Srinagar is the largest city in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It lies on the banks of the Jhelum River, a tributary of the Indus, and Dal and Anchar lakes. The city is famous for its gardens, waterfronts and houseboats. It is also known for traditional Kashmiri handicrafts and dried fruits. Folk etymology draws the city name from two Sanskrit words: sri (“glory, prosperity”, a name for the goddess Lakshmi) and nagar (“city”), which would make “City of Lakshmi” (or, “City of Prosperity”). However, the earliest records mention the name as siri-nagar which in turn is a local transformation of the original Sanskrit name surya-nagar, meaning “City of Sun”. 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 Dal Lake. The city is famous for its nine old bridges, connecting the two parts of the city. There are a number of lakes and swamps in and around the city. These include the Dal, the Nigeen, the Anchar, Khushal Sar, Gil Sar and Hokersar. Hokersar is a wetland situated near Srinagar. Thousands of migratory birds come to Hokersar from Siberia and other regions in the winter season.
Tourism forms the major part of the economy here. While handicrafts and dry fruit business also contribute to the economy. The predominant religion of Srinagar is Islam with 95% of the population being Muslim. Hindus constitute the second largest religious group representing 4% of the population. The remaining 1% of the population are Sikhs, Buddhist and Jains. The climate here ranges from warm Summers with an average temperature of 24.1° C to cold and freezing winters with an average temperature of 2.5° C. The highest temperature reliably recorded is 38.3 °C and the lowest is −20.0 °C.
History: The Burzahom archaeological site located 10 km from Srinagar has revealed the presence of neolithic and megalithic cultures. According to Kalhana’s 12th-century text Rajatarangini, a king named Pravarasena II established a new capital named Pravarapura (now Srinagar). The independent 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. With the disintegration of the Mughal empire 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. Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab province annexed a major part of the Kashmir Valley, including Srinagar, to his kingdom in the year 1814 and the city came under the influence of the Sikhs. In 1846, Gulab Singh became the independent and sovereign ruler of Kashmir valley. After India’s independence, due to an uprising of Poonch and certain Pashtun tribes, he signed the instrument of accession in exchange for refuge on 26 October 1947. The government of India immediately airlifted Indian troops to Srinagar and prevented the tribesmen from reaching the city.
*(All the above information are from Wikipedia.)
Airport: Srinagar Airport has regular domestic flights to Leh, Jammu, Chandigarh and Delhi.
Rail: Srinagar railway station is well connected to major stations across Kashmir, including Udhampur, Jammu, Anantnag, Qazigunj. Udhampur station is connected to major cities of India.
Road: The city is served by many highways, including National Highway 1A and National Highway 1D. State transport and other private travels run buses from Srinagar to other major cities.
Local: Auto rickshaws and taxis are available for transportation within the city. There are several travel agents and tour operators providing vehicles for sight seeing. Cable car operates in Gulmarg and shrine of the Sufi saint Hamza Makhdoom on Hari Parbat. Water transport is fairly popular in Dal Lake and Jhelum river. Bike rental services are also available here.
Tourist Interest in and around Srinagar:
Patnitop: Patnitop is a picturesque picnic destination which also offers ample scope for adventure activities. Main attractions here are Kud Park, Madhatop, Nag Mandir, Sudh Shiv Temple. Patnitop is situated in Udhampur district, 112 km from Jammu en route Srinagar.
Gardens: Srinagar, the garden city is known for its famous Mughal Gardens, Chasm-e-Shahi, Nishat and Shalimar Bagh and Tulip Garden.
Dal Lake: Early morning Shikara (wooden boat) ride on the serene Dal Lake is the most remarkable experience in Srinagar. The Char-Chinari, the Nehru Park, Vegetable Garden, Meena Bazaar are among the main attraction on this boating trip. The Nageen Lake is another beautiful lake near Dal.
Shankaracharya Temple: The ancient, elegant temple is located on the summit of forest covered Shankaracharya hill in the Zabarwan Mountain. It provides a wonderful aerial view of the Srinagar city.
Hari Parbat: It is also known as Koh-e-Maran. It is the site of the Durrani Fort and has a notable religious dimension for Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs alike.
Hazratbal Shrine: This Muslim shrine contains the relic, believed to be the hair of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. The pristine white shrine is located on the left bank of the Dal Lake.
Kheer Bhawani Temple: The temple is situated at a distance of 22 km east of Srinagar near the village of Tul Mul, is dedicated to Goddess Bhawani. The term kheer refers to rice pudding that is offered in the spring to propitiate the Goddess, which became part of the name of the temple.
Gulmarg: The fascinating part of this trip is the Gondola ride. The Khilanmarg valley offers an amazing view of the Apharwat peak leading to the Apharwat lake. There is a frozen lake at a distance of 13 km from Gulmarg, which remains frozen until mid of June. The Shiva Temple, the Nagin valley, Baba Reshi are the other spectacles here. Gulmarg offers the adventure seeker the wonderful spot for skiing at Shark Fin point. The only transport option within the place is horse riding. Walking is also a time taking the option. For the Gondola ride, prior booking is a must.
Pahalgam: This breathtaking shepherd’s village is located at the confluence of Seshnag Lake and Lider river. The undulating meadows of Baisaran covered by the thickly wooded forest of pine are located 5 km from Pahalgam. It offers a panoramic view of the town and the Lider river flowing by. Horse ride is the only option of transport to this place. While the enthusiast can also take a nature walk to Baisaran. For Aru Valley and Betaab Valley one has to hire vehicles from Pahalgam. No other vehicles are allowed to these places. Betaab Valley is a very popular picnic destination and also serves as the base station for trekking and further exploration of the mountains. Chandanwari the base camp of the Amarnath Yatra, is situated 16 km from Pahalgam. Aru Valley, another major attraction situated 12 km from the Lider river is a picturesque meadow and the base point for trekking to Kolhai glacier, Katar Nag, Lidder Watt and Trasar & Marsar Lakes. The other places of interest are the Mammal Shiva Temple, Deer Park, Seshnag Lake, Tulian Lake.
Sonmarg: This meadow of Gold is a beautiful town surrounded by majestic glaciers and tranquil lakes. It is a snow-covered, serene, flower laden meadow in the lap of the mighty Himalayas. It is also the gateway to Ladakh. This the trekking base to Gangabal, Vishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Kishansar. The other notable lakes around are Nund Kol Sar, Kanasar, Atmas Lake and Lolgul Lake. While the Naranag Valley is noted for its scenic meadows and Is the base camp for trekkers to mount Haramukh, the Gangabal Lake and Sarsar. Outside vehicles are not allowed to travel here. The transport options are by walking, horde ride or hiring local vehicles.
Yousmarg: This scenic meadow within the high peaks are often compared to the European Alps. It also houses some unique spring flowers. The natural Snow covered slopes offers an excellent opportunity of skiing. The mighty Doodh Ganga flowing through this make this place more thrilling and enticing. The other places of interest are Nilnag Lake, Charar e Sharif (the shrine of the mystic saint Sheikh Nooruddin), Pakhapora Shrine, Tosa maidan, Sang-e-Safeed Valley and Diskhal.
The other places of interest within Srinagar are the Pari Mahal, Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary, Golf Course, Jhelum River, Arts Emporium. While the other places near are Verinag, Kokernag, Dodhpather, Lolab Valley, Gurez Valley.
This tour planner is made on the basis of the location of the destinations. One can make changes as per their interest, convenience and accessibility and duration of the trip.
Day 1: If traveling by road then one can cover all the spots at Patnitop enroute and move to Pahalgam for an overnightnight stay.
Day 2: Baisaran, Aru Valley, Betaab Valley and other places around Pahalgamand overnight stay here.
Day 3: Start early for Srinagar. Enroute cover Pampore for Saffron and Dry Fruit Shopping. Visit the Hazratbal Shrine and all the gardens in the afternoon.
Day 4: Visit Gulmarg. It is advisable to make a night stay to cover all the spots here. While a day trip is sufficient enough to see the major attractions. If time allows, on the way back Kheer Bhawani Temple can be covered.
Day 5: Make an early morning Shikara trip on the Dal Lake to enjoy the serene boating experience without much traffic. Later go to for a full day trip to Sonmarg.
Day 6: Visit Yousmarg.
Day 7: Shankaracharya temple and other places within Srinagar.
Hotels: Online booking is preferable for discounts in tariff. Hotels and Houseboats in Srinagar are The Grand Mamta, Batra Hotel, Hotel Pacific, Hotel Azad, Hotel Milad, RK Sarovar Portico, Grand Mumtaz, New Jacqueline Houseboat, CH2, Houseboat Moon Valley, Peacock Houseboat and many more. Hotels in Pahalgam are Hotel Woodstock, Hotel Himalaya House, River Front Guest House and many more. Hotels in Gulmarg are The Vintage Gulmarg, The Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa, Royal Park Hotel and many more.