The capital of Kashmir is ancient Srinagar. Its sub-tropical climate attracts visitors all year round. Countless springs and lakes create an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. The great Mughal Emperors recognised this ‘Paradise on Earth’ and its people have developed a vibrant, colourful lifestyle within a unique landscape. There is so much to experience – here are our Top Ten Things to Do in Srinagar.
1. Wander the narrow lanes of Srinagar where wooden houses with delicately carved balconies jostle with ancient temples and medieval mosques for your attention. Take time to absorb the centuries’ old patina of age that still permeates the old part of the city. Music drifts out from a back-street cafe. The smell of fresh bread wafts out from a tiny bakery. The Khanqah of Shah Hamdan is said to be Srinagar’s most beautiful buildings. Visit the Sri Patap Singh Museum to get an idea of regional history and culture and check out the Arts Emporium for local crafts.
2. Visit the pagoda-style Shah Hamadan Masjid (Mosque) on the banks of the Jhelum River. Originally constructed in the 14th century for Sultan Sikander, it has been rebuilt twice and combines Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic influences. It has two stories of intricate carvings and the interior has highly panels and ornate chandeliers.
3. Stay on a luxurious house-boat on Dal Lake, known as the ‘Jewel in the Crown of Kashmir’. These floating mini-hotels are fitted with every comfort and it’s the most idyllic ways to relax in this beautiful region. Usually made from cedar, the quality of the furnishings is often lavish and the service first-class. Bedrooms are comfortable and there is usually a dining room and balcony area to enjoy the scenery.
4. Take a Shikara cruise around the lakes. These attractive Gondola-type rowing boats take you past timeless scenes amidst breath-taking scenery. As well as taking tourists they are used by locals as taxis. You may see the Floating Vegetable Market or glimpse the unique lifestyle of the Mir Bahris – a vibrant community who live on the lake.
5. Stroll through the famous gardens of Srinagar. There are many to choose fromr but the Shalimar Gardens are outstanding. Apparently the name Shalimar can be traced back to Pravarsena II, who ruled in Kashmir from 79 AD to 139 AD but it was Emperor Jahangir who created the pleasure gardens in the 17th century for his wife to enjoy. Today everyone can take delight in the terraced lawns, pretty pavilions, fountains, lovely trees and annual flowering plants.
6. Eat like a local. Kashmiri cuisine is world-famous and rightly so. Its flavours are influenced by fertile valleys, rivers and lakes. Fish, mutton and chicken, potaotes, lotus roots, spinach, radishes, beans, paneer (cottage cheese), and many otherl vegetables are popular with fragrant spices and peppers adding delicate flavour, warmth and colour. At a Wazwan (banquet) you will get the chance to try many of these tasty dishes, along with tasty platters of saffron rice and breads, some of which are unique to the region.
7. Play a round of golf. You are spolit for choice in Srinagar with the Kashmir golf Club providing 18 holes with common fairways. Ultra modern Royal Springs Golf Club course was designed by Robert Trent Jr and is one of the most picturesque in Asia. Major tournaments and prestigious golfing events are held here throughout the year.
8. Tiptoe through the tulips at the Indira Gandhi Tulip Gardens. Tulip originally grew wild flower throughout Central Asia and were first cultivated by the Turks around 1,000 AD. Rivalling the Keukenhoff Gardens in Holland, there are 12 hectares of riotous colour flowing across the foothills of foothills of the Zabarwan Mountain Range.
9. Admire the stunning panorama from the Shankaracharya Temple, sacred to the Buddhists for centuries. It’s set atop Gopadari Hill, a 1000 feet above the Kashmir plain with impressive views of the Srinagar, Dal Lake, Kashmir Valley and surrounding mountains.
10. Go shopping. Take home a souvenir from one of the many markets or independent shops all around Srinagar. Choose from feather-light pashminas in every colour of the rainbow, papièr mâchè bangles, carved wooden boxes, embroidered scarves, wicker baskets, silver jewellery, copper pots, exotic spices and, of course, exquisite Kashmiri carpets to last many lifetimes.
If you’d like to experience Srinagar and the surrounding area in comfortable luxury then Kashmir: the Secret Garden tour is ideal. Fancy going higher into the Himalayas? Have a look at the Vale of Kashmir and Little Tibet – Ladakh. Of course, you can always pick and mix to create your own itinerary – just contact us at Indus Tours, phone 020 8901 7320 or email firstname.lastname@example.org You could be watching the sun set over Dal Lake before you know it