Srinagar is a city in the union territory (previously a state – the northern most) of Jammu & Kashmir (or J&K), which is also known as the “crown of India”, as it literally is shaped like a crown.
It is the largest city and the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, and lies in the Kashmir Valley on the banks of the Jhelum River - a tributary of the Indus River.
Srinagar is home to some picturesque lakes, mountain views and is known for its mesmerizing natural environment, gardens, waterfronts and houseboats on lakes. Some of the city’s best attractions include:
- Dal Lake – A popular, mirror-like lake that reflects the peaks of the neighbouring Pir Panjal mountains, and has many colourful shikaras (gondolas) and houseboats (in which people can stay) floating on it.
- Anchar Lake.
- Wular Lake.
- Shalimar Bagh – A Mughal Garden, full of beautiful flowering plants; also known as “The Crown of Srinagar”.
- Chashme Shahi – A terraced Mughal Garden with various walkways, green plants with colourful flowers and pools of water – also has a natural spring called Rupa Bhawani.
- Indira Gandhi memorial Tulip Garden – Known to be the largest tulip garden in Asia; this garden is set in the foothills of the Zabarwan mountain range in Srinagar.
- Salim Ali National Park – Named after a popular ornithologist Salim Ali, this is sanctuary that housed well-maintained and preserved mangrove shrubbery that was planned to double up as a habitat for several endangered animals and birds which now live (or regularly visit) here.
If you are planning a trip to Srinagar, do not forget to pay a visit to these below listed places :
- Hazratbal Shrine – A holy Muslim shrine and mosque (known to house sacred hair from prophet Muhammad’s beard).
- Pari Mahal – Translating to “Fort of Fairies”.
- Shankaracharya Temple – A Hindu temple located on top of the Shankaracharya Hill (1100 feet above sea level), dedicated to Lord Shiva; it is one of the oldest religious shrines in Kashmir.
- Jamia Masjid – A 600-year-old mosque located in Nowhatta area which is full of bustling local markets.
- Kheer Bhawani Temple – A Hindu temple dedicated to Goddess Bhawani who is worshipped by the Hindus in Kashmir.
Some of the best museums to visit in the city are:
- Shri Pratap Singh Museum (also called SPS) – A museum built in the state’s Maharaja’s Summer Guest House here, in 1898; housing the collections transferred from the State of Toshkhana (located in Bangladesh).
- Craft Museum – A museum having a lovely collection of antique artefacts and handicrafts from different cultures in Kashmir.
Most traditional Indian festivals, especially Muslim festivals are celebrated in Srinagar (as the city has a large number of Muslims followed by Hindus and Christians) including:
- Ramzan – A month-long festival where Muslims follow intermittent fasting and regular prayers
- Holi – The festival of colors
- Lohri – A folk festival celebrated in winter
- Baisakhi – Celebrated in April; it marks the first day of the month of Vaisakha calendar followed in some parts of North India
- Basant Panchami – A festival marking the beginning of Spring season
- Diwali – The festival of lights
Apart from these, some principal festivals that are celebrated (exclusively) in Srinagar include:
- Urs Festival – celebrated in Kashmir throughout the year; it is held at the tombs of various saints; and people avoid eating meat during this time.
- Navroz Festival – A 9-day festival celebrated by the Shia Muslim communities in the months of March or April.
- Amarnathji Yatra – A Hindu festival held between mid-June and mid-August in Srinagar and attended by devotees from various corners of the country.
- Naureh Mavas – An annual fair at a suburb called Vichar Nag in Srinagar.
- Gurez Festival – A festival celebrated in the month of July every year by a group of people living in the Gurez Valley here, with many traditional folk songs and dances.
Some of the things and souvenirs to shop for in Srinagar include Kashmiri carpets, rugs (all made of pure silk/wool/a blend of both) with tasteful artwork, pashmina shawls, hand woven woolen clothes, Walnut wood crafts and artefacts, Persian Papier Mache items, exotic spices and Kashmiri tea. Some of the best market places and shopping spots to check out for these things in Srinagar include:
- Baadshah Chowk
- Lal Chowk
- Fair deal Shopping Complex
- Residency Road
- Zaina Kadal Road
- Floating Vegetable Market (a market held in the Dal Lake with vendors selling vegetables, flowers and fruits – on Gondolas! And buyers also need to hire boats/gondolas to go shop for these)
- Kashmir Government Arts Emporium
- Sangar Mall City Center
- Sarah City Center
- MS Shopping Mall
- Chinar Mega Mall
Srinagar’s food scene is filled with Kashmiri delicacies and specialties like:
- Rogan Josh – A special aromatic lamb curry.
- Kashmiri Pulav (Modur Pulav) – A sweet and spicy rice dish made with fragrant Basmati rice, vegetables, meat and some fruits too (a Kashmir specialty).
- Yakhni – Mutton dish cooked with exotic spices like bay leaves, cardamom, and cloves, which the city is known for.
- Nader ti gaad – A fish dish cooked together with lotus stems.
…and many more!
Following is a list of some great restaurants to eat at in Srinagar, and try out the aforementioned dishes and a lot more:
- Stream Restaurant
- Mughal Darbar
- Lacima Cafe & Pizzeria
- Chai Jaai
- Lhasa Restaurant
- Nedous Dining Room
- Jee Enn Bakery
Srinagar has many good hotels and resorts for a comfortable stay, including houseboats, which are a must-experience. Here are some of the best places to stay at in Srinagar:
- Lake Victoria Houseboat
- Vivanta Dal View
- Four Points by Sheraton Srinagar
- Houseboat Zaindari Palace
- Houseboat Lake Thao
- WelcomHeritage Gurkha Houseboats
- Clarks Inn Srinagar
- Gemini Group of Houseboats
- Regenta Central Srinagar
Srinagar also has some good bars/pubs for people looking for a lively nightlife scene or places to hang out in the late hours, such as:
- Dal Bar
- Lounge Seven
Srinagar STD Code – 0194 (to be used before dialling numbers from a number that is not locally registered).
Common emergency numbers:
- Police (National helpline) – 100
- Police Headquarters Srinagar – 244302223
- Women Helpline – 1091
- Ambulance – 102, 108
- Fire emergency – 101
- Child Helpline – 1098
In Srinagar Kashmiri, Urdu, Hindi, Dogri, English languages are spoken .
- Welcome - Svagat
- How are you? - Aap kaise hai?
- What's your name? - Aapka naam kya hai?
- I don't know - Mujhe nahi pata
- I don't understand - Mein samjha nahi
- Thank you - Dhanyavad
- Hello - Asalam u alaikum
- How are you? - Aap kaise hai?
- Goodbye - khuda hafiz
- How old are you? - Aap ki umr kya hai?
- Congratulations - Mubarak ho
- What is this? - Yeh kya hai?