Discover stunning Himalayans circuits with our destination expert Ms. Reetwika Banerjee (Top 5 tourist places in srinagar)
(Connect with her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reetwika.banerjee)
After a cold bath at Gulmarg, we were back to Srinagar. Earlier we had only a night’s stopover but did not get a chance to visit the surroundings. Now, it was time for city sightseeing. Srinagar is not just the state capital, but also the heart of Kashmir valley. Right from the ancient Hindu kings, to the Moghuls, then British and now the Indian citizens – all have admired Srinagar through ages. Here are some of the Top 5 tourist places in srinagar which you must not miss to visit during your stay in Srinagar.
Mughal Gardens (Char Bagh)
- Mughal Gardens (Char Bagh): We all know about the four famous gardens of Persia, popularly known as Char Bagh. In Srinagar too there are four stunning terraced gardens patronized by the mighty Mughals themselves. They are open six days a week for tourists, except on Fridays from 9am to 6pm.
Needless to say, the architectural patterns of all four are highly influenced by the Persian gardens, offering splendid views of the Zabarwan Range and Dal Lake in one frame. They are namely – Chasm-e-Shahi, Pari Mahal, Nishat Bagh and Shalimar Bagh, comprising of the Char Bagh of Srinagar. All the gardens have four things in common – terraced planting, natural source of water (stream or spring), wide view of Dal Lake from four geographic directions and located at the foothills of Zabarwan Range.
- Manasbal Lake: Approx 32 kilometers from Srinagar, there is a picturesque waterbody named Manasbal Lake, which is arguably the deepest lake of India. It derives its name from the holy Manasarovar in Tibet. It took us exactly one hour by road. The dimensions of Manasbal Lake talk a lot about its grandeur. The perimeter of the lake will be approximately 11 kilometers, heightened by a concrete pavement which was beautifully decorated by flowering plants along the circular trail. However, the primary statistics of the lake is not its circumference but its vertical depth. Yes, the waterbed stands at a depth of more than 43 feet which marks its claim for the deepest lake of India. One can also see the ruins of Jarokabagh Palace and Mughal Gardens but the surrounding beauty is not so pleasant as in the latter.
Paani Temple of Pandrethan
- Paani Temple of Pandrethan: This is yet another excellence of ancient Hindu architecture in the Kashmir valley – the Meruvardhanaswami Temple of Pandrethan, commonly referred as Paani Temple. ‘Paani’ is Hindi or Kashmiri language means ‘water’. Though originally it was all dry, but centuries of weathering have created a pool around it, submerging more than half of the construction inside water which sources its exciting forename. It is one of the legacy temples of India known for its subtle symmetrical architecture.
- House Boat: It is highly recommended to stay at least a night on a houseboat in Srinagar’s Dal Lake. Though there are innumerable hotels surrounding the lake itself, but houseboat experience is absolutely unique. They are immobile wooden palaces on water. The western side of the lake has a lock gate constructed during British Rule and is often referred as Dal Gate. Most of the houseboats are anchored along the western shoreline. The monarchs did not allow any housing constructions around Dal Lake, but later when the British took over the hill station, they permitted lavish resting corners on the water itself. The wooden structures resembled British cottages, flamboyantly lighted with chandeliers, erected in the form of a barge or lavish boat, but were essentially immobile; which with the passage of time came to be known as ‘houseboats’, ‘a little piece of England afloat’, ‘floating palaces’ and so on. However, ‘houseboat’ is the most common name of such luxury accommodation.
Shikara Ride on Dal Lake
5. Shikara Ride on Dal Lake: Whatever you talk about Kashmir falls short until Dal Lake is not canvassed. Often referred as the ‘Shaan-e-Kashmir’ (glamour or jewel of Kashmir), this gigantic freshwater lake stamps a permanent mark in every visitor’s heart. We were not spared from its enchanting aura too. Dal in Kashmiri language means ‘lake’; so in a way Dal Lake is a misnomer. It is not a single waterbody either; rather comprises of three interconnected lakes (Nishat, Brari and Hazratbal), four water basins (Gagribal, Lokut Dal, Bod Dal and Nigeen), several islands (popular ones are Rup Lank or Char Chinar, Kabutar Khana, Sona Lank and Nehru Park), floating gardens (called ‘Raad’ in Kashmiri) and numerous causeways along the boulevard. The perimeter of the lake miles through 16 square kilometers; which earlier during the Mughal era used to be nearly 22 square kilometers.
Unless you take a cozy ride on the shikara (canoes with comfy Mughal style sofas used for daily commute on the lake water, often used like water taxis), your Srinagar trip will be incomplete. Each shikara is uniquely named, colourfully painted and well decorated to offer every bit of leisure to its boarders. It’s said, Mughals used to enjoy romantic hours with their consorts on such boats. However over the centuries, shikaras have become one of the commercial sources of livelihood for the locales, especially during tourist seasons. Apart from tourists, they also help in transport of local produces, flowers, fishing, water plant harvests etc.
It was already six in the evening. Setting sun’s dissolving rays could still be seen at the horizon. Temperature too had started dropping sharply. The reflection of vibrant houseboat lights on the Dal Lake added a supernatural ambiance.
Reetwika’s Travel Tip: For detailed information about the Top 5 tourist places in srinagar, visit the individual articles available in Tours and Journeys under Jammu & Kashmir category.