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srinagar tourLocation

Located in the center of the Kashmir valley, the district of Srinagar towers at a height of 1,730 m above sea level. King Pravarasena-II founded the Srinagar city over 2000 years ago. The Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang, who visited Kashmir in 631 AD, found Srinagar at the same place where it stands today. The rule of Hindu kings in Kashmir ended in 1339, with the last ruler being Laltaditya Muktapida. From 1420-1470, the valley came under the rule of King Zain-ul-Abidin, popularly known as Budshah. Some time later, Mughal Emperor Akbar annexed Srinagar and included it in his own territory.

General Overview

It was during the rule of Akbar only that the district got the striking mosques and gardens that it now proudly boasts of. The last one of the Muslim rulers of Srinagar was overthrown by the Sikhs, under the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the year 1819. With time, the rule of the Sikhs ended and the Dogras gained the control of Kashmir from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar. After India became independent in the year 1947, the state of Jammu and Kashmir became a part of the Indian Union, with Srinagar as its capital. Since then Srinagar has been a prominent destination on the tourist map of India.

The district of Srinagar is situated on either sides of the Jhelum River, making its locales picturesque and beautiful. The major attractions of Srinagar travel include Dal Lake and Nagin Lake. Most of the houseboats (Shikaras) in Kashmir will be seen in these lakes only. The Mughal Gardens set up by various rulers of the Mughal dynasty further enhance the beauty of Srinagar. Other major draws of Srinagar are water sports activities, handcrafted souvenirs, amazing resort nearby etc.

The city was founded by the King Pravarasena II over 2,000 years ago, and the city of Srinagar has a long history, dating back at least to the 3rd century BC. The city was then a part of the Maurya Empire, one of the largest empires of the Indian subcontinent. Ashoka introduced Buddhism to the Kashmir valley, and the adjoining regions around the city became a centre of Buddhism. In the 1st century, the region was under the control of Kushans and several rulers of this dynasty strengthened the Buddhist tradition. Vikramaditya (of Ujjain) and his successors probably ruled the regions just before the city fell to the control of the Huns in the 6th century, and Mihirkula was the most dreaded ruler of the city and the valley.

The Hindu and the Buddhist rule of Srinagar lasted until the 14th century, when the Kashmir valley, including the city, came under the control of the several Muslim rulers, including the Mughals. It was also the capital during the reign of Yusuf Shah Chak, a ruler who was tricked by Akbar when he failed to conquer Kashmir by force. Yusuf Shah Chak remains buried in Bihar in India. Akbar established Mughal rule in Srinagar and Kashmir valley.

srinagar tourWhen the disintegration of the Mughal Empire set forth after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, infiltrations to the valley from the Pashtun tribes increased, and the Durrani Empire ruled the city for several decades. Raja Ranjit Singh in the year 1814 annexed a major part of the Kashmir Valley, including Srinagar, to his kingdom, and the city came under the influence of the Sikhs.

In 1846, the Treaty of Lahore was signed between the Sikh rulers and the British in Lahore. The treaty, inter alia, provided British de-facto suzerainty over the Kashmir Valley, and installed Gulab Singh as an independent and sovereign ruler of the region. Srinagar became part of his kingdom, and remained until 1947 as one of the several princely states of undivided India.

After Independence

Srinagar city and its vicinity in 1959After, India’s independence, certain tribes, mostly Pashtun, actively supported by elements of the Pakistani forces, invaded the valley to wrest control, by armed force, of the city of Srinagar and the Valley. This was done in spite of the then ruler Maharaja Hari Singh having a solemn and sovereign assurance (of the British government) backed by the international law that all rulers of such states were free to remain as independent entities, or to choose to annex either to India or to Pakistan.

In view of infiltration by armed forces and the possibility of his kingdom, including the city of Srinagar falling into the hands of the forces inimical to him, his kingdom and to the people of the valley, Hari Singh signed a covenant in late 1947 with the Government of India, which ensured integration of his kingdom into the newly formed Republic of India, conditioned on the requirement of having a plebiscite after any conflict had ended. Various historians, notably British historian Alaister Lamb, dispute the claim that the Maharaja signed any agreement at all.

The Government of India, in view of its obligation enjoined upon it subsequent to this covenant, immediately air-lifted Indian troops to Srinagar, and the city was flushed clean of the invading forces. In the meanwhile, the matter had been escalated to the United Nations, and a cease fire was imposed under its authority, resulting into certain parts of Hari Singh’s kingdom going out of his hands, which is now called Pakistan Occupied Kashmir by India and Azad Kashmir by Pakistan. The British Historian Alaister Lamb in his book claims that the troops were flown into Srinagar even before the alleged covenant was signed.

Sightseeing in Srinagar

Sightseeing in Srinagar gives you plenty of options to make your visit a memorable one. On your visit to Srinagar, do not miss a chance to visit these places:

- Mughal Gardens in Srinagar
- Pari Mahal in Srinagar
- Chashmashai in Srinagar
- Khanqah-e-Moula in Srinagar
- Pratap Singh Museum in Srinagar

Sightseeing in Srinagar is your passport to a city where history and beauty blend in seamlessly.

Famous Excursions

Chari Sharif / Chrar-e-Sharief
Situated on the road to Yusmarg, this is the site of the shrine or Ziarat of Sheik Noor-ud-Din, the patron saint of Kashmir. The valley also has the Ziarats of a number of his followers.

yusmarg tourStanding in the Pir Panjal hills, out beyond the airport, at an altitude of 2,700 metres, the meadow of Yusmarg is reputed to have the best spring flowers in Kashmir. The beautiful valley is at the foot of the Sangisafaid valley on the northern slopes of the Pir Panjal range. Near to Yusmarg is the picturesque Nila Nag Lake where there is a forest rest house. Yusmarg has tourist huts and is a good base for treks into the surrounding hills. To reach the Nila Nag one can walk 19-km from Magam, across roads on the way to Gulmarg. The path then follows down from Nila Nag to Yusmarg and from there the road runs to Yus, where a track leads off towards Sangam and Sunset Peak, up the valley of the Khanchi Kol. Sunset peak is the highest mountain in the Pir Panjal range at 4,746 metres. Other popular treks over here include those to Sangisafaid and Dodha Patri.

Lying in the crook of a bend of the Pir Panjal range, at the foot of several passes which lead out on to the plains, this fairly large town is an important centre of trade, the centre of the wool industry of the valley, and is famous for its apples. It lies on the Rembiara River and has several rest houses and a couple of guesthouses. It is also the base for treks to Konsarnag, to Yusmarg and to the Aharbal falls. The first stage on the trek to Konasarnag is the drive to Kongwatan.

This was a Norther popular resting place for the Mughal emperors when they made the long trip north from Delhi to Kashmir. It's in an area famed for its apples and also has an interesting waterfall. It's also the start of the popular trek to the Konsarnag Lake.

Aharbal Falls
The falls are about 13-km from Shupian, from where there is a motorable road and a trekker's route leading through dense pine forest. The falls are said to be the best in Kashmir. The road leads over a high bridge at Kongwatan from where a magnificent view of the awesome gorge created by the Vishav River can be seen less than 2-km further on are the foot of the falls, where the river drops more than 15 metres over a distance of 3-km. The road continues on here a further 3-km to the top of the falls where from a rock outcrop one can look down around 60 metres to the river rushing below.

The road continues a further 6-km to the village of Sedau, where the trek to Konsarnag begins. The first stage is a climb of about four hours to Kongwatan, an upland meadow. From here it is a further 10 to 15 hours walking to Konsarnag.

This is a charming meadow just a short distance from the river. Among the pines near the river bank there is a small sulphur spring and also a forest rest hut. The lace is inhabited by nomadic Gujar shepherds, said to be descendants of the biblical Abraham and Isaac, or Gujar Rajputs, who come each summer from the plains with their flocks of cattle and buffalo to spend July and August in the high meadows. They wear black clothes adorned only with a small cap, embroidered and set with 'Kari' shells. The caps of the women project over the neck to protect from sunburn. The women are very agile and seem to do all the work as well as taking care of the children.

Sindh Valley
North of Srinagar the Sindh valley is an area of mountains, lakes, rivers and glaciers. The Sindh River flows down from the Amarnath and Haramukh glaciers into the Anchar Lake. The Leh road from Srinagar follows this river to beyond Sonamarg. The Zoji La pass marks the boundary from the Sindh valley into Ladakh.

Dachigam National Park
dachigam national parkThis wildlife reserve was, at one time, the royal game reserve but animals within its boundaries are now completely protected. There are said to be Panther, Bear and Deer, besides other smaller animals, in the reserve. There is a good chance of seeing the endangered Hangul, Langur Monkeys and perhaps other species. It's very quiet and uncrowded.

Anchar Lake
Although this large lake is no great distance from Srinagar and easily reached by bus, it is rarely visited. A daily bus leaves Srinagar for the lake early in the morning and returns late in the afternoon. In winter it is home for a wide variety of water birds including Mallard, Pochard, Gadwall Snipe and Teal.

Just beyond the Wular and Manasbal lakes turn off from the Leh road, this pleasant little town marks the point where the icy Sindh River leaves the mountains and enters the plains. Gandarbal is the official headquarters of the Sindh valley and was originally called "Doderhom". It has a bazaar, a post office and two hospitals.

About 5-km from Gandarbal, in the village of Tullamulla, is the shrine of Khirbhawani, the Goddess Ragni, the Hindu guardian Goddess of Kashmir. The marble temple, built by Maharaja Pratap Singh, stands in a small spring. It is an irregular, seven sided structure and is said to be surrounded by 360 springs, most of which have run dry or been silted up.

The village is a floating garden surrounded by swamps. Its many islands are covered with willows, poplars and wildflowers, while the island on which the spring stands is covered with Chinar, Mulberry and Elm trees. The nearby village named after Khirbhawani has almond groves where the best quality almonds in Kashmir are said to grow. Gandarbal can be reached from Srinagar by road or one can go there by boat along the Mar Canal, or take a six hour round trip via the Jhelum River and Anchar Lake. There are many excellent camping places along these routes.

Wullar Lake
Wullar Lake (also spelt as Wular) is the largest fresh-water lake in India is 60-km from Srinagar. Spreading over a 125-km area, the lake, by drawing off excess water from the Jhelum, acts as a natural flood reservoir. Interesting ruins in the centre of the lake are the remains of an island created by King Zain-ul-Abidin. With its turbulent waters perpetually wind ruffled, its exciting variety of avian life and the sheer beauty of its setting, Wullar represents nature at her most untamed.

Shopping in Srinagar

Besides visiting different places of religious and historical significance, you can shop for your family and friends. Handicraft industry is in boom in this part of India. Things to do constitute of - browsing the market for the wooden handcrafted products, traditional Kashmiri shawls, carpets and authentic Kashmiri baskets.

There are so many things to do in the Valley of "Jannat". Activities also comprise of winter sports in the season of winter like skiing and skating. You can Shop for the embroidery shawls which are often hand made. The Kashmiri women take the pain of creating magic with silken threads and accessories. There are handmade carpets too found in plethora in the markets of Srinagar.

There are different varieties of carpets depending on the texture of the material and knots. The best varieties of carpets have greater knots. You can even look for the baskets which are used for both decorative purposes as well as gifts. These baskets can be used as the fruit or flower baskets. The traditional silver jewelry of the Kashmiri women is in vogue. You can accessorize your contemporary apparel with these silver jewelries.

In Srinagar also comprise of adventure activities like - trekking to the sacred cave of Amaranth. You can even visit the Dachigam National Park which is only twenty two kilometers away from the commercial city of Srinagar. You can even take part of camping in a secluded place of the Himalayas. Traveling to Pahalgam is yet a Norther Thing to do in Srinagar.

How to Reach

Srinagar has an airport of its own. The domestic airport is serviced regularly by several private and public airlines, which connect the city to important cities in India, like: Delhi, Mumbai and so on.

An extensive network of road covers Srinagar and connects it to important cities in Jammu and Kashmir and North India, namely: Chandigarh (630 km), Delhi (876 km), Jammu (290 km), Leh (434 km), Gulmarg (48 km), Sonamarg (88 km) and Pahalgam (96 km).

Srinagar does not have any Railway Station in the city. The nearest Railway Station is in Jammu, which serves as the key Railhead for the entire region. Major Indian cities like: Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai are linked to Jammu by rail.

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