"Life is not always what one wants it to be, but to make the best of it as it is, is the only way of being happy." ~ Jennie J Churchill


Jammu and Kashmir

Srinagar is a city of great antiquity. This paradise vale reflects the moods of the changing seasons.

Srinagar is a city of great antiquity. This paradise vale reflects the moods of the changing seasons. Spring breathes life into a frozen world and the air is heady with the fragrance of a million flowers that bloom on trees, shrubs and creepers. Summer heightens the effect and autumn is poignant in its colours of warm introspection. Winter brings with it a blanket of snow. Sometimes the Dal Lake freezes and beneath a leaden sky, the aroma of roasted chestnuts, promise warmth and comfort.

Hari Parbat, Srinagar's 'Takht-i- Sulaiman' hill forms the backdrop to the city. The placid Jhelum flows through the heart of Srinagar and the houseboat-filled Dal and Nagin Lakes dominate the scene. From a tourist's point of view, a recommended initial exploration of Srinagar begins on board a shikara that follows its course through the heart of the city, past willow-shaded channels and canals, under bridges. Deep green rice fields and bridges across rivers, splendid Mughal gardens, water lilies and lotus. Lines of doongas are moored along the banks, homes of the boat people. Women sit at the prows, pounding grain or calling to each other. As a major artery, the river is punctuated at regular intervals by landing stages leading up to narrow labyrinth-like lanes which connect the streets beyond, so that there is a constant flow of activity between water and land. Homes, shops and schools, places of work and worship cluster around the waterfront. Roof gardens and orchards tumble over the river wall, and carved or latticed windows add a touch of timelessness.

Srinagar is the place for an aquatic sports enthusiast to try kayaking, canoeing, water surfing and angling.

Dal Lake
The jewel in the crown of Kashmir is eulogised by poets and praised by tourists. Dal Lake changes its moods through the day.

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Rock climbing

The lake can be viewed in its full grandeur by walking or cycling down Boulevard Road. It is divided in four parts by causeways known as Gagribal, Lokut Dal, Bod Dal and Nagin.

The fascination for houseboats led to the creation of a large number of luxurious floating hotels. Shikaras and houseboats vie for attention with their imaginative names. The increase in tourism has also had its downside. The Dal Lake shrunk to half its size, from 22 sq. km. to about 11 sq. km in 50 years, and is a reminder of the degradation in the Himalayan lake eco-system.

Wular Lake
The jade green waters swirl around a curious bubbling spring in the centre of the lake. Zaina Lank, a small picturesque island covered by the ruins of a mosque, adds to the beautiful setting of the largest fresh water lake in Asia.

Mughal Gardens
These gardens have their own magical charm in the sparkling ripples of cascading streams and fountains, limpid pools and airy pavilions. Laid out for the pleasure of the Mughal Emperors, they are ablaze with multi hued flowers and they astound the senses with their scents. Nishat borders the Dal Lake and was laid out by Asaf Khan, Empress Nur Jahan's brother. Chasma Shahi, the Royal Spring, with an illuminated garden, is the smallest. The spring from which it derives its name is credited with medicinal properties. Shalimar, the Abode of Love, was laid by Emperor Jahangir for his beloved Queen Nur Jahan and is the most famous of the three.

Nagin Lake
A paradise for an aquatic holiday, its waters are otherwise calm and peaceful. On the banks are a club, a bar and a tea pavilion.

Manasbal Lake
This small clear blue water lake is a bird watcher's paradise. Chirping birds amidst blooming lotuses. There is a small rest house, two huts and a cafeteria.

This mosque on the shores of the Dal Lake, houses one of the most sacred Muslim relics, a hair of Prophet Muhammad, brought here in 1700 AD by Khawaja Noor-ud-Din from Bijapur. On specific days in the year, it is shown to the faithful who gather in the courtyard.


Hari Parbat
According to legend, the hill grew out of a pebble dropped by the goddess Parvati when she wanted to crush a demon. The ruins of a fort, an imposing evidence of a historic past, crown it.

Shankaracharya Hill
A historic temple atop the hill on the site of the Takht-I-Suleiman, or throne of Solomon, provides a panoramic view of Srinagar's busy thoroughfares and shimmering blue lakes.

Khir Bhawani (25 km)
A marble temple with a gold plated dome stands here in the midst of a pool formed by spring waters.

Awantipur(29 km)
On the Srinagar - Anantnag highway, Awantipur has the ruins of two imposing temples built by its founder, King Awantivarman in the 9th century AD.

Achhabal (56 km)
Jahanara Begum, daughter of Shah Jahan, designed the Mughal garden with its cascading fountains and pavilions. Nearby is a trout farm for seed fish. There is a tourist bungalow and huts along with a cafeteria.

Part of the charm of Kashmir is staying in a floating houseboat. Houseboats are classified into different categories: deluxe, A, B and economy. Maintained in perfect condition they have electricity and an efficient plumbing system. The cheerful and often aesthetically decorated houseboats with colourful awnings and flower baskets are a unique experience.

There are also European style hotels, private guesthouses and tourist huts. The Boulevard is lined with hotels and restaurants to suit every budget. For information on tariffs, bookings and reservations you can get in touch with the Tourist Reception Centre at Srinagar.

How to Get There

Air : The nearest airport is about 25 km away in Badgam district. There are daily direct flights from Delhi. One can also fly in from Jammu.

Rail : The nearest rail head is at Jammu, which is 300 kms away. Road Srinagar can be reached by road from Jammu. The hill resorts of Kud, Patnitop and Batote fall en route. The 2.5 km long Jawahar Tunnel allows road access to Srinagar even in the winter. This 293 km long journey passes through very picturesque landscape.

Kashmir is a handicraft lover's delight with a rich variety of available crafts. There is great beauty in Kashmiri artefacts: papier mache, lacquered and painted in floral designs; wood carvings and screens; fine carpets in typical oriental designs; silks and woollen shawls embroidered in traditional paisley and crewel work. The bazaars of Srinagar are filled with handicraft stores, street vendors add their own colour. The J&K Handicrafts Corporation has a large display of handicraft items, carpets, etc. at the Government Arts Emporium, housed in what was once the British Resident's mansion.The rates of all articles here are fixed and the quality guaranteed.

Compiled by Puneet Sachdeva

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.