Srinagar is the land of snow capped peaks,
valley of flowers, terraced gardens and fascinating lakes. Known as the
paradise on earth, Srinagar on the banks of Jhelum River is the dream
destination of tourists which is famous for its natural beauty as well as
its vintage charm. Spend your idle hours sailing on the blue waters of
the Dal Lake or stroll amidst the Chinar forests or arrange for wonderful
excursions from Srinagar and experience the beauty of this hill station.
From the Chinese, Mughals, British and the modern day tourists Srinagar
allures and welcomes the nature lovers to this heaven on earth.
Dal Lake is one of the world's largest natural lakes. In 1200 AD, the
lake covered an area of 75 sq km. By the 1980s, only 25 sq. km survived,
and today this lake stretches over barely 12 sq. km. The lake now
shelters about 50 hamlets with a population of over 50,000 people, who
have property rights over 300 hectares (6,000 kanals) of agricultural
land and 670 hectares (13,400 kanals) of water area. Besides this, a
large number of commercial and residential buildings such as hotels,
guesthouses, restaurants and houseboats have sprung up in and around the
Dal. All this has drastically reduced the size of the lake.
The Shankaracharya temple is the unique landmark of Srinagar. This
temple is located on a sharp hill called Takht-e-Suleiman, about 1000
feet high, a 5 km climb from Nehru Park on a metalled road, overlooking
the city. There are stone steps which will take you right on top where a
small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva stands. This temple was built in the
memory of the Shankaracharya who came to Kashmir from Kerala some 1200
years ago to revive Hinduism. From the top of the Shankaracharya Hill,
you can have a panoramic view of the valley, city, lakes and their
houseboats, waterways, gardens, the confluence of the Jhelum and Dal Lake
and the seven original bridges spanning the serpentine flow of Jhelum
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.
Shalimar Bagh was built by Emperor Jehangir for his wife Nur Jehan, 15
kms from the TRC, it is a beautiful garden with sweeping vistas over
gardens and lakes, and shallow terraces. The garden is 539 m by 182 m and
has four terraces, rising one above the other. A canal lined with
polished stones and supplied with water from Harwan runs through the
middle of the garden. The fourth terrace, by far the best, was once
reserved for royal ladies.
Nishat Bagh is 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.
Chashma Shahi is a tastefully laid garden in terraces, which commands a
magnificent view of the Dal Lake below and surrounding mountain ranges.
The cool water of the spring is highly refreshing and digestive. The
original garden was laid out by Shah Jehan in 1632 AD. TRC Srinagar free
of cost to visit the permits can be had from the infromation Counter
Chashma Shahi Garden. Permits can be had from the infromation counter.
Pari Mahal Once the royal observatory, Pari Mahal has a charmingly laid
out garden and is a five-minute drive from Cheshmashahi. A Buddhist
monastery at one time, it was converted into a school of astrology by
Dara Shikoh, Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan's eldest son. Situated on the spur
of a mountain overlooking the Dal, the ancient monument, with a well-laid
spacious garden in front, is connected to Cheshmashahi by road. It is
illuminated at night. Harwan On the hillside, south of the village of
Harwan (19 kms from the TRC)), remarkable remains of ancient ornamented
tile pavements of the Buddhist period have come to light. The tiles
depict the dresses of the people, such as loose trousers, Turkoman caps
or close fitting turbans and large ear-rings which reveal Central Asian
20 lakh Tulips adorn and add color to 20 acres of the Kashmiri Landscape
at 5600 feet altitude in Asia’s largest Tulip Garden - the Indira Gandhi
Memorial Tulip Garden.
Tulip being one of the most expensive flowers in the world was once
treated as currency because of which it earned the title and symbol of
abundance and indulgence among the affluent. This explains the pride and
joy that Kashmiris feel as for them it is more than mere long-stemmed
bulbous plants – it is a whole new Tulip Culture & Revolution that has
added yet another feather to the already-crowded cap of Kashmir! From its
humble origin in Persia, the Tulip has travelled a long way to add colour
and charm to the Kashmir Valley.