Discover the Essence of Kashmir in Srinagar – Best Places to Visit For Tourists!

Are you planning a trip to Srinagar? Know the best points of interest to enjoy your Srinagar travel like a local. This guide on Srinagar’s best places to visit includes various stunning locations, from top tourist spots like Dal Lake to Polo View Market. Read on!

srinagar places to visit kashmir

Cradled in the terrific Kashmir valley filled with jaw-dropping sceneries defined by mountains, rivers, lakes and evergreen vegetation, Srinagar needs no words to explain its advantageous location. With many compelling points of interest, a city as resilient as Srinagar has climbed beyond its geo-political tensions to rise as a safe ‘all year round’ tourist destination. Whether dressed in white blankets of snow in winter or in green covers of deciduous leaves in summer, the capital city of ‘Jammu and Kashmir’ baffles everyone with outstanding hospitality starting with a warm cup of Kahwa!

  1. Dal & Nigeen Lakes – Striking a balance between two extreme lifestyles, one so urban on land and the other so contrastingly rural ‘but’ on water, Srinagar boasts of providing the most simon-pure Kashmiri experience to tourists on the water niches of Dal. Undoubtedly one of the most scenic lakes of India, Dal is a natural asset of Kashmir. Choosing to stay in one of the ‘floating palaces’ i.e. firmly moored, rich houseboats made out of walnut wood (not only easily available in the Himalayan territory but also reliable for durability on water as well as convenient to carve out motif designs) will irrefutably be one of the best decisions ever made in life! Who would want to miss the excitement of shikara boat rides that take you around to see floating vegetable/flower markets, floating cultivations/farms (e.g. lotuses are prolifically grown), floating post office, floating Meena Bazaar (shops selling hand-made goods like shawls), floating char chinar island (island with 4 chinar trees), floating destination-wedding houseboat, and floating village neighbourhoods with typical Kashmiri houses – an extraordinary and out of the world experience altogether!Guarded by lofty Pir Panjal mountains, Dal’s boulevard and banks give easy access to the Mughal gardens, hotels and restaurants at the lakefront contributing to the heavy influx of tourism of late.

    Nigeen is considered to be an extension of Dal Lake and looked upon as more pristine than the latter probably because of the presence of innumerable poplar and willow trees.

  2. Tulip Garden & Mughal Gardens – Amid a riot of colours, gorgeous tulips which at best require cold and temperate climes, usher packs of visitors to Kashmir, in full bloom during the spring months of March & April every year. Indira Gandhi Memorial Garden, being the largest tulip garden in Asia over 30 hectares, is known for its annual Tulip festival when more than 60 varieties of tulips show up in glee on the terraced sloping grounds of the garden. Besides, three other important gardens that are open to the public throughout the year are none other than the famous Mughal gardens namely Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh and Chashme Shahi. These gardens draw heavy inspirations from Persia in their terraced & geometrical layouts, water-fountain pools & channels designed such that they cascade down at different levels, and a cornucopia of flowering shrubs and trees.
  3. Badaamwari Garden – Named after the lovesome almond blossoms that burst open on trees, signalling the onset of spring, Badaamwari is a paradisiacal garden that looks photographic by every inch, at the foothills of Koh-e-Maran (Hari Parbat). Despite being open year-round, the canopy of bonnie almond flowers that appear when the sun shines warmth soon after winter subsides is the season that attracts flocks of people to this garden.
  4. Naseem Bagh – The oldest Mughal garden in Kashmir on the north-western shore of Dal Lake, is adored for its chinar trees that keep changing colours with changing seasons and is most loved during autumn when the whole garden is carpeted with fallen chinar leaves in pulchritudinous shades of russet, carmine, gamboge and amber. The University of Kashmir is located inside this park making it one of the most charming campuses in the country. Those who wish to soak in the reposeful environment for an extended time can go ahead and camp within, provided they have obtained due permission from tourist authorities.Historic records state that the park was first laid out by Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1586 and later, in 1635 his grandson Shah Jahan added 1000s more of chinar saplings in the area.

    This was also former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s most favoured spot in Kashmir.

  5. Hari Parbat – A hill overlooking Srinagar deemed sacred by Kashmiri Pandits for the ‘Sharika Devi’ temple (western slope of the hill) which is believed to protect from demons. It is known more obviously for a fortress that was built by Emperor Akbar in 1590 and completed in 1808 by Atta Muhammed Khan (an Afghan general).There are two Muslim shrines – the shrine of Hamza Makhdoom, a 16th-century Kashmiri Sufi Saint (southern side of the hill); and the mosque of Shah Badakhshi (a 17th-century Sufi Saint) on the slopes of the fort.

    There is also Gurudwara Guru Nanak Dev where Guru Nanak is believed to have sat and had discourse with people in the early 16th century.

  6. Hazratbal Masjid – Easily found on the left bank of Dal Lake, Hazratbal mosque is revered as the most sacred Muslim shrine in Srinagar and one of the most important pilgrim centres in the country. It is extremely famous for housing and preserving Prophet Mohammad’s sacred hair relic, Moi-e-Muqqadas. The white marble edifice with a blend of Kashmiri and Mughal architecture is the only mosque with a domed structure in Srinagar. Its first building construction took place during Emperor Shah Jahan’s reign in the 17th century whereas the present-day structure was finally completed in 1979.
  7. Jamia Masjid – Situated in Nohata of Old Srinagar area, it is the biggest mosque in Kashmir Valley with splendid Persian-influenced architecture. Jamai Masjid’s construction was commanded by Sultan Sikandar between 1394 and 1402, and later rebuilt by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1672. The masjid has a grand wooden gate, a huge courtyard with a central fountain, four hallways surrounding the courtyard, and a large prayer hall inside (enough to accommodate more than 33,000 people at a time) that is supported by 378 pillars made out of deodar tree trunks.The peculiar feature of this mosque is that it’s got spires and pagodas, instead of domes and minarets.
  8. Pari Mahal – Very close to Chashme Shahi garden, Pari Mahal is a photogenic seven-terraced garden with an ‘arched’ monument on the Zabarwan mountain range, that overlooks Dal Lake. It was built by Mughal prince Dara Shikoh (eldest son of Shah Jahan) in the 1600s, to be used as his abode, a library, an observatory and as a school of astrology & astronomy.
  9. Kheer Bhawani Temple – Ksheer Bhawani or Ragnya Devi Temple, situated 16 miles north-east of Srinagar (in Tulmul village), is a temple built over a sacred spring and named so because of ‘kheer’ {rice & milk pudding} which is offered to the consecrated spring water. The deity housed in a marble shrine is highly regarded by Kashmiri Pandits as their. The annual Kheer Bhawani mela held during Jyeshta Ashtami witnesses among the highest of crowds, coming second only after the Amarnath pilgrimage in Jammu & Kashmir.
  10. Shankaracharya Temple – Perched on Gopadari Hill, at a height of 1000 feet, the Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva that can be reached after climbing 243 steps, is named after the great philosopher Adi Shankaracharya who is believed to have attained enlightenment here and even composed the well-known spiritual text ‘Saundarya Lahiri’. The present square-shaped structure on an octagonal base with 36 stairs to the sanctum-sanctorum, was built in shikhara architectural style during the 9th century though the origins of the temple itself have been traced back to 200 BCE (Mauryan period). Panoramic views of the glaucous valley below, particularly of thousands of houseboats stationed on Dal Lake, is the USP of this site of worship.
  11. Shri Pratap Singh Museum – Named after the king who ruled Jammu & Kashmir at the time of its establishment in 1898, the museum that once served as a summer palace, is now a treasure house of antiques collected from all over Kashmir. The museum divided into many sections is a dignified display of the evolution of civilization in the Himalayan area demonstrated in the rare collections of: – sculptures {e.g. Awantipora, Parihaspora} – Buddhist artefacts from Ladakh – old manuscripts & edicts written on koshur kagaz (handmade paper) {e.g. Kashmiri Koran, Sikandarnama} – metallic items {utensils, jewellery, coins, weapons} – enamel-ware {papermache, naqashi} – textiles like Kashmiri shawls.
  12. Awantipora ruins – A lost gem in the history of Kashmir, the Awantiswamy Temple complex built in the 9th century CE by King Awantivarman of the Utapala dynasty, is believed to have had two temples within dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. But a disastrous fate led to the temple suffering at the hands of iconoclasts who vandalized and destroyed the temple, leaving nothing more than ruins for today. Approximately 28 km from Srinagar, on the bank of river Jhelum in Anantnag district (a detour on the Srinagar-Pahalgam route), brings one to the site of wreckage now converted into a pivotal tourist point, overseen by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI).Having been in a state of neglect for a thousand years, all that remains to be seen in the ‘roofless’ structure are some broken pillars supporting the air, disfigured sculptures, a wide staircase leading onto an empty pedestal (formerly the sanctum), and slabs of grey stone scattered all around.

    Even in the face of such irreversible damage, the desecrated site looks much more beautiful putting the screws on sightseers to see the light of the fact as to how magnificent it must have been back in the century, forsooth!

  13. Martand Sun Temple – A temple to venerate Surya, the Sun God, gargantuan by magnitude of construction, Martand is a stellar example of the illustrious kingdom that Kashmir once used to be. Built in the 8th century by King Lalitaditya of the Karkota dynasty, the centrally protected monument is found on a plateau near Anantnag, about 65 km from Srinagar. Having suffered a similar fate as the Awantipora temple, Martand Sun Temple has weathered multitudinous episodes of prosperity, invasions, destructions, cataclysms, neglect, revival and protection, over the centuries.
    Despite the ruinous condition over an area with dimensions – 220 feet in length and 142 feet in breadth, the temple’s flabbergasting architecture is evident from the peristyle design, drawing influences from Kashmiri, Gandhara and Greek styles of temple architecture, as seen from the remains of a collonaded courtyard with 84 pillars, inscriptions and carvings on stone walls, many smaller shrines and a principal shrine at the centre which stands at not more than 40 feet now, but originally must have been taller with a pyramidal roof.
  14. Dachigam National Park – About 22 km away from the city of Srinagar, Dachigam National Park is a biodiversity hotspot located within Zabarwan mountain ranges, stretching across a staggering area of 141 sq. km spanning 5500 ft to 14,000 ft, in altitude. It is not only famous for a harlequin of flora-n-fauna but is also a protected natural reserve for being a major source of water to Srinagar. Beyond being the natural habitat for the Kashmir Stag (Hangul or red deer), other startling species usually sighted here include the Himalayan black bear, leopard cat, Himalayan grey langur, weasel, otter etc. among the animals; cinnamon sparrow, golden oriole, monal, woodpecker, pygmy owl etc. among the birds.The spectral variety in the vegetation is equally amazing including walnut and apricot trees, oak, birch, elm and poplar trees, wild fruit trees of cherries, plums, peaches, pears and hoards of flowering kinds of trees.

    Difficult to access during snow-covered winters, April to October is a better time of the year to plan some adventurous chasing trails in the varicoloured wildness.

    As a part of thoughtful measures by the J&K government towards the future of the Park, an ‘Animal Care Hospital’ and a ‘Research Lab’ are soon going to come up in designated zones.

  15. Pathar Mosque – A historical monument made out of grey limestone in old Srinagar city built by Mughal Empress NurJahan in 1623, is visibly a different structure in that it has a 9-arch façade, and a sloping roof with 27 domes supported by 18 square columns. Pathar masjid locally referred to as Naev Masheed was revived in the 1930s from a state of disdain.
  16. Gurudwara Chati Patshahi – The largest gurudwara in Kashmir valley, located outside the southern gate of Hari Parbat (Kathi Darwaja, Rainawari), is dedicated to the 6th Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind Singh who is said to have visited the region in 1616, to preach and stayed for a few days. The gurudwara is equipped with ‘langar’ and accommodation facilities.
  17. Zero Bridge – A very handsome wooden bridge, that has been standing on the Jhelum river since the 1950s, barely 2 km away from Lal Chowk, the city centre, and counted into Srinagar’s exclusive heritage – Zero bridge has become an iconic landmark more so for its picture-book poster-like backdrop, courtesy Harmukh mountains and maple trees. Notwithstanding vehicular traffic, the bridge thoroughly reserved for pedestrians for nearly four decades now, connecting Sonwar{north} and Rajbagh{south} areas, is a breezy location and a favourite hangout hotspot in Srinagar for taking some nice pictures as well as chewing on some street food.
  18. Apple orchards – Apples of Kashmir which are branded as absolutely the best, have recently caught the fancy of tourists who definitely make a pit stop at one of these orchards, as they are really excited to check out the rosy-colored fruits hanging down from the low-lying branches, or to click ‘selfies’ with sweet-smelling apple blossoms on these small but cute trees. All the more, tasty apple jams are sold on the spot to purposely lure more visitors.
  19. Chai Jaai – One of the best cafes or rather an artsy tea-house in Srinagar that is ‘Kashmiri to the Core’. Gulping down pleasing views of river Jhelum while drinking flavoursome ‘noon chai’ served from a traditional ‘samovar’ (tea-pot/kettle) is a ‘must-do’ for every tourist nowadays. An assortment of delectable teas and artisanal breads is hard to resist, as is the choice of ceramic/metallic tea-ware in varying sizes and colours that are on sale!
  20. Polo View Market – The first fully pedestrian market in Kashmir, a kilometre away from the heart of the city (Lal Chowk) drawing scores of people to a great many choices of shops selling handlooms, handicrafts and dry fruits. The line-up of chinar trees at the centre, wide walk-ways in between rows of shops on either side and pathway lamps & lighting whose cables/wires go underground without being exposed, render an appeal that enhances overall pleasant experiences be it while shopping or casual strolling or even just sitting down and relaxing.

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1 thought on “Discover the Essence of Kashmir in Srinagar – Best Places to Visit For Tourists!”

  1. A great motivational piece of writing by my favorite author yet again!
    For people like me who have never visited Kashmir(Srinagar) her sleek and dramatic words take us meandering through the valleys and hills – so impressive, to make us pack our bags immediately to visit these awesome places.

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