Srinagar is the summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir. The city is popularly known as ‘Paradise on Earth’. The specialty of the city is its traditional handicrafts, lakes, gardens and houseboats. The city is visited by a large number of tourists from all over the world throughout the year. The city is also known as the “Kashmiri Venice”. The lakes around the city are the Dal Lake, famous for its houseboats, Nigeen Lake and Manasbal lake. Wular Lake, one of the largest fresh water lakes in Asia is located here.
Srinagar has many Mughal gardens, laid by the Mughal emperors. Chashma Shahi (the royal fountains); Pari Mahal (the palace of the fairies); Nishat Bagh (the garden of spring); Shalimar Bagh; and the Naseem Bagh are situated here. Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Botanical Garden is a botanical garden in the city, set up in 1969. These gardens have been included under "Mughal Gardens of Jammu and Kashmir" in the tentative list for sites to be included in world Heritage sites by the Indian government.
The Sher Garhi Palace here houses administrative buildings from the state government. The Gulab Bhavan palace here has now become the Lalit Grand Palace hotel.
The main tourist spots in Srinagar include:
Dal Lake: The Lake covers an area of approximately 26 sq.kms. It is divided into four sections. This is a perfect spot for kayaking, swimming, angling, canoeing, water surfing, houseboats and Shikara riding. The place is known for its houseboats and Shikaras and remains crowded throughout the year. Fishing and water plant harvesting are the other specialties here.
Nagin Lake: This lake is entitled as the 'Jewel in the Ring' as it is located in the backdrop of the Dal Lake. The two lakes are separated by a narrow causeway. There are many Shikaras and houseboats in this lake. There are facilities for water skiing and boat sailing at this lake.
Jama Masjid: This is one of the oldest mosques in Srinagar known for its Islamic architecture. The mosque was built in 1674 with four spires tower, 370 pillars, prayer halls, etc. Each pillar is made from a single piece of deodar trunk. It is also known as the Friday Mosque.
Hazratbal Mosque: Located on the banks of Dal Lake, the Mosque is made from white marble and a fusion of Kashmiri and Mughal styles of architecture can be noticed in its construction. The Mosque is also called Dargah Sharif, Asar-e-Sharif, and Madinat-us-Sani. There is a shrine in the Mosque which is believed to contain a relic-a hair of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.
Shankaracharya Temple: The temple is located at a height of 1,100 ft on top of Shankaracharya Hill. This is believed to be built by Jaluka, the son of Emperor Ashoka. From the hill top you can enjoy the panoramic view of the snow clad mountains of Pir Panjal mountain range.
Sri Pratap Singh Museum: Some of the rare terracotta heads of the 3rd century, various molded terracotta plaques from 4th & 5th century, ancient brass model of Lokeshvara and a green stone figure of Lord Vishnu sitting on a Garuda are displayed here. The museum also displays a 5th century copper image of Buddha carved in Gandhara architectural style and some paintings, ancient coins, handicrafts and arms.
Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden: The garden is located at the foothills of Zabarwan Mountains near Dal Lake. The garden covers an area of 90 acres with 1.3 million tulip bulbs. The garden is famous for its annual Tulip Festival that last for seven days. The garden is very spacious and has more than 70 varieties of colored tulip flowers. The other main gardens of Srinagar include Nishat Garden, Shalimar Garden, Achabal Bagh, Chashma Shahi Garden, and Pari Mahal.
Nishat Bagh: The garden was built by Abdul Hasan Asaf Khan in 1633. This is one of the largest Mughal Gardens built in Srinagar. The garden also houses some of the rare species of flowers, 12 terraces, flowerbeds, fountains and huge lawns.
Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary: The sanctuary is spread out across an area of approx 141 sq km. The sanctuary is the habitat for the rare Kashmir stag Hangul and black & brown bears. It is encircled by beautiful mountains and greenery. A wide variety of flora and fauna is present in the sanctuary. It requires a special permit to enter the park.
The nearest airport to Srinagar is Srinagar International Airport and the nearest railway station to Srinagar is Udhampur, about 220kms from Srinagar.
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