The state capital, Srinagar is located in
the heart of the Kashmir valley at an altitude of 1,730 m above sea level
and spread on both sides of the river Jhelum. The city is situated around
the picturesque Dal and Nagin lakes and contains a wealth of historical and
religious monuments. Ringed by the snow capped Himalayas, Srinagar's Deodar
laden slopes, whispering waterways rimmed with colourful houseboats and
blossoming gardens are rich in scenic beauty and a captivating holiday
destination for tourists. Here the changing play of the seasons and the
salubrious climate ensure that Srinagar always offers something new to the
The Dal Lake
Located on the eastern end of the city, the Dal Lake consists of a series
of lakes, including the Nagin Lake some 8 km from the city center. Famous
for its beauty and vibrancy, it sustains within its periphery, a life that
is unique anywhere in the world. The houseboat and Shikara communities have
lived for centuries on these waterways and so complete is their
infrastructure on the lake that they never have to step on land. Doctors,
tailors, bakers- one can see them all in tiny wooden shops on the lake, near
picturesque vegetable gardens and acres of lotus gardens.
The Mughal gardens are representative of the Mughal love for natural and
aesthetic beauty. Situated past apple orchards and beautifully laden with
stately chinnars, these gardens are cool and refreshing with their stepped
terraces and flowing watercourses. Cheshma Shahi is the first Mughal garden
one will pass after Nehru Park. Built at a height above the city, its views
are as stupendous as its layout.
The next garden along the road that encircles the Dal is the Nishat, built
by empress Nur Jahan's brother Asaf Khan. The third Mughal garden - the
Shalimar - was planted by Jehangir, the Mughal emperor, whose love for
Kashmir was legendary.
Srinagar is a city with a rich faith and many mosques. Across the Dal from
Shalimar is the mosque of Hazratbal, made of white marble with a dome and a
minaret. Hazratbal is the repository of a single hair of the Prophet
Mohammed, exhibited to the public on certain days of the year.
Within Srinagar, on its highest hill is the Shankaracharya temple, nearly
one thousand feet above the city. Dedicated to lord Shiva, this temple dates
back to 2,500 BC. The panoramic view from this height is truly majestic.
52 km southeast of Srinagar, Gulmarg is located at an altitude of 2,730 m
above sea level. In summers, the meadows of Gulmarg are laden with flowers.
In winters, the snow-covered slopes of Gulmarg turn into a skiing resort.
Gulmarg is popular trekking destination and also contains the world's
highest golf course.
Located at an altitude of 2,740 m, Sonmarg is 80 km northeast of Srinagar.
Set in a valley amongst glaciers and placid lakes, it contains flower laden
meadows and offers panoramic views of the lofty snow covered Himalayan
peaks. A number of trekking and hiking trails have made Sonamarg a popular
95 km east of Srinagar, Pahalgam is located in the quiet Liddar valley, at
a height of 2,130 m. It provides an ideal setting for activities like
hiking, trekking and fishing. It is also the starting point of the annual
pilgrimage to the holy cave of Amarnath.
The weather in Srinagar is alpine. Summers (April-June) are pleasant,
temperatures usually don't exceed 29 degrees celsius and winters are cold
(November-February) with temperatures falling below zero degree. It
experiences heavy snowfall between December and February. The best time to
visit Srinagar is during summers between April and June
Many airlines fly to Srinagar from New Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar and
Jammu, there are flights operating from Srinagar to Leh and back. Flights
are more frequent during the summer Tourist Season, at this time there are
several flights a day between Delhi and Srinagar. Some services are direct,
while others operate via Chandigarh, Amritsar or Jammu. Flight time duration
from Delhi on the direct flights is about an hour and ten minutes.
Srinagar is connected by an all weather road to Jammu, which in turn is
connected to many parts of North India. One can catch buses from Delhi but
people making the trip by road should take up the route via Chandigarh,
Amritsar or from the Himachal Pradesh hill stations. Buses leave Jammu early
in the morning for the 10 to 12 hour trip to Srinagar in the Kashmir valley.
The buses all arrive and depart in Srinagar from the Tourist Reception
Center bus compound. From here's it's about a 10 to 15 minute walk to Dal
Lake and the houseboat ghats.
The nearest railhead is in Jammu, and is connected to all parts of the
country, including Delhi, Kolkata (Calcutta), Pune, Mumbai and Kanyakumari.
The distance is about 876 km from Delhi to Srinagar and there are about four
services a day from Delhi to Jammu. The trip takes nine to 13 hours, usually
overnight. For information about booking trains from Jammu while in Srinagar
inquire at the railways office in the tourist reception center.