Srinagar is the largest city and the summer capital of the Indian administered state of Jammu and Kashmir. It lies in the Kashmir Valley on the banks of the Jhelum River, a tributary of the Indus, and Dal and Anchar lakes. The city is famous for its gardens, waterfronts and houseboats. It is also known for traditional Kashmiri handicrafts and dried fruits.
The city is located on both the sides of the Jhelum River, which is called Vyath in Kashmir. The river passes through the city and meanders through the valley, moving onward and deepening in the Dal Lake. The city is famous for its nine old bridges, connecting the two parts of the city.
There are a number of lakes and swamps in and around the city. These include the Dal, the Nigeen, the Anchar, Khushal Sar, Gil Sar and Hokersar.
Hokersar is a wetland situated near Srinagar. Thousands of migratory birds come to Hokersar from Siberia and other regions in the winter season. Migratory birds from Siberia and Central Asia use wetlands in Kashmir as their transitory camps between September and October and again around spring. These wetlands play a vital role in sustaining a large population of wintering, staging and breeding birds.
Hokersar is 14 km (8.7 mi) north of Srinagar, and is a world class wetland spread over 13.75 km2 (5.31 sq mi) including lake and marshy area. It is the most accessible and well-known of Kashmir’s wetlands which include Hygam, Shalibug and Mirgund. A record number of migratory birds have visited Hokersar in recent years.
Birds found in Hokersar—Migratory ducks and geese which include brahminy duck, tufted duck, gadwall, garganey, greylag goose, mallard, common merganser, northern pintail, common pochard, ferruginous pochard, red-crested pochard, ruddy shelduck, northern shoveller, common teal, and Eurasian wigeon.
Srinagar has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), much cooler than what is found in much of the rest of India, due to its moderately high elevation and northerly position. The valley is surrounded by the Himalayas on all sides. Winters are cool, with daytime temperature averaging to 2.5 °C (36.5 °F), and drops below freezing point at night. Moderate to heavy snowfall occurs in winter and the highway connecting Srinagar with the rest of India faces frequent blockades due to icy roads and avalanches. Summers are warm with a July daytime average of 24.1 °C (75.4 °F). The average annual rainfall is around 720 millimetres (28 in). Spring is the wettest season while autumn is the driest.
Srinagar is one of several places that have been called the “Venice of the East” or the “Kashmiri Venice” Lakes around the city include Dal Lake – noted for its houseboats – and Nigeen Lake. Apart from Dal lake and Nigeen lake city is also famous for wular lake and manasbal lake to the north of srinagar. Wular lake is one of the largest fresh water lakes in Asia.
The floating vegetable market on Dal Lake, the only one of its kind in India
Dal Lake and the shikaras.
Srinagar has some Mughal gardens, forming a part of those laid by the Mughal emperors across the Indian subcontinent. Those of Srinagar and its close vicinity include Chashma Shahi (the royal fountains); Pari Mahal (the palace of the fairies); Nishat Bagh (the garden of spring); Shalimar Bagh; the Naseem Bagh.
Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Botanical Garden is a botanical garden in the city, set up in 1969. The Indian government has included these gardens under “Mughal Gardens of Jammu and Kashmir” in the tentative list for sites to be included in world Heritage sites.
The Sher Garhi Palace houses administrative buildings from the state government. Another palace of the Maharajas, the Gulab Bhavan, has now become the Lalit Grand Palace hotel.
The Shankaracharya Temple which lies on a hill top in the middle of the city, besides the Kheer Bhawani Temple are important Hindu temples in the city.
What to See and Do
Dal is a lake in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. 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”. Wikipedia
Area: 22 km²
Catchment area: 316 km²
Length: 7.44 km
Max. depth: 6 m (20 ft)
Frozen: During severe winter
It is the most popular for its houseboats and Shikaras and remains crowded throughout the year. The lake covers an area of approximately 26 sq km and is divided intro four sections. It provides a perfect site to enjoying kayaking, swimming, angling, canoeing, water surfing, houseboats and Shikara riding. Fishing activities and water plant harvesting is also done at the lake. During winters, the temperature falls so low that it sometimes freezes the Lake.
Situated in the backdrop of the Dal Lake, the Nagin Lake is entitled as the ‘Jewel in the Ring’. A narrow causeway is what separates the two lakes. Tourists can spot many Shikaras and houseboats. Water skiing, boat sailing facilities are available at this lake. The lake is a little isolated and much cleaner than the Dal lake.
It is among the oldest mosques in Srinagar and displays a monument of Islamic architecture. It was built in 1674 with four spires tower, 370 pillars, prayer halls, etc. Each pillar is made from a single piece of deodar trunk. The temple was destroyed and restored many times. It is also known as the Friday Mosque.
Located on the banks of Dal Lake, the Mosque is made from white marble and a fusion of Kashmiri and Mughal styles of architecture can be noticed in its construction. The Mosque is also called Dargah Sharif, Asar-e-Sharif, and Madinat-us-Sani. There is a shrine in the Mosque which is believed to contain a relic-a hair of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.
Located at a height of 1,100 ft, the temple is on top of Shankaracharya Hill. It is believed to be built around 200 BC by Jaluka, the son of Emperor Ashoka. From the hill top visitors can get a spectacular view of the snow clad mountains of Pir Panjal mountain range.
Sri Pratap Singh Museum
Established in 1898, the museum exhibits some of the rare terracotta heads of 3rd century, various molded terracotta plaques from 4th & 5th century, ancient brass model of Lokeshvara and a green stone figure of Lord Vishnu sitting on a Garuda. The museum also displays a 5th century copper image of Buddha carved in Gandhara architectural style and some paintings, ancient coins, handicrafts and arms.
Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden
The Garden is located at the foothills of Zabarwan Mountains near Dal Lake. The garden is famous for its annual Tulip Festival that last for seven days. The garden is very spacious and has more than 70 varieties of colored tulip flowers. About 90 acres of land nurture 1.3 million tulip bulbs. Among its vicinity are other gardens like Nishat Garden, Shalimar Garden, Achabal Bagh, Chashma Shahi Garden, Pari Mahal and other Mughal Gardens.
Located on the banks of Dal Lake, the garden was built by Abdul Hasan Asaf Khan in 1633 and is one of the largest Mughal Gardens built here. The garden has some of the rare species of flowers, 12 terraces, flowerbeds, fountains and huge lawns that draw many tourists and travelers.
Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary
The sanctuary is recognized for housing the rare Kashmir stag Hangul and black & brown bears. It is encircled by beautiful mountains and greenery. The sanctuary is spread out across an area of approx 141 sq km. In 1951, the sanctuary was acknowledged as a National Park. A wide variety of flora and fauna is present in the sanctuary. The sanctuary also provides a habitat for various avifauna species too. Special permit is necessary to enter the park.
Where To Stay
Many Hotels and Resorts are available in Srinagar
How To Get Around
Daily flights from the major cities of India
One can reach by road from Jammu. Srinagar is 266 km from Jammu.