Srinagar is the heart of the Kashmir Valley, still preserves the imprints of the Mughals and the British. The valley takes great pride in its lakes, gardens and the charming rows of houseboats floating on them. Popular for traditional Kashmiri handicrafts, kashmiri clothes and dry fruits, Srinagar is bordered by five districts. To its northern side is Kargil, in the south is Pulwama and in the north-west lies Budgam. "If there is a heaven on earth, it's here, it's here, it's here", exclaimed the Mughal emperor Jahangir on his first visit to this place.
Srinagar has the privilege of having a multifaceted and unique cultural blend, making it different from the rest of the country, not only from the cultural front, but in point of geography, demography, ethics and social entities. as well. With its beautiful picturesque Himalayan backdrop, the crowning glory of hill stations Srinagar is enticed by the colourful houseboats , shikaras and the grandeur of Mughal sense of style.
Sri means Lakshmi or wealth and ‘nagar’ a city. The summer capital of J&K State, Srinagar city has a vital role in the history of Kashmir. For this reason, Persian chronicles call it Shehr-e-Kashmir or 'City of Kashmir'.
History and Lcation
Founded by the King Pravarasena II over 2,000 years ago, Srinagar owes its name to two Sanskrit words, Sri (meaning profusion and wealth) and Nagar, (meaning a city). Dating back to the 3rd century BC, the city was formerly a part of the Mauryan Empire, which once happened to be one of the most important empires of India. This region prospered quite well under the rule of the Kushans in the 1st century AD. During this period, it used to be an important Buddhist pilgrimage site. In the 6th century, however, it became a part of the kingdom of Vikramaditya, the ruler of Ujjain. Local Hindu rulers ruled it until the 14th century, when Muslims rulers invaded and captured it. With the downfall of the Mughal Empire the fortunes of the area swung dramatically. In 1814, it went to the Sikhs, when Ranjit
Singh got the better of the Pathans. However, ultimately the British defeated Ranjit Singh and in accordance with the treaty of Lahore in 1846, they appointed Gulab Singh as the autonomous ruler of Kashmir. Later, Hari Singh, the great grandson of Gulab Singh, united this huge state into India in 1948, when the Pathan intruders from Pakistan tried to capture this state.
34°05′N 74°50′E Highest temperature: 37 °C (99 °F); lowest 14 °C (6.8 °F). The city is located on both the sides of the Jhelum River, which is called Vyath in Kashmir. The river passes through the city and meanders through the valley, moving onward and deepening in the Wular Lake. The city is famous for its nine old bridges, connecting the two parts of the city.
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. There are a number of tourist places in and around Srinagar.
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. The beauty of these gardens is at their best during spring but the Mughal structure of these gardens lends them a unique sense of beauty even when the flowers are not blossoming.
Nishat Bagh, also known as the garden of joy, is a terraced Mughal garden sprawled along the eastern side of the Dal Lake, with the towering Zabarwan hills as its backdrop, in the city of Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir. The second largest Mughal garden in the Kashmir Valley, it is eclipsed only by the Shalimar Bagh, which also lies on the banks of the Dal Lake.
The aptly named ‘garden of joy' is truly a sight to behold, designed by Asaf Khan, on the orders of Mughal Emperor Jahangir, as a token of love for his wife Nur Jahan, the sister of Asaf Khan; also to serve as a place of leisure and reminiscence. Widely considered to be a master class of Mughal horticulture, the garden teems with rarely seen species of flowering plants, complete with lengthy
alleyways Lined with Chinar and cypress trees. Fondly named as the Garden Farah Baksh or the ‘Bestower of Pleasure’ by Emperor Jahangir, the garden also came to be known as Faiz Baksh, afterwards.Nishat Bagh has surprisingly remained intact since its construction in 1619. A garden that has stayed true to its Persian heritage, with its panorama on lines of the Islamic garden layout, the place is spread over 32 acres of flat land, its rectangular shape sculpted into 3 terraces containing pools of flowing water. Wondrous to watch is the flow of water from the higher terrace pool to the lower one, sashaying down as a resplendent waterfall. Every pool has multiple water-fountains lined-up in the centre, outlined by rows of Chinar trees and walk-ways running in tandem with the pool. The source of water is the central water-canal ‘Shah Nahar’, fed as it is by a mile long canal drawing water from the Dal Lake.Each of the three floors of the terrace has its own specialty, the first one containing a public audience hall with a black marble throne conveniently placed at the centre. The second terrace houses the ‘Diwan-e-khaas’, originally meant for the Emperor’s conversations with his nobles. The third terrace is characterised by two small stone-pavilions for the royal harem, surrounded by the splendorous Zenana Gardens, which also contain a black-marble pavilion called the Baradari.
The Dal Lake is unique for its beauty that lies in its pulsating surroundings, since it sustains a life on waters not found anywhere else in the world. The houseboat and Shikara communities have survived on the Dal for centuries and every thing is found on and nearby the houseboats including doctors, tailors and bakers in tiny wooden shops on the lake.
Dal is an urban lake, which is the second largest in the Jammu and Kashmir. It is integral to tourism and recreation in Kashmir and is named the "Lake of Flowers", "Jewel in the crown of Kashmir" or "Srinagar's Jewel".The lake is also an important source for commercial operations in fishing and water plant harvesting.
The shore line of the lake, about 15.5 kilometres (9.6 mi), is
encompassed by a boulevard lined with Mughal era gardens, parks, houseboats and hotels. Scenic views of the lake can be witnessed from the shore line Mughal gardens, such as Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh built during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir and from houseboats cruising along the lake in the colourful shikaras. During the winter season, the temperature sometimes reaches −11°C (12 °F), freezing the lake.The lake covers an area of 18 square kilometres (6.9 sq mi) and is part of a natural wetland which covers 21.1 square kilometres (8.1 sq mi), including its floating gardens. The floating gardens, known as "Rad" in Kashmiri, blossom with lotus flowers during July and August. The wetland is divided by causeways into four basins; Gagribal, Lokut Dal, Bod Dal and Nigeen (although Nigeen is also considered as an independent lake). Lokut-dal and Bod-dal each have an island in the centre, known as Rup Lank (or Char Chinari) and Sona Lank respectively.
Crowned to greatness by the ruins of a fort, the Hari Parbat hill, according to legends, grew out of pebble stones dropped by Parvati the Hindu Goddess while trying to defeat a demon. Though today it is no more than rubble, the thick massive wall around the fort is an imposing evidence of a historic past. Over the centuries, the vicinity of the hill has seen several temples being erected in the name of its past glory.Hari Parbat is located on the boundary of Srinagar city. This is an ancient and one of the most religious places in the state of Kashmir. This place is considered to be the abode of Mahashakti (the Divine Mother Jagatamba Sharika Bhagwati). This goddess is also called as Rajrajeshwari or Maha Tripursundhari. Locally, people refer to this goddess by the name ‘hari.’
(Palace of Fairies), Pari Mahal was initially a garden founded by Dara Shiko, Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan's eldest son for his Sufi teacher, Mulla Shah. Once dotted with numerous springs, which have dried up now, the Pari Mahal gardens are now the treasure possession of the state. Pari Mahal is bedazzling with radiant lights at night, and though located on the spur of a hill, can he seen from most places in Srinagar. Pari Mahal, once a Buddhist monastery, was converted into a school of astrology by Dara Shikoh.Once punctuated wth several springs that have since dried up, the Pari Mahal gardens are now the pride of the state. Pari Mahal is illuminated at night, and can he seen, located on the spur of a hill, from most places in Srinagar.
Kashmir offers you an opportunity to explore the sacred Muslim pilgrimage destination of the Hazratbal shrine that is situated on the banks of the Dal Lake in Srinagar opposite Nishat Bagh. Travel to this shrine can be a special experience as the Prophet Mohammad's (SAW) hair, that is the Moi-e-Muqqadus (SAW), is preserved in this shrine. The history of this shrine dates back to the seventeenth century. The Hazratbal shrine is a marble structure that was specifically constructed by Muslim Auqaf Trust with the objective of preserving the Prophet's (SAW) hair, this piece of hair (SAW) arrived in Kashmir in the year 1699.
The fame of the Hazratbal in Srinagar lies in its association with a strand of Prophet Mohammad’s (SAW) hair known as Moi-e-Muqqadus (SAW). This story is also equally
interesting. When the hair came to Kashmir during the rule of Aurangzeb in 1699, then at first it was preserved at shrine of Naqshband Sahib. But the shrine was small and therefore not capable of every day handling of the huge crowd that thronged to visit the Prophet’s (SAW) hair. Therefore, Aurangzeb ordered the strand of hair to be preserved at the Hazratbal shrine at Srinagar.The Hazratbal shrine lies at a distance of 25 kilometers from the Badgam district in Srinagar, Kashmir. This pilgrimage destination is known by a number of names viz. the Assar-e-Sharif, Madinat-us-Sani and the Dargah Sharif. Mughal emperor Shahjahan's brother constructed the Ishrat Mahal at the site of the shrine sometime in the year 1623, later when the emperor himself visited the site he ordered the place to be converted into a prayer house. The shrine as such was built by the Muslim Auqaf trust. Before the Hazratbal shrine was constructed the sacred hair was placed in the shrine of Naqshband Sahib. The architecture of the shrine is a combination of Mughal and traditional Kashmiri.The Moi-e-Muqqadus (SAW) is usually on public display inside a glass casket on certain sacred and holy days. The most important among these is the Shab-e-Meraj.
Nagin Lake It has some of the most luxurious deluxe houseboats. This area is preferred by people looking for calm and quiet environment. For this reason, foreigners find it more interesting to stay at Nagin Lake. The Lake is approachable by road through the old city and fore-shore Road alongside the Dal Lake. Shikara ride in this placid lake is a memorable experience.
It is sometimes considered a part of the Dal lake and is connected to it via a narrow strait. It is also connected to the Khushal Sar and Gil Sar lakes via a channel known as Nallah Amir Khan.
The Nigeen lake is surrounded by a large number of willow and poplar trees. Hence, it has come to be referred as a "nageena", which means "the jewel in the ring". The word
"nigeen" is a local variant of the same word.The lake is located adjacent to the Hari Parbat hillock, to the west of the Dal lake. To its north and west, lie the localities of Baghwanpora and Lal Bazar while to its north east lies the locality of Hazratbal, which is known for the famous shrine.The lake is a major tourist attraction in Srinagar, known for its relatively pristine waters as compared to the Dal lake. Houseboats and shikaras are a usual sight. Its also ideal for swimming, being deeper and less crowded than the Dal lake. The nigeen lake has a very serene and fully equipped nigeen club which has restaurant fitness centre and private yachts. The place is surrounded by many top restaurants like chickblast, othersidecafe, snooker cafe, and a beautiful park.