Heaven on Earth: Srinagar
In a nutshell, Srinagar is symbolic of pristine beauty and mesmerizing landscapes. It is one of the most beautiful places in India hands down. That perhaps explains the immense craze for tourism in Srinagar despite the civil unrest which has been perpetuated ever since, and more so recently. In fact, it has always been juxtaposed against Switzerland. I would definitely not indulge in comparing these two juggernaut places which are famous on an international scale because that won’t be fair to either one. However, I would definitely elevate Srinagar and eulogise the place to the best of my ability. This would be my way of expressing immense gratitude and satisfaction after visiting Srinagar. It is by far one of the most wholesome and fulfilling experiences that have engulfed me by the sheer delight I happened to experience there.
Srinagar is a place where nature can be experienced in all its grandeur. It has lakes, hills, handicrafts, gardens, snow, and so much more. The wooden houses, the medieval mosques, the temples, the antiquated balconies, and the Kashmiri cuisine all together happen to be credible ingredients for a perfect recipe. Words perhaps cannot do justice to the place that Srinagar is. However, here is a list of places and experiences that are a must have while moving across Srinagar. We will be more than happy if you extend the list and have a crazy experience to share later. But do make a point to absolutely cover the under listed.
Pic Credits: Flickr·
Dal Lake: It goes without saying that you need to see the alluring Dal Lake during your vacation to Kashmir. This lake is beautiful and the surrounding mountain peaks add to the beauty. It is rightly crowned as the jewel of Srinagar. You ought to embark on a beautiful and romantic Shikara Ride. Go back to Bollywood that can be credited with instilling in us a desire to embark on the house boats or Shikaras. Many songs and poets also have sung sermons praising this lake. Need we say more?
Pic Credits: Flickr·
Mughal Gardens: The Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Gardens and Chasm-e-Shahi together comprise the Mughal Gardens. A repository of ancient Mughal class and grandeur, these gardens are nothing short of spectacular. A walk around the garden gives you an idea of the sheer class and perfection of Mughal art and architecture and an eye for perfection. The garden has been luring tourists for generations now.
Pic Credits: Pinterest·
Wular Lake: The largest fresh water lake in the country, Wular is situated almost 60 kms away from the city of Srinagar. The lake which has a calm demeanour mostly is also said to be frequented by certain periodic fierce winds. There are a lot of places around the lake that might interest you. Therefore, do plan a visit to Wular for a unique experience.
Pic Credits: Tumblr
Hokesar: The wetland is a home to a number of exotic and non-indigenous birds who travel from far off places during the winter months. Some of them include brahminy duck, goose, garganey, mallard, Eurasian Wigeon among others. This is a paradise for all bird lovers out there. Just bring your camera along and you’re golden.
Pic Credits: kashmirlife.net
Dachigham National Reserve: This place is an abode to the diverse flora and fauna of the Himalayas. You can even spot the Kashmiri stag which is an endangered species; in fact, the most endangered species of red deer. If lucky, you can witness an elusive leopard strolling down the picturesque reserve. Other commonly seen animals include Himalayan weasel, fox, wild boar and even types of magpies and yellow throated martins. There is just too much to see and explore. Do not forget to carry your binoculars.
Pic Credits: indianexpress.com
Awantipura: The Awantipura ruins are not only beautiful and charming but also have an alluring tale of devotion behind its creation. This makes for an interesting visit that satiates not only the eyes but also the mind. The rich heritage of the place would definitely excite the history aficionados. The verdant valley surrounding these ruins imparts a mystical aura to the place. The remnants have been depreciating but still manage to be one of the most heavily frequented historical and pilgrimage site.
Pic Credits: Flickr
Apple Orchards: It is almost a universal fact that Srinagar is the dominant supplier of apples to the country and even to the neighboring nations of Nepal and Bangladesh. You have to visit the sprawling apple orchards in the city. They are too beautiful to be stated in words. It is a major source of income for a number of people. Do remember to get the golden apple. It is a catch, quite literally!
Pic Credits: Utdcom
Old city: Any trip to Srinagar can be deemed incomplete if you do not visit the wooden old city. This should be done on foot for the ease of exploring more and travelling comfortably. It is a beautiful chaos per se. The city is replete with a number of mosques that add a mystic beauty to it.
Shankaracharya Hill: To get a panoramic view of the city and Dal Lake, you need to get to the Shankaracharya Hill. A small grey Shiv Mandir, which is said to have been a Buddhist temple adorns the top of the Hill. There is an interesting legend that explains the Hindu conversion of the temple. We are not killing it for you by getting down to the nitty-gritty. You shall figure it out when you reach there.
View from Shankaracharya Hill ‘ by Bill Strong. January 1976
Pic Credit: searchkashmir.org
There are many more lakes and gardens to visit in Srinagar. But do not just make your entire trip about them. In fact, make time to indulge and spoil yourself by savouring some Kashmiri delicacies and exploring the local market for their customary handicrafts like willow baskets. Kashmiri artisans are blessed and utterly accurate with their art. What about going for a heritage and handicraft walk? It will definitely be one hell of an experience. Oh yes! Do get some saffron and Kahwah from Kashmir whenever you get a chance. It will surely satisfy your senses at a cellular level. Happy Travelling!