? On a twin sharing basis, if you are opting for a flight from Bengaluru, and want to spend an extended weekend with places like Dal Lake, Shankaracharya temple, Shikara ride, and Gondola ride with a visit to Mughal gardens, famous Lal Chowk, then shelling out INR 21,800 is all that you have to do.
While Srinagar itself is in the valley region, this is not the only valley that can excite you as you visit there! Let’s chart it down for you the valleys you can run away to before you return to your very own backyard:
Located near the anticipated Indo-Pak borders, this valley can offer you an illustrious view of the Pir Panjal range, with beautiful lakes and alpine meadows, and mountains. It is also home to seven lakes and waterfalls and is considered one of the most beautiful valleys in Kashmir.
Considered as the “Land of Aryans”, it is formed by the famous Hindukush mountains in addition to the river Indus and essentially attracts visitors from every part of the world. It is also a place where you can treat yourself and your pair of eyes to a variety of floras.
As the name suggests, your heart will long for this valley to be visited, it is surrounded by snow-clad mountains and dense vegetation thus offering an entry to the shrine of Amarnath. Don’t miss the lakes of Baisaran and Tullian before you leave the place!
What’s in the name? As much as the name is scary, the land is equally beautiful. Located again near one of the forward posts of LOC (Line of Control) around Indo-Pak borders, it opened the gates for the visitors off-late and a short visit won’t be a bad idea.
Snow and more snow is all that you get here. The river Dudh Ganga attracts all tourists amidst its enchantments. Do make sure to walk through the flower-strewn meadows on the bank of the river before you walk out!
While this might be a tough dilemma, but if you consider safety over the scenery, then anytime between September and November would be ideal as you will get to see and feel both warmth and chills of early winter (specifically Autumn given its rich flora and fauna).
Apart from Shikara rides and the cable car experience in Gondola, one can help the kids swim around the beautiful Mughal gardens and make them fall in love with the devotion and spirituality that the varied culture offers.
Diversity. Warmth. Memories. That’s Srinagar for you! It has food, lakes, religious places, activities so I’m pretty sure that Srinagar will keep you busy and will ensure why you should keep coming back here again and again as the place speaks for itself. It echoes magnificence which is no short of being splendorous.
In a nutshell, Srinagar has more than what you can imagine. It can fulfil every end of your “travelicious” mind without burning a hole in your pocket. Easily accessible and a plethora of options to reach in the place adds to one of many reasons why Srinagar is your place to be. We have tried to inoculate every aspect of Srinagar in this article, so make sure you’re checking this in length again to save you from making note of what to do when you’re in Srinagar. Happy day!
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