|Facts and Figures|
|Languages||Hindi, Urdu, Kashmiri, and English|
|Best time to visit||April-June|
THE PRIDE OF KASHMIR VALLEY
Srinagar is the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and is the pride of the beautiful valley of Kashmir. Srinagar is famous for its lakes and the charming rows of houseboats floating on them. It is also known for traditional Kashmiri handicrafts and dry fruits
Srinagar is located in the western part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, in the northern region of India. It is located in the Kashmir valley. River Jhelum passes through Srinagar city. Srinagar is 876 km north of Delhi. The weather in Srinagar is alpine. Summers (April-June) are mild and winters are cold (November-February). It experiences heavy snowfall in December-February.
The history of the Kashmir valley has been turbulent. In the 3rd century bc, it was a part of the great Mauryan Empire. Later on, this region flourished under the rule of the Kushans in the 1st century ad. It was an important Buddhist center around this time. In the 6th century, it was a part of the kingdom of Vikramaditya, the ruler of Ujjain. Local Hindu rulers ruled it until the 14th century, after which Muslims invaded and ruled it. Srinagar was a part of the Mughal Empire in the medieval period. However, with the decline of the Mughal Empire and the rule of the Pathans, the fortunes of the area gradually dwindled. In 1814, it became a part of the Sikh empire, when Ranjit Singh defeated the Pathans. However, the British defeated Ranjit Singh and according to the treaty of Lahore in 1846, they installed Gulab Singh as the independent ruler of Kashmir. The descendents of Gulab Singh ruled Kashmir under the vigilance of the British till 1947. Hari Singh, the great grandson of Gulab Singh, merged this princely state into India in 1948, when Pathan marauders from Pakistan tried to overrun this state.
The valley of Kashmir, in which Srinagar is located, is also referred to as being a heaven on earth. The Mughal emperor Jahangir was so captivated by the beauty of this valley that he exclaimed "Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin asto" (If there is a heaven on earth, it's here, it's here, it's here). There are a number of tourist places in and around Srinagar.
The Dal Lake is an important tourist attraction of Srinagar. It is located on the eastern end of the city. The Dal Lake comprises of a series of lakes, including the Nagin Lake some 8 km from the city center. One can enjoy the panoramic view of the mountains surrounding Srinagar from this lake. Travelers can enjoy taking a ride on traditional Kashmiri boats or the Shikaras to explore the intricate maze of waterways of this lake.
The other major attractions of Srinagar city are the well laid out Mughal styled gardens. The Shalimar Bagh and the Nishat Bagh are beautiful gardens located to the far eastern side of the Dal Lake. One can take a stroll amongst these green and attractive gardens and enjoy the waterworks within them.
The temple of Shankaracharya is another important place to visit in Srinagar. Jaluka, the son of emperor Ashoka, built it in the 3rd century bc.
There are number of interesting places to visit near Srinagar. Most of these places are located amongst picturesque settings of the mighty Himalayas. Apart from natural beauty, they offer a number of adventure activities to the traveler.
Gulmarg is 52 km southeast of Srinagar and is located at an altitude of 2730 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, which attracts the traveler seeking adventure and thrill. It is a popular trekking destination and boasts of the world's highest golf course.
Sonamarg is 80 km northeast of Srinagar and is located at an altitude of 2740 m. It is set in a valley amongst glaciers and placid lakes. The flower-laden meadows, panoramic view of the lofty snow-covered Himalayan peaks, and a number of trekking and hiking trails have made Sonamarg a popular tourist destination.
Pahalgam is 95 km east of Srinagar and is located in the quiet Liddar valley, at a height of 2130 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.
Srinagar is famous for its traditional Kashmiri handicrafts. Craft items from Srinagar make good souvenirs. There are also a number of utilitarian items of daily use. Woolen and silk carpets from Srinagar are a specialty; they are not only known for their highly intricate decorations and patterns, which show a strong Islamic/Persian influence, they are also renowned for their durability and subtle colors.
Chain-stitch carpets from Srinagar are also popular craft items. Travelers can purchase exquisite papier-mâché items such as boxes, vases, replicas of samovar (metal container used for heating water for tea), houseboat models, etc., in all shapes and having bright colors and designs.
The handicrafts repertoire of Kashmir is incomplete without woolen shawls and woodcarving. Travelers can purchase richly embroidered woolen shawls in all colors and intricate designs in Srinagar. Apart from regular woolen shawls, one can also buy Pashmina shawls (made from the hair of ibex) and shahtoosh shawls (made from the hair of the Tibetan antelope), which are highly valued shawls made in Kashmir. As Kashmir is the only state in India where walnut trees grow, craftsmen here create intricate carvings on walnut wood to make items like tables, chairs, stools, fruit bowls, partitions, etc., that have rich floral and trellis patterns carved on them.
HOW TO REACH
Srinagar is well connected by air with Delhi. There is a daily flight to Delhi via Jammu by Indian airlines (Ph. 452328, 450257). There are weekly flights operated by Indian Airlines for Leh from Srinagar. Srinagar does not have a railway station and the nearest railhead is Jammu Tawi, which is 305 km from Srinagar. However, it is well connected by road to important places like Chandigarh (630 km), Delhi (876 km), Jammu (298 km), Leh, Kargil, Gulmarg, Sonamarg, and Pahalgam. The main bus station is at Lal Chowk, which is the city center. Travelers can use auto-rickshaws and mini-buses to move around the city.
Kashmir is famous for its cuisine. Kashmiri cuisine can be divided into Brahmin and Muslim styles. While the former is restricted mainly to households, most restaurants in Srinagar serve the latter. One can savor the traditional wazwan, an elaborate meal consisting of meat dishes, vegetables, rice, and dessert. Gushtaba (meatballs made of mutton), badam pasand (meat with almonds), and Kashmiri pulao with saffron are some of the main Kashmiri dishes. The Kashmiri people are fond of tea. A cup of kahwah, or green tea flavored with spices, can be used to refresh a tired body.
Travelers can obtain necessary information about Srinagar from the tourist reception center (Ph. 472449, 473648, 477224).
|Adventure Tours of India|