Kashmir Portal

A digital Kashmir Info Network

Srinagar (Summer Capital of Jammu & Kashmir)

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 5, 2009

Srinagar is the summer capital of the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, India.

Srinagar Srinagar.ogg pronunciation (help·info) (Dogri: श्रीनगर; Kashmiri: श्रीनगर, سِرېنَگَر ; Urdu: شرینگر), is the capital of the northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir that is situated in India. It is situated in Kashmir Valley and lies on the banks of the Jhelum River, a tributary of the Indus. The city is famous for its lakes and houseboats. It is also known for traditional Kashmiri handicrafts and dry fruits. It is also the headquarters of Srinagar district.

Origin of name

Etymologically Srinagar is composed of two Sanskrit words, namely, Sri (meaning abundance and wealth) and Nagar, which means a city. Thus, the word Srinagar signifies a place of wealth and abundance. Sri is also the name of a goddess Lakshmi of Hindus.

A legend, as incorporated in Nila’s Nilmatapurana, states that the Kashmir valley was a vast lake. A Hindu sage named Kashyapa drained out the water, and there emerged the beautiful valley of Kashmir.

The city has become safer to travel since 2003, however the streets are still lined with armed soldiers. Any building of value will also have a sandbag bunker and razor wire for protection. If arriving from the airport, you will also notice hundreds of large, Western style vacation homes. These were built before the current conflict when domestic travel to Kashmir was booming. Currently most of these homes are empty, being squatted in or have been usurped for military use. Most people visit the city in the summer months. The temperature at this time is cool to pleasant. Light sweaters may be needed for occasional cool nights in the summertime. In winter, you will need full winter gear and expect snow and few places to have hot water.

SeeNishat Bagh

  • The Mughal Gardens. With terraced lawns, cascading fountains, paint-box-bright flowerbeds with the panorama of the Dal in front of them – the three Mughal Gardens of Chesmashahi, Nishat and Shalimar are the Mughal Emperors’ concept of paradise and are today very popular places for picnics and excursions. The beauty of these gardens is at their best during spring but the Mughal structure of these gardens lends them a unique sense of beauty even when the flowers are not blossoming.
  • Nishat Bagh. Situated on the banks of the Dal Lake, with the Zabarwan Mountains as its backdrop, (11 km. from TRC), this ‘garden of bliss’ commands a magnificent view of the lake and the snow capped Pir Panjal mountain range which stands far away to the west of the valley. Nishat was designed in 1633 AD by Asaf Khan, brother of Nur Jehan.
  • Shalimar Bagh, the Moghul garden in front of the Dal lake built by Emperor Jahangir.
  • Chashmashahi is another beautiful Moghul garden.
  • Hazratbal Mosque, the white mosque is breathtakingly beautiful but be careful, as women can enter only the first part of the mosque. Shalimar Bagh

Shalimar Bagh

  • Ziarati Hazrati Youza Asouph, in the Khanyar area, about 150 meters NW of Dastgir Saheb mosque & shrine. This tomb, also known as Roza Bal, is believed by some to be the tomb of Jesus (part of the larger theory that he survived the crucifixion and made his way to Kashmir where he lived until at least the age of 100). It has been made popular by recent books such as Jesus Lived in India by Holger Kersten among others. It’s down a little side road – ask around, pretty much anyone in the area can point you in the right direction.
  • Shankaracharya Mandir, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva on a hilltop. It can be reached by a car or taxi. For security reasons, no cameras or cellphones are allowed within the temple and you are supposed to leave them in the vehicle before entering the temple premises. Cigarrates, liquor are to be deposited with the police personnel before the ascent of the hill as these items are against Hindu religion.

DoShikaras in Dal Lake

All the hotels organize excursions (1, 2, 4 days) to see the Himalayan mountains. Beside that package tours by JKTDC can be a good option.

Shikaras in Dal Lake

Go for a Shikara ride in the Dal lake which costs around Rs. 150 (off season) – Rs. 500 (peak season) for the whole Shikara. For better views and a more peaceful ride in an area devoid of other tourists, walk up a fair bit of distance till you can see the fountain and ask the Shikara rider to take you for a ride to the fountain. It costs Rs. 300 (off season) – Rs. 600 (peak season).

Buy

  • You can buy nice leather products, or jewellery. Cashmere (Pashmina) shawls have been manufactured in Kashmir for thousands of years. Pashmina Shawls are very popular items for sale in the Valley, but make sure to test the quality before purchasing. The test for a quality pashmina has been warmth, feel and the passing of the shawl through a wedding ring. Secondly, the weave pattern on a good Pashmina is fainter than on a “silk Pashmina” or other wool Pashmina.
  • You can also buy embroidered felt mats called Namdahs but the colours of the wool may be a bit too bright in most shops. The Government Emporia supplies might be better than the other private shops.
  • There are also chainstitch rugs in two styles – English design or Kilim design – it will be evident what is meant when you see them.
  • Carpets.
  • Paper Machie products are also quite unique to Kashmir with colourful motifs and design on them.

SleepHouseboats in Dal Lake at night

Houseboats in Dal Lake at night

Srinagar is popular for its houseboats, which DO NOT float around the lake, but are anchored off-shore. It is a great and unique way to enjoy your stay in the city. Houseboats are accessible either by road,or by a short “Shikara” boat ride. Each houseboat usually has 2-5 bedrooms plus bath, dining room, living room, upper deck (good for sunbathing).

Many travelers tell stories of bad experiences while staying on a houseboat, others enjoy their stay greatly. To avoid bad experiences do not pre-book a houseboat before arriving. With the security situation, the majority are empty and you should be able to get a better price in person, and to get a better feeling of if you’ll like the place and the owners. Boats with land access have the advantage of allowing you to leave if you feel uncomfortable, or just like going for a walk, although they tend to be noisier.

There are houseboats on Dal Lake and Nagin Lake. These can cost anything from Rs. 1000 (March 2008) – Rs. 5000 depending upon the time of the year. Houseboats on Nagin lake upscale and more expensive but are much more beautiful, and the Nagin lake location is serene. Price on Nageen Lake per person in September 2005 was 500 rupees per night including 2 meals. Expect to pay up to 3,000 for a couple on the deluxe boats. Boats on the Jhelum river are cheaper yet, but still comfortable, and close to the bus station, good if you are just transiting Srinagar to or from Ladakh.

Be sure to take a 1 hour boat tour of the lake inlets to get a nice glimpse of life and wildlife along the lake. Its averaged at about Rupees 300 to 500. A few areas are geared up for attracting tourists, but most much of the area is still untouched.

There are a wide range of hotels around Dal Lake. Prices vary from Rupees 500 to 5,000.

  • Hotel Ishfan, Kohnkhan, Dalgate, Srinagar. Mid-range hotel with double room starting at Rs. 2500. In off-season, rooms can even be bargained upto Rs. 400. The in-house restaurant serves delicious North Indian food as well as chicken delicacies.
  • Blooming Dale:Another place at Dalgate(centre of Srinagar) near Dal Lake is neat small place suitable for families and individuals.
  • Young Bombay, A houseboat in the middle of the Dal Lake, in the Golden Lake part (close to the Boulevard). Actually a complex of several boats of various classes, from deluxe to C, in attractive price classes. Spacious rooms with bathrooms, lake views, cable TV, Internet, original Kashmiri cuisine and European food prepared by the owner’s family. You could sometimes encounter the owner, Mohammed Gossani, on the lakeshore, or contact him at youngbombay@yahoo.com or myspace.com/houseboat_srinagar for advance reservations and airport or bus station pickups. Particularly many French tourists, with the charismatic long-term French resident Victoria taking care of good conversation.
  • New Shaheen, A house boat at Raj Bagh Ghat is a luxury and economical and as well as serene for those who wish to stay in house boat yet far from noisy area.In off season you can bargain upto Rs.600 for a double room with breakfast and dinner inclusive.So for those of you who wish to stay economically be sure to visit this place,a family with beautiful and smiling faces will serve you.Ph no
  • Butt’s Clermont Houseboat, One of the best addresses in the valley: the secluded northwest edge of Dal Lake. Butt’s houseboats have had some VERY famous guests, including Ravi Shankar, Galbraith, Rockefeller, and Yehudi Menuhin!

House Boat Taj Mahal: A very beautiful House Boat located offshore in the open area of Dal Lake gives a perfect view of mountains and the life around in the lake. Owner Mohd. Yaseen Dangola is very helpful and can be reached at 0091-9419061672/0091 (0) 194-2480271

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